Are golf shoes necessary, you ask…The National Golf Foundation estimates that more than 25 million people play golf in The United States. Worldwide, that number swells to more than 60 million. Considering a full set of clubs can cost between $250 – $1,000 and players can expect to go through mountains of balls, tees, and other accessories each year, the amount a player invests in his or her golf game can quickly add up. Now factor in specialized clothes and shoes, and the cost goes up even more. Players may start to search for ways to lessen the financial load and question whether certain equipment or accessories are more of a preference or a requirement. Attire is usually first up on the potential chopping block, so let’s begin there.
Are golf shoes necessary, or simply a fashionable accessory? No. If you’re brand-new to the game and plan on spending the majority of your time at the driving range, golf shoes are not necessary. You can make do with thick-soled shoes. However, if you play 9 or 18 holes more than once a year, want to perfect your form, improve your game, and stay healthy, then the answer is a resounding yes!
If you fall into the “Yes” category, you probably already know that just about every golfer wears golf-specific shoes, and you might even own a pair or two yourself. But did you ever think about the actual purpose and function of these shoes?
You Don’t Wear Soccer Cleats to a Bowling Alley
Proper golf shoes have a lot going on beyond just their distinctive good looks. Molded spikes or cleats, arch stabilizers, lots of hidden padding, and lightweight, breathable material are all necessary for comfort and traction on the course.
Playing 18 holes without using a motorized cart can burn more than 2,000 calories and equates to between four and six miles of walking. Considering the terrain is often hilly and uneven, it is definitely in a golfer’s best interest to invest in the proper footwear; other shoes just aren’t going to cut it on the course.
Remember, running shoes are designed to provide traction on hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete, not soft surfaces like short grass. So although they grip the road well, athletic shoes are fairly useless on the golf course.
But what about other shoes with cleats?
Can you throw on your baseball cleats for a quick nine holes?
The answer here is absolutely not. Baseball cleats can cause serious damage to a manicured golf course or even the man-made turf at the driving range, so its best to save those cleats for the diamond.
“If you think your hands are more important in your golf swing than your legs, try walking a hole on your hands.”– Gary Player
It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing
A strong golf swing has lots of moving parts and requires full-body cooperation. Most golf pros agree that if you don’t have a proper foundation, it is virtually impossible to perfect your form.
Golf shoes are specifically designed to keep your feet stable and decrease pressure on your knees and ankles. If your feet slide around inside your shoes, you not only risk injury, but you also lose the balance and power required to really drive the ball.
Finally, unless you studied at the Happy Gilmore school of golf, chances are you are standing still when you make contact with the ball. The extra-wide, thick rubber soles found on golf shoes help to make sure that even in slippery situations, your feet stay firmly on the ground and your backside stays off the green.
To Spike or Not to Spike?
There are pros and cons when it comes to wearing both spiked and spikeless golf shoes. Spiked shoes provide the most traction, which is key when the course is wet or the terrain is varied.
Spiked shoes also tend to last longer than their spikeless counterparts because the sharp points can be easily replaced without having to sacrifice the body of the shoe. Once a spikeless shoe loses traction on the sole it becomes useless and must be replaced.
Depending on how often you play, that could add up to a significant chunk of change.
Of course, technology is improving every day and spikeless golf shoes are gaining popularity due to their incredible versatility. These shoes can be worn from the car to the clubhouse to the course which means one less piece of equipment to deal with.
Many golfers also consider spikeless shoes to be more comfortable because they are lighter, more flexible, and put less pressure on your feet. So this decision boils down to individual needs and desires. If traction and durability are most important to you, then spiked shoes are gold standard. If comfort and versatility top your list of must-haves, then spikeless is the way to go.
Conclusion: Are Golf Shoes Necessary?
Although golf shoes are not a required piece of equipment at most courses, they can have a huge impact on your game.
Wearing the proper golf shoes can provide distinct advantages for both amateur and professional players including:
- Superior traction
- Increased stability
- More balanced stance
- Less pressure on knees, feet, and ankles
When you consider the fact that today’s golf shoes are available in a wide variety of styles and designs, provide highly-functional options for every level of player, and are more comfortable and versatile than ever before, investing in a good pair of golf shoes is worth every penny.