Why You Should Be Wearing a Golf Glove

Bionic StableGrip Golf Glove, image: businessinsider.com

Bionic StableGrip Golf Glove, image: businessinsider.com

In the summer of 1899 golfers opened their copies of Golf Illustrated magazine and were introduced to the newest gimmick in the sport – the Simplex Golf Glove that D.M. Meldrum & Co. of Dundee, Scotland promised would result in “NO MORE BLISTERED HANDS”. The “most perfect glove made” was intended for use on the left hand but right-hand gloves could be supplied, if requested. The glove was linen with a patch of suede knitted into the palm. Fingers were exposed through holes, much like a modern handball glove.

Gloves did not take the golfing world by storm. None of the stars of the day, including six-time Open champion Harry Vardon, bothered to use a glove. Neither did future American stars Walter Hagen nor Bobby Jones. When Ben Hogan talked about his method for exquisite ball-striking in the 1940s, he lauded the calluses earned on his left hand from hours of practice – always without a glove.

Sam Snead was the first golfing idol to be seen by fans wearing a golf glove. Then came Arnold Palmer. Palmer had worn a golf glove from his days sneaking in a few holes after mowing the fairways at his father’s golf course in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. When television fixated on Palmer in the 1950s and 1960s he could be seen pulling off his golf glove and stuffing it in his back pocket before putting.

Arnold Palmer in Final Round of the 1962 Texas Open, image: newsobserver.com

Arnold Palmer in Final Round of the 1962 Texas Open, image: newsobserver.com

If Arnold Palmer used a golf glove, every average golfer wanted one. Golf gloves became the norm on the golf course and other sports as well. Kansas City Athletics’ first baseman Ken Harrelson went to the plate with a golf glove in 1964 and started the adoption of batting gloves in baseball. Today, it is estimated that 80 percent of golfers wear a glove. On the PGA Tour, the number jumps to 95 percent. Ironically, one of the biggest wins of recent years for a glove-less golfer was by Lucas Glover in the U.S. Open.

With Mass Acceptance Comes Product Innovation

Golf gloves are seen as utilities by most players but that has not stopped some manufacturers from trying to build a better golf glove. There have patents issued for audible gloves that will speak swing instructions, golf gloves with tee pockets, and electronics-infused golf gloves. There are even weighted training golf gloves designed to strengthen fingers, wrists, and forearms.

But the two main things golfers look for in a golf glove are durability and the ability to remain dry and keep a firm grip on the golf club. FootJoy is the market leader, having pioneered washable leather gloves. The company uses pliable Cabretta leather culled from herds of sheep whose skins produce hair instead of fleece. Acushnet Company stablemate Titleist also offers Cabretta leather golf gloves that are billed as the thinnest and lightest on the market.

Fowler Using Titleist Players Golf Glove, image: titleist.com

Fowler Using Titleist Players Golf Glove, image: titleist.com

Plenty of other brands play in the high-end $20-$30 space and golfers not hankering for a premium golf glove have many options from manufacturers in the $10 range.

Why Wear a Golf Glove?

At its most basic, a golf glove provides a secure, tackier grip on the shaft of the golf club. A glove should fit like “a second skin,” but many golfers buy gloves that are too big. You should have to work your hand a bit into a new golf glove the first time. Golfers with short fingers and wider palms can consider a “cadet” style glove. A golf glove can be expected to survive about 18 rounds, or a typical golfing season for most players. If you put your glove to work regularly on the range, factor in a few less rounds.

Why Do Golfers Wear One Glove?

Typical Golfers wear a golf glove on the upper hand gripping the club – the left hand for right-handed golfers. The most important aspect of using gloves comes down to applying consistent grip pressure. Some golfers find it helpful to wear gloves on both hands. PGA Tour player Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey won a PGA tournament in 2012 using a glove on both hands even to putt. However, this style was formed more so out of habit than a need for performance, as Tommy stated that after transiting from baseball to golf wearing two gloves felt natural.

Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey wins 2012 McGladrey Classic, image: golfweek.com

Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey wins 2012 McGladrey Classic, image: golfweek.com

No matter where you land in your search for a golf glove, expect your new accessory to be white. Just as the white golf ball continues to resist inroads from its colorful counterparts so too does the golf glove. Nearly eight in ten gloves are white with black being the next most popular option.

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