Welcome to Gear Questions You’re Afraid to Ask, a GOLF.com series produced in partnership with Cleveland/Srixon Golf. This week we unpack why we think most golfers only wear one glove.
Why do golfers wear only one glove, and is it uncool to wear two? Asking for a friend. – Shawn K., California
It’s not often we get a “Is it uncool?” question in the mailbag, but we’re always up for discussing such matters. What’s considered cool or not cool is subjective, and you’re welcome to wear two gloves if that’s your preference, as there’s no rule against it.
The real question is why do most golfers only wear one glove? Before we answer that, let’s take a trip back to the mid-1800s, to the origin of the golf glove. Back then, golf clubs had crude grips made of rough leather or twine, causing golfers to use canvas or sheepskin (which were essentially the first gloves) to grip the club and prevent painful blisters and calluses. It wasn’t until the 20th century that golfers started wearing more modernized leather gloves, likely inspired by other glove-wearing sports like baseball and equestrian.
Ok, but why do modern players only wear one glove? The most popular reason is that the lead hand rests on the handle more than the lower hand, making it more susceptible to blisters and slipping while you swing. Wearing a glove helps prevent those issues and also reduces tension to free up the release of the hands. The lower hand rests more on the upper hand and a glove just isn’t all that necessary for maintaining a good grip.
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Another rumored reason for golfers only wearing one glove is, back in the day, golfers wanted a bare hand to avoid getting drink condensation, cigar oil or even food grease all over the glove on the hand they use to drink, eat or smoke. Having no glove meant they could easily clean off and dry their hand, and the habit of not wearing a glove on the dominant hand stuck for generations to follow. The more we think about this one, the more we realize it’s got to be at least partly true.
Whether it’s stubbornness, tradition, or simply preference, wearing one glove versus two isn’t about performance but rather a matter of feel. Not to say two gloves have never successfully been done before — who here remembers Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey? — but wearing two gloves just doesn’t feel as good as wearing one does, especially around the fingers that interlock.
Additionally, wearing a glove on the lower hand can numb the feedback that golfers get from their shots. Lastly, wearing two gloves can get hot, especially in the warm and humid months. Having one hand in the open air is akin to sleeping with one foot out from under the covers–it might help your hands sweat a little less as you play. Oh yeah, and who wants to pay twice as much when one glove works just fine?
On the other hand, several golfers have had successful careers without wearing gloves. Take Fred Couples, who stopped wearing gloves after spending too much money on new gloves to combat the rain in Seattle where he grew up. After decades he still plays without one. Also, it’s not uncommon for golfers to not wear gloves at all when putting because it helps the hands better feel the putter through the stroke.
More important than whether or not you wear a glove is the state of your grips in the first place. Couples doesn’t wear a glove, but he and his caddie have also been notorious for keeping his grips fresh and clean. So much so that to this day, Couples (or his caddie) towels off his grips before almost every shot. As Couples does with his, if you ensure your grips are in tip-top shape, your glove will work that much better. If they’re not tacky or worn out, not even a fresh glove out of the wrapper will do you much good.
Whether you wear no gloves, one glove, or two gloves, it’s a matter of personal preference, and there’s no right or wrong answer. And no, it’s definitely not uncool.
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