Before golf shoes were a fashion statement, they were simply designed for effectiveness. Sturdily built with spikes coming out of the sole, the benefits for a golfer are clear: stability and traction throughout the swing.
Perhaps now more than ever in the age of strokes gained where distance is quantifiably king, a golfer’s connection to the ground and trust in that connection is more important than ever. But since we’re talking about quantifiable metrics, how can we measure just how effective golf shoes are?
Leave that to Joaquin Niemann and Danielle Kang.
- In a video made in connection with the pros’ shoe outfitter, adidas, Niemann and Kang tried on a variety of different footwear while Golf.com’s James Colgan oversaw things.
- A few things jump out during this social experiment: 1. regardless of what the pros are wearing, they’re still very, very good; and 2. golf shoes do make a difference, just in a different way for different swing speeds.
How do golf shoes stack up against bare feet, slides, sneakers and… snowboarding boots?
Depending on a golfer’s worldview or blood alcohol level, various alternatives to golf shoes are not uncommon to see around the course. Golf.com opted to test four options: bare feet, slides, sneakers and for some reason, snowboarding boots.
While there was definitely some sponcon benefits to the slides — and perhaps a Winter Olympics tie-in to the snowboarding boots — we’re going to concern ourselves with the two most common alternatives to golf shoes: bare feet and sneakers.
As it turns out, “being one with the course” and ditching your shoes and socks isn’t as bad as you may think, especially if distance isn’t your calling card. Kang striped one that carried 245 yards with 145 mph ball speed, just five yards shorter than her golf shoe equivalent (250 yds, 147 ball speed).
On the other hand, Niemann goes after it a little harder and slipped in the process, producing a 280-yard carry with 162 ball speed. With golf shoes, Niemann launched one 320 yards with 183 mph ball speed.
With sneakers, Kang’s numbers actually regressed — 230-yard carry, 137 ball speed — while with a little more traction, Niemann improved on his bare foot metrics to the tune of 293-yard carry and 172 ball speed.
What are the takeaways from this fun impromptu study? Playing barefoot for smooth-swinging golfers with average swing speeds isn’t that bad for your game, while power players who depend on mighty lashes at the ball for their best stuff should never be playing for money without some kind of footwear.