Fully Equipped mailbag: What percentage of pros still wear metal spikes?
Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall) fields your hard-hitting gear questions.
I was at a Tour event recently and heard the crunching sound of metal meeting concrete as a pro walked by. I thought metal spikes were no longer allowed at tournaments? It got me wondering how many pros still wear them regularly. — Laird Thomas
I actually covered this exact topic a couple of years ago after snapping a photo of Tiger Woods teeing off at the Memorial Tournament. I’m used to zooming in to get a better look at the clubhead (or shaft), but there was something about Woods’ Nike golf shoes that stood out — he was still wearing metal spikes.
You’re certainly not the first (nor the last) to wonder aloud if metal spikes are still legal. Head to your local public course and I guarantee you’ll see a rule outlawing the use of metal spikes. Nearly every golf course on the planet requires golfers to wear soft spikes or spikeless golf shoes.
Course-friendly soft spikes have been around since the early ’90s and make it easier for superintendents to maintain the greens. Not to mention they offer similar traction to their metal counterparts. There’s a reason why metal is all but non-existent in the equipment space.
As for the number of players still using metal spikes in the retail space, it’s a much small number. Most retailers don’t even offer a shoe with metal spikes, which means you have to go searching for a pair if you truly want to switch them out. With regards to the Tour side, the usage figure hovers around 15 to 20 percent on a given week.
Tour players live by a different set of rules during a tournament week and have the option to wear metal spikes if they so choose. It’s interesting to note that Woods no longer wears metal spikes on the course, but Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau (who owns arguably the fastest swing in professional golf) still swear by them in their FootJoy and Puma shoes.
And if you’re wondering if there’s a popular metal spike option on Tour, it would probably be Champ’s Pro Stinger. The hybrid offering — Tiger’s spike of choice when he was wearing steel — features a metal tip surrounded by a polymer outer (similar to what’s found on a soft spike) that allows it to hug the ground through impact.
Until the younger generation phases out metal spikes completely, I think you’ll see it in some capacity on Tour in the coming years. That said, the usage continues to dwindle.
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