Golf shoes are the most underrated tool you have in your repertoire as a beginner golfer. Finding, buying, and maintaining those golf shoes are vital to the process of becoming great at golf. If you’ve ever aspired to be as good as some of the greats, you’ll need sturdy, comfortable, and fashionable golf shoes to help you step in the right direction.
How do you choose the right golf shoes? Choose golf shoes based on your preferred style and comfort within your budget; don’t skimp on quality due to price. When it comes to maintenance, you will need to keep up with them pre-game, during the game, and after to ensure they last through their lifetime.
There are thousands of kinds of golf shoes, but not all of these shoes are equal. You will need to consider what kind of golfer you are, and what you believe you may need to choose the right pair. The remainder of this article offers some tips to get you up to speed in grabbing that first pair as you head to the green, from buying to maintenance.
Are Golf Shoes Necessary?
Golf shoes may or may not be required on every course you go to. Usually, golf shoes are not a necessity, but more and more courses are requiring them for golfers because of functionality and adhering to dress code.
- Adding Stability – Because golfing involves properly pivoting at every stroke, you will need good golf shoes for stability. As long as you are grounded and stable on the course, your swing is much more effective. Without golf shoes, your game may suffer due to the added effort your body has to make as you hit each ball.
- Adhering to Dress Codes – Originally from Europe, golf is considered a more proper game, so adding golf shoes to your attire communicates a certain kind of culture that comes with the sport. Many golf courses implement dress codes that reflect this culture.
What Makes Golf Shoes Different?
Golf shoes are very durable and provide a lot of support and protection from the elements. Most of them are made with leather and/or with a synthetic upper lining. They often only need a minimum amount of maintenance—such as a routine polish—due to the high quality of the shoe. Most golf shoes can range in price from $30 to $400.
The primary difference between golf shoes and other shoes used in sporting activities—such as baseball or football cleats—are their metal spikes. These spikes add a lot of stability to the golfer to keep them grounded with every swing. In addition, unlike cleats, these spikes can be swapped out as they bend or see wear.
Golf shoes have evolved so that they now feature soft spikes (rather than sharp, hard spikes) to keep the green on courses pristine and less prone to damage from the former hard spikes. Although these types of spikes require more maintenance and replacement, they offer benefits for both the golfer—by keeping them stable—and the course—by not being as harsh.
How to Choose Golf Shoes
The best way to choose golf shoes is to first assess your budget. Sometimes, depending on the brands and deals you are looking at, the price may be more or less than you estimate for certain golf shoes.
Choose Your Style
Often, half of the choice you make when it comes to your final decision on golf shoes is about fitting your style. Golf shoes can range in styles from Oxfords to sneakers—or even banded leather sandals. Some shoes have pronounced heels like business shoes.
If you’re a golfer who takes business partners out to the links, you may want to consider a more business style shoe for your golf game. However, if you’re more casual in your attire and this is for leisure with friends, you may want to consider that as well.
Some courses, depending on their level and membership, may require a dress code to play on the course. If you normally would wear sandals, consider upgrading your style to fit the golfing venue; you will need to match their dress standards to be allowed to play.
If you are unsure what style of golf shoe best suits you, it is highly recommended that you choose something that mimics your normal, everyday shoe. That way, you are more comfortable with the look and feel and can adjust to the game faster.
Choose Your Level of Comfort
Comfort is largely subjective. However, you should know that golf shoes usually fit tighter on the feet compared to everyday shoes. Think of a golf shoe as fitting as snug as a business shoe and less like a slip-on sandal or sneaker.
While your golf shoes need to function and must look the part for the customary dress fa or tee time, you need to feel good while playing. Make sure your feet will be happy in the shoes you wear on the course.
Are Golf Shoes True to Size?
Most golf shoes run about a half-size smaller than your everyday shoes. The purpose is to keep your foot secure and tight to the ground. The last, or the chassis of the shoe, is the determining factor in how the shoe fits. You should check with your pro or golf shop or retailer about the fit of the brand and kind of golf shoe you’re interested in before purchasing.
How Should Golf Shoes Fit?
Always try on your shoes, especially if you’re a new golfer, and have never owned golf shoes. Golf shoes need to fit well and feel snug on your feet. When you golf, the shoes will only add stability and work if they are able to hold your feet to the earth. The looser the shoe, the less effective the fitting is. Get fitted by a shop to know your proper size.
Do You Have to Choose Comfort Over Function?
Normally you do not need to sacrifice one for the other. There is a multitude of brands and styles that offer varied comfort and function.
As you build your game day attire, you need to consider what feels good on your foot, while providing stability and function you need on the course. Visiting a local golf pro shop will help you determine the kind of fit you want to feel while educating you on the kind of features you’ll need to consider as you look to buy your first pair.
Know Your Course
Knowing your course is key to find the right kind of shoe you need because each one is different and requires different dress codes. Consider the dress code and expectations of the golf courses you plan on visiting to see if there are restrictions on the types of golf shoes (such as traditional spikes versus soft spikes) allowed.
Know Your Environment
Finally, think about the climate you plan on golfing in, whether dry or wet. Knowing this will help you choose shoes that best fit that environment.
For example, if you live in a dry environment or golf in the afternoon, and the course is often free of water, you may just need weather-resistant shoes. However, if you golf in the early morning (as are many tee times) and the grass is often wet from dew, or it has just rained, you may want to go for water-proof or water-resistant shoes; after all, you don’t want wet feet while you are trying to focus on the game.
Difference Between Weather-Resistant and Waterproof
The basic difference is the experience. If you walk through dew riddled grass or if it just rained, weather-resistant will keep your feet warm but may leave them wet. If you have waterproof or water-resistant shoes, water will not enter the shoe at all.
Know Your Golf Shoe Terms
Finally, you need to understand what companies are talking about with golf shoes to know whether they provide value for you. Think about golf shoes from the bottom up. Here’s a brief for you to review:
- Last: This is the wooden mold that makes the golf shoe.
- Insole/Midsole/Outsole: This is the part of the shoe just below your foot.
- Upper: This section is what covers the shoe.
- Welt: The welt is the part of leather that is sewn to keep the outsole together with the insole and last. It’s what ties it all together.
Knowing these simple terms will help you read into reviews and look in-depth into forums later as you grow as a golfer. Knowing your shoes and what they are meant to do for you will help you hone your stance and guide the ball better into the hole.
How to Buy Golf Shoes
Now that you know the basics behind choosing a pair of golf shoes let’s take a look at the brands and features you’ll want to pay attention to before you decide to buy. After figuring out what kind of shoe you want and the kind of golf course you’ll be going to, you’ll need to narrow down what brands support that kind of golf experience. If you’re a beginner golfer, consider the following as you browse for your first pair:
You want to make sure the golf shoes are high-quality and sturdy in construction. Will the price you pay be the same price you’re paying next week when the shoe starts to break down? Finding out about the quality of a shoe, its brand, and what others have experienced is key as you prepare to make an investment in a new pair. Questions to ask: Is this shoe stable? Does it last? What materials are the shoes made from? Are they good for a beginner?
Next, look at the brands. Do you recognize any? If not, ask your shoe retailer about their advantages, quality, and specifics. The following are some of the most popular brands to offer golf shoes:
- Allen Edmonds
- New Balance
- Oregon Mudders Puma
- True Linkswear
- Under Armour
Great Brands for Beginners
Here’s a small list of golf shoe brands recommended for beginners. This is by no means exhaustive, but a good place to start. Visit your local pro shop to discuss more with local golf pros that know your courses around the community. They can give you more info on the kind of courses you may encounter the appropriate types of shoes for each.
- FootJoy Pro/SL
- Ecco Cool
- Adidas Powerband Boa Boost
- Under Armour Spieth One
- FootJoy HyperFlex II
- Skechers Go Golf Pro II
- Ecco Cage Pro
- FootJoy Contour Fit
Spikes or Spike-less Features
Most, if not all, courses now have banned metal spikes. However, you can still wear soft spikes, which are rubberized. They need to be replaced more often, but they don’t tear up the course. You need to keep in mind that the shoe must feel stable no matter the kind of spike. There are spike-less options, but most golfers don’t find them very comfortable to walk on and provide less stability for your game.
Again, think about your budget. The average top-line shoe can be anywhere from $200 to $400 dollars, and the more cost-effective shoes can range from $20-$60 dollars.
It’s vital you pick a shoe that feels good, has ample stability, whether spiked or spike-less, and is close to a normal style you would wear. If you pick a high-end shoe, but it is not comfortable or stable, you effectively wasted your money.
Higher prices usually indicate brand and durability with some comfort options. Lower end priced shoes lack in durability but make up in comfort. All modern shoes are water-resistant, and many are weather-resistant for longer-lasting comfort for the price you pay.
Is Expensive Always Better?
The simple answer is no. Expensive just points to brand and durability. It can also be a function of the retailer you purchased from and when you purchase. If it’s the offseason, you’re more likely to find a deal or even look at last year’s models to get a better price point. Just paying $200-$400 isn’t an indicator that the shoes are better.
You need something that fits your foot without much slippage and can do what you need it to do. The price is purely subjective. Look for deals, especially online, where you can see reviews from owners.
Do Cost-Effective Options Compete?
Cheaper shoes can, at times, have a bit of an advantage over expensive shoes in that they’re easier to find in retailers and online stores, not just pro shops. You can find budget pairs of shoes to start, but they won’t typically last long if you don’t consider investing in your first pair.
Golf Shops vs. Department Stores
Golf shops typically have experts working at the shop, so you can find the laser focus on all you need to know about golf shoes. They will give you access to their specialized inventory or even order special shoes at your request. They have spikes you can order and have the tools to change them out as needed. Note: Keep in mind that they will not have every kind of shoe, and typically will have a higher price point for each pair.
What Do Golf Shops Offer?
- Customized Fitting
- Price Points
Department stores, on the other hand, typically are catch-all and less specialized. They will have some golf shoe types and brands, but not most of them. They will often limit catering to the needs of you as the golfer. Essentially, what they have is what you get. Their price points might be a bit lower than golf shops but may not have all the specialties and expertise that you may need in picking the right shoes.
What Do Shoe Retailers Offer?
Shoe retailers can offer a basic smattering of golf shoes. They don’t typically offer every type but will give you a general sense of the landscape of the kinds of shoes that people will normally buy. They will have higher-end shoes but won’t fill their inventory with the most expensive shoes. You can see the range.
Physical Stores vs. Online Stores
By going to the store in person, you can try on what may look good or see what fits. Every shoe is different, so you will need to make sure the shoes are snug to maintain stability. If there’s a specific type the store doesn’t offer, you can sometimes special-order them through the store.
Online retailers, like Amazon, can give you access to online sellers, but you usually won’t have a chance to try them before you buy them.
How to Maintain Golf Shoes
As a general rule, golf shoes look proper and sometimes like casual sneakers, but their construction lends them to be very durable. They are made with the intent to be worn outside and on your feet, weathering the elements.
That said, you still need to maintain them in a variety of ways. From pre-wear care to wearing them properly, to cleaning and storing them, if you do these basic maintenance techniques, you should be wearing your favorite pair for a long time.
Golf shoes are meant to cover, protect and stabilize your feet during the game, so it’s really important to keep them on the course as much as you can and use them as little as possible for other tasks. While they have spikes or cleats, they need to be used for golf.
Riding in the golf cart is fine, but when you’re driving to the course in your car, try wearing a different pair around town. When on the course, put them on just before you go for your tee time. Post course, wearing them in the golf shop or at the clubhouse makes some sense, though most people change them out for more comfortable shoes.
Most shoes are weather-resistant, and the more expensive ones already have some level of waterproofing built-in. Just to be sure, ask your Pro Shop or the retailer if the pair you go with is waterproofed.
If not, get some waterproofing treatment and apply it with a towel. Let air dry before taking them out on the course. If you go after a waterproofed pair, make sure to verify your pair is certified waterproof.
On the Course
There’s no exact rule or guide, just use them for their intended use. They are not typically running shoes or meant to dig holes or stop fast-moving vehicles. Keep the cleats sharp by walking, using the spikes/cleats to re-patch a divot you may have made on the drive.
Lastly, make sure your shoe is secure to the ground when in the sand pits or on the green, so your game is focusing on the stroke and the ball, not on your footing. If you find that you want to keep your cleats in order, try taking the golf cart from time to time to give them a rest and to clean them out midgame.
Golf shoes by nature will get dirty, muddy, and filled with sod. It depends on the traction, but if you have spikes/cleats, you will need to clean them out and wipe down the shoes. Use water and a towel to wipe them down post golfing. If you can, let them air dry; that may help loosen any sand or debris before you clean.
Wipe them down with warm water and soap to make sure all debris, sod, and even pesticides are removed. Do your best to clean any cleat/spike that is holding sod or debris. Let them air dry and store with your golf bag in a dustproof container.
Golf cleats can sometimes be removed and replaced. This happens if you often walk on hard surfaces like cement or asphalt. Staying on the course protects these cleats and keeps them strong. Should you need to replace them, your pro shop will have a tool for removing cleats that you can purchase, and get new replacements. Be sure to keep some extra spikes on hand during the game should you break one, or need a quick fix to the shoe mid-game.
Sometimes golfers will carry them in a bag for the course or in a specially designed pouch in their golf bags. It is recommended that you help them keep their shape by storing them in a dustproof container. Also, find a way to keep it as not to crush them, as they will keep their intended shape on your foot. This will also help your traction control maintain as the shoe will not be deformed. Consider using a shoe-tree to keep their form as well.
How to Keep Your Shoes Looking Great
Maintaining golf shoes is fairly straightforward. Pre-game ready them up, and make sure they’re weather-resistant and waterproofed. On the course, use them for their intended purpose, and lastly, do a post-game cleaning, so you keep the longevity of their use.
However, between golf outings, it’s important that you protect your investment in the following ways:
- Store the shoes in a dry, dust-proof container.
- Keep them away from pests that would like to nest in them.
- Deodorize them to make sure your feet stay smelling great in and out of the shoe.
- Clean the cleats/spikes.
- Replace any cleats/spikes should they not be up to par.
- If your shoes are leather, try to polish the leather on the shoes to keep them beautiful.
- Consider moisturizing the leather to keep it from cracking due to sun exposure.
As for most shoes, golf shoes will wear over time. The more you play, and how well you treat them on and off the course will determine how often you need to replace them.
With new soft cleats/spikes, shoes last for 10-15 rounds of golf—not holes, but entire golf outings. If your shoes, as a whole, are showing signs of aging even after regular maintenance, it’s probably a good time to look at replacing them entirely, not just the spikes.
Golf shoes can be a wonderful thing. If you pick the right pair to invest in from the start, properly use and maintain them, and regularly change their soft spikes/cleats, where possible, you can use your first pair of shoes for a while.
Knowing the kind of golfer you are, the courses you want to play, the budget you have, the comfort you expect, and the kind of weather you’ll encounter will greatly influence you picking the right pair and ultimately set your golf game up for a win. While the perfect pair will guard your feet and keep you stable mid-stroke, it’s up to you to put your best foot forward.