Agreed that golf clubs are important, golf balls are important, even golf bags are very important because they keep your treasured, expensive clubs well-protected and organized. But then what about the one thing that makes the task of carrying/using this golf gear possible? It’s your feet, right. In that case, do you know how to choose golf shoes?
If your feet are feeling uncomfortable in your current pair of shoes, then no matter how great your golfing skills and equipment, you won’t be able to finish a single round of golf successfully. On top of that, you have to also put in the 4-5 mile walk in case you’re playing 18 holes. Trust me, you don’t need to be a professional golfer to know this!
So let me walk you through this very comprehensive, very extensive guide. At the end of which, you will have known each and every detail about golf shoes of all shapes, styles, and sizes.
Choosing the Best Golf Shoes – Complete Buyer’s Guide
1. Spiked vs. Spikeless
Spiked Golf Shoes
Cleated or spiked golf shoes, no doubt, are the traditional version that offers a ton of support, grip, traction, and stability on wet terrain and hilly surfaces.
But then what type of spikes should you go for? The options include plastic and metal. Needless to say, plastic is soft, and the most commonly installed in modern-day spiked golf shoes.
The lightweight design of plastic spikes is what makes them so popular. But what matters the most is that plastic i.e. soft spikes, with their wider size for wider weight distribution, don’t lacerate the green.
Plastic spikes can also be easily replaced or changed in case they happen to wear out. But then that doesn’t occur all too often because soft spikes, at least the ones developed by top brands now, can and do hand out a generous amount of traction and even wear resistance.
Moving on to metal spikes, these are less common these days. Nevertheless, many Tour-level golfers still wear them because of the additional traction they provide. However, the ugly truth doesn’t change that metal spikes irreparably damage the fairways and greens. And that’s precisely why club players are not allowed to wear metal-spiked golf shoes.
You might also want to know that metal spikes feel uncomfortable, especially on hard surfaces. Yet another compelling reason why most golfers choose shoes designed with plastic spikes.
Spikeless Golf Shoes
Don’t confuse plastic spikes with the rubber lugs of spikeless golf shoes. The latter, placed in the outsoles (on the bottom of course), make way for traction. But they’re the most suitable for dry, flat surfaces. So don’t expect them to give you the same kind of traction and grip as their spiked counterparts on wet or hilly terrain.
The design, due to the absence of any spikes, is certainly more lightweight, comfortable, and flexible. Therefore, proper for the purpose of walking from one hole to the next and even off the course if you like.
2. Style of Golf Shoes
We’d all be lying if we said that the appearance of the shoes doesn’t matter. Of course, looks matter when choosing shoes for any form of sport. So let’s find out what you’re LOOK-ing for…
Traditional or Spiked Golf Shoes
The traditional leather kind is almost always spiked golf shoes. They’re certainly longer lasting and also sturdier. All thanks to the leather structure, the pair is comfortable and also waterproof. However, the one major drawback here is the lack of breathability.
But then there are modern-day traditional golf shoes as well, which are lightweight and, at the same time, deliver the much-needed stability.
Athletic or Spikeless Golf Shoes
More often than not, these are spikeless golf shoes that don’t look traditional at all. In fact, most of them look like tennis shoes. No doubt, you get more flexibility, lightweight comfort, and breathability. Though not always waterproof or even water-resistant.
The appearance of golf boots is very much like that of hiking boots. Meaning you have here a pair of waterproof golf shoes (for which you pay extra of course) that are great for warmth and traction. But not so great for lightweight comfort since they’re heavier and also restrict ankle mobility when you’re executing your golf swing.
Just what you might need for hot weather conditions for buggy golf!
Golf sandals, though not so commonly spotted because of their limited water resistance and lateral support, are toe-less, open shoes that offer the most amount of breathability. But then golf sandals aren’t the most comfortable option for walking from one hole to the next (hello blisters!!!).
3. Factors of Comfort
What is a comfortable pair of golf shoes really? Shoes that fit properly. Shoes in which your feet don’t move around while walking, swinging, etc. Shoes that don’t choke your toes in the toe box. This is why the sizing is such an important part of the buying process. You have to make sure you don’t purchase shoes that are too narrow or too wide.
But then I’m going to talk about fit separately later on. For now, let’s talk about what makes a shoe comfortable apart from sizing…
What polyurethane material does is make the midsoles springy simply by flexing very readily and then returning back to the original form. No doubt, this material is tough, robust, and flexible.
Then there are EVA midsoles too. Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) is an incredibly lightweight polymer with enough bounce and cushioning, much like rubber.
Needless to say, both materials are extremely comfortable and effective to serve the true purpose of midsoles in golf shoes.
Traditional golf shoes have leather uppers that aren’t flexible like the modern-day synthetic uppers we see now. In the more recent shoes, top brands have started to incorporate advanced technologies in the upper material for promoting flex, stability, and wear resistance.
So these kinds of golf shoes don’t have a break-in period. Meaning they’re not stiff at all.
In fact, some of the best ones feature comfortable, lightweight, breathable mesh uppers that are also waterproof.
Advanced outsoles, on the other hand, are those equipped with small-size traction lugs. So there’s a lot of innovation that goes into the outsoles too.
These small yet effective traction and grip boosting nubs are present in the case of spiked shoes as well, so the positioning of the spikes is also done more strategically.
Moving on to one of the most important factors when it comes to buying all types of shoes…
Be it spikeless or spiked, golf shoes should fit properly. But then how to find the right fit?
Here are the most common signs of the perfect fit…
- No discomfort or pain while walking.
- A snug yet comfortable fit in the mid-foot and heel areas.
- No sliding or moving around of the feet inside the shoes.
- Proper alignment between your natural foot flex and the forefoot bend of the shoe.
- Half an inch of space in the forefoot region for comfort.
- A teeny-tiny bit of space in the top eyelets (post-lacing) for optimal width.
Your toes constantly rubbing against the toe box is a bad sign. Then the sign of pronation is when the inside heel area of the shoe wears down. This means your feet require greater arch support. But if the wearing down happens outside the heel, your supinated feet demand more flexibility instead.
Leather or man-made/synthetic shoes? Let’s find out!
Certainly, leather is tougher against wear and tear. It also has excellent natural waterproof properties. But then it’s stiff, thus painful and uncomfortable to break in. And costs more money.
Synthetic leather is also an option, which, no doubt, is more flexible, lightweight, and affordable. But it’s not as durable and water-resistant as natural leather.
This could be polyester uppers, mesh panels, etc. The benefits, in this case, include more lightweight comfort, flexibility, breathability, and the like. Also, you don’t have to worry about spending a huge sum of money, unlike leather.
Just like the most supple areas of your foot call for a stiff construction of the shoe, flexibility is crucial in areas that are the most likely to be stiff. So the perfect balance between the two should be struck. And that happens with the help of outsole flex and upper material flex.
The outsoles should provide both flexibility and stiff traction. As for the uppers, flex is a very important aspect. So, at such times, mesh uppers are considered to be the best.
Now, this depends on the material used for the construction of the shoe.
Is it leather? If yes, then please note that thick, solid leather is the worst option as far as breathability is concerned.
On a hot summer day on the golf course, leather shoes feel like you’ve locked your feet inside a small hot box. So you have to make sure this is averted, which means choosing shoes that keep those feet dry, cool, and comfortable. Hence, the popularity of golf shoes designed with breathable mesh uppers. They also keep away bad odor, fungus, etc.
Even perforations in the case of leather uppers work fine in terms of allowing fresh air to circulate inside the shoes
Gore-Tex golf shoes are the most suitable if you care about waterproof properties. This particular technology, in the form of a lining, keeps out water and dampness at all costs.
Then many other brands instead use waterproofing spray-on chemicals. Another effective option is a waterproof microfiber mesh upper.
It obviously differs between spikeless and spiked golf shoes. The latter has a traditional cleat design specifically engineered for anchoring your feet to the ground. And nowadays, these cleats are made using softer plastic material to prevent damaging the greens.
You have the option of replaceable spikes too, which give you greater lateral stability.
What about spikeless golf shoes then? These feature rubber lugs or nubs in the outsoles that are put in place strategically for enhancing rotation, stability, and durability.
Determined by the presence or absence of spikes and the material used, durability matters a lot, irrespective of how much you’re paying for the shoes.
Spiked golf shoes have replaceable cleats. So you can get them changed in case they wear out (warning sign – loss of grip/traction), whenever that is.
This means you don’t need to buy a whole pair of new shoes. Just replace the old, worn-out cleats and give the same pair a makeover.
As for spikeless shoes, these don’t have any such replaceable element. Once they wear out, lose traction, etc., you have to buy a fresh pair altogether.
Also, factors like metal spikes and leather uppers are longer-lasting than plastic or no spikes and synthetic material construction.
11. Lacing System
The lacing system is also a contributing factor in the case of proper shoe fit. Many modern golf shoes are now outfitted with the exclusive Boa Fit System. With this, you have the complete freedom to make and lock in micro-adjustments using the dial until you get the perfect fit. Something that traditional, common laces just don’t do!
But then be ready to pay more for such proprietary lacing mechanisms.
FAQs – Best Golf Shoes
1. How long do golf shoes last?
A pair of brand new golf shoes (purchased from a reputable brand of course) can be expected to last for a very long time. It largely depends on how frequently you play/practice golf. And also on how much you walk when on the course.
Generally, soles are highly wear-resistant. But the same cannot be said about the uppers. Because of the rotational movements of the swing, they tend to stretch out pretty quickly.
2. Do pros wear spikeless golf shoes?
Some of them do indeed wear traditional i.e. spiked golf shoes while others choose the spikeless design. It all actually depends on how much traction and grip the golfer needs on the turf.
There are many golfers who wear different types of golf shoes in different weather conditions. For instance, they often switch to the spiked version from spikeless in damp weather.
3. How much to spend on golf shoes?
There are both very affordable and expensive golf shoes spread across a wide spectrum of the price range. So basically, it mostly depends on what your budget is.
Just keep in mind that spending more, usually, means choosing a pair of shoes that’s more comfortable, supportive, AND durable.
And then also take into consideration your love for the game. Meaning if you’re an avid golfer, which means you play golf more times a week, it’s only logical to purchase shoes that cost more, so they last longer. On the other hand, if you hit the golf course only occasionally, no point in buying an expensive pair.
4. What golf shoes to wear for wide feet?
In the case of wide feet, many brands offer separate ‘wide’ sizing as well. For example, New Balance, FootJoy, etc. So I encourage you to give these reviews article by golfdepends.com a quick read just so that you can find the perfect fit for your wide feet even as a female golfer. It’s proof that your options are not limited.
Some brands have an extra-wide size too!
5. What Is the Difference Between Water-Resistant and Waterproof Golf Shoes?
Water-resistance means the golf shoes can withstand a little bit of dampness and rain.
But, no doubt, it’s waterproof shoes that allow you to take that swing in standing water found on the golf course. Needless to say, the latter is more expensive because of the inclusion of more advanced technology.
And That’s The End Of It All!
In this article, I have discussed every possible factor that matters when it comes to buying golf shoes. Be it spiked or spikeless!
We often underestimate the importance of our feet, thus shoes when playing golf. Because it’s sports like football, basketball, etc. that advertise more, for obvious reasons of course. But then that doesn’t mean golf is a sport that doesn’t demand proper footwork just because you’re not running.
You do need to form a solid foundation to execute a flawless swing, right? And that solid foundation begins with the correct stance. Even walking 18 holes can be tiring. So you have every reason to consider spending money on golf shoes. For superior comfort above all else!