Are Golf Shoes Necessary?

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There are so many different pieces of equipment that it can be overwhelming, and often times most golfers will have a piece of gear that they feel is an absolute necessity.

Can I golf without golf shoes?

Technically you can play golf without golf shoes. 

Golf shoes are not necessary, but there are many reasons why golfers should have them.

Amateur golfer Christine Kim certainly agrees. The 22-year-old from South Korea plays better with her Adidas AdiPower Tour golf shoes than she does without them.

“I play much faster when I wear my golf shoes,” she says. “When I go barefoot or wear regular tennis shoes, it feels like I am walking instead of swinging through the ball.”

Do pro golfers use spike-less shoes?

Some professional golfers choose to play with shoes that have no spikes on them.

Many golfers swear by their shoes for various reasons – some prefer open-toe styles to give their feet more breathability while others want more support. However, some professionals play without spikes on their golf shoes.

“I mostly wear Adidas AdiPower Tour shoes,” says Janice Moodie of Scotland. “But I also have a pair of Spieth’s and wear those when I’m not playing in my Adidas.”

As long as you feel comfortable wearing your golf shoes and aren’t trying to copy the pros, any type of shoe can be worn out on the course, but there are rules you have to abide by at competitions.

Are golf shoes a must?

What are the rules regarding golf shoes?

The USGA Rules of Golf allow for players to use “appropriate golf Shoes.” The rule states:

“Each player shall ensure that he wears appropriate golf shoes while playing.” ( Note: Footwear containing metal spikes are not allowed while playing in USA-administered competitions.)

For me, I believe there are two types of golf equipment: ‘Necessary’ and ‘Nice to Have.’  With my definition, equipment falls into the ‘Nice to Have’ category when it can be considered an accessory or piece of equipment that is not absolutely necessary. “Golf is a game of classic foundations,” Matt Wilson, PGA Professional and Director of Instruction at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento, Calif., said. “For that reason alone, it would be wise to invest in some proper footwear.”

Will golf shoes improve my performance?

At the pinnacle of the sport, it comes down to millimeters off perfection to win tournaments.

One difference between playing a round of golf without dedicated golf shoes and playing without them.  Playing a round of golf with regular athletic footwear will leave you very uncomfortable on the course.  Let’s explore why that is.

When it comes to swinging the club, one thing that separates elite players from amateur players is how much force they can produce on their swing. To increase power at impact, explosive movements in the backswing and downswing must be executed efficiently and effectively. Two critical components for elite players are weight transfer and proper balance throughout the entire motion.

Conversely, lack of good weight transfer and loss of balance during the stroke is very common among amateur players. When the weight is shifted to your rear foot during your backswing or to your front foot during the downswing, you are losing energy and power, resulting in a loss of control. To no surprise, this lack of weight transfer can be attributed to improper footwear.

Weight Transfer.  One pitfall that comes with wearing shoes not designed for golf is their construction materials do not allow for proper flexibility at the ankle joint. Because athletic shoes are built for maximum performance even when worn outside of their intended sport, they typically have excellent cushioning support to provide comfort throughout one’s day or game without heavy restriction on movement. Unfortunately, this design can hinder optimal weight transfer during our golf swing due to their rigidity and stiffness.  In the backswing, the ankles of a golfer wearing athletic shoes are unable to flex as much as players who have on a golf-specific shoe. Also, when coming into impact, a more rigid foot cannot support all of the weight that transfers down from hips and midsection onto it. This causes an unstable base to be set up, which results in loss of balance.

Can you wear sneakers golfing?

This is a question that has surfaced in various forums, and most expert golfers will say no. However, a quick look through a few threads on Reddit suggests most casual players think it’s fine to play in your dress shoes or sneakers.

What do the experts say?

According to Golf Magazine,  a sports medicine doctor from Northwestern University has said there isn’t enough research to prove any difference between running shoes and golf shoes. Rick Jensen of Golf Digest talks about an interview he had with Dr. Tom Mazzoli from NYU Medical Center’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine: “In short, playing without appropriate footwear can increase your risk for injury,” Jensen wrote in his 2012 story. “The bottom line: A shoe that reduces stress on the lower back and knee joints will do more for your game than a $399 driver, so spend your money on footwear first.”

The USGTF states, “Proper golf shoes provide arch support, stability, and shock absorption to lessen fatigue, reduce the chance of injury and improve overall performance,” while Golf Digest says: “A good pair of golf shoes offer added stability and shock absorption. They also help you get through 18 holes without turning your feet into hamburger meat.”

Are Golf Shoes Necessary – In conclusion

Can you ever have too many golf clubs? Is there a point where the storage becomes as difficult as the actual game? These are all questions that we must find an answer to through trial and error.

I’m talking specifically about spending money on the often overlooked equipment such as golf shoes. I’ve had my fair share of both good and bad experiences with various brands because it wasn’t until recently that I began to develop a strong relationship with mine.

Just how important are they? Being equipped for what’s next is integral in the game of golf. As we all know, weather can change in an instant, and that’s exactly why it’s important to have the proper footwear for the circumstances at hand.

I have been playing for about 18 years now, and I would say that my shoe collection rivals some of the ladies I know. I see them as a collection and pride to wear each pair instead of just another pair of shoes. If you are serious about golf, do yourself a favor and invest in yourself. No need to go out spending hundreds and hundreds; get a pair that are fit for purpose.