When you take up golf you can easily spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars, euros or pounds on equipment before you have even hit a golf ball.
One of the golfing items on the list you can buy from the beginning is golf shoes.
And like everything in golf some types of shoes can cost in the hundreds.
But are golf shoes worth it? Golf shoes are not mandatory except on some more exclusive golf courses. Trainers or sneakers can be worn to play golf but golf shoes will give better grip particularly in the wet and on uneven ground. Golf shoes come in two types – spiked and spikeless – and can cost between £25/$30 and £290/$300.
The key factor in the decision of what shoes to wear when playing golf is grip.
So it’s important to bear in mind the typical weather and course conditions you play in before you make any final decision.
Pro tip: A Journal of Sports Science & Medicine study showed that golfers can walk an average distance of 10.21km (6.3 miles) during an 18-hole round. It is therefore vital you have good footwear when you play. If you interested in a pair of new or upgraded golf shoes check out the best spiked and spikeless golf shoes on Amazon here.
Golf Shoes are Not Mandatory but They Benefits ALL
Whether golf shoes are worth their price tag is a more involved question than whether they are compulsory or not.
And the short answer to that question in the vast majority of circumstances is no.
Except on all but some of more high-end luxury golf courses and country clubs, if you are looking to simply hit a few balls at the driving range or play a few holes on a golf course then you don’t have to wear golf shoes.
A pair of trainers or sneakers will be absolutely fine.
But whether you are a beginner or a professional golfer golf shoes do have benefits, especially in specific circumstances, and these need to be considered in any decision where you are thinking about buying a pair or not.
And these benefits mainly centre around ‘grip’.
Whatever standard of golfer you are ‘grip’ in 2 key areas is the most important basic element of the game you have to think about and focus on.
The first of these key areas relates to the grip you have on the golf club with your hands while the second is all about the grip you have on the ground with your shoes.
And that is why your choice of footwear when you play golf is so important.
The soles of your shoes are the only point of contact with the ground when you swing a golf club so if you have a poor grip with them, and slip in any way, you are not going to be able to hit good shots.
It’s that simple.
The golf swing at its most basic is a turning motion. You turn your body and legs one way – backwards – and then you turn them forwards.
As you complete those motions and your weight transfers throughout the golf swing you will need to be wearing shoes which give you enough grip to hold your feet in place.
So if you are wearing shoes without any grips on the soles you will simply slip, make a bad swing, hit a bad shot and maybe even wind up on your behind if you lose enough balance.
Golf shoes are specifically designed therefore to ensure you maintain a good grip on the ground throughout the golf swing and therefore tackle one of the two key elements of grip all golfers need to worry about.
That it is not to say a good pair of trainers or sneakers cannot give a good grip also.
Of course they can, but there are a couple of additional elements which you should consider also when deciding whether to buy a pair of golf shoes or not.
And these extra elements are how wet the ground is and how uneven or hilly the places are where you play most of your golf.
If the ground is wet it stands to reason that much like tyres/tires on a road maintaining grip becomes that bit more difficult.
So if you like me you play golf in a climate where it’s often wet (or even if you play early a lot of mornings when there is still dew on the ground) golf shoes by their design are likely to give you a better grip than a pair of sneakers.
Also golf shoes are typically water-resistant and often waterproof so unlike trainers you will keep your socks and feet dry in those wet conditions.
Having wet feet is never a nice experience on any occasion but it can particularly annoying when drudging around a golf course for as many as 3.5 miles on an average 18 hole round.
Wet feet will certainly not help your golf game!
Similarly, if you are playing golf often on a course which is particularly hilly, or where you have regular uneven stances when you hit the ball (e.g. Links golf), golf shoes again are more likely to give you a better grip on the ground.
In addition to these benefits some instructors argue that the more certain grip golf shoes can give is actually more important for beginner golfers than it is for better players.
And the reason for this is balance.
The golf swings of advanced and the professional golfers you see on the TV have been honed over thousands of hours of practice and are very balanced and controlled.
A beginner player’s swing by comparison is inevitably going to be more unbalanced and less smooth as they typically swing harder than they need to do.
It is argued therefore that the guaranteed grip delivered by a golf shoe’s specific design will help a beginner keep a better grip on the ground as they develop their swing.
Whether that factor tips the balance to make a beginner golfer go out and buy a pair of golf shoes is a matter of personal preference and will likely depend on cost as much as anything.
However, whatever stage of golf you are at, if you are still deciding whether to buy a pair of golf shoes or not the key factors which will affect your decision as to which shoes will give you enough grip will centre on the typical climate and course conditions you play in.
If you play all your golf in the sun on flat courses or at the driving range you can be absolutely fine with sneakers or trainers.
If you are going to have to deal with some wet and uneven ground conditions in the places that you play your golf shoes will undoubtedly give you an additional benefit.
If you Don’t Wear Golf Shoes Get a Grip & Stay Dry
We’ve talked about how important grip is in relation to what shoes you choose to play golf in and how trainers and sneakers can be an adequate alternative, particularly in dry and flat conditions.
But what about other types of shoes. Are there are any other options?
Unfortunately the requirement for good grip on the ground limits the alternative options to golf shoes.
While you could in theory wear street shoes to the driving range you are very likely to slip so there is not much point.
In addition you will certainly not be able to wear street shoes on a golf course due to the rules of what you can and can’t wear when playing golf away from the driving range.
Street or work shoes with a heel are not permitted on golf courses as they can make an impression on, damage the green and cause a mark that could throw another golfer’s putt off line.
Similarly flip flops, thongs and sandals are not allowed to be worn on golf courses.
And again as they don’t give much grip there’s little point in wearing them also if you want to hit any good shots.
Golf Shoes Don’t Need to Cost a Fortune
When it comes to the question of whether anything is ‘worth it’ the main factor influencing what’s being considered is clearly going to be cost.
So to help you decide whether golf shoes are worth it or not we did some research to establish the typical price of a pair of golf shoes.
Golf shoes are divided into 2 general types – spiked and spikeless.
As the name suggests ‘spiked’ golf shoes have rounded spikes, or cleats, on the sole to provide a strong grip on the ground.
Spikeless golf shoes by comparison have rubber studs or dimples in place of spikes on the sole.
As with any shoe the price can vary considerably but typically the cost of golf shoes can range anywhere between the following:
|GOLF SHOE TYPE||UK||USA|
|Spiked golf shoes||£25 – £290||$30 – $300|
|Spikeless golf shoes||£27 – £210||$30 – $290|
The large variance in the potential costs of golf shoes come down to 2 main factors – the materials used (e.g. for water resistance and comfort) and the brand.
Today all the main sports manufacturers – Adidas, Nike, Puma, Under Armour etc – make golf shoes which helps to highlight how close golf shoes have become their main alternative – trainers or sneakers.
Other specialist golf shoe manufacturers include Footjoy, Etonic, Callaway and Ecco so you have plenty of options to choose between.
Whatever you decide you will quickly see you do not have to spend a fortune on golf shoes and like any other retail item you can often pick up some real bargains to keep costs down.
Spikes or Spikeless Golf Shoes? Look Up and Down
If you do decide to you want to buy a pair of golf shoes the next decision is whether you should get a spiked or spikeless pair.
Given the negligible price difference, it once again comes down to the key factors we discussed above.
Which shoes are going to give you the best grip in the conditions you typically play in?
Now you may think that it is obvious that spiked shoes will inevitably give you a better grip on the ground but given the advances in golf shoes in recent years the difference in the grip provided by the two is becoming increasingly small to the point where it’s difficult to tell the difference.
When spikeless golf shoes first made an appearance there was a lot of scepticism and players with high swing speeds in particular didn’t think they would give enough grip.
That has all changed now and in dry and flat conditions especially it really comes down to personal preference.
Spikes will probably still provide a bit more stability overall than spikeless golf shoes especially in wet conditions on uneven ground but as spikeless designs get more and more advanced the differences are getting increasingly debatable.
As such it all comes down to personal preference and like any pair of shoes you buy I would just experiment with a couple of pairs in your price range to see which feel the most comfortable (don’t forget you will have to walk a few miles in them on a golf course) and meet your requirements – i.e. if you are likely to play in wet conditions on occasion make sure they are either waterproof and water resistant.
An added bonus of spikeless golf shoes is their versility.
They are brilliant if you also want to wear them in the car or round about whilst doing other things on the way too or from the golf course or driving range.
Nobody will notice if you pop into to do the shopping on the way home from golf. Spikeless shoes can feel exactly like a trainer or sneaker.
If you feel though those spikes will give you some extra confidence when you swing, particularly on wet ground that’s good too.
As I say given the ever-decreasing differences between spiked and spikeless shoes personal preference is the key.
If you do choose spikes though avoid steel spike golf shoes if you come across any. Metal spikes used to be common but have now all but vanished and been replaced by soft plastic ones.
The reason for this is that many golf courses will not allow them today due to the damage they do to greens. They can also be less comfortable too though to wear after lots of walking.
One of our top tips for beginner golfers is that they should save their money to begin with as they start taking up the game so we couldn’t then instantly recommend that they should rush off and buy golf shoes straight away without looking at the pros and cons and whether they are worth the money or not.
But whatever shoes you decide to play golf in just remember the main question to ask yourself – will these shoes give me enough ‘grip’ and be comfortable to wear in the course conditions and weather I play in most frequently.
If you find yourself slipping regularly when you swing it’s probably time to try some golf shoes or upgrade the pair you have.
Which golf shoes you choose will come down to personal preference but you will likely be able to find a very reasonably priced pair of spiked or spikeless golf shoes and both will serve you well in most circumstances.
If you are planning to play regularly also it can be worth thinking about getting a couple of pairs and alternating between the two to extend their life.
If you have a pair of spiked and spikeless shoes also you can test them out in different conditions to see which you prefer.
More great articles related to this topic:
- Can You Wear Golf Shoes as Regular Shoes? Go Spikeless!
- What Should You Wear Golfing? Do’s and Don’ts for Men & Women
- The Best Substitute for Golf Shoes? You’ll Have Some!
- What Should You Wear to the Driving Range? Keep it Comfy
- 10 Best Men’s and Women’s Golf Shoes Under $150 (2021 update)
- Do Golf Pros Wear Metal Spikes? But They are Banned!