Course of Style: Throwback golf shoes and the comfort countertrend

Allen Edmonds Golf Shoes
Courtesy of Allen Edmonds
Allen Edmonds Honors Collection, a line of golf shoes featuring many classic touches.

To a certain type of guy, the prevailing sneaker-style golf shoe just won't do. He wants something dressier, elegant, more traditional. Nowadays that's hard to find. Stepping into this vacuum is Allen Edmonds, the shoe retailer and manufacturer, which this week introduces its Honors Collection, a line of golf shoes featuring many classic touches: wingtips, perforated saddles, braided leathers, and two-tone or spectator styles. All the shoes have old-fashioned welted construction throughout. In other words, a throwback. On the performance side, the shoes are made of premium leathers, according to the company, with "heated cork" inserted between the insole and outsole for "custom-like orthotic comfort."

Like other Allen Edmonds products, the golf footwear will be eligible for "recrafting," whereby the company resoles or reconditions worn shoes (go to allenedmonds.com for prices and other information). Two-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw will be shod in the new products — at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hualalai, Hawaii, Jan. 21-23 — and on the Champions Tour. Eventually the Honors Collection will be sold in Allen Edmonds retails stores — of which there are dozens, including outlet stores, throughout the country — as well as in golf shops. The shoes are handmade using a 212-step production process in — of all places — the United States.

On the Casual Side
Personally, we'd like to see the return of spats, or at least reverse calfskin chukka boots with golf cleats. But for every trend, we realize, there is a countertrend. Amid the mild yearning for leather Oxfords and full-out brogue wingtips, there is the more profound and long-term desire for comfort and casualness on the course, as exemplified by Fred Couples playing the Masters in essentially spikeless shoes.

Perhaps to capture the spirit of this phenomenon, Couples' apparel sponsor, Ashworth Golf, is about to introduce its own line of very laid-back golf shoes at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida, later this month. The shoes are very casual indeed, soft and cushy looking, including suede "Encinitas" loafers and old-style canvas tennis sneakers. All have a sort of ridged or plastic-knobbed sole for grip on the course. Ashworth, which makes lots of classic golf clothes but heretofore did not make shoes, describes their footwear as "crossover," meaning that you could wear to play golf but would also be suitable for other activities.

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