Golf is one of the most relaxing games man has ever invented. The smell of freshly-cut grass, the open air setting, friends to do it with… it’s a definitely a gentleman’s sport. Golf equipment has evolved through the ages, yet none are quite as controversial as the golf shoe. From how it could influence a player’s performance, to its effect on the course, this article aims to give the novice golfer a primer on the thing that keeps one’s feet dry and happy on the course.
Golf Shoes: What exactly are they?
Golf shoes are specially-made shoes for anyone who plays golf. As with any sport, golf requires equipment that’s tailor-made to help anyone who wants to be a better player. Footwear is no exception. It’s been said that golf shoes can help improve a golfer’s game, by letting the golfer have a much more stable platform for his/her golf swing.
History of Golf Shoes
The origins of golf shoes are uncertain, but everyone believes that they have been around for 150 years. The earliest reference goes back to an 1857 issue of The Golfer’s Manual. It tells novices to wear shoes “roughed with small nails or sprigs,” supposedly to give better traction on the course. The theory, though very sound, had a side effect that no one ever wanted: the nails or sprigs would sometimes go back into the bottom of the shoe, injuring anyone who wore them.
1891 saw the evolution of this theory: screw-in spikes. It was a relief to all golfers, as they no longer posed a threat to one’s feet. However, since the only available material at the time was metal, this created a bit of a wrinkle with golf clubs, as they tore up the greens.
1906 was the year for golf shoes to be given a fashion facelift. The saddle oxford, introduced by Spalding, became an instant hit. It gave the shoes the impression of a “saddle” by having a leather piece where the holes for the shoe lace where seen.
While they now looked good, these shoes were still very stiff; not fun when you’re looking forward to a long day of golf. The 80s saw the introduction of new materials for the shoes themselves, making them more flexible and more comfortable than ever. A decade later, plastic cleats were introduced, making the shoes both foot- as well as green-friendly.
What goes into a Golf Shoe?
Today’s golf shoes make even the most advanced golf shoes of yester years look like really old antiquities. The trends which go into making a golf shoe follow the same trends that go into making other performance-based footwear. Some of the technologies used in other sports-specific shoes are being integrated into golf shoe that only the cleats seem to differentiate them from other shoes.
Take Nike for example. With their most recent breakthrough, the Flywire, and inspiration from their Nike Free line, the Nike TW’14 is probably one of if not the most comfortable golf shoe the world has seen. The only other shoe to rival their fit and technology is the adiCross Tour from Adidas, which is designed for 100% comfort and stability. FootJoy, which markets itself as “The #1 Shoe and Glove in Golf,” has recently invested in BOA lacing, making their shoes easier to put on and take off.
Another trend to hit golf footwear is the spikeless golf shoe, which is as the name implies. While the idea has been around since the 90s, it was only in 2010 that spikeless golf shoes began to take to the course. Mainly thought of as a convenience than a necessity, spikeless shoes are now taking the world by storm. More comfortable and much more wearable than even the replaceable-spikes shoes, spikeless may be the thing that kills plastic spikes.
Golf shoes have certainly made their mark in the sport. From the make-shift “spiked” shoes of the mid-1800s, to the replaceable spikes and spikeless shoes of the 21st century, as well as all the styles and new features that are now available to the average golfer, golf shoes will forever be an integral part of the sport.
Whether you’re riding through the greens or walking, one thing is for sure. You need to be sportin’ some stylish and comfortable golf shoes.