One of the great things about golf is all the gear you acquire. Clubs, balls, gloves, clothes, bags, hats, gadgets — the list goes on and on. You read about new offerings and compare notes with friends. You can’t have too much golf stuff. And over time, you upgrade with better, more improved gear.
However, when starting the game and prioritizing your fledgling equipment collection, shoes may not have made the initial list of purchases. Between equipment, clothes, green fees and possibly club membership, golf shoes may have seemed unnecessary.
Many starters play the game with comfortable sneakers. Let’s face it — they give you good support, have some tread and will save some aches and pains 8000 yards later! So are sneakers all that you’ll need? When and why should you switch your trusty old sneakers for a pair of golf shoes?
Here are some ways to determine when it’s time:
1. You use sneakers for other things
Sneakers are versatile. You can turn to your sneakers for just about anything. A first date might be stretching their application, but certainly on most occasions that invite a casual dress code, sneakers are your go-to footwear.
However, sneakers might get exposed to all sorts of different surfaces and climates on a golf course. Therefore, they will look worn fairly quickly. On the other hand, golf shoes are highly specialized footwear designed and built for their purpose. Keep in mind that your purpose-built golf shoe will last a lot longer than your sneakers.
2. You need better grip
When the soles run out of grip on your sneakers, it’s time to ditch them for any golf game usage. When golf shoes run out of grip, simply ask your friendly pro-shop staff to replace the cleats and off you go. If you wish, purchase your own cleat or spike screwdriver so that you can replace them yourself.
Sneakers don’t always give you the grip you might need to remain stable on the ground, particularly in slippery or sloping lies. Remember, your body is winding up like a corkscrew and then releasing. Your feet must remain stable and not move throughout the swing.
Golf shoes give you the confidence to really get your weight through the ball, knowing that your feet will not be slipping and sliding from under you. There will be the odd gentleman or woman who has worn only sneakers for golf. Their game is most likely steady-as-she-goes and home course dry underfoot, which minimizes the need for specialized footwear.
3. Golf shoes are mandatory
Many golf clubs simply note that your footwear must be appropriate. As with most golfing matters, it is wise to seek some specific clarity. Those few courses that outlaw the wearing of sneakers will usually be explicit about this on their website. But if in doubt, the rule-of-thumb suggests that the more expensive and exclusive the club, the more likely they will frown upon your choice of sneakers over golf shoes.
4. You’re interested in modern shoe options
When Freddie Couples marched onto the hallowed turf of Augusta back in 2010, there was a collective gasp from the patrons. What was on his feet… were they sneakers? Were they spikeless golf shoes? The rest, they say, is history.
Those Ecco shoes set the trend for a hybrid shoe that crossed the sneaker with the golf shoe. They are now widely available in a number of brands, styles, colors and finishes. They are not as good as sprigs in wet or slippery conditions, since the nubs do not grip the ground the way conventional cleats might. However, these hybrid shoes offer flexibility.
You can wear them to golf and wear them later in the clubhouse once you’ve changed. They are generally lightweight, easily packed for a trip and are generally a little cheaper than spiked golf shoes. If you prefer a sneaker-style over the traditional golf shoe, then this could be your graduation from sneakers.
5. You want to be more fashionable
More recently, lines of spikeless cross “sneaker-golf shoes” have emerged that deliver all the specialized features of a quality golf shoe with the comfort of a sneaker.
In Golf Digest’s “Best Golf Shoes of 2016,” the top three were spikeless shoes.This tells us a great deal about how far the hybrid shoes have come. “Canoos” have taken it a step further by creating a boat shoe that has spikes underfoot. It’s a lovely, soft, leather loafer that doubles as a technical shoe (possibly golfing-ready as well) — what an inspirational idea!
And if you really want to get right out there, hop into a pair of Michelle Wie’s Nike or Rickie Fowler’s Puma high-tops. These are golf shoes with the appeal of sneakers for the younger market.
There are plenty of reasons to make the jump into specialized golfing footwear. Make sure to obey the mantra that you should spend money on things that carry your weight… a good mattress, good chairs and good shoes!
— N. Incoll