Putting the Products into Action
Shoe stewards, since they make their living shining shoes, are often asked, "What's the best product to use on a white golf shoe?" Or, "How do you clean suede?" Often a simple answer will suffice, but since each pair of street and especially golf shoes differs in condition and brand, it is dangerous to give a general answer. My response is to have the customer describe the shoes or bring them in. A proper prescription for care can then be given.
However, in this edition I have included some very specific shoe care instructions in Chapter Eight, Shoe Care by Shoe Brand. That's because certain brands create special challenges for the steward while others can be cared for so easily that a great deal of time can be saved.
Anyway, a typical steward will be brought shoes in every conceivable condition, style and brand, each requiring its own strategy to get it looking like new again. In the first edition of THE GOOD STEWARD, I devised a shoe care chart that used numerous columns and a legend with close to twenty abbreviations to instruct the steward how to care for nearly every kind of shoe. Over the years I have found that shining shoes, no matter the brand or upper material, boils down to a few basic fundamentals. However, exceptions must also be made in certain cases, most of them having to do with golf shoes that are all or partly white, such as a saddle shoe.
If you are brand new to the shoe care business you may be wondering why I make such a fuss about white golf shoes. The reason is simple. White shoes not only get dirtier quicker because you can see every little smudge. They also reveal any lackluster attempts on your part to restore them. That's why it is so critical that you learn the techniques I've described in this chapter.
What I decided to do was to abandon the chart and replace it with the basic steps needed to restore a pair of shoes. Notice I said "restore" and not "shine." When I go to work on a pair of shoes, my goal is to restore them to as close to new condition as I possibly can.
However, before I get into the steps of shining shoes I'm going to look at what generally needs to be done to golf shoes. What stages they go through and how they generally should be cared for from the time they come out of the box to the moment they go to that big shoe room in the sky. By doing so you'll get a better idea of why I use the steps below to restore shoes.
OUT OF THE BOX: A lot of progress has been made in making golf shoes water and soil resistant just since the second and third editions of this book were written. Most golf shoes are now guaranteed waterproof for 2 years, most for the life of the shoe. Obviously, since the shoes are brand new they need very little care. And they'll need less over time if their owner uses shoe trees. Usually only a once over with saddle soap using a horsehair brush is required after 18 holes and the shoes look great (if they are very dirty you'll need to use a brush better suited for the job). Or at the very most, a coat of leather balm is put on and buffed out with a neutral hand brush. Do this to both shoes of solid color and saddles (black and brown saddles-Foot Joy Classics especially-shine up great using leather balm, as do some brands of black and whites). Golf shoes can stay in this pristine state from several to dozens of rounds. A lot depends on whether or not shoe trees are used and if the shoes are turned in for care after each round played.
I should add that in the case of shoes with leather soles you can oil the soles right out of the box or do it as needed when you see the soles getting dry. This is very important in the southwest with our dry weather. If leather soles are not oiled regularly in these conditions they can crack at the shank or mid arch of the shoe. This usually occurs towards the end of their life. But it is preventable if you condition the soles on a monthly basis.
THAT WRINKLED MID FOOT: The next stage in a pair of golf shoes early life is that they become wrinkled in the mid foot area. These wrinkles can be kept to a minimum, especially on leather shoes, by using a pair of shoetrees that fit snugly, preferably cedar. One member at our club bought two pair of Foot Joy Classics and kept trees in them from the beginning. He has had them for about a year and the wrinkles or creases are hardly noticeable. Without trees the creases would deepen and the leather would crack prematurely. And if the leather soles got wet, the shoes would curl up. At this point the shoes have been used for 20-30 rounds.
PRE-MIDLIFE: This is the stage where dings, scuffs, marks and scrapes begin to appear. How you care for the member's shoes now will determine, in large part, how long they will look good and be wearable. "What? You mean what I do to a shoe determines how long the member can wear it?" Of course. But the member must do his part, like using trees and getting the shoes to you after each round he/she plays or leaving them on the floor next to his/her locker.
The toe and heel of a golf shoe is where most of the damage is inflicted in this....