Not a Must, But a Plus
You do not need golf shoes to play golf. Very few golf courses require golf shoes. However, wearing golf shoes can help you play better. Good balance is very important for a successful golf swing. If you slip or move your feet during your swing, your shots will lack accuracy and distance (Dear). Golf shoes have spikes on the bottom that are designed to dig into the ground and keep your feet from moving when you swing your club. As a result, you are more likely to have good shots. It is especially important to wear golf shoes on wet terrain. They will keep you balanced and prevent you from slipping (Pierre).
In addition to keeping you balanced, golf shoes also keep your feet dry. Many golf shoes are waterproof, which allows you to continue playing comfortably during wet conditions. Otherwise, rain or dew could spoil your game (Schempp).
Golf shoes are also made to keep you comfortable. The average golf game lasts four to five hours (Schempp). A considerable amount of that time is spent on your feet, especially if you do not use a cart. If you are not wearing comfortable shoes, you will be miserable during the whole game. To keep you comfortable while playing, golf shoes are made with special shock absorbing materials that cushion your feet during the game (Dear). What to Look For
To get the full benefit of wearing golf shoes, make sure you find a pair that is functional, durable, waterproof and sturdy. Before trying on a pair of golf shoes, make sure they meet the following four requirements.
1. Rubber or Plastic Cleats Good Fit is the Key
Most courses no longer permit players to wear metal spikes because the metal spikes damage the courses (Puett). The rubber and plastic cleats do not ruin the grass and still provide adequate amounts of traction.
2. Waterproof Guarantee
You want your feet to stay dry at all times when you are golfing. To ensure that, only purchase golf shoes that have a waterproof guarantee.
3. Adequate Support
Check to make sure the golf shoes have shock absorbing soles and reinforced heels. If the soles or heels are too thin and do not support your feet, you will be in pain half way through your game (Dear).
4. Quality Materials
Do not buy a cheap pair of golf shoes that are poorly made. Those types of shoes will be uncomfortable and quickly will fall apart. Instead, look for shoes that are sturdy and well made. They will last longer, be much more comfortable and may even improve your game.
Once you have found a pair that meets the above requirements, it is time to try them on. When trying the shoes on, remember that the fit of your shoe is the most important part. A shoe that doesn't fit properly will be very uncomfortable. That is especially true of golf shoes because of the cleats on the bottom. If the shoe is too big when you walk or swing your club your foot will move inside of the shoe, but the cleats will hold the shoe in place. As a result of that extra friction, you may end up with blisters and sore toes (Purner).
To keep from getting blisters, make sure your shoes are the right size for your feet. You should keep in mind that your two feet are not exactly the same size and need different size shoes. If you want to ensure that your golf shoes fit perfectly, you can have ones custom made (Purner). But if you are not too concerned, purchase the size that fits your bigger foot.
To ensure the best fit when purchasing golf shoes, you should follow the American Podiatric Medical Association's (APMA) recommendations:
1. Always shop for shoes late in the day. Throughout, the day your feet may swell. Purchasing shoes later in the day will ensure that you choose the pair that will best fit your feet.
2. Always have your feet measured when you are standing.
3. Make sure you try on both shoes. Sometimes people have one foot that is bigger than the other. You should always make sure you purchase the pair that fits the biggest foot comfortably.
4. Don't buy shoes that are too small for your feet. You should be able to wiggle your toes in your shoes. Your toes should never feel pinched.
5. You should never have to "break in" a pair of shoes. They should be comfortable when you first put them on.
6. Try on the shoes with the same type of socks you will normally wear with them.
7. If you use inserts prescribed by a podiatric physician, you should bring them when trying on the shoes. That way you know the inserts will feel comfortable in whatever pair of shoes you purchase.