With the U.S. Open ready to begin Thursday, golf will be at the forefront of the sports world. But the jury is out on if the major tournament helps boost footwear sales.
“I have not noticed a correlation of that being a factor,” Julie Backes, owner of the Lancaster, Pa.-based Golf Etc., said of the U.S. Open. “We’re selling a lot of shoes, but we always sell a lot of shoes.”
But Dan Forman, sales manager at New York Golf Center’s location on West 35th Street, disagrees, and said the majors always drive people to his store.
“During these majors, the shoes that the pros are wearing sell a lot better because you’re seeing them on TV,” he explained. “Sergio [Garcia] won the Masters [in April 2017] and everybody was looking for that shoe he wore.”
But customers’ demanding a shoe the pros are currently wearing isn’t always a good thing for golf retailers. Instead, the benefits are experienced by the brand’s web stores.
“Normally they produce those in very limited quantities, and they’re not even available to the local stores; they’re only available online,” said Larry Marr, assistant manager at The Golf Mart in South San Francisco. “And they’re expensive in most cases. They usually run $200 to $300 a piece.”
The golf footwear business, according to data provided by The NPD Group Retail Tracking Service, brought in $23.4 million in the U.S. this year as of May. Leading the way are brands including Nike, Ecco, Adidas, Footjoy and Skechers.
One trend retailers agree on is a growing preference for spikeless shoes. But while the spikeless movement is increasing, sales still pale in comparison with that of spiked counterparts.
“We are selling more of the spikeless, but we still have traditional customers that want spikes because if the shoe wears out, they can replace the spikes,” Backes said. “Spikeless ones, if they wear down, you just have to buy a new pair of shoes.”
The U.S. Open begins Thursday and ends Sunday. Adidas-sponsored Dustin Johnson, who won the U.S. Open in 2016, is the projected favorite of the tournament.
Before the pros take their first swings, check out the shoes of the top-five favorites in the 117th U.S. Open in the slideshow below.