Need To Golf Without Golf Shoes? (Read This First)

by Steve | Last Updated: 4 January 2021

Most people who are fans of playing golf will progress to own a pair of golf shoes. Some avid players may even sport several pairs of golf shoes, each for their intended conditions.

But do you need to have golf shoes to go golfing? Can you golf without golf shoes at all courses? And are they required or helpful?

When determining the need for specialty golf shoes, whether spiked or spikeless, depends on several factors. These include the golfer’s desire for specialty equipment, golf course footwear attire requirements, and the golfer’s budget.

The individual golfer’s desire is subjective, so that we won’t get into this golf shoe determination aspect. However, we will discuss golf shoe requirements (course attire and etiquette) and the differences between golf shoes and regular shoes.

Lastly, we will also discuss a bit about how golf shoes may contribute to improving your game. Let’s not waste any time and get right to it.

playing golf without golf shoes

Do You Need Golf Shoes To Golf?

When considering the need for golf shoes, there are only a few things that one needs to consider.

Some of these considerations can fall in line with general sentiments on footwear, but I felt they were necessary to mention for the sake of improving your game.

  1. Technically, you can play golf without golf shoes.
  2. The golf course may have specific attire requirements.
  3. Tread must be appropriate.
  4. The shoes must be comfortable.

Technically You Don’t Need Golf Shoes (Courses May Vary)

One thing to consider is that golf shoes are not to golf what a baseball glove is to baseball. You can most certainly play golf without specialty golf shoes.

Golf shoes are what I consider an add-on piece of equipment for the game, but not a required part like the clubs or ball. Therefore, technically speaking, you do not need golf shoes to go golfing, but from a posture and stance point of view, I would wear them rather than sacrifice the loss of ground force that you would experience.

Golf Course Requirements

Many golf courses have dress code requirements. Some ‘high-end’ or ‘fancy’ golf courses will extend their dress code to the footwear. Many golf courses have prerequisites that appropriate state footwear is required. Usually, this ruling consists of a no-open-toe, sandal, or similar ‘beach appropriate’ footwear allowed out on the course.

The rule for no open-toed footwear usually prevents liability issues when people hit their toes with a golf club. Higher-end courses will often have more severe restrictions, which may even include no sneakers on the course.

Sometimes golf courses will rent or even sell golf shoes when a rule is in place for golf shoe requirements on the course. However, the fancier golf courses will not generally rent out shoes as they are typically private, membership-based courses.

Appropriate treaded Footwear required

Having an appropriate tread is vital to a stable golf swing. Many running shoes and sneakers intended for everyday use on pavement or other hard surfaces will often have a minimal to non-existent tread. A lack of tread is inappropriate for a stable swing.

Golf shoes come in spiked and non-spiked versions, both of which offer superior traction on the grass of a golf course. We’ll get more into the spike situation further in this article.

Shoe Comfort IS Paramount

Footwear must be comfortable when golfing. While that’s probably obvious, I felt it warranted mentioning to explain a bit more in-depth.

A smooth and effective golf swing requires a few things from your shoes. The shoe must stay firmly in place without slipping out from under you. The shoe must be flexible enough so when you follow through on your swing, you can pivot and raise the heel of your following foot as you watch the ball race off into the distance.

Differences Between Golf Shoes And Other Shoes

The combination of decent tread and ball of foot flexibility is why serious golfers purchase golf shoes. They are lightweight, comfortable, flexible, yet carry enough of a tread to maintain firm footing.

They are the combination of a hiking shoe’s aggressive tread with a deck shoe’s flexibility, explicitly catered to golfers’ needs. But we’ll talk more about how they can improve your game further in this article.

When referring to how the golf shoe differs from a standard shoe, we can see from the comparison above that a golf shoe is like a combination of 4 other types of shoes and their abilities:

  • Hiking shoes’ aggressive tread
  • Casual deck shoes’ flexibility
  • Running or cross-training shoes’ firm and comfortable fit
  • Dress shoes’ visual appeal

Reviewing these similarities reveals how golf shoes differ from everyday sneakers in that they have characteristics of several very different types of footwear wrapped into one shoe.

Spiked Vs Spikeless Golf Shoes

A common feature of golf shoes is that they have cleats. These come in plastic spikes on the ‘spiked’ models and rubber protrusions or aggressive rubber tread on the ‘spikeless’ versions.

The spiked and spikeless versions of golf shoes are intended for maximum tread grip on the turf and grass. The grip is directly related to a firm and stable golf swing while maintaining that one does not lose one’s footing while out on the golf course.

Do Golf Shoes Help Improve Your Game?

Now that you know how golf shoes are similar and differ from other types of footwear, you can surely understand how golf shoes can improve your game. The nature of the golf shoe, from it’s aggressive tread to the flexibility and comfort, makes the specialty footwear a benefit for any avid golfer.

Will a beginner or even intermediate golfer notice a difference in their game? You bet they will.

When you add any unique piece of equipment to a game, it will improve the overall experience. An appropriate pair of golf shoes will help improve your swing by allowing proper footing and control.

The fit of a pair of specialty golf shoes should be comfortable and snug. The best golf shoes will feel like wearing tight socks – snug and allowing your foot to sense its surroundings.

It also combines this sense with the powerful grip of spikes or aggressive spineless treads. Connecting the fit, powerful grip, and flexibility allows for all golf swing stages to find aid.

The grip holds the position as you begin your swing, holding firm while you wind up and bring the golf club around. Then the flexibility and control allow you to pivot and twist, raising the rear (following) foot as your eyes chase the ball in your follow-through.

The features mentioned above of a specialty golf shoe include the shoe’s comfort, which does not distract you from your swing like other shoes might do.

So, although golf shoes may not be technically required, you must ask yourself how much you want to improve and aid your game when you determine if you need to wear golf shoes.

The 18th Hole (Last Thoughts On Golf Shoes)

We’ve determined that golf shoes are only technically required if a golf course carries a golf shoe only attire policy. However, we’ve also discussed how golf shoes are better for your game than any other kind of shoe.

When you decide whether or not to get golf shoes and whether you can continue to golf without golf shoes, you must determine if you need them for any advanced golf courses with dress codes. If you don’t intend to visit such facilities, you don’t need to get golf shoes.

Golf shoes are specialty shoes with the elements of several other types of shoes, combined to form the golf shoe’s hybrid shoe. As golf shoes are specially designed for the sport, these shoes tend to improve one’s swing more than using classic sneakers or other non-golfing shoes. Therefore, the question comes down to how much you want to improve your game.

Have you tried playing with golf shoes? Let me know how you felt after using them compared to regular shoes in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your experiences with golfing with or without golf shoes.

Happy Golfing

Rich and Steve Signature Image
Steve King, the founder of Fore King Golf, started playing golf at the tender age of 29, after years spent playing many other sports and getting dodgy knees. Although late to the game, Steve soon fell in love with the sport and found himself, like many others, addicted to the pursuit of improvement and playing better. He is currently a member of The Kendleshire Golf Club & Hercules Golf Society, as well as running several competitions for Fore King Golf