The first golfer to wear a glove was.... well, nobody knows. The earliest evidence of the gloves existence comes from an 1898 catalog put out by a London department store. They were made with linen and a patch of suede covered the palm; the back of the hand was exposed and holes poked out of the fingers for the knuckles. Over the last century, the design of golf gloves has evolved into something much greater. Gloves can truly benefit your game.
So who changed the way we thought about covering our hands on the fairway?
To answer that question, we can look to the same man who popularized seemingly everything else about modern golf: Mr. Arnold Palmer. Palmer can be seen wearing a glove throughout his career - from his championship schoolboy days in Latrobe, Pennsylvania through his first televised golf tournaments. Palmer also popularized the routine of taking the golf glove off and stuffing it in a back pocket to putt.
What Does A Golf Glove Really Do?
A golf glove does two things in particular: firstly, it provides a better, tackier grip on the golf club; secondly, it helps prevent blisters. But gloves aren't always necessary. In fact, one of the most popular golfers in the world, Fred Couples, has never worn a glove. Further, Corey Pavin and Lucas Glover (a real, if ironic surname) have both won U.S. Open titles glove-less. These pros are by no means a sample of the majority though.
Today some 80 percent of amateur golfers and 95 percent of touring professionals wear a golf glove. Some even wear gloves on both hands. On the PGA Tour, Tommy Gainey plays every shot - including putts - with gloves on both hands. Naturally, his nickname is "Two Gloves".
Though there's no true magic in a glove, if you're considering one - go for it. Many top brands, like Titleist, FootJoy and Nike, offer excellent gloves that fit men, women and children with any size hand. Play is safe, avoid the blisters.
How do I Choose a Glove?
The market has plenty of different golf glove options for you to choose from, as many major manufacturers produce multiple lines. Here's how to narrow your choice down: measure your hands then simply look at fit and material.
Most golfers buy a glove that is a little too big; it should really fit like a "second skin" - not too tight, not too loose. In terms of material, you can choose between a number of innovative fabrics or supple leather. It depends on your preference and how either one feels on your hands.
As for price, most popular golf gloves cost between $10 and $30. Even if you're buying from the low end of the price scale, a glove will last an average golfer about 18 rounds, making it a great value.
Which Brand Should I Choose?
There are many options to consider when shopping for a new golf glove, but for your convenience we've put together a side-by-side comparison of some of the biggest names in the game: FootJoy, Titleist, Bionic and Hirzl. Now let's head out to the course for a friendly foursome and see what they've got.
The heavy hitter in the group is FootJoy. In fact, for every two golf gloves sold in the world, Footjoy sells one of them - that's about ten million gloves a year. FootJoy began adding gloves to their offerings in the 1970s, borrowing from an old-line British leather maker named Pittards, a brand that pioneered washable leather gloves for Royal Air Force fighter pilots during World War II and began making water-resistant leathers in 1975.
Soon enough, FootJoy adapted Cabretta leather, which is crafted from the skins of sheep that sport hair instead of fleece into weatherproof gloves and haven't looked back since. Their standard bearer, FootJoy StaSof sells for about $20 - $25, while the top of the line Footjoy gloves run about $30. FootJoy sets the standard for glove fit and comfort
Titleist is the closest challenger to FootJoy and together the two brands dominate both the amateur market and professional tour. Like FootJoy, Titleist also deals in Cabretta leather gloves. Worn and trusted by Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner and many more, the brand hangs its golf cap on the thinnest, lightest gloves available on the market today.
- Bionic Performance Grip.
The high-tech player in the group is the Bionic Performance Grip. This glove is actually designed by an orthopedic hand surgeon to ensure optimal comfort and playability. The Performance Grip boasts a "Triple-Row Finger Grip System", which features extra bits of padding in supposedly critical spots and little pieces of Terrycloth sewn in to absorb moisture. The Bionic brand actually breeds from the Louisville Slugger baseball company, so they're no stranger to performance quality gear. This glove runs for about $30.
All in all, choosing the right golf glove is a personal decision that could elevate your game and drop your score. This is simply a guide to point you in the right direction, now it's up to you to decide on what feels good and fits well. Don't forget, you can even have golf gloves customized with a logo! We'll see you on the fairway!