Lately we’ve been focusing on game changers in golf on the equipment side of the game. Today, we’re going to look at the evolution of the golf shoe, which is an important part of your golfing gear.
In the mid-1800s, Scottish golfers began hammering nails into the leather soles of their boots to improve traction on damp and slippery links turf. This wasn’t always the most comfortable solution, since the nails could easily come loose and cause injury.
Fortunately, a solution was found, and in 1891 golf shoes with separate screw-in metal spikes were introduced. While they were more comfortable than the hobnail shoes and boots worn by some golfers, groundskeepers didn’t like them because their greens would get ripped up by the metal spikes.
Walter Hagen wore hobnail shoes for his U.S. Open victory in 1914 and Bob Jones wore them in the 1916 U.S. Amateur. Golf shoes with spikes became regular footwear by 1919.
In 1906, the iconic two-toned leather Saddle Oxford shoes were introduced and were initially aimed at racquet sports such as tennis and badminton. They didn’t gain widespread acceptance with those sports, but they soon became popular with golfers.
By the 1960s metal sockets with an internal thread were crafted into the soles of golf shoes and replaceable metal spikes were then fastened into the socket. This made the process of replacing spikes a great deal easier.
The focus switched to making a more athletic and flexible type of golf shoe in the 1980s. These shoes were still fitted with metal spikes, but concern at the damage they were inflicting on greens led to innovations in the design of the golf shoe. In the late 90s, most courses outlawed metal spikes and soft plastic spikes became the default choice on golf shoes.
In 1996, FootJoy introduced their DryJoys Leather System which featured non-membrane waterproof technology and revolutionized the golf shoe industry.
In 2010, Fred Couples sported a pair of soft-soled spikeless Ecco shoes during the Master’s. He wore these shoes for comfort and in doing so, inspired golfers to embrace the next generation of golf shoes. Since then, spikeless golf shoes have taken the golf world by storm. Not only do spikeless golf shoes provide traction on the course, they also allow golfers to wear them on and off the course.
Modern golf shoes have so much more technology in them than they ever have, providing more style, stability, waterproofing, durability, traction, and comfort.
The equipment and gear we use to play this game we love continues to evolve. Just when you think there can’t possibly be another new innovation, someone finds a way to use a new material or a new technology to revolutionize the way we play.
For instance, who would have thought a putter could stand on its own so you could easily stand behind it, align it and hit the ball to the hole with confidence? Bloodline.