Are Golf Shoes Necessary? Do You Really Need Them?

Written by Hannah VanDerLaan 

Are Golf Shoes Necessary

Are golf shoes necessary? Do you need golf shoes to play golf? The short answer is no, golf shoes are not necessary and you can play golf without them, but there are some benefits to wearing golf shoes that you should be aware of.

What are the differences between golf shoes and your everyday sneakers?

In this article we will cover all the benefits of wearing your golf shoes to the course and why they may be more beneficial than wearing regular shoes!

What Do Golf Shoes Do?

Golf shoe manufacturers are constantly pushing out new and improved versions of shoes to help improve consumers' golf game while keeping their feet comfortable enough to walk 18 holes. The extra bells and whistles on a golf shoe can be important to make sure you play your best and feel your best!

Golf shoes will help prevent any movement during your swing, support your foot in a specific way to help provide stability while you swing, and help you get good traction no matter the weather or course.

If you choose to go out and play on a rainy day, a good pair of golf shoes with spikes will prevent any slipping on the course and also help you keep your feet dry with the waterproof feature. Lastly and debatably most importantly, they provide a put together and smart look to the game!

RELATED: What To Wear Golfing For The First Time Ladies

What Is The Difference Between Golf Shoes And Regular Shoes?

Obviously there are many differences between golf shoes and regular shoes, as one shoe is made to help improve your game and the other shoe isn’t. But what exactly are the main differences?

For the majority of golf shoes, they will have wider soles than running shoes. This makes it easier to keep your balance during your swing. Regular shoe manufacturers don’t take the wider soles into consideration as the movement in swinging a golf club isn’t common in everyday life! Golf shoes will also usually have less toe drop than running shoes.

In short terms this basically means that golf shoes are flatter and sit closer to the ground than regular running shoes. This is because you need a flatter and more stable stance in golf. Running shoes are designed with a much higher heel to give the person wearing them a faster forward stride. Something that is not needed in golf! 

RELATED: Best Golf Grips For No Glove Golfers

What Are The Benefits Of Wearing Golf Shoes?

golf shoes

Traction

Traction is very important to keep yourself grounded while you're swinging. Especially if you have an uneven lie and need your feet planted in an uncomfortable position. The traction on golf shoes allows you to have more control of your swing! If you choose golf shoes with spikes on the bottom of the soles, it provides even more traction which can be helpful if you are playing on wet grass!

Stability

Man hitting golf ball in FootJoy Shoes

Stability and traction go hand in hand in the sense that the more traction your golf shoes have, the more stable you will be while swinging your club and the more precise your shot will be!

One of the main benefits of golf shoes is their added stability it provides. While your everyday sneakers may wear down quickly on the course due to the flat bottoms, golf shoes are built to withstand the wear and tear of playing 18 holes no matter the conditions of the course. 

Comfort

Comfort is key when golfing because unlike other sports you are walking long distances for at least a couple hours. You don't want your feet to be hurting after the front 9 because it will make the back 9 much harder to play!

Golf shoes offer more support than your everyday sneakers, especially on the arches. Arch support is very important because it helps prevent injuries, provides stability, and allows you to play all 18 without any discomfort.

Golf shoes also provide more padding in the middle of the shoe which is crucial. Golfers finish their swing on the ball of their feet which can be uncomfortable for some players, and the extra padding in the middle can be used to absorb the shock and help keep the golfer balanced and comfortable.

If you choose waterproof golf shoes, The shoe will also come with drain panels and water wicking material that will keep your feet dry from sweat or bad weather unlike most everyday sneakers.

Breathable

Most golf shoes provide some mesh paneling to allow your feet to breathe no matter the conditions. On top of that, there is usually a special lining that absorbs any extra moisture like sweat on a hot day or water on a rainy day! Even though there are regular sneakers on the market that provide breathability also, most if not all will not include breathability on top of the other important factors mentioned above!

RELATED: Golf Skirt vs Tennis Skirt

Other Benefits

  • Improvement In Performance - Like we already previously stated, unlike regular running shoes, golf shoes are designed to improve your game and should not be underestimated. The purpose of golf shoes is to help stabilize and control your feet during your swing. The improvement in traction also prevents any slipping on wet terrain. The fit of a golf shoe will support your foot movements during a swing as well as prevent any movement inside the shoe. This includes an advanced foam feature inside the shoe and shoe spikes on the bottom. 
  • Improves Your Look At The Course- In recent years the golf apparel industry has opened itself up to a huge variety of different colors and designs for their golf shoes. With big brands like Jordans and New Balance making a bigger dent in the golf industry, you can now stay comfortable and stylish on the course while enjoying the benefits of a golf shoe over a regular shoe. 
  • Variety of Materials- Going along with the improved look at the course, the expansion of different materials used for golf shoes give customers a wider variety of shoes to choose from to make you feel and look better on the course. These different materials include leather, synthetic, and waterproofing lining. Golfers will usually prefer the leather, however higher quality means a higher price tag. For most golfers though, the price tag is worth it due to the breathability of the leather compared to other materials. On the other hand you have your synthetic golf shoes which are the alternative and much cheaper option. The artificially made material makes the shoe production much cheaper and therefore the price tag won’t put as big of a dent in your wallet! They will feel lighter on your feet which is always a plus, but you get what you pay for. This means the quality won't be as nice as the leather, and you might experience some wear and tear in your synthetic shoes faster than you would in your leather ones.
  • Different Types (spiked and spikeless) - When looking for golf shoes, you can buy them with or without spikes. Spiked golf shoes are the most widely used for all seasons because of the extra grip and stability they provide during your swing. This is very helpful ,especially when playing on rougher terrain or during rougher weather conditions. With that said, some golfers do prefer spikeless during the summer season. The dead grass and more slippy terrains during the winter make the spikes more necessary which isn’t as much of a problem in the summer. Some golfers also say that the spikeless shoes are lighter or feel more comfortable on your feet. This doesn’t mean spiked golf shoes aren’t comfortable and it really comes down to the individual wearing the shoes. My opinion would be to go out and try on both to see which feels better and caters to your needs depending on the season you’re playing in.

RELATED: Best Golf Hat For Sun Protection In 2023

Spike vs Spikeless Golf Shoes

Golf shoes with spikes

Most sports come with spikes on the bottom of the shoes for various reasons. The biggest reason for golfers is because they are a great way to keep your feet grounded during your swing which increases your accuracy! When most people think of golf shoes, they picture the traditional style with metal spikes on the bottom because it’s the most commonly used golf shoe on the market. But it’s not ideal for everyone, and here’s why.

RELATED: Golf Essentials For Beginners

Depending on where you are going, If for the most part you are just going to the driving range or using artificial turf anywhere, non-spiked shoes might make more sense. This is because spikeless golf shoes still have a rubber outsole that provides traction without damaging the turf in anyway. They're also typically more comfortable to walk in than spiked shoes (this really depends on the person though).

With that said, spiked shoes provide more traction on real grass and is much more helpful when the weather changes. This includes rainy days on the course and anytime during the winter months when it’s more likely the grass is dead. The spikes will provide better grip so you don’t have to worry about your feet slipping during any condition. Golf shoes with spikes can also last longer since you can replace the spikes when you need to, leaving the shoe's body intact.

Once your spikeless shoe is worn down and the traction is gone, the shoe is no longer useful and will need to be replaced. If you play more often than not, this could mean spending a lot more money on a good pair of shoes than you may want to.

However, spikeless shoes have one huge upside that cannot be said about spiked golf shoes. No spikes means that you can wear them wherever you’d like! Golf shoes provide a clean look that is desirable to wear for different occasions, but the spikes on the bottom make it hard to wear them anywhere other than the course because you could damage the ground you are walking on and even the shoes themselves.

With spikeless shoes, you can wear them for any occasion and is more convenient for the players who like to go out and grab a bite to eat after a long day golfing. You don’t have to worry about changing into different shoes after finishing 18!

Ultimately, the choice between spiked and spikeless golf shoes comes down to personal preference. The best way to decide is to consider the factors we talked about above, and to go try them for yourself! If you need more traction, then you will most likely prefer spiked golf shoes. If versatility is more important to you, then you most likely want a spikeless shoe you can wear anywhere.

Do Golf Shoes Make A Difference?

In short terms yes, golf shoes do make a difference. Golf shoes help players stay rooted to the ground, increase accuracy when swinging, and help keep players feet comfortable during their 18 hole walk. But let's say you're just not ready to pull the trigger on a new pair of golf shoes, what kind of alternatives are out there? Listed below are a few other options to a new pair of golf shoes. 

RELATED: Learning To Play Golf At 50, 60, 70 - It's Not As Hard As You Think

Golf Shoe Alternatives

There are two viable options for alternatives to your normal golf shoes. There are your regular sneakers and golf sandals. NOT your normal flip flops or sandals but sandals that were specifically made for your feet to be able to endure 18 holes worth of walking! Below we will go more into depth on why these are viable alternatives to golf shoes. 

Sneakers

Playing Golf In Sneakers

The biggest question we are trying to answer is, are golf shoes necessary? The most common reason why someone might click and read this article is because they want to know if their regular everyday sneakers are good enough to survive multiple rounds of golf.

Well, even though they might not be your best option for the course they are definitely an alternative if you don't have a pair of golf shoes on standby. Most sneakers are designed to keep your feet more comfortable for any form of physical exercise. The intention of sneakers is to withstand the movements of any physical activity and protect your feet from anything that might get in the way.

This is why you see most, if not all people wearing sneakers on hikes, to the gym, and anything else that requires physical activity. This means that sneakers are also able to withstand the movements and activity that golf requires! The obvious downside is that they are not designed to improve your golf game in any way, but if golf shoes aren't available to you, sneakers are always a good choice!

RELATED: Why Is Golf So Popular

Golf Sandals

Playing Golf In Sandals

Golf sandals are the other viable alternative for the course. Even though you don’t see them worn as often and regular sandals are a huge no for the course, these sandals were made to also withstand walking 18 holes.

Unlike your regular sneakers, golf sandals were designed similarly to golf shoes, meaning they are made to help your golf game. Many golfers even enjoy them more than golf shoes as they are perfect for warm weather and to keep your feet cool. They are also lighter than your traditional golf shoes and are much easier to care for.

The only downside to these is that obviously the top of your feet are not protected, meaning any sand or water could easily get into your shoes making it a little more uncomfortable for you.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think it’s safe to say that even though there are many pro’s to golf shoes over regular shoes, the improvement in performance alone is a good enough reason to consider investing in a pair of golf shoes.

Even though it's not ideal to wear these shoes anywhere other than the course, a good pair of golf shoes will keep your feet comfortable, stabilized, and grounded during your swing making 18 holes a lot easier to play.

RELATED: Can You Play Golf In Jeans

On top of that, the fact that there are now big brands making their way into the golf apparel industry with new and improved colors and designs, you will look and feel better on the course as well as make a good impression on the players around you. If you want any of those benefits, it wouldn’t hurt to get online and find yourself a new pair of golf shoes!

Photo of author

Hannah VanDerLaan

Hannah is our Women's Fashion Editor here at Golf Gear Advisor. Hannah grew up in Naples Florida, where her dad is a highly acclaimed golf course superintendent, so she has spent a lot of time around the golf course and country clubs. Hannah is the wife of John VanDerLaan and travels full time with him on tour. She is a spokesperson for the Korn Ferry Tour Wives and a member of the PGA Tour Wives association. She has extensive knowledge of the ins and outs of tour life as well as women's fashion and proper attire on the golf course. She can be found on the golf course at most tour stops and is frequently seen on the course with their beloved dog, Bunker.

Leave a Comment