Over recent years, huge changes in technology as well, as design trends, means when it comes to buying new golf shoes, the choice can sometimes seem overwhelming. I’ve broken down some of the main considerations to help if you’re wondering should you buy spikeless golf shoes?
Ever since Freddie Couples strode the fairways of Augusta in 2010 with a pair of spikeless Ecco shoes, spikeless golf shoes have continued to grow in popularity due to their comfort and versatility. In 2019, the Footjoy Pro/SL was the most popular golf shoe on the PGA tour, and was also the best selling golf shoe worldwide. In fact it was so popular, if the Pro S/L was its own brand, it would’ve been second overall, behind Footjoy. These days there’s a spikeless golf shoe for all situations, so the question you really need to ask yourself is what do you need your spikeless golf shoes to do? To help answer I’ve included some more details below.
Do spikeless golf shoes provide enough grip?
A few years ago, it would’ve been fair to say that traditional spiked golf shoes always provide more traction than a spikeless shoe (by traditional I’m talking about modern soft-spiked golf shoes, not the old school metal spikes!). However, over the last few years manufactures have put a lot of time, effort and money into improving the grip of their spikeless golf shoes, with the Footjoy Pro/SL, Adidas Tour360 XT SL and Puma Ignite NXT all being great modern examples.
When it comes to how much grip a golf shoe can provide, a huge factor is the ground conditions. In extremely wet conditions, a spiked golf shoes will perform better than the vast majority of spikeless golf shoes (there are a handful of exceptions, which I’ve highlighted later in the post). However, in extremely dry conditions, a spikeless shoe could actually perform better than a spiked shoe given the increased contact with the ground, not to mention be far more comfortable. And for most conditions in between, some spikeless golf shoes will perform just as well as their spiked counterparts due to their design, while others will never perform as well as spiked shoes as they’ve been designed for comfort and convenience over grip.
So when deciding whether or not to purchase a pair of golf shoes, you should consider the conditions you’ll be playing in, and how much do you need to rely on the grip provided. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a pair of each, then the decision of which pair of spikeless golf shoes you should buy will come down to what you’re looking for in a spikeless shoe, namely comfort, stability and waterproofness.
In the world of spikeless golf shoes, they can generally be boiled down into two categories – casual and performance.
Casual spikeless golf shoes
If you want to be able to wear your golf shoes both on and off the course, this is the route you’ll want to take. However, this flexibility won’t come for free, as you’ll usually have to sacrifice grip, stability and sometimes even waterproofness. A couple of years ago the options here were somewhat limited, and although you ‘could’ wear the shoes off the course in everyday life, you may not have wanted to, as their designs weren’t exactly modern. However, these days there’s several manufactures to choose from, many with multiple designs, so there’s something for everyone.
Nike have released golf versions of their Air Max 1 and Air Max 97 trainers which are going to appeal to a large audience, namely those who’d wear the running trainers casually. The traction on these golf shoes is actually quite impressive, so much so that a handful of tour players have placed their trust in them during tournaments.
The Puma Ignite NXT range is very comfortable both on and off course, although perhaps the style isn’t to many peoples taste (I wouldn’t wear them with a pair of jeans while out with friends). The same can be said of the Footjoy Flex range.
Adidas is one of the only companies to have every base covered. Not only do they have an impressive range of performance spikeless shoes (see below), but they also have a wide selection of casual spikeless shoes catering to all tastes. For me the highlight of the range is the very stylish Adicross adiPure SP, which not only look great on and off the course, but are waterproof and provide impressive levels of grip.
There are also several smaller companies producing some very stylish spikeless golf shoes, although you may have to be prepared to pay a little more for these. Duca del Cosma offer a wide rage of shoes which will really stand out both on and off the course.
Performance spikeless golf shoes
At the other end of the spectrum, performance golf shoes tend to look just like their spiked counterparts, but have the benefit of being spikeless. These are the spikeless shoes you generally see worn by tour players, as they prioritise grip, stability and comfort.
As mentioned earlier, the Footjoy Pro/SL is the stand out leader in this area. The shoes look at home on the golf course, provide the stability needed to ensure you can transfer the maximum amount of force through the ball during your golf swing, and are also extremely comfortable given the flexibility of the rubber sole plate.
The Adidas Tour360XT SL is another example of a spikeless golf shoes that is just as stable as it’s spiked counterpart, while being equally comfortable. Adidas have also recently launched their Code Chaos range of golf shoes, which look to provide excellent levels of grip and stability, while offering a unique look for a performance shoe. While the design will very much divide opinion (which is sort of the point), they’ve already been used by Jon Rahm in 2020, so have got plenty of grip available.
For many amateur golfers like myself, this will be the route they’d prefer to take. You may be looking for the additional comfort and flexibility a performance spikeless shoe provides while also looking like a regular spiked shoe.
Do you need waterproof golf shoes
Some of the spikeless golf shoes available have foregone using a waterproof upper in favour of breathability and looks. For those who play in warmer climates this won’t be an issue and you’ll be thankful for the breathable mesh upper found in the Footjoy Flex or Nike Air Max 1G Mesh.
However, for the rest of us who live in a more varied climate, golf shoes not being waterproof is a real issue. Here in the UK, even on the sunniest of days, in the back of a golfer’s mind they’ll be wondering whether they should’ve packed an umbrella. So to wear a golf shoe that offers no protection from the wet stuff can be an issue. For some shoes, simply walking though damp rough will be enough to experience a soggy sock, which is never fun.
Also, shoes which aren’t waterproof also tend to mark up easier. I’ve seen lots of golfers post photos of their white Footjoy Flex looking pretty beaten up just though normal golf usage. With water-resistant materials, your golf shoes will tend to look a little fresher for longer and clean up a fair better after a wash.