WORCESTER, Mass – As far as Bob Winskowicz is concerned, the most important piece of golf equipment can’t be found in your golf bag. It’s on your feet.
Winskowicz, 61, of Windham, N.H., developed a square toe, better balanced golf shoe that he called, “SQAIRZ.” It’s not easy to spell – he admits people expect it to have a U – but it’s easy to appreciate.
The square front of the shoe creates more room for the toes and results in better balance which leads to greater accuracy and distance.
Winskowicz would rather not disclose dollar figures, but his company was cash-flow positive last year in only its second year of existence and he expects business to increase by more than 30 percent this year.
Winskowicz grew up in Georgetown, Mass., and majored in marketing at Husson University in Bangor, Maine. He’s a 12-handicapper who belongs to Ipswich Country Club and he’s won several long drive competitions in member-guest tournaments.
He worked in sales and marketing for MacGregor Golf before becoming senior vice president of sales and marketing at Arnold Palmer Golf Company for three years in the late 1990s. He enjoyed listening to the ‘King‘ telling golf stories at several board meetings and dinners.
Whenever Winskowicz presented new products, Palmer would always ask him, “What’s in it for the golfer? Don’t give me all this fluff and marketing stuff. Tell me what’s in it for the golfer.’”
Winskowicz said Palmer’s words stuck with him when he founded SQAIRZ in 2019 after working for a few start-up companies, including one in golf and others in the medical field and product distribution.
So what’s in SQAIRZ for the golfer? Balance.
SQAIRZ has a noticeably more squared off toe than other golf shoes. Winskowicz wanted to name the company squares, but he spelled it differently because the shoes are different from the norm.
At MacGregor and Arnold Palmer, he spent a lot of time exploring the performance of golf clubs. He learned that distance and accuracy are due to balance and stability. If you’re off balance, you will not optimize the energy exchange with the ground and distance will suffer.
Golf has two connections, hands to the club and feet to the ground. Winskowicz believes feet to the ground is more important because that’s the foundation of the golf swing. So better balance and stability will translate into improved accuracy, distance and consistency.
The idea of a square toe golf shoe really hit home when Winskowicz left work one day to meet a friend in the late 1990s at the driving range at Ipswich CC. Winskowicz hit balls while wearing his square toed dress shoes and felt more balanced and stable.
In a square toe golf shoe, the toes have more room to sit naturally and have five touch points. Winskowicz also widened the base under the ball of the foot by four millimeters for better balance and stability.
“SQAIRZ has more surface contact area with ground than any other golf shoe out there,” he said. “That inherently is going to give you better balance, better stability, but also better energy exchange with the ground.”
Independent tests revealed an increase in swing speed of three miles an hour resulting in nine extra yards of distance while wearing SQAIRZ, Winskowicz said.
The improved stability helps prevent golfers from leaning to the side, forward or backward during the golf swing.
Winskowicz filed the patents for his golf shoes in 2009, but didn’t form his company until he stopped working for others.
A couple of months after he launched SQAIRZ at the PGA Merchandise Show in January of 2020, Winskowicz received a call from Nick Faldo’s agent. Winskowicz thought someone was playing a joke on him, but it actually was Faldo’s agent. Faldo had heard about SQAIRZ and wanted to feature the shoes on his golf show, “Faldo Formula.” Winskowicz sent Faldo a couple of pairs of shoes and three weeks later Faldo told him they were the best golf shoes he had ever worn and he wanted to get involved in the company. So Faldo signed to endorse SQAIRZ, providing the new company with instant credibility.
Since then, noted golf instructors Rick Smith and Jim McLean have endorsed the shoes. Last December, John Daly and his son, John II, wore SQAIRZ while edging Tiger and Charlie Woods to capture the PNC Championship. Last February, Sepp Straka won the Honda Classic wearing the shoes. Straka credited STAIRZ with balancing him in the pouring rain while hitting a 6-iron onto the green for a closing birdie to win the tournament.
PGA Tour Champions golfers Mark Calcavecchia and Fred Funk also wear the shoes.
The shoes are made in China, as nearly all golf shoes are, and are available only online at SQAIRZ.com. They range from $175 to $250.
SQAIRZ isn’t the largest golf shoe company. It has only 11 employees, all of whom work remotely. Nevertheless, MyGolfSpy ranked SQAIRZ as the No. 1 most stable golf shoe and the No. 3 overall golf shoe. Golf Digest has ranked SQAIRZ among the best golf shoes in each of the last three years.
SQAIRZ has done so well, Winskowicz plans to sell square toed baseball and pickleball shoes beginning next year.
Winskowicz and his partner, Brooke Emerson, have a 10-year puggle, a mix of pug and beagle, named Baxter. He calls him, “Chairman of the Board of SQAIRZ.”