By E. Michael Johnson
The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of things for those of us who play golf. While absolutely thankful most courses are open, after a few months it’s natural to want some of the creature comforts we're used to. For some, that means having a locker-room attendant to take care of your golf shoes on a regular basis. Whether that means cleaning, re-spiking or the like, it’s something many of us now have to deal with on our own. We have you covered: here’s our guide on how to take care of your golf shoes.
Respect your shoes
The first thing to understand is that golf shoes are not a fashion accessory. They are equipment. Period. Every bit as much a part of your success in the game as your putter or golf ball. Sure, you want to look good, too. But shoe care is about preserving a vital piece of your equipment.
Dump the trunk
With many locker rooms closed, the temptation is to simply keep the shoes in the trunk of your car, so they’re at the ready when you go to play. As Julia Roberts said in “Pretty Woman,” “Big mistake. Huge!” Just as increased temperature in the trunk can wreak havoc on grips, it also can be damaging to the materials in your golf shoes. Keep them in the downstairs until you’re ready to head to the course.
Have several pairs ready to go
OK, we know a couple things: Golf shoes ain’t cheap, and there’s a tendency to get comfy with a particular pair and wear them into the ground. But if cost is a deterrent, wait for a sale and have at least two or more pairs of shoes that you use in a rotation. Not only will the shoes last longer, but you won’t be fretting about what you’re going to wear on your feet the next day after playing in the rain.
Don’t be lazy
Now, I’m one to talk here. Anyone who has played golf with me over the last 20 years knows I tie my shoes about once a season and just slip my feet in and out of them as needed. Do as I say, not as I do. Not only should you untie the laces after each round, but put shoe trees in them. Sure, shoe trees seem so grandpa-ish, but they’re key to maintaining the shape of your shoes. Also buy a shoe horn to use when putting them on. It not only makes getting into your shoes easier, but according to FootJoy, using a shoe horn will protect the heel counter of the shoe. Why is that important? Because damage to the heel counter can cause improper fit in the heel, which can lead to blistering and discomfort. These extra steps will go a long way to preserving your golf shoes—and your feet.
Get a grip
We’ve all seen this guy. The one who takes a mighty swing only to see his back foot kick out. As his shot sails wide right, he lifts his foot only to look at cleats worn down to the nub in accusatory fashion. Hey dude, it’s not the shoe’s fault. You’re the one who couldn’t be bothered to swap out cleats that are several years’ old. Replacement cleats and wrenches are easily available from several online golf retailers. Do yourself a favor and grab some so that mighty swing produces the results you deserve.
Cleaning your golf shoes is about as difficult as washing the dishes after dinner. In other words, not very. According to FootJoy, you should clean leather or synthetic golf shoes after each round by removing dirt and residue using a shoe cleaner or mild soap and water, then air dry at room temperature. Now, we know cleaning your shoes after each round is as likely as you doing the dishes every night. But make an effort to do both at least once in a while.
Whether you’re a dew-sweeper or you got caught out in a storm, wet golf shoes are inevitable at some point (which, again, is why we recommend you have several pair). But what to do with them? First, DO NOT use a blow dryer or put them in the oven or any other kind of heat source. That can cause severe damage to the uppers and soles. What you want to do is get on this as quickly as possible. Clean your shoes then place crumbled up newspaper inside to soak up excess water. This can take eight to 10 hours, according to FootJoy. Then remove the newspaper and put your cedar shoe tree in. Why cedar? It absorbs water whereas plastic shoe trees do not. Then place them in a shaded area—because sunlight can cause damage, too—at room temperature to dry.
What about mesh?
Mesh shoes are great. They’re light, they’re comfy and, thankfully, pretty easy to clean. FootJoy says you can soak them in the sink with a squirt of liquid dish soap or laundry detergent and warm water, then use a cloth or soft-bristle cleaning brush to remove dirt and debris. When done, dab the mesh with a cold-water dampened cloth to remove soap residue. You can also place them in a mesh bag and toss in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, of course. When done, follow the above for caring for wet shoes.
Of course, at some point the pandemic will end, and the golf life will return to a better semblance of normalcy. That includes the return of some golfers relying on locker-room attendants to help them take care of your precious shoes. Until then, however, these tips will help keep your shoes in shape and your game on solid footing.