Okay so you’ve been playing golf awhile, or you’re just starting out. In a game with so many nuances and variables you have one question pressing you above all others. Why do golf players wear a glove? Many of you wear a glove already while playing, some of you are wondering if you should, but the common denominator is all of you want to know why golfers wear them in the first place!
Why Do Golfers Wear Gloves? Inquiring Golf Minds Want To Know
Read on and join us in the quest for answers to the much asked question. Learn more about the history of the game, some of the notable people who loved to play, and the inventors who changed the playing field.
The Earliest Forms Of Golf
Before we delve right away into “why” let’s begin our journey of discovery about the devilish solo glove with “when.” Though accounts vary as to the very first appearance of the earliest golf glove, we know for sure that by 1885 the Rawlings company, founded by two St Louis brothers George and Alfred Rawlings, received a patent for their design of a golf glove.
Logic would dictate that this was not the first golf glove ever used however because golf has been around, at least some form of it, for centuries. Some references to the game are found as early as February 26th, 1297, in Loenen aan de Vecht, a former municipality in the Netherlands, in the province of Utrecht. By Kronenburg castle, the goal of the players enjoying the game of “Colf,” as they called it then, was to hit the castle’s door with the ball in as few strokes as they could using a stick.
Despite King James II of Scotland King James II of Scotland banning the game of “gowf” in 1457, followed later by King James IV of Scotland in 1502, the common people still skirted the laws to enjoy golfing.
The Royal Blackheath Golf Club’s origins can be traced back to 1603 when Henry Frederick, the Prince of Wales and his courtiers are said to have played golf there. In 1567 when reprobates murdered her husband Henry Stuart the Lord of Darnley, Mary Queen of Scots received criticism for being seen playing a game of golf. In 1568 after fleeing Scotland, Mary was brought up on murder charges. The fact that she had been seen playing golf, instead of traditionally mourning, was used against her by her accusers. She is incidentally the first female golfer of record, believed to have coined the term caddy, and is known as the Mother of golf.
Royal’s were glove obsessed like most of polite society. In fact at the inauguration ceremonies of monarchs they would receive a glove blessed by the archbishop with prayer and holy water. It was symbolic of their tenure to their country. It’s hard to imagine them golfing without a glove when etiquette alone dictated their wearing of them on most every occasion.
The Earliest Golf Gloves
The earliest gloves were a no frill no thrill design. They weren’t meant to be on the cutting edge of technology, but utilitarian in purpose. They were solely created to protect the golfer’s hands from blisters and callouses from the unforgiving form of the handles on the clubs of the day. Kidskin and leather were a common material used. No distinct feature or style set them apart for decades.
While some amateur players had begun to use golf gloves by the early 20th century, professionals did not readily wear them until they gained more popularity around 1940 or so. Sam Snead is recognized as one of the first key pro players to use a glove. Up until he publicly wore them many pro players scoffed at wearing them, dismissing their usefulness. The basic purpose of glove design at that time was to create a barrier of protection against the leather grip of the handle and the golfer’s hand from creating friction blisters from repeated swings at the ball.
Years later however, designers started thinking about functionality beyond just protection purposes. On January 28th, 1948, the U.S. Patent office received a new golf glove design from inventor Edward H. Patterson. His improved design, pictured here, featured new concepts such as perforated holes to promote not just airflow for relief from sweaty hands, but vacuum-like suction to create a better grip for players.
In Patterson’s words: “In the patents aforesaid I have disclosed golf gloves having perforated palms which are designed to enable the wearer to obtain a firmer grip on a golf club than gloves of the ordinary type. The perforations in the palm are disposed so that at least some of them, are sealed on the outside by the handle of the club and on the inside by the hand of the wearer as the glove is compressed between the handle of the club and the hand. Thus, air is initially forced out of the spaces within the perforations, and partial vacua are created within these spaces when either the hand is drawn away from the glove or the glove is drawn away from the handle of the club. Thus, the glove is designed to provide what may be termed a vacuum grip with the handle of the club.
In order properly to function in this way, the outside of the glove immediately surrounding the perforations, should be in intimate contact with the handle of the club and the inside of the glove immediately around the perforations should be in intimate contact with the hand of the wearer. If there are wrinkles in the glove which extend across the perforations, its vacuum gripping characteristics are impaired.”
Why Golf Glove Popularity Soared and Designs Changed?
While these are now the gold standard basics for most modern gloves, back then these were cutting edge. In 1949, an inventor from Cleveland, Ohio, who had previously invented the pneumatic clutch and brake, stumbled onto the use of rubber in golf grips. Thomas Fawick, the inventor, discovered that rubber grips were lighter than leather, gave more adherence to the golfer’s palm, and absorbed shock far better.
By mid-1950’s many of the major golf club manufacturers had switched to his company, Golf Pride’s® grips. Golf gloves rode the wave that the surge of popularity in the rubber material grips provided. With the introduction of rubber handles on the golf club grips, this design became imperative because the rubber material increased perspiration in the player’s hands, leading to gripping problems.
Fawik’s foresight greatly shaped the direction and design of golf clubs in the long term. Today nearly every golf club, used at every level of play, from recreational to professional utilizes his grips. In fact, his company represents over 80% of the market. As the club grips popularity steadily climbed to the top, so to did the gloves best suited to their use.
When the “Big Three” pro golfers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player entered the golf scene in the 1960’s they popularized the sport significantly, and the use of gloves. The T.V. helped to push the commercialized aspect of the game, and sales on equipment, including the golf glove, rose. People wanted to emulate what they were seeing their favorite pro player doing. Whether it was drinking his wild concoction of iced tea lemonade, or ritualistically peeling off their glove to putt on the green. Palmer did for the golf glove what John Wayne did for the cowboy hat. He gave it an iconic presence that remains today.
Why Golfers Usually Wear Only One Glove
Golf gloves are meant to be worn on only one hand, though some players wear one on each, it is uncommon. Professional golfer Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey is credited with starting the trend of wearing two gloves. Gainey typically wears black, damp-weather gloves while playing golf. When asked about why he wears two gloves, he stated that he picked up the habit from his father who played with two gloves as well. For the vast majority of players who wear gloves, they wear only one, on the hand that is not dominant.
Why do most golfers only wear one glove? Because when a player grips the club, the top hand is the leading hand. It’s the hand that maintains full contact the entire time with the grip of the club, while the bottom hand only partly grasps the grip because it’s also grasping part of the lead hand. If a player were to wear the glove on their dominate hand and that hand was to perspire, then the player could lose grip causing the club to slip, and the swing to suffer.
Science comes into play a bit as well in the decision to wear gloves. Holocrine, a mode of secretion of the exocrine glands, specifically the sebaceous, creates an oily lubricant on the sides of the fingers. Couple this with perspiration of the palms and you have a recipe for golf grip disaster. The gloves act as an even, tacky, consistent surface of adherence to the golf club grip. If the player doesn’t get a solid grip on the club, tension is created. The added pressure leads to bad form, pain in the forearms, wrists, and hands, and in some instances, injury while playing.
Golf Glove Sizing: Ultimate Guide
Glove sizing comes in two types, standard or cadet. Standard sizes are meant for hands that are proportionately average. Cadet sizes are intended to be worn by golfers with short hands, wide palms and fingers. As is the case for most gloves, there is a size, scheme, fit, and utility use for nearly every person out there. When sizing, make sure the glove is tight yet not restrictive. You want the glove to allow you a full range of motion for ideal comfort. You also want to pick a glove that is not too large a fit or it will bunch up on your hand causing a problem with loose grip, tension, and ultimately a bad swing.
Modern gloves come in too many varieties to name, for both men and women. Nearly any color, variance, and design theme you can imagine exists. Some even have open tips to allow for women’s fingernails
Don’t know where to start your search for the glove that will best match your needs and personal style? Check out online marketplaces . There you can compare brands, their features, and read user reviews. The top current top sellers are the Mens FootJoy RainGrip and NIKE Women’s Tech Extreme. One of the new releases getting a lot of buzz is the Ladies Copper Tech Glove. It’s an interesting design, the first of its kind with copper infused technology to decrease fatigue. It soothes arthritis as well, which is a nice feature for players who find the game aggravates their condition.
We hope this article has helped in your query as to why most golfers wear a golf glove. Our final and perhaps best answer is from the late and great Arnold Palmer: