Ranking the Best Nike Air Max Golf Shoes of All Time
From conceptual designs to OG colorways.
From faux leopard fur, to artificial grass and Realtree style camo,
Air Max Day and the return of the ’86 big bubble has brought renewed attention to the series, with Nike revamping the AM1 G to mirror the supersized Air Max unit that was used on the original pair. And as the big day approaches, we’ve decided to rank our top 10 bubble befitted golf shoes of all time, judging them based on originality, authenticity and lasting influence.
10. Air Max 97 G “Zebra”
For our list’s first entry, pattern and texture come together to create something truly unique. The AM97 G “Zebra” was part of a safari themed pack from December 2021 that also included the AM90 G “Leopard” and the AM1 G “Tiger.” While the upper uses Zebra-like racing stripes, the outsole displays a large white Swoosh and an appropriately toothed tread pattern for better grip on the fairways.
9. Air Max 90 G “Desert”
Not the last tribute to the WM Phoenix Open on this list, the AM90 G “Desert” is appropriately loud given the tournament’s reputation as the rowdiest event in golf. Nike pulled out all the stops for this one, applying a mirage-like filter to the Swoosh, a crackled, crimson red effect to the full-length panels and abstract artwork for the insoles. This pair might be the last thing you see before passing out of heat exhaustion.
8. Air Max 1 G NRG “Total Orange”
Realtree style camo has trekked and zig-zagged its way through streetwear over the last several years, and this take on the AM1 G NRG from 2019 played on that trend with an upper comprised of rugged canvas printed with woodsy camouflage. The bright orange outsoles and Nike logos further drove home the outdoor concept.
7. Air Max 97 G “Wing It”
When it comes to creating a shoe for a major championship, sometimes the design arranges itself. And while it’s not an especially revolutionary idea to use the host course’s logo as the central motif, the magic for the AM97 G “Wing It” lies in the execution. The 2020 US Open was held at the famous Winged Foot Golf Club in the suburbs of NYC, and the club’s logo references the Roman god Mercury. Gold embroidery of the emblem dances across the bottom portion of shoe, while also finding its way onto the tongues.
6. Air Max 1 G “Sport Red”
It’s hard to beat a classic, and the AM1 G “Sport Red” is the OG of OGs. It had been a few years since the 1 had made an appearance on the fairway when it was revealed last December, and to honor its second coming Nike went back to its roots with the iconic Tinker Hatfield colorway. Bigger and better than its previous generation, Nike returned to the drawing board and supersized the Air Max unit, drawing comparisons to the ’86 big bubble. The result was a by-the-books recreation of one of the brand’s most beloved shoes ever.
5. Air Max 97 G “Silver Bullet”
For anyone coming across this article the Silver Bullet colorway likely needs no introduction. The sleek, metallic silver profile reminiscent of Japanese bullet trains is what made the AM97 famous, and it was the perfect way for Nike to introduce the silhouette to its golf audience for the first time in January 2020. Simple and effective, can we get a restock?
4. Off-White™ x Air Max 90 G
Brooks Koepka had a lot people confused when he turned up to the TOUR Championship in 2019 wearing a zip-tie adorned pair of Nikes, but anyone familiar with sneaker culture knew exactly what they were looking at. “It’s fashion bro…if you’re a sneaker head, you’ll get it,” was what the pro golfer told an inquisitive reporter. The collaborative Off-White™ pair was a one time player exclusive for Koepka, featuring a base of black along with white accents, contrast stitching and air quote enclosed descriptions.
3. Air Max 97 G “Lucky and Good”
Throughout history Nike has always used the AM97 G as a canvas for experimenting with materials, and this 2020 iteration saw the shoe covered in rich corduroy for the first time. With a gum colored outside, matching mudguard and layers of orange and green, groovy 70s vibes are abound. But it’s the fringed kiltie that really puts this one over the top, a feature normally associated with classic, dressy silhouettes.
2. Air Max 1 G “No Denim Allowed”
Although a shift is taking place in how golf is perceived among a younger demographic, for many the sport is still associated with archaic rules and dress codes. This 2019 iteration of the AM1 G poked fun at the “no denim” policy implemented by most private clubs across the country, while also adding a few references to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. To execute this concept, light indigo denim is used across the full-length mudguards and the Swooshes, and then each are applied with a frayed finish.
1. Air Max 97 G “Grass”
Taking the top spot is a pair that stands out through blending in. This grassy AM97 G was debuted in winter of 2020 in anticipation of the WM Phoenix Open, and was famously worn by J.R. Smith in the tournament’s pro-am as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. What really makes this one come together is the juxtaposition of the longer grass and the wavy lines, which look like small “fairways” by contrast.