July 23, 2021
Welcome to yet another edition of the Full-featured Mailbag, an interactive GOLF.com series where our resident Dimple Head (aka GOLF’s Senior Gear Editor, Jonathan Wall) answers your tough gear questions.
I was at a tour event recently and heard the crunch of metal hitting concrete as a professional walked by. I thought metal spikes were no longer allowed in tournaments? I was wondering how many professionals still wear them regularly. – Squire Thomas
I covered this exact subject a few years ago after taking a picture of Tiger Woods teeing off at the Memorial Tournament. I’m used to zooming in to get a better view of the club head (or shaft), but Woods’ Nike golf shoes were something special – it still sported metal spikes.
You are certainly not the first (and also the last) to wonder aloud whether metal tips are still legal. Go to your local public course and I guarantee you will see a rule that prohibits the use of metal spikes. Almost every golf course in the world requires golfers to wear soft spikes or toe-less golf shoes.
Course-friendly soft spikes have been around since the early 1990s and make it easier for superintendents to maintain the greens. Not to mention, they offer traction similar to their metal counterparts. There’s a reason metal is next to nonexistent in the equipment area.
The number of players still using metal nibs in retail stores is very small. Most retailers don’t even offer a metal spiked shoe, which means you’ll have to find a pair if you really want to swap them out. On the tour page, the usage rate in a given week is between 15 and 20 percent.
The reason Tiger Woods continues to wear metal spikes
Tour players live by different 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 (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 the tour, it would probably be Champ’s Pro Stinger. The hybrid offering – Tiger’s preferred spike when it was wearing steel – features a metal tip surrounded by a polymer exterior (similar to a soft spike) that allows it to nestle against the ground on impact.
Until the younger generation Metal-Spikes runs out completely, I think you’ll see it on tour in some ways in the years to come. However, usage continues to decline.
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Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and Managing Editor for Equipment at GOLF.com. Before joining the team at the end of 2018, he worked in the equipment division for the PGA Tour for 6 years.