When Mark Twain called golf "a good walk, spoiled," we bet he'd never had the pleasure of plying the fairways in the spendiest golf shoes money could buy. Surely, any of these half-dozen pairs, listed in ascending price order, would have changed Twain's mind.
The spikes are soft, the leather supple, and the shoes a lovely marriage of form and function. Handmade in Japan, they come in two styles — saddle and wing-tip — in color schemes of white, silver and wine-red.
FOOTJOY 1857 COLLECTION, $750
The name is from the year FootJoy was founded. The price is more reflective of contemporary times. In exchange for your outlay, you get the throwback craftsmanship of stylish suede footwear, each pair made by hand and labored over for 36 hours.
Everything that's old is new again in London, where J.Adler melds traditional cobbling methods with modern-age technology. When you place an order, they send you, by express mail, two medical-grade casting socks, which are coated in resin, the better to mold faithfully to your feet. Using this template, skilled artisans get busy sewing and assembling, laying a waterproof membrane inside the frame before stitching on the pit-cured leather soles. From start to finish, the process takes 8 to 12 weeks.
E. VOGEL. PALMER, $1,100
Brooklyn is a hipster borough of craft breweries and bearded guys in skinny jeans. It's also the home of bespoke boots and shoes by E. Vogel, a venerable outfit that built its reputation with equestrian footwear but more recently has gotten into golf shoes. The pair pictured here, known as the Palmer, feature a tan grain upper with a punch black saddle and a black strip, as well as a leather sole and soft spikes. Custom-fitting is required. As part of the process, they make a wooden form of your foot, which they keep on file, you know, in case you want another pair.
TRECCANI MILANO, $1,200
Leave it to the Italians to stride onto the fairways in leather shoes fit for the runways. Treccani Milano gets its raw materials from European mills and tanneries, then custom cobbles them in the fashion mecca of Milan. The results come in a range of artful patterns and colors, while the leather itself comes from a range of creatures, including alligators, ostriches, snakes, calves and deer.
PAR WEST, $750-$3,200
Bison. Stingray. Calfskin. Python. Handcrafted from a range of leathers, and shaped into eight distinctive styles, Par West shoes are custom-built to taste. What every pair requires is an ample budget, especially the aptly named Augustas (pictured), coveted kicks that top out in black crocodile for $3,200.