If you want to start your season on the right foot, best pick up a fresh pair of golf shoes. Players use the ground to generate power and speed in their swing, and shoes serve as that point of interaction.
“The most important aspect in golf shoes is support,” says Laird Small, master instructor of Pebble Beach Golf Academy at Pebble Beach Resorts. “In golf, tremendous amounts of ground forces are recruited in striking the ball consistently. The more stable a golfer is, the more force they can generate. The shoes are your platform and connection to the ground.”
Of course players should also consider weight, comfort, and style. During a walking round, players cover between three and six miles, so a lighter shoe can keep a little spring in your step. Breathability is also a major factor as golfers perspire quite a bit through their feet. Dry feet are happy feet.
“Golfers should look for a shoe with a rigid foot platform for support,” Small adds. “A lower profile shoe may provide more balance and stability.”
Breaking in a fresh pair of kicks for 18 doesn’t take as long as it used to: “New shoes are so comfortable these days, many don’t require the traditional break-in period,” Small adds. He recommends putting on the new shoes with a fresh pair of socks and hitting the range for a good practice session to break ’em in. “Next, play nine holes walking, then 18.”
And, because golf is largely a mental game, the aesthetic value of the shoe is important. Looking good helps improve confidence, and self-assurance makes it easier to swing the club.
So, if you’re ready to book that first tee time of the year, here are five pairs of golf shoes to improve your game.
1. ECCO BIOM H4
ECCO makes some of the most comfortable golf shoes you’ll find at your local sporting goods store, and the BIOM H4 not only raises that bar but also packs in some serious performance. A thermoplastic urethane buttress on the side of the shoe beefs up stability and three different zones of traction on the sole enhances ground contact during the swing. The shoes also give the player a 100-percent waterproof barrier thanks to a highly breathable GORE-TEX layer.
2. FootJoy Premiere Series Tarlow
For the golfer who appreciates classic style but requires modern innovation, FootJoy offers the Premiere Series. The Tarlow model, named for Bill and Dick Tarlow, who bought the FootJoy business in 1957 and recentered the brand on golf, features a vintage cap toe design constructed from ultra-lightweight materials. The uppers are made from premium leather, but the new tread pattern, coupled with the spikes, locks in no matter the angle, so you stay stable no matter how gnarly the terrain. A coordinated croc print in the heel, cap toe, and eyestay, along with a waterproof guarantee, ensure you’ll look like a scratch golfer even if you’ve been hitting it from the deep stuff all day.
3. Nike Air Max 90 G
The Nike Air Max 90 is a classic, casual sneaker perfect for getting around town, but the golf edition is also great for traversing the course. Inspired by Paris’ famed Centre Pompidou, the OG design dates back to 1990, however Nike didn’t adapt the platform for the game until 2016. The latest lime green iteration features a few upgrades: Mesh panels on the upper allow the shoe to breathe while thin overlays keep water from getting in. The foam midsole and air pocket pad cushion every step, and a soft traction pattern gives good grip from tee to green without scuffing the floors in the club house.
4. PAYNTR X001F
New to the market, PAYNTR is the brainchild of former professional cricketer David Paynter and Mike Forsey, who’s designed golf shoes for Nike, Under Armour, and FootJoy. The brand’s first offering is PAYNTR X001F. Thermoplastic urethane nubs on the outsole provide outstanding grip, keeping you from slipping during the swing; a graphite plate deployed in the midsole lends springiness on toe-off; and a coating of superhydrophobic solution called NeverWet waterproofs the lightweight shoe.
5. Puma Ignite PWRADAPT Caged Palms Limited Edition
The PWRADAPT gives you the best of both worlds: They feel like you’re wearing cross trainers due to the soft foam midsole, but there’s plenty of grippy traction because of the soft plastic spikes underfoot. The saddle wraps around the medial and lateral sides of the shoe lend added stability, and the pop of pink was inspired by the Hawaiian dawn…something we’d all like to experience right about now.
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