While you could certainly play a round of golf in any pair of athletic shoes, if you’re serious about the sport, it’s worth investing in a pair of golf shoes. Swinging a golf club involves pivoting and twisting, very different motions than simply running or walking in a straight line. Golf shoes are designed for this movement — and making it easier to do on grass. Like most sneakers, golf shoes are breathable and moisture-wicking, but several features differentiate them from standard athletic shoes, and make them suited for the unique needs of golfers.
According to Michael Salem, golf brand manager at Decathlon Sports, “The sole of the shoe is the main difference between golf shoes and regular athletic shoes. Since golfers need to use the ground to push off with their feet to create power, it is essential to have a gripping mechanism on the bottom of the shoes to prevent slipping.” Wide rubber soles are typically used to prevent slipping on the grass, as well as rubber nodes or plastic spikes that help with traction. (The metal spikes on older models of golf shoes are no longer permitted on most courses.) Below, golf pros, instructors, and gearheads recommend their favorite shoes for hitting the links.
Tim Townsend and Jeff Anderson, both senior professionals at the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, chose FootJoy shoes for their comfort and classic style. The pros agreed that the shoes, with their lightweight leather uppers, are easy to break in. The “launch pods” with soft spikes on the sole provide a wide surface area of stability. They’re waterproof as well, perfect for playing in wet conditions.
These water-resistant and cushioned shoes from Adidas are a favorite of Joe Ostrowski, director of golf at the Golf & Body NYC club. “I love them because you can wear them on the course and off,” he said. “They’re also lightweight and very comfortable.” Their versatility comes from substituting traditional spikes with rubber lugs — like smaller versions of those found on hiking boots — for flexibility and traction on the green and comfort everywhere else.
Steve McMillan, founder of product review site TheGolfingDads, recommended these shoes in our roundup of Father’s Day gifts for golf dads. McMillan tests out a lot of gear, but he said these waterproof Pumas, with adjustable disc closure for a snug, socklike fit, “are the best shoes on the market bar none.” The foam in the midsole makes for a bouncy and responsive feel. A similar version is also available for women.
Lots of brands design shoes for women, but Marjorie Jones, head professional at the Chelsea Piers Golf Club, prefers Ecco. “They are comfortable, supportive, and also very reliable,” she said. She’s worn and loved them for years, especially because of their generous width. With Gore-Tex technology, this pair is 100 percent waterproof, and the outsole has three distinct areas, each with a differently shaped rubber pattern, for fluid movement throughout the swing.
Nike’s fresh white Roshe golf shoes can double as stylish white sneakers, thanks to the casual styling — borrowed from the popular Roshe running shoes — and the low-profile rubber nodes on the sole. But that doesn’t mean that these lightweight shoes aren’t designed for serious performance on the course. Targeted pressure points on the outsole ensure that you’ll get traction and stability while swinging, and the soft cushioning and flexibility are ideal for all-day comfort.
At under $100, Adidas’s Tech Response shoe is an affordable pick that’s still functional and feels good on the feet. Ryan Engle, CEO of augmented-reality app Golf Scope, finds them surprisingly comfortable compared to other golf shoes. “Usually, after a round of golf, I can’t wait to switch back to my normal shoes, but on multiple occasions I’ve found myself driving home in these shoes because they are so comfortable,” he said. The lightweight mesh upper enhances breathability and flexibility. The women’s version is available here.
Constructed similarly to Skechers’s popular GoWalk shoes, the cushioning and flexibility of the brand’s women’s golf shoes feel soft and supportive underfoot. The mostly mesh upper cuts down on weight and maximizes airflow to keep feet cool and wick away sweat.
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