Every stylish golfer needs a pair of proper golf shoes in his on-course wardrobe. They are an essential. I’m not talking about the latest Fly Dry Hyper Power Speed model, either. Don’t get me wrong, those high-tech, bleeding edge kicks should have a home in your closet, too. I’m talking about golf shoes that speak to the heritage, tradition and passion of the game. The shoes you slip on (with a shoehorn) when your boss invites you to his exclusive country club. The shoes you lace up at that upscale TPC, resort or daily fee course.
The problem is proper shoes have all but disappeared from the game. Full grain leather uppers have been replaced with synthetic microfibers, stitching has been replaced with glue, and handmade attention to detail has been supplanted by faster and cheaper manufacturing methods. Along the way, golf shoes have begun to lose their charm, class and sophistication, but Royal Albartross is changing that.
Founded by award-winning shoe designer Alex Bartholomew, Royal Albartross set out to create the world’s finest golf shoe by combining British Savile Row style with Italian craftsmanship. Royal Albartross’ first entry into the market was a range of classic footwear complete with stacked heels, cleated leather soles, luxurious leather uppers and ultra-modern details. The collection quickly gained a following with fashionable celebrities, like George Lopez, Anthony Anderson, Dougray Scott and Ian Wright.
Recently, Royal Albartross expanded its product line with the new Club Collection. Through classic detailing, luxurious leathers, strong colors and bold multi stripe patterns, the Club Collection puts an up-market spin on the casual brogue. More than 250 tasks, including stitching the leather, molding and compressing the upper onto the last, and attaching the sole, are required to build each shoe. The process takes about 70 hours by hand, which is just slightly longer than it takes some PGA Tour players to complete 18 holes these days.
Those of you who follow Golf Threads in social media, know that the Club Crew Domino from Royal Albartross has been my go-to shoe this year. This shoe oozes modern elegance. It is perfect for the golfer who appreciates the sartorial heritage of the game, but also embraces contemporary style and technology.
This trainer-style shoe is handmade from the finest materials. The upper is crafted from a buttery soft full grain premium Italian calf leather that receives a special waterproofing treatment. While many golf shoes feature a microfiber lining, the Club Crew Domino has a lining that is constructed from a soft and breathable leather.
From a style standpoint, the Club Crew Domino offers a juxtaposition of old and new school styles. The wingtip design and brogue detailing are clearly a tip of the cap to the traditional stylings of the game, while the eye-catching stripes on the fabric trim add a pop of modern personality. The metal eyelets offer a distinct vintage vibe, and the colored heel tab brings contrast and balance to the back of the shoe.
Those of you who have worn proper shoes, either on the course or off of it, are probably assuming that there is a long break in period needed with the Club Crew Dominos. I had the same assumption, but since I was so excited to get these on the course, I grabbed them out of the box along with a handful of Band-Aids and hit the first tee. By the 12th hole, I realized that the only purpose the Band-Aids were serving was to take up room in my bag. There was no rubbing or blistering during the maiden voyage, and every subsequent time I’ve worn them, they have become more and more comfortable.
They are a bit heavier than many of the golf shoes on the market these days, but that is to be expected. A finely crafted leather shoe will always have a little more heft than one made from microfiber. Plus, I always feel that a heavier shoe helps me to feel more stable and grounded during the swing.
Part of the comfort can be attributed to the state-of-the-art Vibram sole that was specifically designed for golf. It provides a thin and flexible hitting platform along with a unique blend of grip, traction, cushioning, stability and durability. I’ve easily played a dozen early morning rounds in these shoes and have never slipped on the wet grass. One of the great features of this sole is the fact that the molded cleats are self-cleaning. They push grass and dirt away as you walk, which helps grip and traction during the round and renders those spike cleaners virtually useless. Not to mention, the trunk of your car will thank you for not covering it in grass and dirt.
While Royal Albartross originally set out to create the world’s finest golf shoe, it did much more for the style of the game in the process. It revived the charm, class and sophistication of the golf shoe. If you are serious about golf and serious about style, then you need at least one pair of Royal Albartross shoes in your closet. My only question is, which color to buy next?