A big part of enjoying your round of golf is being comfortable on the course. Those of us, who spend a lot of time criss-crossing the fairways, can cover more than 10km in a round. A poorly fitting, or uncomfortable shoe, can make it not only painful to walk the course, but may also impede your swing, thereby affecting your game. The right footwear allows you to enjoy your game which at the end of the day may even lead to a lower score.
When entering the Pro shop we are often faced with a whole wall filled with shoes of different brands, designs and price. Too often our choice of shoe is based solely on looks and price. Here are some tips to help you decide which is the best shoe for your feet.
By far the most important aspect of choosing the right golf shoe is comfort. Generally the most comfortable shoes tend to have more cushioning in the sole. Modern golf shoes are based on sports shoe technology, so often incorporate soft foam midsoles, rubber outsoles and similar air bags, gel pads etc, seen in running shoes. The soft foams also lighten the shoe which helps to reduce fatigue. The lining of the shoe is also important for comfort, as rough seams or worn patches may lead to abrasions, calluses or blistering.
The shape and depth of the shoe should also be considered, as not all brands are based on the same last. Shoes which are too narrow may cause abrasions and blisters, particularly at the small toes. Conversely, shoes which are too wide may allow too much movement in the forefoot, also leading to abrasions.
The primary function of a golf shoe is to provide grip, traditionally provided by steel or rubber spikes. Spikes come in a variety of styles as well as hardness. A good golf shoe will allow you to interchange softer studs for dry hard conditions and firmer studs for wet or muddy courses.
Stability of the shoe is an important factor in preventing injury and improving performance. Good grip is wasted if the foot does not remain in firm contact with the base plate of the shoe. Therefore a number of aspects of the shoe contribute to stability of the shoe.
Firstly, a firm heel counter. Too often golfers ram their foot into the shoe, crushing the heel counter, and then sliding the heel into the shoe. While this saves all of 10 seconds in tying the laces, it also destroys one of the main contributors to stability of the shoe, the heel counter. The stiff material is designed to contour/cup the heel to prevent excessive side to side motion, keeping the foot well in contact with the sole.
Stability is also achieved with a good stable shank within the midsole of the shoe. A simple test would be to hold either end of the shoe and try to twist it. The shoe should not twist more than 10-20 degrees in either direction. Good shoes should have good longitudinal stability. This helps prevent excessive rolling and twisting of the foot.
A good golf shoe should also provide protection from the weather and elements. Most golf shoes are now all waterproof. Wet feet are the main causes of blisters and fungal infections and so should be kept as dry as possible. This is achieved either through synthetic materials or waterproof lining in leather shoes. This feature is particularly important in Singapore with our frequent rainstorms but also with waterlogged courses.
Having judged the shoe on the above factors, it is now time to fit the shoe. The most expensive, technical shoe can cause just as many problems if it does not fit well.
Try on shoes later in the day as this is when the feet are at their largest. Wear the socks that you play golf in as they can differ greatly from your business socks. Try and have the feet measured. This gives you a starting point on the size to fit. You may even find a difference in the size of your two feet so always fit to the larger foot.
Once you have the shoes on, always check the size when you are standing up, as the feet elongate in weight bearing. To ensure the correct fit, press the thumb at the end of your longest toe. There should be a thumb width between the toes and the end of the shoe. Then try and pinch the material with fingers across the ball of the foot. If you cannot gather any material, then the shoe may be too tight across the ball of the foot. Finally the heel should fit snugly with no slippage.
Always give your feet time to adjust to new shoes. Walk around casually, or wear them at the range for a couple days before playing a full round in them.
Now that you have invested time and money in your golf shoe, you should take good care of them and they will take good care of you. A shoes worst enemy is water. Even the best waterproof shoes will break down eventually when exposed to moisture over long periods. It is inevitable that the shoes get wet, but ensure that they are dried well after wearing. Towel dry them then leave them in an airy position to dry, not in the golf bag or in the boot of the car. Shoes should not be left in the sun. The heat makes them deteriorate faster, as would placing them in the clothes dryer.
If moisture gets inside the shoes, stuff them with newspaper overnight. The moisture will wick into the paper. Leather shoes should be buffed and waxed regularly to keep them waterproof.
I hope these tips help in selecting you next pair of comfortable golf shoes. Happy golfing.
Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to email your questions to:
The Foot Practice