A Brief History of Golf Shoes

A Brief History of Golf Shoes

Aug 19 , 2021


Tags - History of Golf Shoes


In the same way that golf clubs have evolved from wooden shafts to flexible metal models, golf shoes have gone through some changes over the years.

Since the 1800s, transformations have been made, especially since golfers began to realise the advantages to walking across the court with spikes in the soles of their shoes.

With technology only getting more advanced, golf shoes today provide better stability, durability, traction, comfort and style than they once did 150 years, or even 25 years ago for that matter!

Let’s take a walk down memory lane and dig into the history of golf shoes.


Where It All Began… 

It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly golf shoes for performance came into existence, but the revolution can date back to the mid-1800s

In 1857, in an issue of The Golfer’s Manual, it was advised that golfers should wear shoes “roughed with small nails or sprigs”. Accordingly, Scottish golfers started to hammer nails into the leather soles of their shoes to improve traction on the gold course.

In theory, this made sense. However, this amateur spike fitting did more harm than good. Nails would often fall loose sending the spikes into the golfer’s foot which obviously had painful consequences: the golfing phrase “I nailed that one” had a whole new meaning!

A few years later in 1891, the first proper golf shoes were introduced which came with separate screw-in spikes. 

Although these were a tremendous improvement, they still had some drawbacks: they tended to tear up the course, meaning it cost more for ground maintenance. As a result, many golf clubs worldwide banned these shoes.


Introducing Saddle Oxfords

In 1906, Spalding introduced the Saddle Oxford: given away by its name, these shoes featured an extra saddled shaped leather that was placed around the laces.

Becoming an instant star in the market, these paved the way for golf shoes’ distinctive style, becoming the standard pair every golfer wore and are still being worn today.


Plastic Over Metal

Eventually, there was a call to end the damage of golf courses and golf clubs were tired of their greens getting destroyed.

During the 90s, plastic cleats were introduced, and finally, perfectly cut golf greens were no longer being ripped apart by metal spikes.

Not only were these good for the course, but they were more comfortable than their metal counterparts and even today, it’ll be very rare to find golf shoes without plastic cleats.


Tiger Woods

As it was becoming more and more common for celebrities to endorse shoes, the trend followed in the golf world too.

However, the first special golf shoes made for Tiger Woods did not have a great influence in the market. But Nike were determined to start a revolution and the original TWs have since come a long way. As Nike began to produce more advanced products, they made necessary changes to their shoes and invented the ultimate golf shoe performers.

Generally speaking, these shoes mimicked the technology of the running shoe and the design of football boots and thus a more sophisticated and comfortable golf shoe was born.



In recent years, new materials are being used as protective linings. For instance, in winter golf shoes, special membranes are a popular choice due to its breathability and water resistant properties, plus they give a high level of insulation to keep feet warm.

Of course there are cheaper alternatives out there, i.e. polyester, but these are not as breathable and can cause problems.

On average, an 18-hole course will be between 3 - 6 miles. Because of these long distances, it’s incredibly important for shoes to feel comfortable and flexible. Not to mention the critical role feet play during the swinging action; shoes must fit well.

In the past, golf shoes were quite stiff but as other athletic shoes began to transform to become more wearer-friendly during the 80s, the production of golf shoes started to focus on foot support and comfort too.


The Last 10 Years

In 2010, Fred Couples was seen wearing a pair of golf shoes without spikes during the Master’s Tournament, which took the world by storm!

As a result, many brands like Adidas and FootJoy created a line of spikeless golf shoes, which give just as much traction on the course. Plus, they were more lightweight and have become a mainstay in modern day golf.

As mentioned previously, golf requires a lot of walking and players need to be able to walk in their shoes without feeling any pain or getting tired feet.

Now, because there is little damage to the golf courses and golf shoes being more comfortable than ever, sports brands are now competing in the lightweight race.

Please contact us to find out more.


Check our full range of golf shoes for men here.

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