Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Point Is ... `Soft Spike' Question Is a Hard One: Some Love 'Em, but Others Hate 'Em

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Point Is ... `Soft Spike' Question Is a Hard One: Some Love 'Em, but Others Hate 'Em

Article excerpt

Some people, such as Jack Nicklaus, love them: "If all the senior players would use them, I'd love it," Nicklaus said. "I've played 40 to 50 rounds with them, and we use them at Muirfield (in Ohio), and I've never had a problem slipping or anything else. It's actually good for balance."

And some people, such as LPGA star Beth Daniel, hate them: "If they went to them on the tour, I'd have to quit. I won't play at courses that went to them. I played a round on them and hurt my back. I don't like them at all."

Like them or loathe them, more people are using spikeless shoes. Last year, more than 260 courses in 28 states and three foreign countries required or recommended spikeless shoes. Some of them, such as Riviera in Los Angeles, Valderrama in Spain and Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kan., are among the most traditional and famous courses in the world. Most golf manufactorers feature spikeless, or "soft spike," shoes in their catalogs. Foot-Joy, the company that markets "Softspikes," sold more than 1 million of the rubber nubs last year. Spiked shoes easily can be converted to spikeless by installing the nubs. The movement has had a profound impact in St. Louis. Many of the area's most prestigious clubs encourage or require spikeless, including Forest Hills Country Club, sight of the LPGA's Michelob Light Heartland Classic. Head pro John Hayes said the club tested the shoes last summer and liked the results. "We picked a weekend and had everybody go spikeless to see how it would work," Hayes said. "The results were incredible. You walked out and looked at the greens at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when they would normally be pretty beat up, and they looked like they look at 7 o'clock in the morning." There are several attractive aspects to eliminating spikes. Foremost is the wear-and-tear factor. Metal spikes leave rips and marks on greens, making them bumpy and unpredictable. …

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