Why Do Golfers Take Their Hats Off To Shake Hands?

Most professional golfers wear some sort of headgear to protect them from the effects of the sun on their faces, but why do golfers take their hats off to shake hands?

Lifting Of The Hat or Cap – Where Did It Start?

It is said that dating back to the knights in armor in medieval times, they would lift the visor on their helmets to identify and greet their friend or enemy. It was a sign of respect and promulgated itself to the etiquette of hats. The feared knights would remove their helmets when in the presence of the monarchs or if ladies were present. Touching the brim of a hat has the same connotation. The uniformed military also shared this, and the salute was a sign of respect to a superior rank.


If wearing a hat in the street, it is common courtesy to lift or touch the brim of the hat, in greeting or acknowledging another person. Should that person be a female, then the hat should be lifted. These are old customs and should never be ignored.

Going back into history, the etiquette associated with the wearing of a hat had its own rules, on how, when, and where to lift it. Still today, it is extremely rude not to touch or lift the hat.


The old tradition of wearing headgear is practiced by many schools and so the etiquette is taught from a young age. Children in school uniform will lift the hat or cap and greet anyone they pass, irrespective if they know them or not. It is all about respect!

Churches, Meetings, National Anthems

One will not hesitate to remove any headgear when walking into a church or attending a meeting. When National Anthems are played at sporting events, the crowd will stand and remove headgear. Respect!

Golfers Removing Their Headgear When Shaking Hands

Having read the previous history of the etiquette associated with wearing a hat or cap, it is almost unforgivable for a player not to remove a cap when greeting another player on the course. Golf is a game steeped in history and the traditions and rules of yesteryear are still applied today. No player or officials will enter a clubhouse without removing any headgear.

Watch the professional golfer approach the starter at the first tee to register for play, and you will see mutual respect shown. Off comes the cap or hat, and hands are shaken in greeting. It is a simple but magnificent gesture and is part of golf.

Having completed a round with playing partners, common etiquette and respect are shown with the removal of the headgear and a shake of hands. Approaching the last green of a tournament the crowd applauds the players for their endeavor, and in return, the player will “doff” the cap in acknowledgment. For both, it is a meaningful gesture to show respect and thanks. You gotta love this game!

Final Thoughts

Any sportsman will know, that walking into a pub with a hat on, will incur the wrath of the senior citizens and usually results in buying all the patrons a round of drinks! Golf is a game of tradition, and maybe one of the last sports that has maintained the original rules of play. It is a game played by gentlemen and ladies, and etiquette is paramount.

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Nick is the founder of GolfSpan and an avid golfer. He's not quite a pro but has over 15 years of experience playing and coaching golfers worldwide. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience when it comes to choosing the right golf gear and finding the right setup for your game.

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