Jason Montoya, a PGA teaching professional at Santa Ana Golf Club, smiles when asked about his massive Nike shoe collection that includes 280 pairs.
Yes, two-hundred and eighty.
At what point did you think: Man, I might be obsessed?
“When I started putting shelves on the wall,” Montoya responded without hesitation.
Montoya isn’t all about golf, but maybe it’s fair to say his love for sneakers goes hand-in-hand – or rather, foot in shoe – with his favorite sport.
Montoya, 36, started his full-on love affair with kicks just before graduating from UNLV in 2010. But his appreciation of shoes began when he was a kid.
“Just growing up, my mom would buy us school shoes,” Montoya said. “She would say, ‘these shoes are only meant to be worn at school.’ Then I would have to come home and change to my older pair.”
It’s a much different story these days for Montoya, who might need to research storage facilities soon. As a Nike N7 Ambassador, Montoya can count on at least two new pairs of shoes added to the unique line that celebrates the athletes, creators and cultural game-changers of the seven generations. Notah Begay III, the Albuquerque Academy legend and four-time PGA Tour winner, and his brother Clint Begay, are also Nike N7 Ambassadors who promote the shoe line that officially began operation in 2009.
The Nike N7 line highlights indigenous history through the shoes and products. There’s a story behind each shoe and its designer, Montoya says proudly.
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 in North America. Since 2009, it 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’re so unique,” said Montoya, who in 2012 became the first Pueblo member to be elected to PGA of America membership. “That’s what I love about sneakers in general is that they are a conversation starter. I get a lot of members at the golf course, and they notice that I’m changing shoes on different days. I play golf with them and they ask, ‘What’s the story behind this one, Jason?'”
If you love golf, and especially if you love Nike shoes, Montoya is a must-follow on Instagram (@montoya_pga). He would probably have more shoes, but he sometimes has raffles for giveaways or donates other pairs to youth, but that could be problematic because of his size 13 feet.
He speaks fondly of each pair, including the original Tiger Woods Nike shoes (TW Air Zoom) from 1997.
Montoya maintains a busy schedule, with golf lessons, working part of the winter and spring in Scottsdale, Arizona, and maintaining all those shoes. But he does have other hobbies including traveling, concerts (he went to the recent Rob Zombie show at Isleta Amphitheater) and attending New Mexico United games. He’s 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 one old-school TV commercial: It’s gotta be the shoes.
Montoya’s love for shoes were also a big part of his weight-loss journey. He lost 65 pounds within the past four years, since checking in at 335 pounds and being diagnosed as pre-diabetic in 2018.
This fall, Montoya is teaching several junior golfers at Kirtland Central High School. He’s also helping out at Santa Fe Indian School, where the Braves are starting a golf program for boys and girls.
Montoya is familiar with starting 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 on joining the team as he told them they get to miss classes to play in tournaments and then go out to eat afterwards.
Montoya loved shoes back then too.
“It’s pretty cool how shoes can hype up people,” Montoya said. “They can be a mood changer.”