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It’s not hard to observe the differences in footwork from the persimmon age to the modern age.  Heavier gear goes hand in hand with metal spikes and the savage pivots of guys like Snead, Hogan, and Divicenzo required solid anchoring to perform as intended.   One of Hogan’s alleged secrets was an extra spike under the ball of his right foot and that he had the shoe custom made in Europe.  I wanted to see for myself what kind of footware Hogan was using so I took to the internet for some research.  I’m sure the great man brought   a few of his secrets  to the grave but we should be able to solve this one…

First up lets have a look at the shoes he sold under the Hogan brand.  Below you can see the advert for the Hogan “Power Driving” golf shoes from the 60′s.  A photo from a vintage pair being sold on ebay reveals the sole design.  It’s a classic perimeter pattern – standard for a set of spikes even through to today.

So did Hogan actually advocate extra spikes or not?  Here we have a shot from his locker at Colonial.  Perhaps to tease us, the curator exposes the spike pattern on the left foot but not the right.  There is definitely a spike here in the ball of the  foot.  Is this the famed extra spike?

Fortunately, down-the-line photos and video give us a look at the spike pattern on the right foot.  To me,  these photos indicate not only an extra spike, but an entire ROW of extra spikes down the center.  Judging by these, the request was not for an incremental gain in support but instead a desire to absolutely maximize traction.

So, my best guess is that Hogan was playing with an extra spike on the left side and a full row of extra spikes on the right foot.  Quite a different philosophy compared to modern golf shoes:

 

Incidentally, The Book of Golf by Louis T. Stanley (1960) gives us a close look at Sam Snead’s footwork and you might be surprised at what you see – another bonus row of spikes!

Who knows, maybe many of the greats had these extra spikes back in the 50′s and 60′s. There is something to learn here and it has been lost in most modern golf instruction.  People love to idolize the swings of Hogan and Snead but so few understand that the equipment and the technique are complimentary.  The soles of Snead and Hogan’s shoes  looked like medieval torture devices – now we have rubber dimples and ridges.

For further study, check out this compilation by Bradley Hughes.  Classic examples of world class footwork.

7 Responses to “Hogan and Snead – Footware and Footwork”

  1. Avatar of Anton Anton says:

    problem is most places ban metal spikes these days. where you know the greenkeeper and they trust you wont make a mess of their greens by dragging your feet they just might let you. i have a separate pair with pro stinger modern metal spikes installed and although they are shorter and thinner than the old ones the difference between them and any regular soft spikes is unbelievable. super solid grip and traction and they dont get clogged like soft spikes. they do however have that distinct sound on hard surfaces and leave tiny holes on greens so hard to go all ninja and sneak unnoticed with them.

  2. That was a very interesting article and gave me lots to think about next time I’m either playing golf or a the driving range. I think I’m going to read it a “couple more times” and talk about it with a few people too!

  3. Avatar of hickorychris hickorychris says:

    I am in the middle of house relocation so please forgive the brevity.
    Henry Cotton also had extra spikes on his right shoe, The Cotton Oxfords were sold as such.
    When Bubba Watson clattered down the path at Augusta his footfall didn’t sound much like rubber cleats to me!
    I was encouraged to change my swing during my 60s to a more ‘modern’ body oriented swing. Guess what happened. Just like Henry Cotton said I got bursitis in my left hip.

  4. Avatar of Rami Valta Rami Valta says:

    I also have the champ pro stingers on my other shoes and they’re pretty good. I ruined one set by walking too much on hard surfaces though. It’s hard to go unnoticed with them but fortunately nobody seems to mind at my local club. I’ve played one course in Finland where they are allowed, but they did turn a lot of heads even there.

  5. Avatar of Bart O'Shea Bart O\'Shea says:

    I checked with Allen Edmonds shoes reference their honors collection shoes. I didn’t ask about the extra row of spikes but I assume they could accomodate that. They will “recraft” any of their standard goodyear welt shoes into golf shoes for $160. I am now keeping an eye on ebay to find a pair of AE shoes. You can usually find pretty good bargains on them. This will be a good way to get a very comfortable pair of heavy solid shoes to wear for golf. Add the metal spikes mentioned above and those will be some good shoes.

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