Why doesn’t Tiger Woods wear Nike shoes at the Masters?
Welcome to Play Smart, a game improvement column published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday by Game Improvement Editor Luke Kerr-Dineen (who you can follow on Twitter here).
AUGUSTA, Ga. — It’s hard to imagine how the sight of Tiger Woods wandering the fairways of Augusta National, less than 14 months after a car accident that nearly led to his right leg being amputated, could become more surprising.
And yet, as he often does, he found a way, thanks to his golf shoes.
Tiger Woods, the man who has been the face of golf brand Nike since joining the Tour, traveled to Augusta National on Sunday wear FootJoy golf shoes. Was it a mistake? Some wondered. Did he forget his shoes? Then on Monday, he donned a white pair. Tuesday too.
So what’s going on here?
Tiger is due to speak to the media on Tuesday and could talk about it, but it’s hard to see how a notoriously reserved superstar will go into depth on a sensitive topic regarding one of his sponsors. But taking a broader view after speaking with several coaches on the Tour: Golf shoe design can have a noticeable effect on how your body moves as you swing and could potentially play a role in Tiger’s decision. here.
Avid runners think about it a lot, but many modern sneaker-style shoes that have made their way into golf tend to have more padding under the heel of the shoes – it is the “fall” of the shoe. This tends to make them comfortable, but it can often also tilt your foot slightly, which shifts your weight more onto your toes when standing.
When golfers start out with too much weight on their toes, they can often struggle to achieve a full hip rotation deep in their right hip on the backswing, and a corresponding rotation in their left hip along the way.
Like everything, different shoe designs are better or worse for different people. But the theory goes that golfers who struggle with lower body mobility could potentially benefit from reducing their shoe’s “drop”, which actually means your foot is flatter on the ground. Kind of like rocking barefoot.
The design of your shoes can also affect how you move: Studies have shown that people will respond to the extra padding under their heel by landing more on their heel when walking and running – and there’s evidence to suggest this can increase the stiffness in your legs.
Of course, there could be something else going on here with Tiger in particular, so I’m not trying to jump to any drastic conclusions on that front. Simply pointing out that golf shoes have a subtle, yet real, effect on your golf swing. So pay attention to them and find the best ones for you.