Why Are Golf Shoes White? — (The History Explained)

why are golf shoes white and the history of why shoes are white from tell me more golf instructors

If you’re playing a round at your golf club, you’ll probably notice that most golfers are wearing white golf shoes.

Wearing white golf shoes in a game played on grass, dirt, and sand might seem odd. But have you ever wondered why most golf shoes are predominantly white or two-toned?

The Tell Me More Golf Apparel Team will examine the history of white golf shoes and why white is such a popular color with golfers. We’ll also explain how to clean your white golf shoes when they get dirty.


History Of Why Golf Shoes Are White

The spectator shoe is a low-heeled oxford, brogue, or semi-brogue shoe with two contrasting colors, typically brown and white or black and white. In the 1920s and 1930s, the spectator, or co-respondent shoe, became popular in the US and the UK.

In 1925, Walter Hagen wore two-tone black and white wingtip golf shoes at the Lido Club in Long Island, New York.

Bobby Jones wore brown and white spectator shoes the following year, and golf shoes had a new fashion trend.

When two of the most famous golfers started wearing two-tone spectator shoes, they quickly became the favored style for golfers of that era. Today, you still see versions of golf shoes in two-tone varieties, primarily white and black and white and brown.

Beyond the impeccable fashion sense of Mr. Hagen and Mr. Jones, golf shoes are also white for other functional reasons. In their time, shoes were handmade from leather, and leather does not breathe very well. White golf shoes are more reflective than darker colored leathers and help to keep a golfer’s feet cooler.

White clothing was also highly fashionable off the golf course in other outdoor games played by gentlemen and ladies, such as tennis, badminton, and cricket. 

For example, the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament still features all-white tennis outfits for ladies and gentlemen. And, at Augusta, for The Masters, caddies wear all-white jumpsuits, a tip of the hat to classic sporting taste.

Today while many golf shoes are predominantly white, black and multi-colored golf shoes have become more fashionable.

Today, all major shoe makers like adidas, Nike, Footjoy, New Balance, Puma, Callaway, and Ecco offer white or two-tone versions of women’s and men’s golf shoes.


Beyond the history of white golf shoes, there are practical reasons that white golf shoes are suitable for golf.

White golf shoes go with any outfit that a golfer chooses to wear.

Golf has always been a game where fashion plays an important part and allows golfers to show their style.

Another reason white golf shoes are good for golf is that white shoes stay cooler than golf shoes of darker colors. White is more reflective than darker colors, which helps keep a golfer’s feet cooler when playing. Keeping feet cool was especially true in the past when all-leather uppers were the only option for golfers.

White golf shoes also stand out from the grass in the fairway, the rough, and the greens. Many golfers use their feet to help them line up for shots, and wearing white shoes helps them see their feet better in their peripheral vision when addressing the ball.


Do White Golf Shoes Get Dirty?

Yes, white golf shoes will get dirty. Golf is a game that is played on grass, sand, mulch, leaves, etc., when moving around the golf course during a round.

The golf swing has a lot of natural torque and interaction with the turf that will pick up dirt and grass on the golf shoes.

Getting golf shoes dirty is especially the-case when playing in wet, muddy conditions. 

One thing that a golfer can do to try and keep their shoes clean during muddy rounds is to take an extra towel with them and wipe them off as soon as they can after they pick up dirt and mud on their shoes. Getting the dirt and mud off early before it hardens, sets, and stains the materials is a great way to keep them clean.

It’s also a good idea to wipe your shoes off completely after you finish a round of golf to get the dirt, grass, and sand off your golf shoes. Wiping your shoes off will help prevent grime from accumulating on your shoes and also helps to keep them cleaner between rounds.

Waterproof golf shoes, like those made of leather, are easier to keep clean than shoes with synthetic materials because they can dirt and grass wipe off easily after rounds.

How To Clean White Golf Shoes

Routinely cleaning a pair of white golf shoes will not only keep them looking great, but it’s also good for the shoes. White golf shoes might take a little extra time to keep them bright and shiny.

After a round, you should wipe off your white golf shoes’ excess dirt and water. This practice will make cleaning them later on much more manageable. 

If you have a shoe tree, putting them into your white golf shoes after the round will help them keep their shape and wick away any moisture on the insides.

If your golf shoes do get dirty, there are still steps you can take to clean them.

Steps to Clean White Golf Shoes

  1. Take the Laces Out – It’s easier to clean golf shoes thoroughly with the laces removed. If the laces are dirty, now is the time to replace them.
  1. Wash Them – Use warm water, mild soap, and a soft towel for leather and synthetic leather golf shoes. For mesh shoes, you may be able to machine wash them in a washing bag. If not, handwashing also works.
  1. Use Magic Eraser On Tough Stains – Magic eraser can quickly and safely remove tough stains from the uppers and soles of golf shoes.
  1. Apply Shoe Polish for Leather Shoes – Dab a little shoe polish onto your shoes, brush, and then buff until you get a good shine. You can also use brown or black if you have two-tone golf shoes.
  1. Apply Shoe Protector – There are many polishes and sprays that you can apply to white golf shoes that are both waterproof and protect the shoes from future dirt and stains. Sprays can make synthetic leather and synthetic mesh golf shoes more water resistant. Be sure to check with the manufacturer of your golf shoes to find the right product for your shoe model.

Perhaps the best way to keep white golf shoes clean is to have another pair of shoes to wear in wet, muddy conditions. If this isn’t possible, clean your shoes regularly to help keep them as clean and in the best shape possible.

Why Do Golf Shoes Have White Soles?

If modern golf shoes have white soles, it is only a matter of style for the shoe designer. White soles stand out in contrast to the turf and the colors of the shoe’s upper part.

Many versions of spikeless shoes will also have white outsoles or white cleats that help the shoes stand out on the golf course.

In the past, golf shoes had leather soles that may have been untreated and appeared lighter because golf shoes were handmade, and the cobbler liked the neutral look of unstained leather for the soles.

Why Do Golfers Wear White?

Golfers wear white because white provides a clean, classic look for sporting gentlemen and ladies.

Because the game of golf was prevalent in high society places like country clubs, where players wear white for other sports such as cricket and tennis. Wearing white eventually carried over into the fashion sense of golfers. 

Golfers on the PGA Tour also have to wear long pants when they play in tournaments. White pants are cooler than darker colored pants, especially in hot, humid, summertime conditions.

White golf pants also let golfers wear almost any color they want with their golf shirts and golf shoes so that they can flash their sense of style and fashion.

White belts are an everyday fashion accessory for amateur and professional golfers looking to flash a little style on the golf course. Most golfers also wear white golf gloves if they wear a golf glove. It’s also common for golfers to wear white socks with white golf shoes.

Golf is one of the few exclusions in sports where players don’t wear a uniform. However, because white is such a versatile color and goes with anything, it makes sense that golfers wear it from head to toe to complement their outfits.

Conclusion: Research by Tellmemoregolf.com

black tell me more golf compressed logo with mottled background information for golfers

Golf shoes are white because of golf roots as a gentlemen’s game in the early 20th century, where white was fashionable. Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones started wearing two-toned spectator shoes that became wildly popular in America with golfers.

Today, the white golf shoe is trendy among men and women golfers. Golfers like its classic look because it is a color they can wear with almost anything. Golfers wear white because it is more reflective than darker-colored clothing and keeps them cooler on the golf course.

White golf shoes will get dirty and take time and effort to keep clean. However, leather, synthetic leather, and synthetic mesh materials can all be hand washed and detailed to make them look as good as new. So long as you regularly clean them.

White golf shoes and clothing are a great way to pay homage to golf’s history while looking great and feeling cool!


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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