Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Golf Shoes.

Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño
Anybody who loves golf knows that the obsession isn’t just about hitting good shots or, as bad as we might want it, even totally about the score. Anybody around teenagers knows that there’s such a thing as way too much technology. Those two points in juxtaposition bring me to the following statement --- Let’s bring real spikes back to weekend golf!

I’m now officially on a mission. I miss cleaning my spikes on those bristles and actually having the tangled grass fly off with ease. I miss the connection with generations of other golfers I used to sense when walking toward the Men’s Locker Room on a spike-worn carpet or marked wooden floor. I especially miss that cool sound of my spikes on a parking lot and a cart path, and the memories of when they clacked in stereo with my Dad’s. And I miss the condition of the greens when golf shoes only made 11 small nail holes under other golfers’ feet, instead of the complex geometric patterns -- of 9 pyramids, 8 triangles, 7 circles each containing 6 points of indentation, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens and a perimeter of angled trapezoids – on the soles of this year’s newest golf shoes.

Really.  I’m old enough to remember when soft spikes made some sense in terms of being better for greens.  Have you looked lately?  Check out a well-manicured green after a pair of modern, hard-plastic soles have walked over it, especially on the feet of some hacker who thinks he’s in the U.S. Open.  You know that guy.  He looks at his double-bogey putt from four vantage points, feeling the slope of the green as he traipses to the hole and back on each side of his imaginary chalk line (which means that he’s walking right on top of your line, having seen too little break when he plumbed the putt five minutes ago).  The occasional real spike mark could be tapped down in any friendly game and the problem was solved.  There’s no chance to re-grade the whole surface of a twenty-foot birdie putt when it looks like Neil Armstrong has just walked across the moon.  “One giant leap” indeed.

Of course, you know it’s all a big conspiracy. It always is. Years ago pros and greenskeepers liked the original green-friendly soft spikes. I spoke with a bunch of them – some from Top 20 courses -- at our booth during the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando this January. Most would bring back traditional golf spikes (the shorter version) in a heartbeat. So would our buddy Marty Hackel, Golf Digest’s Mr. Fashion, who came by our booth, too (you can see his piece on shoes in the new GD issue). The conspiracy is driven by clubhouse decorators who insist on keeping up this fiction about what happens on the course. They never much cared about the “connection with generations of other golfers” that came with carpet erosion and pock-marked wooden floors. Hey, what are all the hefty fees for, anyway? Real golfers don’t mind threadbare carpet. Change it out once in a while.
Hal Sutton, wearing Allen Edmonds Fort Worth, 
teeing off at the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach
For all the press about a few pros going spikeless (what a misnomer – have you felt the edges of all 60 of those non-spikes on a “spikeless” shoe?), lots of pros wear real spikes. And still you don’t see them fussing over spike marks all that often in a round, despite the official rules (now there’s a real conspiracy – the Rules of Golf). Besides spikes on their soles, it also seems today’s pros like wearing classic clothing again, including classic welted golf shoes. We’ve got a growing list of pros wearing Allen Edmonds Honors Collection golf shoes this year.

Ben Crenshaw at the Toshiba Classic
A month ago I was at Riviera – Hogan’s Alley (as everybody still reading this far likely knows) – and, for the first time in my long golfing life, I was on the practice tee during tournament week, thanks to the smart thinking and fast talking of our head of golf sales.  We watched Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño pound drives high into the netting some 270 yards away wearing our shoes.  He won a PGA event last fall in them.  Ben Crenshaw made a hole-in-one in them out in Monterey last fall, too.  Hal Sutton has started wearing our shoes.  And Darren Clarke’s agent walked up to us on the Riviera tee as we were leaving and said, “Are you the guys from Allen Edmonds?  Darren would really like to try wearing your shoes.”   I played it cool, of course.  “Huh?”  I said.  “Who?  The suddenly super-fit guy over there?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!! !   THIS IS GREAT!!!”  Well, anyway, Darren Clarke may be wearing our shoes at Bay Hill next weekend.  I hope he plays well on Moving Day.  CBS coverage would be nice for the mission I’m on….

Looking forward to green grass and temperatures above 38 degrees, hopefully both sometime before July.

Best wishes,