Can You Wear Golf Shoes as Regular Shoes? Go Spikeless!


When I was playing golf as a teenager back in the day one of the big issues at the club I played at was junior golfers wanting to play in trainers.

The club had a strict policy of golf shoes only and although some of my friends may have spent over $100 on their trainers or sneakers they weren’t allowed to wear them.

It’s safe to say now however that the golf footwear landscape has changed massively and golf shoes today have even become a bit of a fashion item.

But have golf shoes changed to such an extent that you could wear them both as regular shoes and as golf shoes?

Spikeless golf shoes can easily be worn as regular shoes. They are almost identical to standard trainers and sneakers with typically only a slightly more aggressive tread on the soles. Spiked golf shoes by comparison are not recommended to wear as regular shoes especially if they have metal spikes.

That distinction between spikeless and spiked golf shoes is the important one when it comes to considering which pairs of golf shoes can double up as regular shoes.

While spiked golf shoes have also come along way and are now also superbly comfy if you’ve been playing long enough you will have had a pair of metal spiked golf shoes at one point and experienced the agony and humiliation of a slip or three on the concrete in front a few laughing onlookers!

The introduction of soft spikes has thankfully put an end to those days but you’re still not going to be able to comfortably walk around the streets, or even go for a run, in spiked golf shoes.

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Spikeless Golf Shoes are the Best Option to Wear Casually

Before we dive into the detail about whether you can wear golf shoes outside as regular shoes it’s worth us taking a quick look at how golf shoes have evolved over the years and why you even need golf shoes at all.

‘Grip’ is vital when it comes to swinging a golf club and there are only 2 areas where you have to think about this most basic element of the game.

One is the grip you have on the golf club with your hands but the other is the grip you have on the ground with your shoes.

Without a decent grip on the ground, you are going to slip as you try and hit the ball and more than likely hit a poor shot.

And that is why having shoes that give traction and stability has always been so important to golfers.

According to the Golf.com this need for a good grip on the ground with their shoes led early golfers to hammer nails into their leather-soled boots.

Thankfully those days are long gone and golf shoes quickly evolved to having replaceable metal spikes in the sole and this is the design that prevailed until relatively recently.

The problem with metal spiked golf shoes however was that although they were great at keeping golfers’ feet stable on the ground they caused a fair bit of damage along the way.

Not only did they cut up well cared for golf greens and fairways but they also helped to ruin walkways, bridges on the course and carpets and wooden floors throughout clubhouses and homes across the world.

And with that damage came extra repair costs.

To address this problem soft spike golf shoes came along which basically simply replaced the metal spikes which much less damaging rubber ‘soft spikes’.

But then not long after this innovation came the spikeless golf shoe which have no spikes at all but rather small rubber studs or dimples.

And it is these spikeless golf shoes in particular that have become close to a regular fashion item today and are now many times close to impossible to tell apart from regular trainers and sneakers.

Golf shoes can be worn outside and on the street as regular shoes if they are spikeless. Spikeless pairs are similar to trainers and are made by sports brands such as Nike, adidas and Puma. You can walk on all surfaces with them including concrete but everyday wear is not advised with spiked shoes.

And all of this is great for the game.

Because with the advent of spikeless golf shoes that age old issue with particularly fashion conscious younger players complaining they can’t wear their expensive trainers both on and off the course has now been taken away.

This has not only allowed players to consider buying just one pair of shoes to wear on the golf course and casually but also helped golf shake off to a small degree its old fashioned image which can put off a lot of younger golfers.

Older golfers also have found benefits with wearing spikeless golf shoes.

Players such as former Masters Champion Fred Couples started the growth at even the top end of game for spikeless golf shoes as he found they reduced the stress on his notoriously weak back.

And in today’s game you now have a number of world’s leading players wearing spikeless golf shoes including top 20 world ranking players Tyrell Hatton, Tony Fineau, Daniel Berger and Matthew Wolff.

So the great news for any golfers today is that you have loads of options for buying golf shoes which will not only let you play some good golf but are also fashionable and an option to wear casually around town as a regular pair of shoes.

Spiked Golf Shoes are Not Ideal for Everyday Wear

Metal spiked golf shoes dominated the golfing landscape for a long time as they were the best option to give golfers good grip on the ground and especially in wet weather on slippery fairways.

However not only did metal spiked golf shoes cause alot of damage to golf courses and carpets and wooden floors at not inconsiderable expense but the option of wearing them casually was always a no no.

Any golfer who can remember wearing metal spiked golf shoes will have a story of wiping out at some point and ending up on their backside when walking with them on concrete slabs or a wet car park or sidewalk.

The advent of soft spiked golf shoes thankfully helped deal with alot of these problems but not to such an extent as to make them an option for everyday wear.

Spiked golf shoes are not ideal to wear casually as regular shoes especially on hard terrains such as concrete and pavements. Soft rubber spiked pairs do make it is possible to walk across such hard surfaces but not comfortably for longer distances and the periods of time required by everyday wear.

Now I can hear lots of people immediately saying that they wear their soft spiked golf shoes all the time off the course.

And I’ll admit I have done so and still do so myself on a regular basis.

But I’ve never done so for more than shorter distances whether that be walking around the clubhouse, at home or to and from my car.

I have never worn them as regular shoes heading out for the day unless I was totally stuck with no other shoes to put on and I definitely have never worn them for walking long distances on hard terrain.

You can remove the soft spikes from your golf shoes to give them a flatter sole more like regular shoes but given the design of spiked shoes the sole is never smooth even without the spikes as the ‘screw in’ points where each spike is housed is slightly uneven and still a bit awkward to walk in.

That also ignores the hassle of having to take the spikes out and in depending on whether you are trying to wear them as regular shoes or on the golf course.

Tiger Woods is one of the few golfers who still wear metal spiked golf shoes but almost all courses today are soft spike only facilities for amateur golfers.

Therefore, if you are looking for golf shoes that can double up as regular shoes, and which you can wear casually as well as on the golf course, spikeless golf shoes are definitely the way to go rather than spiked golf shoes.

Driving in Golf Shoes is about Common Sense

If you are thinking whether you can wear golf shoes for regular everyday wear one of the things you are possibly thinking about is whether you can drive wearing golf shoes?

When it comes to driving we often think about the car first and foremost and don’t really pay much attention to the driver and certainly not their footwear.

Even the AAA Digest of Motor Laws, the online compendium of laws and rules related to driving and owning a motor vehicle in the United States and Canada, makes no mention of footwear.

In the United Kingdom meanwhile the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency – the body that regulates the UK driving test – states only that “suitable shoes are particularly important behind the wheel”.

So there is no obvious answer which confirms definitively one way or another whether it is legal to drive in golf shoes.

The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) however has produced some basic guidelines to follow when selecting what shoes you can drive in. They state your shoe should:

  • Have a sole no thicker than 10mm…
  • … but the sole should not be too thin or soft
  • Provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals
  • Not be too heavy
  • Not limit ankle movement, and
  • Be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once.

This does technically categorise some types of footwear – such as high-heels and flip-flops – unsuitable for driving a car.

It could also be argued that soft spiked golf shoes may also be unsuitable as the uneven surface of the sole with the spikes could potentially slip off the pedals particularly if they are wet.

Spikeless golf shoes, provided the sole is not overly thick, are probably a better bet and given they are so similar to trainers and sneakers are likely ok to drive in although this is something as non-lawyers we can’t obviously give a legal opinion on!

Whether you wear your own particular goes shoes to drive is therefore down to your own common sense as to whether you think they are ‘suitable’ driving shoes or not.

Are Golf Shoes Made for Walking and Running as well as Golf?

A study by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine has shown that golfers can walk an average distance of approximately 10.21km (6.3 miles) during a standard 18-hole round.

Research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings further revealed that each golfer took an average of almost 12,000 steps over a round of golf regardless of handicap level, gender or course played.

With golf rounds typically taking anywhere between 3 and 5 hours that’s a lot of time spent on your feet.

Golf shoes, or more accurately spikeless golf shoes, can therefore easily be used for walking and general everyday use. They are designed to enable players to comfortably walk over 6 miles per round and accumulate the recommended 10,000 steps per day as part of any general activity plan.

It’s difficult to tell some golf shoes apart these days from regular trainers and running shoes

But what about running? Could you choose if you wanted to ditch your trainers and wear your golf shoes instead to head out for a run?

Going out for a run in a pair of soft spiked golf shoes is clearly not on the cards but there is no reason why anyone with a very comfortable pair of spikeless golf shoes could not wear them if they needed to head out for a short jog.

Bear in mind however that although many makes of spikeless golf shoes are supremely comfortable and will allow you to regularly walk many miles they are not designed as running shoes.

So if you are a serious runner and planning on clocking up a few miles it would make sense to get a pair of running shoes rather than golf shoes for the purpose.

Also whilst one of the benefits of spikeless golf shoes is that they can be worn anywhere as regular shoes, and also even for a jog if you need to, this is also at the same time a drawback.

Because as with all shoes the more they are used the quicker they will suffer wear and tear and wear out eventually.

Unlike spiked golf shoes where you can replace the spikes as they get worn there’s nothing you can do about it when the soles of your spikeless golf shoes start to smooth out over time and therefore lose their traction.

So if you decide to wear your spikeless golf shoes as another pair of regular shoes, and even as running shoes, in addition to wearing them on the golf course you’ll probably find they don’t last as long as you hoped.

Final Thought

Whether you decide on a pair of spiked or spikeless golf shoes is always a personal preference and depends on what you want to use them for.

If they are for golf only you may decide soft spiked golf shoes are better as they give you more confidence that you have a good grip with your feet on the ground when you swing and especially if you often play in wet conditions or difficult terrain.

By comparison if you only play the odd game now and then you may go for a spikeless pair that you can easily wear in everday life so you get as much out of them away from golf as possible.

The great news today is that if you want to buy a pair of golf shoes there are hundreds and hundreds of great options which are also fashionable and are not confined for wear on the golf course only!

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Graeme Hay

Graeme Hay is the owner of GolfingFocus.com. Graeme started playing golf when he was only 4 years old and has loved the game ever since. A single figure golfer all of his adult life he lives in London and still enjoys playing whenever he can with friends and family.

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