What is the difference between Spiked & Spikeless Golf Shoes?
There was a time when golf shoes were instantly recognizable as such. Often fashioned in a striking two-tone leather pattern, they came with a distinctive ‘tongue” for protection from the water and, most distinctively of all, sets of forbidding metal spikes which protruded from the sole.
But as heavy and cumbersome as they might be, no serious player would have dreamed of setting foot on the course without them.
The Demise of the Traditional Spike
These metal spiked shoes were undoubtedly effective, but to the disappointment of many golfing traditionalists, their day has largely gone. Even if you can find them in the stores, and you’re happy to pay a premium price, there seem to be very few courses remaining which permit them.
So today’s “spiked” shoe is far more likely to be of the plastic “cleat” type.
These are very popular with both golfers and greenkeepers as they provide all the advantages of the metal spike while being far less damaging to courses. But in recent years there has nevertheless been a move away from the cleat in favor of the completely spikeless shoe.
The kind of shoes resemble other kinds of sports shoes and have a largely flat sole; the necessary grip and traction being provided by rubber dimples or treads rather than cleats.
The Different Benefits of Spiked and Spikeless Golf Shoes
The main advantage of metal spike or cleated shoes is undoubtedly the grip and stability they provide for the golfer. A powerful swing requires the player to brace strongly against the ground during both the backswing and downswing, and any slipping or sliding of the feet during the swing will not only leak power but also prove fatal to the accuracy of impact.
The extra grip of spikes or cleats is particularly important when playing in wet conditions, or on courses which are likely to offer a large number of uneven or sloping lies.
That said, the design of spikeless golf shoes and the traction they offer continues to improve, and these kind of shoes also offer a significant advantage in terms of the feel they provide during the swing.
This might seem an obscure point, but for low handicap players, in particular, the detection of minor changes in the distribution of the bodyweight through the feet during the swing can give crucial biomechanical feedback about posture and balance.
If you doubt this, swinging a club in bare feet, or in just your socks, will be an instructive exercise.
Apart from this improved sense of feel, spikeless golf shoes also score highly for comfort, being considerably lighter than their spiked or cleated counterparts without sacrificing any padding or ankle support.
One final, if minor, advantage is that you may be able to go straight from the course to the clubhouse bar in your spikeless shoes without fear of causing any damage to carpets or floorings. And the spikeless golf shoe is close enough in appearance to the traditional spike to pass without comment on the courses of even the most traditionalist of country clubs.
So our conclusion is that modern spikeless golf shoes are in most circumstances a good alternative to spikes or cleats.
When playing in the wet or perhaps on particularly hilly courses you may still find that only spiked shoes provide the necessary feeling of stability for your swing
But when playing in dry weather or practicing on the range, the latest spikeless designs should offer more than adequate grip and traction as well as some additional comfort and feel.
The decision is in the end a matter of personal preference, but today’s shoes are relatively inexpensive in relation to other items of golf equipment so it may be worth keeping a pair of each type for use in different conditions.