How Golf Shoes Are Made

The right golf shoes can help your golf game.

Some elite golf courses may even require you to wear an official pair of golf shoes to use their course.

So, do you really want to be traipsing along on the golf course in a pair of beaten up old Converse? Probably not.

In this article, we will go over the history of golf shoes, what types of golf shoes are made, and what you can expect with new golf shoe technology. We won’t be getting too much into specifics of golf shoe manufacturing – we know you are here for practical info, not how industrial sewing machines put shorts shoes together.

Why Wear Golf Shoes?

green golf shoes

If you are new to golf, you may be wondering why you need special golf shoes at all. Why not use standard tennis shoes or sneakers?

The answer is traction. You need traction when walking on the golf course, especially up and down steep hills. If you are taking a shot on one of those hills (at an angle), you need special grips, cleats, or spikes on the bottom of your shoes, so you won’t slip or fall down when swinging the golf club.

Even if you are on level ground and starting off your game driving off a high tee, having grips on the bottoms of your shoes will give you more stability for your golf swing.

Golf shoes are designed to give you that stability and traction. They are made with special features to help improve your golf game. While you can play golf in sneakers, you will generally do better with golf shoes.

A Quick History of Golf Shoes

early golf shoes

Golf shoes, as a distinct type of footwear, have been around for approximately 150 years, and maybe even longer. They were mentioned in the 1857 “Golfer’s Manual.”

Early Golf Shoes

Originally, the spiked shoes were made from small, rough nails that could improve traction on the greens. These spikes were not kind to the golf course, and worse, sometimes they would injure the golf player. If not properly situated in the shoe, these nails could come up through the bottom of the shoe while being worn and pierce the foot.


Screw-in spikes were launched in 1891, but they messed up the greens so much that they were often banned by golf course owners.

The classic leather oxford golf shoe made its first appearance in 1906. Spalding designed these shoes to have a darker piece of leather shaped like a saddle on both sides. These classic golf shoes are still seen on golf courses today more than 100 years later.

The Transition to Modern Materials

Unfortunately, leather has its drawbacks. It can be stiff and hot in warm weather. Starting in the 1980s, golf shoe manufacturers began to use different types of materials to make more comfortable shoes that had more flexibility and breathability.

Today, you can get golf shoes featuring a variety of materials in the uppers. You can get classic leather oxford golf shoes, waterproofed leather, and synthetic materials. Synthetic materials can be used to create mesh uppers that allow for airflow (great for hot days).

The bottoms of golf shoes also use synthetic materials to create much more cushion and give than the stiffer, classic leather soles of yesteryear. New rubber technologies also allow for the creation of spikeless shoes that provide traction as well as durability over time.

Golf Spikes vs. Golf Cleats

Softspikes Stealth PINS Golf Cleats

Speaking of spikes, if you are new to golf or just know about the sport from old movies, you may have an image in your mind of spikey steel-soled shoes on the golf course.

You may even find some amazing vintage golf shoes with metal spikes on the bottom on online auction websites such as eBay.

Be careful, however. You may be barred from using these old-fashioned golf shoes on an actual golf course today. This is because many golf courses ended up banning metal spiked shoes because of their propensity to tear up golf greens.

Metal spiked shoes started falling out of favor in the 1990s when new, kinder plastic cleats became popular. Plastic cleats are round and jagged, not spikey, and they are a lot kinder to golf courses as well as more comfortable for the person wearing them. You can also get soft spikes that provide traction on greens, as well as bend a bit on harder surfaces.

Modern Golf Cleat and Spike Technologies

Today, golf shoemakers are going out of their way to come up with innovations to golf grips and cleats, so they can stay ahead of the competition.

Golf shoes now come with plastic cleats that can be removed and replaced once they wear down, or if they break. Many manufacturers also work on the designs of the cleats to make them more appealing to golfers, whether they have funky twists in them or special materials.

Puma, for example, developed a special type of golf shoe spike with concentric rods with its Puma Spark Sport shoe.

Cleatless, Spikeless Golf Shoes

The latest trend in golf shoes, which started in 2010, is the spikeless golf shoe. You can thank Fred Couples for this, who showed off his Ecco Street Premiere hybrid sports shoes at the Masters Golf Tournament.

Spikeless golf shoes can be worn on and off the golf course. The bottoms of these versatile shoes have dimples and ridges in them to provide more traction, but without the excessive digging into the turf that cleats or spikes have.

You can, actually, wear non-golf shoes that can provide this effect. Many types of lightweight hiking shoes from companies such as Columbia or Merrell offer ridges on the outer soles that can work just as well as spikeless golf shoes.

The question is if you are on a golf course with a strict dress code, will they pass? Generally speaking, most publicly accessible golf courses won’t bother you if you are wearing these types of shoes.

How Modern Golf Shoes Are Made

making shoes

As we have seen, the technology of golf shoes has evolved considerably since the early days of nails embedded into the bottom soles. Now, you are likely to get golf shoes with removable plastic cleats, plastic spikes, or even spikeless shoes.

You can get shoes made with space-age synthetic material, old-fashioned leather, waterproofed material, and all sorts of special features.

Here are some of the other ways golf shoes made today:

Modern Lacing Systems

Are you tired of your shoelaces becoming untied in the middle of your golf game? You can now buy golf shoes with special lacing systems that avoid this problem. While they may not be quite as high tech as the laceless cyber shoes featured in the old Back to the Future sequel, they are close.

Some of these mechanical lacing shoes have strange looking knobs on the back where the heel is. You would tighten this knob, sometimes with a special device, to adjust your laces.

Modern Cleat and Grip Designs

As we have already mentioned, the technology will continue to advance when it comes to cleats, spikes, and grips. Gone are the clunky metal spikes of yesteryear. You can expect to see more spikeless shoes as well as cleat-like bottoms that can be worn safely off the golf course.

New Materials for Comfort

Synthetic uppers will continue to be refined to create a lighter, more breathable golf shoe, while soles will continue to be upgraded for more comfort and arch support.

Other Types of Golf Shoes

Look for these other types of golf shoes that are now being made:

golf boots

Golf Boots

We mentioned hiking shoes earlier as an option for the golf course. If you want more support for your ankles as well as protection during the cold, wet winter months, a golf boot would be a good choice. These are very weatherproof and warm and will keep your feet toasty dry even if there is muddy snow on the ground.

Golf boots look similar to low hiking boots. If your golf course’s dress code allows it, you might get by with some lightweight hiking boots that have good traction.

golf sandals

Golf Sandals

You may be surprised to learn that golf sandals are available with plastic cleats or grips to allow you to achieve stability while keeping your feet cool in hot climates. These shoes will not provide as much support or protection for your feet, but if you play a lot of golf in the hot Florida summers, then you may want some.

barefoot golf shoes

“Barefoot” Golf Shoes

​Like the running world, the golf shoe world is trending towards more of a “barefoot” feel with golf shoes. These types of golf shoes are truly lightweight and let your feet feel the ground more.

Golf Shoes Will Continue to Evolve

golf shoes evolve

How golf shoes are made today will probably be very different from how they are made tomorrow. In 50 years’ time, we may see a totally different type of golf shoe, or, who knows, the traditional golf oxford may still be popular.

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