Jason Montoya, a PGA teaching professional at Santa Ana Golf Club, smiles when asked about his huge collection of Nike shoes which includes 280 pairs.
Yes, two hundred and eighty.
When did you think, man, could I be obsessed?
“When I started putting shelves on the wall,” Montoya replied without hesitation.
Montoya’s passion isn’t just golf, but perhaps it’s fair to say that his love of sneakers goes hand-in-hand – or rather, the foot in the shoe – with his favorite sport.
Montoya, 36, began his love affair with kicks just before graduating from UNLV in 2010. But his appreciation for shoes began when he was a kid.
“Growing up, my mom used to buy us school shoes,” Montoya said. “She said, ‘These shoes are only meant to be worn in school.’ Then I should go home and change to my old pair.
It’s a whole different story these days for Montoya, who may soon have to look for storage facilities. As a Nike N7 Ambassador, Montoya can count on at least two new pairs of shoes being added to the unique line that celebrates athletes, creators and cultural game changers from across seven generations. Albuquerque Academy legend and four-time PGA Tour winner Notah Begay III and his brother Clint Begay are also Nike N7 ambassadors promoting the shoe line which officially began operations in 2009. .
The Nike N7 line shines a light on indigenous history through footwear and products. There’s a story behind every shoe and its designer, Montoya proudly says.
The N7 Fund supports programs and services that increase physical activity and provide more education and career development for youth in Native American and Indigenous communities across North America. Since 2009, he has awarded more than $8 million in grants, administered by the Charities Aid Foundation of America, to more than 270 communities and organizations, according to the Nike N7 Collection website.
“The shoes all stand out; they are so unique,” said Montoya, who in 2012 became the first Pueblo member to be elected a member of the PGA of America. “That’s what I love about sneakers in general, is that they’re a conversation piece. I get a lot of members on the golf course, and they notice that I change shoes on different days. I’m playing golf with them and they’re like, ‘What’s the story behind this, Jason?’ »
If you love golf, and especially if you love Nike shoes, Montoya is an Instagram staple (@montoya_pga). He would probably have more shoes, but he sometimes holds raffles or gives away other pairs to youngsters, but that could be problematic due to his 13-foot height.
He speaks fondly of every pair, including the original Tiger Woods Nike (TW Air Zoom) shoes from 1997.
Montoya has a busy schedule, with golf lessons, part of the winter and spring in Scottsdale, Arizona, and maintaining all those shoes. But he has other hobbies, including travel, concerts (he went to the recent Rob Zombie show at the Isleta Amphitheater), and watching New Mexico United games. He is also a foodie and enjoys all the restaurant choices in New Mexico and Scottsdale.
How does Montoya have all this time for all this activity? As suggested in an old-school TV commercial: it must be the shoes.
Montoya’s love for shoes has also played an important role in her weight loss journey. He’s lost 65 pounds in the past four years, since coming in at 335 pounds and being diagnosed with pre-diabetes in 2018.
This fall, Montoya is teaching several junior golfers at Kirtland Central High School. He also helps out at the Santa Fe Indian School, where the Braves are launching a golf program for boys and girls.
Montoya is familiar with beginner golf programs. Bernalillo High never had a boys’ golf team until Montoya started one in 2000, during his freshman year at the school. He sold some of his friends into joining the team by telling them they could skip class to compete in tournaments and then go out to eat.
Montoya also loved shoes at the time.
“It’s pretty cool how shoes can excite people,” Montoya said. “They can be a mood changer.”