Why Wear Golf Shoes: A Comprehensive Guide

The sport of golf is one that is slow paced. It is a staple of any country club and is played by many, whether they’re casual players, killing time on the weekend or a serious player looking to up their game. The rules are quite simple, use the stick to put the ball into the hole with as few hits as you can. At least, that is the gist of the rules. Here’s why you wear golf shoes.

Golf Shoes as a Rule

One of the main rules of the game is adhering to a certain dress code, a part of the rules of a golf club and way to preserve old traditions. It all started during the inception of the game in Scotland during the 15th century. It was also then that the first golf societies or clubs formed.

Some Scottish city archives state that there existed old laws that saw golf banned from being played in the street. The game went on to take on an elitist reputation as members of high society could play it.

Whilst there was definite clothing for golf, there was no proper shoe for golf, at least one not formally adopted by golfers. As the game and time advanced, specifically made golf shoes became common sight and evolved to fit the golfers needs of comfort, rigidity and strength.

Some of the rules from then are still adhered to by many golf clubs today. Now, for the question of why golf shoes are important? How do they affect your game? Are they a necessity? Or are they just for show?

So, why wear golf shoes?

Origin of Golf Shoes

As stated earlier, golf is an old game and during its inception, and at least before 1744 there were no formal rules. Other than clubs there was no other specific golf related equipment, such as shoes or otherwise. As such, amateurs were often told to wear a sturdy shoe with small nails embedded in their soles. As uncomfortable as it was, it provided some traction and grip whilst swinging but at the cost of tearing the green up. Of course, the also golfer risked injuring themselves as the nails could push up into their feet. 

It wasn’t until 1891 that purpose built shoes were invented. The shoes were made such that the spikes could be screwed in and out of the soles. As this new type of shoes were adopted, it saw protest from groundskeepers as the spikes still tore up the green and eventually, these shoes were banned from most golf courses and clubs. 

1906 saw Spalding bring out the saddle oxford golf shoe. It soon became the norm for golfers around the world and still remains popular amongst golfers in much more advanced versions of course.

It was also soon after that the kiltie golf shoe became popular. The saddle oxford design had a small piece of fabric that covered the laces. The kilt had the task of keeping dirt and mud out of the shoe. It was quite popular and is still seen today.

Technologies advanced and golf shoes saw many improvements. They became flexible and comfortable for golfers who liked walking during an 18-hole round.

Of all the change the humble golf shoe saw from the 1890s to the 1900s there was only one thing that remained unchanged, and those were the spikes found on the bottom of most golf shoes at the time. As the 90s rolled around, polymers and plastics started becoming popular in sports, especially with equipment.

Soon after, plastic cleats became a common sight on golf shoes. Of course, metal spikes were still in use but was banned by golf courses as the soft spike rose to popularity. The most recent iteration of the golf shoe is the spikeless golf shoe, which is quite popular amongst casual golfers. 

In today’s modern world there exists a whole host of different types of golf shoes for all different kinds of weather and play.

Do You Really Need Shoes for Playing Golf?

Most of the time, golf is played on courses at country clubs or golf clubs. These clubs have a set of specific rules and regulations for members to adhere to when they are in the club. 

Ever since the sport’s inception players have paid special attention to what they wore on the field. It was a rich man’s game and looking good was just another way to one up the competition, this attention to clothing trickled down into the modern era with a certain type of dress code for golfing. Most of the time, golf clubs are the ones to enforce the dress code. 

Many golf courses allow for sneakers and tennis shoes to be worn on the course but don’t allow street shoes, boots or sandals. Steel spikes are strictly prohibited as they can damage the green. 

With that out of the way, are golf shoes really necessary to play? Well, yes and no. Even if you aren’t a serious golfer wearing a pair of golf shoes will bring some improvement to your game. The cleats on the bottom hold you in place and add stability during a swing.

Golf shoes aren’t required for golf but can a make a difference during play.

Impact of Shoes on the Golf Game 

So, you’ve been to the driving range and practiced your swing. You might have worn sneakers or sandals and just had a great time. You may feel good but if you’d taken the time to wear your golf shoes you’d be able to practice a little better and maybe even improve a little.

The act of swinging has you generating torque through your hips and back muscles, whilst your arms bring down the club to meet the ball. It’s not your arms that have the most effect on range but the force generated by the twisting motion of your body.

Tennis shoes and sneakers are designed for constant motion and are quite soft. Though they are perfect for walking and running, they aren’t particularly beneficial to golfing. The key to a good swing is balance and posture. Tennis shoes or sneakers set your center of gravity forward and when you swing, it’ll actually throw you off balance and you’ll have to self-correct which will reduce the overall velocity of your swing.

A golf shoe is flat and this feature ensures that your center of gravity is directly above where you’re standing and not in front of you. You can apply a lot of pressure from your legs into the ground and can hold your balance as you swing, therefore generating more power and subsequently hitting the ball just that much harder. 

Another feature of golf shoes is that most of them have some sort of spikes built into their soles. These spikes do the task of aiding in traction and allow your feet to grab hold of the ground and move your body out of the way of the swing arc maximizing the all the force that you generate.

Why Wear Golf Shoes?

What is the main reason to wear a golf shoe and how is it better than other shoes? It all starts with balance. If you switch from sneakers to golf shoes you’re see an instant change in how you balance yourself during a swing.

The low cut and flat sole allows for even weight distribution and proper balance. Golf shoes particularly support the arches of your feet so your form doesn’t break if your feet slide. Spikes play a part in keeping balance as well, especially on slippery surfaces. A good spiked golf shoe may boost your distance and consistency. 

The same can be said about spikeless golf shoes. The reason why they’re common is mainly due to spiked shoes damaging the fairway, and are often required to be worn by most golf courses.

Golf shoes are specially padded in the front, where the balls of your feet make impact, the way a swing works you end up putting a lot of force on the front of your foot as you follow through. The cushioning prevents injury and strain along with managing the midfoot.

Generating power in a tennis shoe or sneaker is hard as you’ll have to compensate for traction, balance and follow through. The lessened grip will make your foot twist and throw you off balance. The golf shoe completely eliminates this problem and lets you generate more power consistently.

Conclusion

Golf shoes, why wear them? To be stylish on the course? To actually perform better or just to adhere to the club’s rules? The truth is that golf shoes actually help you in performing better and with consistency, along with making you look good. So hopefully this satisfies you when you ask, why wear golf shoes?

You can also read: How to Break in Hiking Shoes

Leave a Comment