Walking wobbly through the parking lot or the pro shop? Worried about denting your antique pine or cork kitchen floor with your spikes? Or are you just one of those guys who keep their clubs in the back of the truck (like yours truly), just in case you pass a driving range or a wide-open first teeand you want to be ready to seize the moment?
More and more golf shoe makers are introducing spikeless or crossover shoes designed to ease the transition from the fairway to the street. In October, ECCO, the large Denmark-based company, is adding a "Golf Street" shoe to its line of high-end performance shoes. The ECCO shoe looks like a standard athletic shoe but has a special tread for gripping the grass on the golf course.
"It's a hybrid, with stability and support, but something you could wear all day," said C. B. Tuite, the general sales manager of ECCO's golf division, in a recent interview. "You can wear it to the airport but also on the golf course." The shoes, with an extra pair of colored laces for those like to alter their look, cost $140.
FootJoy has long made various spikeless golf shoes aimed at golf professionals, dating back to the days of metal spikes, which of course pocked every soft surface they tread upon. Its spikeless "shop shoes," with full-grain leather uppers and a ridge sole ($100), are ideal for the club professional who spends a lot of time in the pro shop but also has to step out to the range for lessons. Another FootJoy shoe, the FJ Professional Spikeless, in luxury calfskin, also is designed to take the player, pro or not, from the course to work or home ($160). These shoes have a complex of molded nubs in lieu of spikes for traction on grass.
Etonic also makes several non-cleated golf shoes, including its G-Sok series, with high-abrasion Goodyear rubber-treaded soles ($110), and its very casual Etonic Lite, which has a Velcro closure instead of laces and a studded sole ($50).
In recent years, Callaway Golf has made a range of what it calls "teaching" shoes, designed with club professionals in mind. These include its Exotic Chev, a classic leather golf shoe with a treaded sole instead of spikes ($190). Callaway's Chev LP ($90), a more athletic-looking shoe, has an even more aggressive tread. These shoes can also be worn by the more casual golfer, especially women.
"We've been doing it in women's footwear for quite a long time," said Johnny Rodriguez, the senior manager for footwear and licensing at Callaway Golf. "There is a convenience factor. The other thing is they [women] don't swing as hard, so traction is not as much an issue."
Tell that to Lorena Ochoa or Michelle Wie... Meanwhile, if you are tired of bending down to change your shoes twice for every round, there are a lot of options out there.