Take a few moments to imagine which sports are associated with tattoos. Common pastimes such as boxing, mixed martial arts, baseball and basketball will certainly come to time. These observations are backed up with real facts. Some players are just as famous for their tattoos as they are for their talents. Connor McGregor, Mike Tyson, David Beckham, and basketball star Dennis Rodman are primary examples.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with displaying a bit of personality from time to time. some fans would even argue that this art form actually has a place within certain sports. However, this might not always be the case. What about on the golf course? Are tattoos allowed? What players are known for their ink? Let’s take a look at what the rules have to say before moving on to discuss some famous golfers who have decided to display their personality in an entirely unique manner while on the green.
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Tattoos on the Golf Course: Taboo or Not?
Anyone who has ever watched a significant amount of professional golf on television would be hard-pressed to find a well-known player sporting tats while on the green. However, does this signify that the art itself is prohibited? This is not necessarily the case. Of course, we are now entering into what can only be called a rather grey area.
There are no current stipulations within the official rules of golf which state that tattoos are prohibited. However, there is also a caveat to be highlighted here before moving on. This involves the general rules associated with dress codes. Here is an example of common “gentlemanly” attire according to the Terradyne Country Club located in the United States:
- Shirts with collars or mock collars.
- Slacks and/or shorts (no more than three inches above the knee).
- Trousers, tank tops, cut-off shorts, jeans, and sandals are prohibited.
Similar rules apply for females. The main takeaway point here is the term “attire” in reference to golf regulations. Attire does not necessarily refer to clothing alone. In fact, any wardrobe or accessories which are deemed inappropriate can be technically denied. In other words, you will have to read the terms and conditions associated with the club in question very carefully.
Another point to mention involves the type of tattoo. The chances are high that the image of a heart with the word “mother” in the centre that is found on your upper shoulder will not cause any issues within a club. However, an entire sleeve that descends down to your wrist or a face tattoo (such as Tyson) is likely to draw a significant amount of negative attention. The bottom line is that such decisions are normally at the discretion of the club in question. As long as you dress conservatively and do not display any large or offensive tattoos, you should not run into any problems.
To put these observations into perspective, you might be surprised to learn that a handful of well-known golfers are also tattoo aficionados. let’s now take a look at some famous golfers with tattoos in order to appreciate the big picture.
Some of us who are old enough might be able to recall the 1984 Open Championship. While Ballestros is not necessarily one of the most well-known competitors, he made the news for other reasons. He decided to celebrate the competition by obtaining a tattoo of himself on his forearm. The self-portrait depicted a silhouette of his victory pose after winning the St. Andrew’s competition. There is nothing wrong with a modicum of self-love on occasion.
Considering the talent of this next golfer, it only stands to reason that he decided to adorn his body with a handful of relevant images. Many will argue that the most visible tattoo is an image of the five Olympic rings which can be found on his right lower forearm. When we take into account that Fowler actually represented the United States in the 2016 Olympic Games, we can begin to understand why he would have wanted to commemorate such an event.
Similar to the two other golfers mentioned above, it seems as if many athletes have a proclivity for forearm tattoos. Danny Willett sports what appears to be an infinity symbol adorned with a series of Roman numerals. We can only assume that this image has a special significance to him. Once again, it is high enough up his arm to draw few distractions (except perhaps if viewed by a keen-eyed fan while taking a swing). He has not commented on the meaning of his ink (at the time that this article was written).
For some, there is a great deal of beauty in simplicity. This seems to be the attitude embraced by two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson. As opposed to long and intricate arm tattoos, he instead chose a calligraphic image of his wife’s name to be placed along the top of his ring finger. Considering how much the ink seems to have faded, we have to imagine that he committed to this art during his younger years. It is nonetheless classy in its own right and few would complain that it violates any attire-related rules.
Are you surprised that a female has made it into our list? If so, look no further than Lydia Ko. Not only does she represent the younger generation of golfers, but she is one of the best in the sport today. Once again, she chose a rather small and muted piece. Her tattoo is displays the date 27 April 2014. It just so happens that this is the very same day when she walked away the winner of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. Why not celebrate long after the actual event has passed?
Some tattoos become regrettable after a certain period of time and this next example could be relevant. Matt Every has the phrase “Live Forever” tattooed on his inner right biceps. Whether this is a personal sentiment or the result of a night out on the town is uncertain. Still, he seems proud to display the art while on the course.
Do you think that the phrase “Beef Head” would be proper on the greens? Well, Andrew Johnston has no qualms in this case. A tattoo of the same wording is located on the back of his left shoulder blade. The main issue here is that this image will never be seen on the course. So, freedom of speech certainly applies in this case. The phrase Beef Head apparently refers to a nickname that he was bestowed in grade school.
When it comes to tattoos, importance makes all of the difference in the world between pride and regret. This is why Mel Reid took the conservative approach and choose to have the birthdays of both of her parents placed upon her left inner forearm. While clearly visible, they are classy and small enough so as not to draw an inordinate amount of attention.
The Ryder Cup has always been a very contentious competition, so it should come as no surprise that wagers are made between players on occasion. This very same scenario occurred during the recent French Ryder Cup. During the match, Roy McElroy quipped that a trip to the tattoo parlour could be in order in the event that the European team vanquished the Americans. This is exactly what happened. A few days later, news emerged that Thomas Bjorn obtained a tattoo of the Ryder Cup trophy as well as the final score (17.5 to 10.). The irony is that the image was placed on his glute. So, the chances are high that this image will rarely be seen on the greens.
Putting it All Together: Tattoos on the Golf Course
As we can see from the examples highlighted above, professional players are somewhat liberal in regards to tattoos. An important point should still be mentioned. It is wise to remember that golf can trace its roots back to upper-class England. While many rules and regulations have obviously been modified over the years, the fact of the matter is that is still a rather conservative game. This is the very same reason why we are not likely to witness golfers with massive beards or hair down to their waists any time soon.
So, use a bit of common sense if you are worried about the impressions that your tattoo could make. In the event that you are concerned, be sure to speak with a representative from the golf club in question in order to better appreciate the rules and regulations. After all, you could always choose to hide the ink with a strategically placed shirt or pair of trousers. Barring a full-body tattoo, you should encounter few problems in these modern times.