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It's gotta be the shoes
What you choose to wear on your feet during a round is not just about making a fashion statement; rather it’s a critical part of your equipment.
The most important step any player – amateur or pro – should take is to make sure they get properly fitted for a golf shoe, including being measured and testing them, not just buying what they think they wear. Your feet change with age, and many times there is a difference in size between the two feet. A proper professional fitting is the first and most important step.
Perhaps the second most important move is deciding between traditional (if 20 years is tradition) soft, often replaceable spikes or newer “spikeless” shoes. The spikeless shoes have nubs, traction “lugs” or even a combo of molded cleats — referred to as hybrids, of course (It’s golf. Everything new is a “hybrid.”).
It’s another personal choice, but spikeless shoes are increasingly popular, particularly since you can go from the golf course to the car to the movies without having to change your shoes.
And big players such as Nike, Adidas, FootJoy and ECCO are some of the leading brands for golf shoes — both with and without spikes. And there are plenty from which to choose today, about as many of either style, absolutely more and more offerings each season.
But do spikeless shoes give you the same sporting feel you need? Some say they are too low to the ground and don’t give your heel, in particular, good traction or height. And the arches aren’t as dramatic with spikeless shoes.
Spikes give many of us a certain level of control we don’t get with what we view as flat-footed, spikeless shoes. They don’t feel as fitted either, often, to our individual needs — for just golf.
Others like the more natural, balanced or less awkward feel that come with spikes — particularly if they are not fitted properly or need a long break-in period. They also note plastic spikes long, successful history with PGA Tour winners since metal spikes were banned from nearly every clubhouse in the ’90s.
Well, the spikeless shoes are good enough for Adam Scott to win tourneys with (Bay Hill aside), so I suppose they work in the PGA, too now.
“Trying on the footwear is as important as demo testing a club,” says David Helter, sales director at ECCO USA, an international shoe and accessories company. “The person should try both shoes on and walk around in the pro shop or store before purchasing.
“A shoe should be comfortable right out of the box and not need to be ‘broken in.’ Choose a reliable or trusted retailer, either the local pro shop or a reputable off-course golf specialty retailer with a trained staff.”
There are several pros to still using leather, too, instead of relying on the latest new high-tech materials, some of which haven’t been on market long enough to risk buying. Sometimes you don’t know what the golf shoe will be like after maybe a month of use.
In addition to being a natural and breathable material, leather is more comfortable than synthetic material. Of course, on the flip side, leather is more expensive and increasingly difficult to find. But, in the end, you get what you pay for.
A golfer walks approximately three to four miles per round, that is about 7,000 to 8,000 steps. Comfort, stability, traction and waterproofing make this trek easier.
Good footwear should improve play the same way that a good driver, putter or wedge does. Therefore even an amateur golfer should be willing to step up and make a solid investment in their golf footwear.
I would suggest considering quality and value before price. Most major brands will have a shoe that will work for you, as long as you get the proper fit and go with a trusted and breathable material. And, if you can afford it, give spikeless a try. It might be just what you needed to get control of your game. Who knows? Why not?
Just be selective. Take your time. Get it right. Your feet and game will reward you for it.