(Reuters) - Spectators at this week's LPGA event in Ohio will barely notice a change in the appearance of players after "minor" tweaks were introduced to the tour's dress code, an LPGA spokesperson said on Friday.
The new dress code which came into effect at the Marathon Classic has caused a social media storm but the players themselves think the fuss is a case of much ado about nothing.
In an email obtained by Golf Digest, players were instructed to avoid plunging necklines, to avoid wearing skirts, skorts or pants that expose part of the "bottom area". Other edicts included a ban on wearing jeans inside the ropes and also related to off-course attire appropriate for pro-am parties.
"If a fan tunes into the LPGA this week, they will not see a noticeable difference from what players have been and are currently wearing," Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA's chief communications officer, said in an email to Reuters.
She added that the updated dress code, far from being a heavy-handed edict, was made after requests from LPGA players.
Criticism of the policy has been widespread, with accusations on social media that the tour was “body-shaming” players.
"Women and girls should wear what makes them feel comfortable when taking part in sport and should not be deterred by unnecessary dress codes,” said a spokeswoman for British group Women in Sports.
But Daly-Donofrio shrugged off the furore.
“The LPGA is a membership-based organization and updates to the policy are made with member input, feedback and direction,” she said.
“In this case, players asked us to update the existing dress code to include references relevant to today’s fashion trends and golf wear. Players have been aware of the clarifications for a few weeks and provided input prior to implementation.”
Leading players at the Marathon Classic were unfazed by the issue.
“I honestly have been shocked by the response to it because you look at other sports, they have a dress code,” former world number one Stacy Lewis told reporters.
“I honestly don't understand the kick-back we had from addressing the issues that we had on this tour because I think we needed it to be honest.
“We've had a dress code for a long time, and it really just addressed a couple of the trends in fashion and what the clothing companies are coming out with now.”
Lydia Ko, another ex number one, added: "It really hasn't changed much to the original code."
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)