How to choose a golf glove.
The use of a glove first appeared about 100 years ago. The U.S. Golf Glove Co. in Gloversville, N.Y. and Pitards, the famous leather tanning company in the south of England began to develop a glove specifically for the game.
The problem was to build a glove which was strong, would withstand wear, and yet would also be thin, fit tightly, and give feel to the club. Initially, kid was used. It was beautifully thin, had a lovely feel, but did not have the strength to be a good golf glove. Cowhide could be tanned and treated to make it soft. It was strong but could never be made thin enough to satisfy the demands of good golfers. Thus it was relegated to making cheaper golf gloves for many years. Many skins of a range of animals were tried in an attempt to find the best combination of features. A small goat, a Cabretta, was found to have the best properties. It was native to Ethiopia. Also a long haired sheep native to Bolivia met the test. These skins were both strong and could withstand rubbing while at the same time they could be tanned and treated to be soft, thin and resistant to stretching. The term Cabretta has become the generic application for all high quality golf gloves, regardless of the original source of the leather.
Because of the necessity to have the glove snug and tight to the hand, the issue of sizing and fitting has always been very important. Men’s gloves are made for both the right and left hand in sizes –small, medium, medium-large, large, and extra-large. Men’s gloves are also made in a cadet model which is the same hand size but made with the fingers a little shorter. Thus a medium cadet would fit the same as a regular medium but for someone with shorter fingers.
Ladies’ golf gloves are made for both the right and left hand. They are sized – small, medium, and large. Women’s gloves are available with a number of features geared specifically to women. A glove is available with a slit on the ring finger to accommodate a ring. Also a glove is made with the
tips of the fingers open to allow for long nails. Some gloves are made with a Lycra and mesh backing to enable tanning, which is of the hand not the glove.
No discussion of golf gloves would be complete without mentioning the half glove. First developed in the late 50’s this full hand glove with no fingers has had a place in the market. Never a large segment, it has always had a dedicated following, particularly with women.
There have been a number of improvements to the construction of leather gloves which have improved the fit and comfort. A large Velcro patch was added to the back of the hand. With this addition, the back of the glove was opened up to ease putting the glove on. The Velcro then closed the gap and insured a tight fit across the palm. In the mid 80’s a design originating in the aviation industry was adopted by a golf glove manufacturer and called the Aviator. It incorporated a pre formed hand which reduced slackness in the palm. The addition of Lycra inserts into the fingers of leather gloves provided elasticity to the glove. The result was a snug constant fit without undue stress on the leather.
An ongoing problem with leather golf gloves is moisture. Leather will absorb moisture both from rain and from perspiration. In both cases it breaks down the natural properties and causes the leather to become stiff, brittle and crack. This of course greatly shortens the life of the glove and reduces its effectiveness. In 1980, Pitards perfected a new tanning process which enabled Foot Joy to introduce the Sta-Sof™ glove. This remarkable process which enabled leather to resist absorbing moisture meant that once the glove dried it was as soft and supple as new. Once the consumer adjusted to the higher price, this type of glove took over the leather golf glove market.
There has always been a demand for less expensive golf gloves. This demand has been increasingly filled by synthetic gloves. Initially these were heavy, thick and bore little resemblance to a good glove. But in recent years constant improvements in design and materials available such as microfibers have resulted in very
credible alternatives to leather. Most of these golf gloves now have very leather like feel and most incorporate leather inserts on the thumb and palm. Most of these models are promoted as weather resistant or all weather gloves.
Finally there is a category of gloves which can be used by those golfers who play some of their golf in less than perfect warm conditions, i.e. winter gloves or mitts. Early spring and late fall across much of the continent as well as winter in the Pacific North West present specific needs. These golf gloves or sometimes mitts are made from a flexible light weight body warming fabric which is both water and wind proof. These features are combined with a full grain leather palm. In truth warmth and comfort are probably more important than traditional golf glove features.
Although a golf glove is not an obligatory part of a golfer’s equipment. Most golfers believe that the right glove improves the quality of their enjoyment of the game.