When spikeless golf shoes first came out, they were really nothing more than sneakers with rubber nubs on the bottom — a style that worked for lots of casual players, but not the best in the world.
Since then, everyone — including industry leaders FootJoy, Puma, Adidas, Ecco, Nike, and others — has jumped on the spikeless train, which is no surprise as most double-digit handicappers simply want something they can wear to and from the course while potentially stopping off to do some errands or grab a quick bite after the round.
The biggest surprise with regard to the spikeless revolution is that so many Tour players have adopted them, including big names like Adam Scott, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, and numerous others.
To get the lowdown on the spikeless vs. spiked shoe debate as well as the overall importance of proper fit, we tapped Grant Knudson from Puma Golf and Keith Duffy from FootJoy. Here’s what they had to say.
Q: How should players choose between spiked and spikeless?
Grant Knudson, Head of Footwear and Accessories, Puma Golf: The choice largely depends on preference, comfort, and what type of golfer you are. Both types of shoe have come a long way in terms of design so there’s now a lot of crossover. At one time you chose spikeless for comfort and spiked for performance but these days that’s not necessarily the case – it’s actually about what works best for you. Tour players wear both and in the market it’s about 60% spiked and 40% spikeless, so we’re moving toward a 50/50 split. My advice is to consider what conditions you typically play in and how important it is for you to be able to wear your golf shoes for multiple purposes. If you play in wet conditions a lot or walk on challenging terrain then spiked might be better, but if you play in fairly benign conditions and want to wear your shoes in your car or on a plane, then spikeless shoes will fit your needs much better.
Keith Duffy, FootJoy Senior Product Manager: The spikeless category has evolved recently from what was once a choice between casual comfort and performance to a question of personal choice. Our Pro/SL model changed things for FootJoy when it became our most popular Tour shoe and most popular model overall, proving that spikeless can work for players of all ability levels. My advice to players is to experiment with both and see what works for them. However, I can say that unless you play in particularly difficult conditions there’s little reason to feel spiked shoes will necessarily provide better performance, even for discerning players.
Q: How critical is fit in golf shoes?
Duffy: Consider the fit of a golf shoe like that of a hockey skate or ski boot – if you don’t have the right size, especially if you err on the side of too big, you’re going to lose energy every time you take a step and every time you swing. When your foot moves around inside the shoe you’ve got an energy leak that’s going to hurt you, not to mention cause blisters and other potential injuries. Our research shows approximately 70% of consumers are wearing the wrong size shoes with a large percentage being too big. This mistake is a big one and will cost you ground force reaction and distance. If you’re going to invest in a good pair of golf shoes make sure you get ones that fit you like a glove.
Knudson: Proper fit is paramount to a golf shoe performing and reacting properly to the foot and both too big and too small can cause significant problems for the wearer including flexing in the wrong area of the shoe and sacrificing both comfort and performance. Obviously online purchasing has complicated the matter but I still recommend going to a golf shop and having your foot measured using a Brannock device – it’s still the best way to determine the proper length and width.