The first time I went to a professional golf tournament, I wore a red, spaghetti strap sundress with metallic gold sandals. Thinking I had nailed the “southern preppy with a splash of sexy” look, I confidently sashayed down Magnolia Lane in Augusta, Georgia. However, once I strutted through the white gates, I noticed my feet were covered in soot and my style was a bigger choke than Jean Van de Velde's notorious meltdown at the 18th hole during the 1999 British Open. A few other “first-timer” females made the same mistake -- donning dresses, high heels, and smokey eye shadow. We would secretly smile at each other as if to say, “Yes, I enjoy sipping red wine at a fancy restaurant too, but my boyfriend loves golf, so here I am with my Spanx on!” Though the tournament was highly memorable and the pimento cheese sandwiches were divine, I vowed to never overdress for an occasion again. If this is your first time attending the Honda Classic Golf Tournament or any other PGA Golf Tournament, tee up your fashion know-how with these friendly tips:
1. SHOES: Usually the shoes are the final detail to an outfit, but for a sporting event, the entire ensemble centers around comfortable kicks. “You will most likely walk several miles by the end of the day, so be kind to your feet,” warns Golden Bear Realty agent M.J. McElwaney, a fashionista who frequents the links at PGA National Golf Club and other Palm Beach County golf courses. Though sandals or flip-flops may seem like a fine choice, your pretty petal pink toenail polish will be covered in sand, debris, and cigar ash. “I recommend wearing golf shoes, tennis shoes, or street sneakers,” says M.J. Consider comfortable - albeit stylish - brands such as the Adidas Stan Smiths, the classic slip-on Vans, or the Converse Chuck Taylors.
2. CLOTHES: Once you decide your footwear, carefully select a coordinating outfit that errs on the side of sporty prepster. You will not feel gauche in golf clothes; however, if you do not love the link look, then chino shorts and a polo shirt will suit the occasion. As with any PGA Golf Tournament, many spectators showcase the newest fabric prints from the Lilly Pulitzer resort collection. Others sport Jack Nicklaus apparel, an exclusive design made with Nicklaus Performance 18 fabric. This attire features moisture wicking, body ventilation, and UV protection. Mary Ellen Gardner Kavanewsky, a Golden Bear Realty agent and former Vice-President of Nautica International, is a huge advocate of the Nicklaus golf line. Regardless of what brand you select, she strongly suggests avoiding denim and spandex. “Although PGA National does permit demin, many golf clubs frown upon such faux pas. And since you’re not going to a yoga class, spandex has no business at the tournament,” she comically chides. As an alternative to the collared shirt and chinos outfit, loose-fitting day dresses look trendy with tennis shoes too. Of course, If the weather is cooler, then khaki cigarette pants and a solid sweater make for a cute and classic outfit.
3. ACCESSORIES: The South Florida sun is intense, so be sure to lather on sunscreen before and during the tournament. Sunhats are an adorable accessory and a needed necessity to keep your face protected. Other options include fitted hats and broad visors, both which show your personal style while simultaneously shielding the sun. For example, younger spectators wear Rickie Fowler’s signature orange monoline Puma hat while adults sport Golden Bear or Calloway caps. Polarized sunglasses are another appurtenance for the tournament, especially when watching the afternoon rounds at the infamous Bear Trap. Small bags that do not exceed 6” x 6” x 6” are allowed as are clear totes that do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12.” If inclement weather, patrons are permitted to bring umbrellas into the tournament.
4. MAKE-UP: Now is not the time to get a complimentary makeup application at the Gardens Mall. Heat and perspiration do not mix well with heavy foundation; instead, use a tinted sunscreen, neutral eye shadow, waterproof mascara, and light pink lip gloss.
5. ETIQUETTE: Perhaps the biggest mistake that novices make is talking too much or too loud near a tee box or putting green. Mary Ellen points out that “you are allowed to bet on which caddy comes up the fairway first, but that is done prior to his arrival on the green.” Another mistake new spectators make is cutting across the fairway, forgetting to put their cell phones on silent, taking pictures of the players, and drinking too much beer at the Bear Trap. “The hot sun coupled with alcohol leads to dehydration, so drink plenty of water!” advises Mary Ellen. When you arrive at the tournament, decide if you want observe the action parade-style or cross-country style. If you opt for the former, arrive early to get stadium seats or to get a preferable standing position at your favorite tee box. If you opt for the latter, select your favorite leaders or player pair and follow the group from hole to hole along the PGA Championship Course.
6. AFTER-PARTY: Most patrons party at the swanky I-Bar and dine at Ironwood Steak and Seafood, both which are located in the main lobby of PGA National Resort. Others take a shuttle to restaurants located along PGA Boulevard such as Rocco Tacos, The Cooper, Vic and Angelos, or Spoto’s Oyster Bar and Blue Point Lounge. Generally, no one changes clothes as it is an extended celebration of the Honda Classic. However, if you are too sweaty and smelly, change into a sweet sundress and sandals before hitting the town.
This year, the Honda Classic Golf Tournament is held February 20 - 26. General admission tickets are $50 each, and packages range from $125 to $750 for upgraded credentials. Apart from tournament play, other activities include a FCA Prayer Breakfast, Junior Par 3 Challenge, the Honda Classic 5K, Kid Zone, and many other scheduled events. Golden Bear Realty representatives will be on hand to answer spectator questions and to provide information on Palm Beach County Real Estate.
Written by Clary Vance