By Steve Eubanks, Contributor, Golf Business
(As seen in Jan/Feb 2021 Golf Business magazine)
When the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas held its grand re-opening in 2019, the fourth group of the day went out to great fanfare and a little ribbing from the director of golf, Brian Hawthorne. “This is the fourth group on the course and our first player teeing off in Vans,” Hawthorne said, poking fun at the footwear of one of the players who wore the sneakers first popularized by skateboarders.
Four hours later, Hawthorne handed that player a bag-tag for firing the first-day course record.
“It had to be the shoes,” he said with a smile.
Athletic footwear is not just popular among the younger generation. You find more octogenarians teeing off in Converse than in traditional golf shoes these days. Golf shop operators around the country are following their customers’ leads. Athletic shoes can be found in shops throughout Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida.
Companies like Golfkicks provide additional incentive for shops to get into crossover footwear. That company sells soft-spike kits that can be added to any pair of athletic shoes. Now, Air Jordans can be transformed into golf shoes in a couple of minutes.
“I get it, it’s the wave of the future,” Hawthorne said when the conversation about athletic shoes turned serious. “Soft spikes made the transition easier. You don’t change shoes to go in and out of the clubhouse now. And some of the soles on shoes like Vans have a lot of traction.”
There is also an opportunity for golf shops to upsell footwear outside the normal niche golf market. From runners to cross-trainers to members who get out and walk their dogs in the afternoon, everyone wears sneakers. Don’t be surprised when you see more of them in golf shops in 2021 and beyond.
Steve Eubanks is a contributor for Golf Business magazine