Several pieces of golf equipment – the golf ball and clubs among them – have very colorful histories. The evolution of the golf ball is thought to be very much intertwined with the evolution of the game itself. But the development of golf shoes is unique because it is not just a reflection of developments related to the game. The transformation of golf shoes is also a story of fashion trends developing over time.
One of the earliest references to golf footwear can be traced back to 1857 when the Scottish publication, ‘The Golfer’s Manual’ suggested that beginners simply buy large shoes and equip them with nails and sprigs for the sake of achieving enough grip (while the outcome’s rather crude, it does work well enough).
Some of the shoes used in golf are the Gillies and the Kilties. The Gillies, which derived its name from the word “gille” meaning “boy”, are tongue-less Oxfords that feature fringed laces. They are used in golf by being worn with long trousers (those that extend ten centimeters below the knee) and argyle socks.
On the other hand, the once-popular golf shoe known as kilties, are essentially oxfords equipped with fringed leather that covers their laces and eyelets.
The 1857 suggestion of using nails proved to be unsafe and in 1891, the first pair of golf shoes with separate screw-in spikes was introduced. The screw-in spikes proved safer than the nails but they were soon banned from golf clubs because they damaged the greens more often than not.
A few years later, in 1906, saddle oxfords were introduced and have become the standard, classic golfing footwear. Saddle oxfords have an extra piece of leather (as you’d expect, it’s similar in shape to a saddle) that surrounds the laces. These saddles have one crucial function – to hold the foot tight during running and fast sprints.
The first golf professional to wear white buck golfing shoes that have different-colored leather trimmings was Gene Sarazen (born Eugenio Saraceni) – this was back in the early 1920s.
The 1980s saw the trend of golf shoes switching from being stiff to being more flexible. Cushioning and foot support became a point of focus to golf footwear brands and they started using materials that can ensure comfort.
In the 1990s, golf shoes started having plastic and non-metal cleats instead of the metal spikes that damaged the greens of golf courses. Aside from being more suitable to the golf course’s grassy terrains, these plastic cleats provided more comfort and they made metal spikes a thing of the past.
In recent history, one of the people who pushed for the development of such shoes is Tiger Woods, who used his celebrity status to propel the creation of a new generation of products.
2010 saw spikeless shoes as a golf shoe trend when Fred Couples was seen wearing those shoes with a dimpled rubber exterior. Until now, golf footwear remains on the path of development. Because of technology, manufacturers of golfing footwear began incorporating performance elements borrowed from other sports, like running and soccer.
The 1857 publication which first recorded references of golfing footwear provided the legacy of a constant search for innovation and for efficiency. Hence, it is no hyperbole to say that footwear make a golf player’s game better in several ways. Golf’s long and colorful history identified several vital things that golf footwear must provide to players namely: balance, stability, and flexibility.
Still, even as time goes by, the key to an effective golf shoe pair remains rooted in comfort. So, whatever improvements might come in the next few years, rest assured that comfort will never be compromised.
Whether you are riding through the greens or walking, one thing is for sure. You need to be sporting some stylish and comfortable golf shoes. And when you are shopping with me, you know you are getting the best deals on top of the line golf shoes.