Are Golf Shoes Worth It? Why I’d Never Play Without Them

Golf is all about percentages. Making one or two less putts per round. Hitting more fairways. Getting up and down more often.

One thing you may be weighing up, in order to give yourself an extra edge out on the course, is whether or not buying golf shoes is worth it.

How do I know this? Because I’ve walked in your shoes… pun intended.

After deciding to take golf seriously many years ago, it only took a few months before I started researching the benefits of ditching my standard runners for specialised golf shoes and splashed out on my first pair of FootJoys.

But were they a good investment? I can say with 100 per cent certainty, yes.

Golf shoes are absolutely worth it. While they can cost more than regular runners, their spiked soles give you significantly more grip on the course. This affords you greater stability and balance when you swing the club, especially in the wet, which can improve your performance.

In short, wearing golf shoes (either spiked or with molded soles) as opposed to spikeless runners can give you far greater confidence when standing over the ball that you won’t lose your footing – allowing you to rotate harder and swing with more conviction.

Personally, I would never go back to playing golf without proper golf shoes.

As someone who likes to give the ball a good rip, especially with driver, the extra traction I get from the rubber spikes has been worth every penny.

In fact, I loved my first pair of golf shoes so much I decided to buy a second pair with screw-in spikes which, unlike molded rubber spikes, can simply be removed and replaced for almost nothing – meaning you don’t have to purchase a whole new shoe when they wear out.

A 20-pack of Gusnilo Easy Replacement Cleats should do the job, but you’ll also need a spike removal tool to swap out the old ones and fix the new ones in place.

So, if you’re tossing and turning over whether or not it’s worth grabbing a pair of golf shoes, read on.

I’ll answer all the important questions so you can make an informed choice.

Do golf shoes really make a difference?

Golf shoes can make a huge difference to your swing. Their spikes give you more grip, allowing you to use the ground forces better (leading to greater distance). They also afford you more stability, which can help you deliver the club with more consistency (leading to better ball-striking).

Think of it this way: an ice skater would never step onto the ice wearing runners, expecting to perform with the same level of control as they would while wearing specially-designed skates.

While this is an extreme example, the same logic can be applied to golf: it makes sense that shoes manufactured for golfers are going to be superior than an average pair of sneakers.

So, to answer the question: do golf shoes really make a difference? Absolutely, they do. And I’ve listed some of their biggest advantages below.

Pros of wearing golf shoes

  • Spikes generate better interaction with the turf, which can help you create more power through your legs and core (via rotation) leading to greater distance
  • Spikes provide improved stability, which can help limit unnecessary movements and allow you to deliver a stable clubface at impact (leading to better ball-striking)
  • They significantly reduce your chances of slipping during your swing, which can be a common problem in wet conditions, or on very firm/dried out tee blocks or fairways
  • They are designed to be extremely comfortable, meaning your feet won’t get sore from walking the course
  • You have the option of buying brands with replaceable rubber spikes (rather than molded ones) meaning you don’t have to throw the shoes out when the spikes erode
  • They look awesome, with the many different brands and designs enabling you to choose a pair that suit your style

As you can see, there’s a long list of reasons why golf shoes are an excellent investment if you’re serious about your golf.

But what you’re probably wondering is: are there any negatives? The only cons that come with golf shoes are that they can be a tad more expensive than regular runners, and they aren’t multipurpose.

Unlike the everyday sneaker, you can’t wear your golf shoes to work, the gym, when you buy your groceries, or if you want to go for a run – they can only be worn on the course.

If you’re on a really tight budget, this limited use may be enough to dissuade you from buying golf shoes (however, I’d argue that they are well worth the money).

Do you need golf shoes as a beginner?

Beginners should only buy golf shoes once they are committed to improving their golf. Golf shoes can help their game dramatically – by providing greater grip and stability – but are a wasted purchase if the player decides to quit the sport a few months after buying them.

I waited around six months after signing up for a full seven-day membership with my local club before deciding to buy my first pair of golf shoes.

I needed to know I was committed to playing the game long-term, otherwise the couple hundred bucks I had saved for them could be better spent elsewhere – rather than on a pair of FootJoys that would gather dust in my wardrobe.

Thankfully, my golf shoes have proven unbelievable value for money.

Not only have they improved my game, but they’ve lasted almost four years and still have plenty of life left in them (as I can replace the rubber spikes whenever they wear out).

Which brings me to the next all-important question when shopping for golf shoes…

Spikes vs spikeless golf shoes: what are the differences?

Spiked golf shoes are designed with removeable rubber studs that give extra traction and lateral stability for the player, and are ideal for wet conditions. Spikeless golf shoes have soles with molded rubber treads, which provide more grip than standard runners and are suited for all conditions.

I have a pair of each: I use my spikeless golf shoes when playing in the warmer, drier months, and use my spiked shoes during the wetter season as I’m more likely to slip when the fairways are dewy or waterlogged.

When it comes to the question of which shoes are better, there’s no clear answer as spiked and spikeless designs are built for slightly different purposes.

However, if you can only afford to buy one pair, I’d recommend you buy spiked golf shoes – the reason being that when the spikes wear out, you can simply unscrew them and replace them (for the cost of only a few bucks).

This is far better than having to replace the whole shoe when the molded treads erode, as is the case with spikeless designs.

Do pros wear spikeless shoes?

Golf pros rotate between spiked and spikeless shoes depending on the conditions and personal preference. Spikeless shoes are more commonly used in drier weather, while spiked shoes are the go-to choice in the wet. Some pros even use metal spikes for super grip; however, these are rarer.

Bryson DeChambeau is one pro who is known to wear golf shoes with metal spikes on the PGA Tour, but there are few others who do (it was far more common in past decades, when technology wasn’t as advanced).

Like average golfers, pros will swap their shoes depending on the conditions and also what they feel most comfortable wearing – whether that is spiked, or spikeless.

Do you need golf shoes for the driving range?

If you’re practicing on grass at the driving range, golf shoes can certainly help. If you’re hitting off a mat, spikeless golf shoes will provide added grip – however, it’s definitely not recommended to wear spiked shoes if swinging on an artificial surface.

I’ve worn spikeless golf shoes while practicing on a driving range mat without any problems – the reason I do so is because I like to replicate the same playing conditions that I’ll face on the course (I don’t wear runners during competition, so it makes sense not to wear them in practice).

However, while golf shoes can give you extra stability at the driving range, it can also be hugely beneficial to your development to remove your shoes altogether and try swinging barefoot.

As I’ve explained in another article, practicing without shoes on can improve your balance and tempo as you won’t be able to swing too hard for fear of losing your footing.

What this does is develop a nice, fluent, rhythmic motion that will generate consistency and help you find the middle of the clubface more often.

Try playing barefoot next time you’re at the range, you’ll be surprised how different it feels and the positive influence it can have on your leg action.

If you’re really trying to tidy up your footwork, it may be worthwhile checking out the DownUnder Board. More than 100 Tour pros swear by it and it’s a great, simple aid you can use to improve your balance.

What are the best golf shoes in 2021?

There are so many great golf shoes on the market today that it’s hard to narrow them down to just a few, but I’ve tried my best.

Below are my top picks for spiked and spikeless designs (note: I haven’t tried any of these on myself; I’ve listed them purely because I like the look of them, and approve of their functionality).

Best spiked golf shoes:

Best spikeless golf shoes:

Final message

Having worn golf shoes for years, there’s no way I could ever go back.

Along with the extra grip and stability they afford me out on the course, there’s something nice about slipping on my golf shoes in the morning before a round – knowing it’s business time.

If you’re unsure about whether golf shoes are worth it not, trust me, they absolutely are and can give you the extra confidence you need to perform.

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