Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for best men's golf shoes

Although you can learn the rules of golf in an afternoon, really getting good at the game can take years, and most golfers would agree that improvement is always possible, no matter how long you play or how good you are. While skill and practice are crucial components to upping your golf game, your equipment also plays a role.

A good set of clubs is the most important golf purchase, but there are several other accessories that can really add to your enjoyment of the game. One of those accessories is a good pair of golf shoes.

While even the best golf shoes don’t guarantee you’ll make that hole under par, they can go a long way in improving your stability during your swing. Choosing the right golf shoes, however, can seem as tricky as getting your ball out of a sand trap.

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Your clubs and bag are important, but so is your footwear. If your feet hurt, or your shoes slip on the grass, you won’t enjoy your day. A good pair of golf shoes solves both problems, and lets you focus on what counts: your game.

Why buy golf shoes?

Your first questions are probably, “Are golf shoes really necessary? How are they different from regular athletic shoes?” Those are both fair questions.

While golf shoes are not absolutely necessary, they are very strongly recommended, even for a beginning golfer. Part of that is for your feet’s sake; if you walk the typical 18-hole course, you’re going to cover four miles or more, so you want comfortable shoes with good arch support – something a quality pair of golf shoes provides.

But most of the answer comes down to the game, and particularly the swing. Because the golf swing requires a grounded, secure posture, golf shoes are just a bit broader in the sole than regular athletic shoes. This helps you balance during your swing. The arches of golf shoes are usually stabilized, as well, to keep your feet in position during this critical move. Golf shoes also have more flexibility than shoes made for running, basketball, or other team sports, as your feet need to flex, and they need to adapt to terrain that’s often uneven as you move through the course.

And finally, golf shoes have a sole made to hold tight to the course while you play. This generally means some type of spikes or nubs, which is an important enough issue to have its own section in this guide.

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Expert Tip
If you hit the links on a near-daily basis, consider owning two pairs of golf shoes, so each pair can air out between uses.

Which is better, spiked or spikeless golf shoes?

Actually, that’s a trick question, because both have their pros and cons, and the choice mostly comes down to preference and playing style.

While golf shoe spikes were once made of metal, few courses allow metal spikes these days, because they damage the turf. Instead, modern spiked golf shoes have a system of cleats or spikes made of heavy-duty plastic. Most brands make it relatively easy to replace spikes that break or wear down – generally, you just unscrew the broken spike and screw in its replacement.

"It’s common for spiked golf shoes to have “wear indicators” to show you when it’s time to replace your spikes. When doing so, keep in mind that not all spikes work with all brands of shoe, so be sure you are choosing the right replacements for your particular shoes."

Spiked golf shoes hold tight to the grass. They provide the best boost to your stability during your swing. On the downside, they are less comfortable to walk in than spikeless shoes, and definitely not suited to wear off the golf course. Still, spiked shoes are a good choice if you have a very fast or a very big swing, or if you find it tough to keep your balance during the swing.

Spikeless golf shoes aren’t flat on the bottom. Depending on the brand, they have nubs, bumps, or some other system of traction, but they do not have sharp spikes. This type of sole adds to your stability, but is easier to walk in than traditional spiked shoes. Plus, you can wear your spikeless golf shoes right off the course, which is very convenient. On the downside, you cannot replace damaged nubs or lugs, and while these shoes do provide stability, they don’t provide as much as spiked shoes do.

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Did you know?
While laces are still by far the most common system for fastening golf shoes, you’ll also find styles with Velcro straps or mechanical lacing systems, similar to those found on ski boots.

What about style?

Gone are the days when “golf shoes” was synonymous with stodgy, black and white, leather saddle shoes. Today, you have a wide range of styles to choose from. Even many pros wear fun and funky colors or styles on the course.

  • Traditional golf shoes are still around, of course, and many golfers still prefer them as a nod to classic style or because they like the vintage look. The most common traditional style is saddle shoes – either in two-tone or solid leather – or golf loafers, which are often topped with a decorative leather tassel.

  • Athletic-style golf shoes have taken the course by storm. These shoes look much like regular athletic shoes, and come in a wide range of colors, patterns, and designs. Most are made of synthetic materials, although some are all leather, or a combination of leather and synthetics. You’ll find regular-cut, athletic-style golf shoes and high-top athletic golf shoes; the choice is a matter of preference.

  • Golf sandals aren’t as popular as athletic-style golf shoes, but if you’re playing a casual game on a hot day, you’ll appreciate the breeze on your feet. On the downside, if the grass is wet, you need to walk into a sand trap, or your ball hits the water, your feet are open to the elements.
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Expert Tip
The more traditional the setting where you play golf, the more traditional your shoes should be. For example, in general, country clubs are more formal than public courses, so consider wearing traditional golf shoes to the former and athletic-style golf shoes to the latter.

Tips for getting the right fit

As with any shoes, the right fit can mean the difference between a day of misery and a day of enjoyment.

  • Golf shoes come in the same size ranges as regular shoes, and as a general rule, you’ll wear the same size in both.

  • Try on your golf shoes in the same socks you’ll wear to play, and around the same time of day you usually hit the links.

  • If one foot is larger than the other – a common issue – fit the foot that is larger. However, don’t settle for a floppy or poor fit. If one brand doesn’t work, try another.

"Just because you never golf when it’s raining doesn’t mean you don’t need waterproof shoes. After all, the grass can be soaked with dew at an early morning tee time."
  • Shoes with full laces allow you to customize the fit a little bit, so are usually the best choice if you have a hard time fitting both feet evenly.

  • The right golf shoes fit securely around your heel without slipping, rubbing, or pressing, and allow your toes enough room to wiggle without squeezing, sliding, or painful pressure.

  • Unless you ride in a cart the whole course, you’ll do quite a bit of walking during your day on the greens. Your golf shoes should provide support for your arch, and they should have enough padding to prevent heel or ball-of-foot pain.

  • Take a few practice swings – even without a club – in the shoes to get a feel for how much stability and balance they offer.

Golf shoe prices

You can find golf shoes for as little as $30 and as much as $300.

The lowest-priced golf shoes aren’t going to be high quality, but if you only hit the links once or twice a year for a casual game with friends, they may be sufficient for your needs.

On the other hand, if you golf frequently or take the game seriously, you’ll be happier with a higher level of quality, which generally means somewhere in the $50 to $100 range, depending on style and materials.

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While some pro golfers still prefer metal spikes, the majority of golfers today use plastic spikes, which are lighter in weight, more comfortable to walk on, and far easier on the greens. In fact, most golf courses no longer allow metal spikes.


Q. Should I buy waterproof golf shoes?
If you like to play early in the morning, when the grass is often still wet with dew, or you don’t let a little rain scare you off the course, you’ll appreciate waterproof golf shoes. Water-resistant shoes, by contrast, keep out light moisture, but won’t protect your socks and feet if conditions really get wet.

Q. Do I really need to buy golf shoes? Can’t I just wear my regular tennis shoes?
While you certainly can play golf in regular athletic shoes, you won’t have the benefit of the extra stability and balance golf shoes offer. But if you are heading out for your first game, only plan on playing on rare occasion, or want to wait until you’re sure you are going to stick with your new hobby, your regular athletic shoes will get you by.

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