The Reasoning Behind Why Golf Shoes Are White

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If you have ever paid attention, you will notice that almost all golfers, whether beginners or professionals on the pro tour, wear white golf shoes. Why? There is actually a bit of history behind this and a few practical reasons.

White golf shoes have been around since the late 1800s but came into prominence when Walter Hagen introduced them while at the Lido Club in New York in 1925. They are also white because white matches any style (color), and white reflects sunlight keeping the shoe cooler.

If you have ever wanted to know what the big deal with white golf shoes is and why they are considered traditional and wearing any other color golf shoes is a faux pas, then read on. We will cover the historical reasoning behind why golf shoes are white and then also cover practical reasons. We’ll also cover what else to look for in a golf shoe and how to keep your white golf shoes in pristine condition.

Why are golf shoes white?

The three primary reasons why golf shoes are white are that one; they will almost go with any outfit you choose to wear, and the other reason is that they stay cooler than shoes of a different color.

The other factor we can consider is history. History plays a significant role in the evolution of anything, taking it and molding it according to the era of time.

Golf shoes have evolved over the past 150 years, so it’s best if we discuss the evolution of the shoe so we can relate it to how they are today and for what other reasons they are always white.

A brief history of golf shoes and how white golf shoes became prominent

The earliest golf shoes can be dated to 1857. They were referenced in an issue of Golfer’s manual (the Scottish publication) and were said to be robust shoes that had nails in them so golfers could safely walk over slippery terrain. At this point, golf shoes were dark in color, typically because they were made from leather.

The 1880s saw the introduction of a pair of golf shoes known as Spectators (also known as co-respondent shoes), and these came in a two-colored variety which was white and black or brown. Luckily society had progressed enough at this time to offer these white-colored shoes in leather or leather canvas.

Then in 1891, the first pair of golf shoes that had screw-in spikes was introduced. However, there seemed to be a real problem with these as they would tear up the greens. Many such greenskeepers worldwide were complaining about this. Eventually, these types of golf shoes were banned from many golf clubs and courses.

The Saddle Oxford golf shoe and golf shoes with tassels were soon to follow at the turn of the 20th century. Some of these golf shoes can still be found today, with the Saddle Oxford coming in more advanced versions and variations.

Another prominent style of golf shoe then came into being, and these were wingtips. A pointed toe cap can identify wingtips (also known as full brogues) with extensions situated along both sides of the toe.

White wingtips are how white golf shoes got their fame because their adoption and prominence can be accredited to Walter Hagen when he introduced the two-tone black and white wingtip to America at the Lido Club in New York back in 1925.

Walter Hagen Was an American professional golfer during the first half of the 20th century. He won 11 major professional tournaments, which is third only to Jack Niklaus and Tiger Woods.

Due to his fame, white golf shoes became all the rage, and everyone who was anyone started wearing white golf shoes.

As technology progressed, so did golf shoes, and they became more supportive and comfortable. Remember that golfers would have to walk over 18 holes, and golf shoes prior to the 1980s did not offer such luxuries as comfort and support.

White golf shoes maintained their presence throughout each decade as the elegant chic golf shoe that had history and style.

With the 1990s came the invention of plastic cleats, and this was a significant improvement due to the fact that these types of cleats would not tear up the beautiful and pristine lawns of a golf course.

Fast forward to today, and we now have golf shoes that can still be found in white, and if not all golfers always opt to choose white golf shoes over any other color because it is considered the norm.

You do get variations in color schemes, and black is the other color that is chosen over white. Still, golfers maintain the black should only be worn for specific occasions and situations.

Other reasons golfers choose white golf shoes

Now that we covered why golfers opt to wear white golf shoes from a historical point of view, we can also take a look at the two practical reasons that compounded the historical factor.

White is a color that reflects light. In fact, white reflects all the visible spectrum wavelengths. When light strikes a surface, some of its energy is absorbed, while some is reflected depending on the color. White light contains all the wavelengths, and thus when it hits a white surface, no energy is absorbed.

You can see how this could be valuable out on the golf course when you are playing 18 holes, and you are walking around in the sun for hours on end. Having a pair of white golf shoes means that it will reflect the sun’s rays and keep your shoes and feet much cooler than any other pair of golf shoes that are any other color.  

Another factor to consider from a fashion style perspective is that white literally goes with everything (other colors), especially the shades of blue, red, and black. This means no matter how eccentric your fashion style and color choice may be for your golf outfit (and there are many), a pair of white golf shoes will never go against your outfit.

When should you opt not to wear white golf shoes?

As we said, white is better overall for most occasions, and you will be better off with them. However, there are times when you should choose to wear a different color pair of golf shoes.

Black would typically be your next choice, as they tend to not show up how dirty they are. Take, for instance, if you have to play in the rain. When playing golf in the rain, you will most likely be dealing with dirt, mud, wet sand, and wet grass.

All of these factors will make a white pair of golf shoes filthy very quickly. In these conditions, it is best to wear another pair of golf shoes that are not white. If you intend to stay traditional, then you can always opt to wear black. However, there are hundreds of color combinations that you can choose from today, so the sky is the limit depending on your preferences.

Besides choosing white golf shoes, what other considerations are there?

We now know that white is the preferable choice when picking out golf shoes, but what other factors are there to consider because, as we stated, golf shoes have evolved, and they are designed with various characteristics. Below is a list of elements you should also consider when purchasing your white golf shoes.

  • Consider the golf shoe’s outsoles
  • Consider the golf shoe’s weight
  • Consider the golf shoe’s resistance to the elements
  • Consider if you prefer spikes or spikeless shoes
  • Consider if the golf shoes are breathable
  • Consider if the golf shoes are comfortable
  • Consider Box toe vs. roll toe golf shoes
  • Consider hybrid golf shoes

Depending on the shape of your feet and toes, you need to account for these characteristics that are available in golf shoes. They could either improve your game or by the 5th hole; you will be choosing to play barefoot, which is not classy and probably not allowed at your course or club.

How to keep your white golf shoes in pristine condition

Now that we covered the reasoning behind why golf shoes are white, you may be wondering, even if they are considered the norm and have historical value, why you should choose them. We did say that you should choose a different pair to wear in specific situations, so they must be pretty tricky to keep clean, and that could be tiresome, right?

You don’t want to have to spend countless hours cleaning your shoes, trying to remove grass stains and dirt before a game because that would take away from your golfing experience. Luckily keeping your white golf shoes in tip-top shape is pretty straightforward.

Supplies and accessories to clean your white golf shoes

Before attempting to clean your white golf shoes, you should make sure that you have the right accessories, because this will make your endeavor a whole lot easier.

Cleaning solution

The first item on the list is a cleaning solution, but you do get ones that are different. This is because golf shoes can be made of various materials such as leather, synthetic, or gore. You will need to purchase the correct cleaning solution that correlates to your shoe’s material.

Luckily we live in a world that now makes all-in-one cleaners, and here is our recommendation.

Check out this Shoe cleaner for leather, synthetic, and gore on Amazon here

White polish for golf shoes

For this, you can use ordinary white shoe polish, but we do recommend getting a premium shoe whitener. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and spending approximately $10 on premium shoe whitener for your expensive golf shoes that will last you months is a small price to pay.

Check out this premium hoe whitener on Amazon here

Other items

Then you will only need a rag, brush, and some soap and water. These should be available and at your disposal, but we took the liberty of listing a great shoe cleaning kit that provides everything you will need.

Check out this polish shoe brush kit on Amazon here

Step-by-step tutorial on how to clean your white golf shoes

Your first step is to remove the shoelaces from your golf shoes. Dirt and even blades of grass can get caught up in the holes that your laces are threaded through, so it is best to remove them in order to clean your white golf shoes thoroughly.

You can place the shoelaces in a sink with soap and water or throw them into the washing machine to give them that little bit extra shine.

The next step is to wipe down your shoes and remove excess dirt and grass, including some that may be stuck in the lace holes.

It would help if you remember that you should not opt to wash your white golf shoes straight away, and you must wipe them down first. This is because dirty or dusty white golf shoes will just make the water and them muddy.

Hence, use your rag and shoe cleaner to get as much dirt and excess stains off of them as you can.

Following the wipe down of your golf shoes, you now have the option to use soap and water. Remember not to place the entire shoe in water but use a wet rag and soap wiping it down. Submerging your golf shoes or any shoes for that matter will only make the cleaning process more extensive.

Once you have cleaned your golf shoes with soap and water, you should wipe them down with a dry rag removing any other excess marks, stains, or dirt, and let them air dry.

Remember that you do not want to expose your golf shoes to direct sunlight because this could weather the materials of the shoes. Excessive sun and a wet golf shoe could lead to leather that becomes tighter and starts to crack.

Once they are dry, you can again go over the shoes with shoe cleaner for one final touch-up if you feel the need to. Similarly, if you have opted to do this step, you should let your white golf shoes completely dry before moving onto the final step.

Once they are dry, you should scrutinize every inch of the shoes to make sure they are clean, and only then should you grab your white shoe polish and begin to buff them.

Using your white shoe polish and a brush or rag, go over your shoes, removing any scuffs while making sure not to cover any other areas of your shoes if they are multicolored.


We discovered that there are three factors to why golf shoes are predominantly white. The first and most prominent reason being they have historical value and have been around for over 100 years. Golf is a game associated with tradition, style, values, morals, and class, and due to this, tradition is paramount.

Even though white golf shoes were around in the 1800s, Walter Hagen brought them into the spotlight in 1925. Being the third player to hold the most major tournament titles on the pro tour, ever since Hagen, white golf shoes have been worn.

Besides Hagen, the two other reasons white golf shoes have stuck around are style and comfort. White goes with any color, meaning you can have just about any golfing outfit comprising of any color, and your white golf shoes will look great with it.

Besides that, the color white reflects all light wavelengths and absorbs no energy, unlike other colors. Meaning a pair of white golf shoes will be cooler and stay cooler compared to other color golf shoes.

Then we looked at other factors to consider if you are choosing to purchase a pair of white golf shoes because that is not the only characteristic you should be looking out for. Having a pair of shoes that are comfortable and fit the shape of your feet and toes will give you an advantage out on the course because walking for 18 holes can be tiresome, especially on your feet.

Lastly, we looked at how to keep your white golf shoes in pristine condition, and if you follow our easy step-by-step guide, then you will most probably have the best-looking pair of shoes out on the course even though you might not play at scratch.

Source list

8 Things Every Man Should Know Before Buying His First Pair of Golf Shoes

Golf Shoes Etiquette


How to Clean White Golf Shoes Properly

Golf Shoes: How They Have Evolved

The History of Golf Shoes

The development of golf shoes

Which Colors Reflect More Light?

The Ultimate Color Combinations Cheat Sheet