Early on during the pandemic, people realized that golf has social distancing built right in. As long as you don’t share a cart with someone from outside your pod, it’s pretty easy to play a round without getting within six feet of each other, even on the green. As Dan Schwabe, PGA Class A golf professional and golf instructor at Presidio Golf Course, says, “You already have half the distance with a golf club in your hand.”
Whether you’re just starting out or have a handicap in the single digits, the right golf shoes provide comfort and stability and can be as important to your game as the right clubs, balls, or gloves. To find the best golf shoes for you, we spoke to Schwabe and eight other golf professionals from around the country. Here are their favorites for everyone from beginners to pros.
The best golf shoes for beginners
If you are playing golf for the first time and don’t want to invest a lot in your shoes, Dawn Mercer, Director of Instruction at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida, says that “a lot of people really like Skechers because they are really comfortable and lightweight.”
Mercer likes FootJoy’s entire lineup, as does Rich McDonough, director of golf instruction at Marine Park Golf Course in Brooklyn, and Bill Neal, owner and general manager of Woodridge Golf Club in Mineral Wells, West Virginia. “FootJoy is without a doubt one of my No. 1 shoes. The company has such a massive variety of shoes, I don’t think there is anybody who is playing golf who can’t find a price point or shoe of comfort that works for them,” McDonough says. The FootJoy Flex is versatile and comfortable, comes in multiple colors, and looks like an everyday tennis shoe.
Brian Golden, PGA director of golf at Sandy Burr Country Club in Wayland, Massachusetts, highly recommends the Adidas CodeChaos for both beginner and intermediate players and says even “tour players will play with these in dry conditions.” Deven DeLuca, head golf professional at Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco, agrees, noting that CodeChaos is a popular option among his clients. As Golden says, “I’ll play and work in these, and, after the round, I don’t need to change my shoes. I can take them and wear them just like a normal shoe.” He likes the Adidas brand because “the shoes are always on the lighter side, and the second you put them on, it feels like you’ve been wearing them for an entire year.”
The best golf shoes for intermediate golfers
Once you’ve decided to spend more time and energy (and money) on golf, it’s worth investing a bit more in your shoes. For $30 more than the Flex, Schwabe recommends upgrading to the XP, which are waterproof and come with a one-year warranty. “To me, waterproof is more important than breathable mesh,” he says.
This women’s shoe has foam cushioning on the sole for support as well as rubber traction inserts that give you added stability on the course. Mercer recommends them for hot-weather play, since the mesh material provides excellent breathability. They’re not waterproof, however, so she warns that “they aren’t going to be great when they get wet.”
Golden says this is “probably one of FootJoy’s most popular shoes on the market.” He likes that they have a two-year waterproof warranty, so you know you’ll be comfortable in all weather conditions. “It is closest to a walking shoe for tour players,” so it can be worn on and off the course, he says.
For intermediate players who want a stylish shoe, Cameron Haller, golf professional at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, recommends the G/Fore brand. It’s “trendy and more popular with younger kids than other brands,” he says. The Disruptor shoe is lightweight and waterproof and passes as an everyday fashion-forward sneaker. Schwabe is also a fan. The foam cushion footbed has “ little bubble beads in the sole that massage the foot pressure points a little bit,” he says.
[Editor’s note: Since this story was published in 2020, G/Fore has replaced their Disruptor golf shoes with newer versions — the Knit Disruptor for men and the Perf Disruptor for women. They’re pretty similar to the old versions, but note that the men’s version isn’t waterproof. Both are available at G/Fore for $225.]
Haller also likes the Gallivanter for its style and because it’s “sturdy, waterproof, and comfortable.”
The best golf shoes for professionals (or other advanced players)
McDonough, Schwabe, and James Draper III, general manager and head golf professional at Forest Park Country Club in Martinsville, Virginia, all recommend Nike’s golf shoes. “Everybody improved their shoe when Nike got involved,” Schwabe says. “They helped revolutionize the shoe industry by bringing their performance aspect of the foot into golf.” Aside from the given performance of any Nikes, Draper “appreciates the everyday look” of these Nike Air Max 1Gs.
DeLuca calls the 360 XT Boost a “tournament-ready, competition-ready shoe.” Golden says they are his favorite style, since they come with a two-year warranty and the Boost material “is almost a half inch of cushion from the sole of the shoe to the bottom of the golfer’s foot. You feel it the second you put it on,” he says.
These are McDonough’s shoe of choice. When you’re on the course all day, whether it’s teaching or playing, “you need something that is supportive and gives you a lot of comfort at the same time,” he says. “Having a shoe that is snug around your foot and can really cement you to the ground is one of the most important things you can have. Stability is key to the golf swing.” These are last year’s style, so it might be tough to find your size. But if you do, you’ll get a great price.
Although he points out that his club has a partnership with Adidas (and has for many years), Aaron Flink, EVP and chief strategy officer at Pebble Beach Resort in Pebble Beach, California, says the brand has “historically made great golf shoes. For a long time, golf shoes were one of two things: either super rigid and structured and not all that comfortable, or comfortable but they looked like old-fashioned sneakers.” His favorite shoe, “by far,” is the knit-top Adidas Adipure. “The softer knit top makes it kind of like a sneaker, with a beautiful profile and super comfort,” he says. “It gives me the structure I need while playing, but I can then throw on jeans and go out to dinner and they are still fairly classy. They do it all.”
Mercer wears the FootJoy DryJoys BOA shoes exclusively. “If you are talking about pure performance, you want a shoe that’s going to give you the best support system, especially around the arch,” she says. Instead of laces, the BOA closure system allows you to tighten the shoe by spinning a dial on the heel. “It’s pretty cool technology. You can simply adjust it by cranking it one or two more clicks, and it hugs the foot a little more,” Schwabe says. With the BOA straps, “once you put on the shoe and clip it and clamp it down, they aren’t coming undone, they aren’t loose, and they aren’t sloppy,” Mercer says.
Schwabe recommends investing in waterproof shoes, like these DryJoy Tours, which have a two-year warranty. “Once the moisture breaks in, it’s broken in for the rest of time, ” he says. “When you are walking around with wet, soft, gummy feet and you get the wrinkled bathtub toes, it is not a good feeling.” These are the shoes he wears when he plays in tournaments and wants a “heavier and sturdier shoe.”
McDonough also recommends Ecco golf shoes: “They are a higher price but extraordinarily comfortable,” he says. These Ecco M Gold BioM Cool Pro shoes are 100% waterproof, lightweight and durable while offering premier comfort and support.
The best golf shoes for people with foot issues
“A lot of golf shoes for women can be tight or narrow around the foot,” Mercer says. “Based on what my clients have told me, women with either wide feet, bunions, or bone spurs will generally gravitate towards the Eccos,” Mercer says.
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