Regardless of how long you’ve been playing the game, finding the perfect golf outfit as a female can be challenging. Finding a go-to pair of women’s golf shorts? Nearly impossible. There is no female version of the typical male golfer uniform, which consists of navy shorts and a striped golf shirt. So women are forced to be more inventive with their on-course looks–especially when it comes to golf shorts. The struggle is universal for most of us, so we set out to figure out why that is. In pursuit of finding out why the perfect pair of women’s golf shorts doesn’t exist, we did uncover a few recommendations to try for those who haven’t given up on the search.
Related: The best women’s golf pants for 2020, according to our Golf Digest editors
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We first surveyed our female golfers on staff, and associate editor Keely Levins conveyed the group’s sentiment perfectly: “Ugh, I hate women’s golf shorts. Why is it so hard? Why can’t anyone figure this nightmare out?”
If she must wear shorts, Levins goes with the Puma Women’s PWRSHAPE Golf Shorts ($40). The PWRSHAPE Golf Shorts are made with an ultra-stretchy fabric and a 4.5-inch inseam. They’re athletic-feeling with an upscale look. These shorts are not meant to be worn with a tucked-in golf shirt as the thick waistband extends a few inches above the hip line for a little extra shaping.
“I also have a pair of these Tory Sport shorts which are great for the emergency, ‘I’m going to a club with a strict dress code where I have to wear long shorts’,” Levins says. “They’ve saved me from digging through my closet and having to wear old Bermuda shorts from Gap circa 2008.”
The Tory Sport Tech Twill Golf Shorts ($158) have an eight-inch inseam for extended coverage. The straight-legged shorts are made with a poly-tech twill fabric that’s breathable, moisture-wicking and made with a ton of stretch.
Danielle Kang and Jessica Korda have led the style charts when it comes to women’s golf shorts, showing their versatility in both traditional golf shorts and the more athletic Adidas Golf Pull-on Color Block Shorts ($80). Beyond the current offerings, rumor also has it that Adidas designers have been busy fine-tuning its women’s shorts designs and putting in the time to get it right—so keep an eye out for future options from the brand this spring.
Next we caught up with Renee Parsons, president and executive creative director for PXG Apparel, to learn more about the challenges in designing golf shorts for women. Parsons signed on to revamp PXG Apparel in 2018. Recent collections have been fashion-forward and versatile, with an obvious extra effort given to the women’s apparel side that has been full of flattering pieces with statement-making designs. According to Parsons, form and function are two of the top considerations when designing for PXG Apparel. With this in mind, she’s prioritized skirt and pant designs over shorts to match the demand in the industry.
“Finding the right fit for your body type and personal style is a challenge, and for that reason many women, myself included, choose to steer clear from shorts on the golf course,” Parsons says. “Both rise and inseam are important considerations when designing and shopping for shorts. As not all bodies are created equal, body type and height have everything to do with finding a good fit.”
Most women’s golf shorts are in the five- to seven-inch inseam range—that’s how long the short or pant is from the base of the zipper to the bottom of the leg opening. Fashion and athletic shorts typically have three-inch inseams and Bermuda lengths typically float around 9- to 11-inches. Typically, a short should end at the widest point of the thigh muscle. Since this point differs person to person, Parsons recommends trial and error when searching for shorts.
“When shopping, shorts are one of the pieces that need to be tried on,” Parsons says. “Golfers should go through the motions of swinging a club (even if you feel silly about it) in the fitting room to ensure the shorts move with you and don’t rub or ride up in an uncomfortable or unflattering way.”
The dressing-room struggle is why many women hold onto old pairs of golf shorts or stick to skirts, dresses or pants instead.
Golf Digest’s Hally Leadbetter and Nicole Rae still revert to pairs of older Nike shorts they wore as college golfers. Nike has since changed the waistband to an elastic with a drawstring closure on the 5-inch-inseam shorts ($70). Available in a variety of colors, the straight-legged shorts are made with the brand’s flex fabric for a durable stretch, and it has mesh pockets for ample storage without looking bulky.
“Nike’s older pairs I wore in college were my all-time favorite, but they changed them to the elastic waistband,” Rae says. “Other than my old pairs I still have, I just wear skirts now.”
For Foray Golf’s Megan LaMothe, golf shorts are the eternal struggle both on the purchasing and designing side. While skirt length or rise can be easily adjusted on the body and golf pants have universally accepted lengths that are easy to hem, shorts are much more difficult to find a consensus in both fit and style.
“The No. 1 problem with designing shorts is that not one group of people can agree on the correct inseam,” LaMothe says. “But then the inseam is only as relevant as how short is constructed. With shorts, you are locked into the fit, there’s nowhere to hide.”
In addition to the length of the shorts, the circumference of the leg opening, gusset (insert seam between legs) positioning, pocket design and rise are all make-or-break factors that tend to have specific requirements for each body.
If the leg opening is too wide, it’ll create an unkempt, baggy look. But if it’s too tight, the squeeze will ruin the look and feel. Improper seam or gusset placement can make the shorts feel like a diaper or cause a perpetual wedgie, LaMothe says.
“There are so many technical measurements to get right in shorts that it’s almost impossible to make a pair that will make everyone happy, there is no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to women’s shorts.”
Because every golfer’s body is unique and female golfers have a range of preferences when it comes to length and fit, the best advice is to take your measurements of the ideal inseam and work up the patience to try several pairs in the fitting room. Don’t be afraid to try new brands or styles. As long as the fabric is breathable and there is enough stretch to play golf in, you might find your next pair of golf shorts outside of the golf section.
Here are a few pairs of women’s golf shorts we’ve stumbled upon, and you might enjoy: