Bearcat alums become Tiger’s footwear designers

A degree in industrial design from DAAP led two UC alumni to the design team for Sun Day Red

One might say that Charley Hudak has an affinity for big cats: Bearcats and Tigers, that is.

That’s because Hudak, a 2011 graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, is the creative shoe designer for Tiger Woods’ new line of golf apparel and equipment called Sun Day Red (an arm of TaylorMade Golf) which officially launched May 1.

While Woods has been sporting the Sun Day Red shoes and apparel — which features  a leaping tiger logo — at various golf tournaments, Hudak has been behind the scenes leaping (for joy) himself. 

Charley Hudak holding a golf shoe with a red bottom

"I have to pinch myself every day when I wake up," DAAP alum Charley Hudak says of his spot on Tiger Woods' creative team for the golfer's new brand, Sun Day Red. Photo/provided.

“I have to pinch myself every day when I wake up,” the shoe designer says of meeting with Tiger Woods several times a year. “Tiger is very involved in the process, down to the shoelaces."  

Before this, Hudak’s career path took him from studying design in UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), to leaving his footwear imprint at athletic companies such as Puma, GREATS, DC Shoes, AND 1 and FootJoy.  

In 2023 he joined TaylorMade and embarked on a yearlong process to get Sun Day Red to the market. 

It was pretty much a startup, “with all boots on the ground,” where he oversaw not only the creative process but sourcing materials, suppliers and manufacturing, he says.  

Getting there 

A Pennsylvania native, Hudak first attended Miami University in Ohio to pursue a liberal arts degree, but his teenage love of athletic shoes — known as being a “sneakerhead” — led him in the direction of footwear design and a transfer to UC.   

While the undergraduate classes and design studios at DAAP are the bedrock of earning a design degree, Hudak says that real-world experiences are the building blocks to success.

“I didn’t have anyone to show me what existed out in the world when I was young,” he says.

To encourage early learning experiences, Hudak’s senior thesis/capstone project for his design degree was a program called “Tread,” that teaches athletic shoe design to middle and high schoolers. 

It was obvious from that first year that he had a gift.

Laurie Wilson Associate director of student affairs and adjunct professor and DAAP Camps director

Hudak launched the program at Cincinnati’s Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School with major athletic shoe brands.

That same year, in 2011, the college established DAAPcamps — a summer program that attracts middle school and high school students from across the country who are interested in various DAAP degrees — and Hudak volunteered with the camp that summer. Once he established himself in the footwear industry, he returned to lead DAAP’s footwear design camp each summer and he still does so today.

“It was obvious from that first year that he had a gift for working with youth and instilling a passion for design in a subject they knew and loved — sneakers,” says Laurie Wilson, adjunct professor and DAAPcamps director.

Paying it forward

At every place of employment, Hudak says he has implemented a co-op program and employed UC students. That step, he says, stems from his own co-op education, which at the time was far more limited than the robust athletic partnerships DAAP currently has with the industry. Hudak says that back in the day, he traveled on his own accord to athletic brands across the country looking for an internship. 

“Every time I did that, I came across somebody from UC working there,” he says of the school’s reputation for graduating leaders in the footwear industry then and now.   

He says he plans to implement a co-op at Sun Day Red as well. 

“Shoe designers are industrial designers,” says professor Wilson, “and Charley Hudak is an inspiration and a gifted motivator and educator.

"We are fortunate to call him DAAP’s own," she adds.

Another DAAP connection

headshot of Cody Caldon

UC industrial design alum Cody Caldon. Photo/provided.

Hudak isn’t the only Bearcat involved in Woods’ new line.

Fellow DAAP alum Cody Caldon, ’21, came on board at TaylorMade as a senior footwear designer in 2024, not knowing he would be working on Tiger Woods’ new brand.

“This pushed my excitement to another level,” Caldon remarks on collaborating with a stellar new design team, led by Hudak, and the “greatest golfer of all time” to build golf products.

Caldon says this career step was made possible because he learned from the best industrial designers via DAAP academic co-ops and subsequent employment. 

While at DAAP, Caldon co-oped at Moen, Catalyst Product Development Group and Deckers Brands. At Deckers, he worked across the internal team brands Hoka, Teva, UGG and Sanuk. 

“These three very different experiences gave me the information necessary to decide my direction,” he says. From there he interned at Columbia, the sports apparel and equipment company, where he says he gained the understanding of how to build designs and how footwear differentiates between activities such as hiking, running and training. 

The golf niche, however, came after graduation, with employment at Titleist/FootJoy, the largest brand in golf: “It was an incredible learning experience that required me to learn the technicalities of golf-specific footwear and how to create products that are the most innovative in the market.” 

Featured image at top provided by TaylorMade. 

Impact Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is leading public urban universities into a new era of innovation and impact. Our faculty, staff and students are saving lives, changing outcomes and bending the future in our city's direction. Next Lives Here.

Related Stories


2023: A year in review

December 15, 2023

Review the University of Cincinnati's historic and productive year in 2023 through our year-in-review website.


Bearcat alums become Tiger’s footwear designers

May 23, 2024

With degrees in industrial design from DAAP, Charley Hudak and Cody Caldon designed athletic footwear for several companies before joining the design team at Sun Day Red, Tiger Woods’ new line of golf footwear and performance apparel.