Golf shoes are like parents of a wild teenager – they don’t get any respect. And just like the 14-year-old that thinks their parents are more of a hindrance than a help, golfers don’t believe their shoes are a vital piece of equipment that can help them play better.
That is an ill-conceived notion. The right golf shoes will help your game. How? When you consider that the average golfer takes some 10,000 steps when walking a course, there’s no disputing that a properly fit pair of shoes will help you perform better athletically. And odds are, you might be in a poor fitting pair of shoes.
A couple of years ago FootJoy conducted a study of more than 800 golfers that revealed about 70 percent of golfers were in ill-fitting golf shoes.
“A common cause of incorrect shoe fitting originates from overly generous shoe widths,” says Tim Snow, FootJoy’s marketing manager at Acushnet Australia.
“We found that 30 to 40 percent of golfers need a narrower fit in their shoes. Gaining a better shoe fit provides players with out-of-the-box comfort and enhanced lateral stability throughout the swing.”
In other words, the right golf shoes will not only help you play better – but take it a step further, and your old shoes might reveal enough clues to make a better purchasing decision the next time around. Your golf shoes collect data. Knowing how to interpret that data can provide valuable information as to what type of shoe would work best for you. Just as clubfitting is important in finding the right clubs, shoe fitting is vital to finding the right shoes.
Here are some tips on how to find the best fit, and what your old shoes can tell you. With today’s technology, blisters aren’t caused by new shoes. They’re caused by a bad fit.
Measure your feet carefully
Measure your feet (yes, both of them) with the Brannock Device. When measuring you should be standing and wearing socks similar to those you will be playing in as sock thickness can often account for half a size difference. You want to measure for foot length and ball width. When measuring for length, make certain the second toe isn’t longer than the big toe. If it is, you’ll want to go up half a size. For width, measure at the ball of the foot as it is the forefoot’s widest area. Finally, measure at the end of the day or after a round when your feet are most swollen. This will help prevent a fit that’s too snug.
What the inside of your shoes can tell you
The insides of a worn pair of shoes gives clues about pressure points for things such as calluses, bunions and other areas where the foot might be rubbing excessively against the shoe. If the shoe has deep impressions, you might consider a new pair with an extra cushiony insole.
What your cleats can tell you
If the cleats have severe wear or erosion along the inside of the heel, you’re a pronator (bet no one’s ever called you that before) who should be wearing shoes with additional arch support. Conversely, excessive wear on the outside of the heel indicates supination. In this case a more flexible shoe makes sense.
The wider, the better
Ideally, golf would be played barefoot. When bare, toes naturally spread out, which is why shoes – which constrain – are not as comfortable. Fortunately, many golf footwear manufacturers have begun to address this physiological fact with shoes built on new lasts that offer a more generous fit in the toe box. A quick way to see if there’s enough room in the toe box is to simply try to wiggle your toes.
However, the reverse situation can also hold true. “We see golfers with too much room in the toe box regularly who end up with excessive creasing in the upper,” says FootJoy’s Snow. “In leather shoes, this often leads to cracking and, in severe instances, can increase the chances of the upper separating from the midsole at the flex point. We’d also argue that movement in the shoes leads to reduction in lateral stability, and therefore power.”
A word for women
Many women’s dress shoes are tight-fitting with narrow toe boxes. But you aren’t buying dress shoes. While the deep toe boxes may not be your first choice from a fashion standpoint, the increased roominess will enhance comfort. If your feet feel constricted you will get neither optimum comfort or performance.
Although fitting has been made considerably easier with some companies providing fitting systems, take it upon yourself to show your feet the respect they deserve. Know your shoe size, know your feet and be open to a variety of styles and looks in the name of comfort. Your feet – and your golf game – will thank you.