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Spike vs Spikeless Golf Shoes
Updated: Jun 12, 2021
When the time to get a new pair of golf shoes, one question that crosses the minds of most golfers is the 'Spiked vs Spikeless' debate, "which should I purchase?". For some, it's a straightforward situation - they are more likely to be in our group #1.
Performance and comfort are likely to be selection criteria for a vast majority in finalising their choice. What about convenience, versatility, balance, or style?
Spiked golf shoes have actual cleats on the outsole, typically made of (soft) plastic while Spikeless golf shoes have a flat outsole with rubber studs, dimples, or integrated miniature spikes in place of spikes.
One thing is certain, there is no mistaking how popular spikeless shoes have become in recent years and they seem to be getting more attention especially for non-golf activities like walking. Despite the increased popularity on the golf course, some of us are latecomers to the lifestyle footwear scene while others simply just can't do the switch to spikeless shoes.
Typically, there are three groups of golfers:
Spikeless or Spiked. Those in the group have a strong preference for either spiked or spikeless and are more or less camped (or set) in their choice.
Spikeless + Spiked. Another group may actually have both spiked and spikeless, with their final selection based on most conditions, terrain, traction.
There is a third group that are considering (or open) to switching - normally moving from spiked to spikeless but occasionally you may find the reverse. Spiked considering Spikeless OR Spikeless considering Spiked.
It's worth noting that a lot of golf shoes now come in both spiked and spikeless variants even though there is more of an evolution towards spikeless shoes as a lifestyle activity footwear.
Often replaceable spikes do provide more lateral stability because of the way they grip the ground during the golf swing. Spiked golf shoes should provide much more grip on soggy, wet weather conditions, uneven lie, or rough terrain.
Consequently, if you play in wetter climates, you are more likely to prefer spiked shoes to spikeless mostly due to the better traction that spiked shoes can potentially deliver. It is worth noting that modern spikeless designs are becoming increasingly advanced, reducing the difference in traction levels with their spiked alternatives.
VERSATILITY AND CONVENIENCE
Arguably the most common reasons for purchasing spikeless shoes are versatility and convenience. When it comes to spiked golf shoes or golf shoes with cleats, most golfers seldom wear them off the course, it's just not something that most people would recommend.
On the other hand, spikeless golf shoes can definitely be worn off the course, even as regular shoes, and in fact, some golfers that can testify to spikeless golf shoes being excellent shoes for walking and other casual outdoor activities. The ability to seamlessly transition straight from the 18th green to the 19th hole in spikeless shoes cannot be understated — with spiked shoes a changeover to more comfortable shoes is often required, even if it is to avoid damage to those (soft) cleats.
Many spikeless styles can also serve as casual footwear that can be worn just about anywhere. Another school of thought is that Spikeless shoes may help you feel more balanced - may be due to more contact points with the ground.
WET WEATHER, COURSE CONDITIONS, TERRAIN & UNEVEN LIES
One thing is almost a given, the wetter the course the more likely you are going to want spiked golf shoes since they maybe deliver much better traction in even the slightest of wet soft conditions, and honestly, soft spikes aren't that much more ufncomfortable than spikeless.
You may also want to consider course conditions. If you’re playing on a wet, soggy course, spikes may give you better traction on the soft turf. Also, if you play on a lot of hilly courses that produce, spikes may help give you an edge.
For example, for those that live in Florida where a lot of the courses are either very dry in the summer, or wet in the mild months then you may have an outright preference for spiked shoes due to the golf course conditions whereas some golfers can use spikeless shoes irrespective of weather.
WHICH IS BETTER FOR YOU?
If you need to feel planted, need to minimise slipping or have a bit of foot action, you might also prefer the spiked options especially for beginners or some amateurs. Increasingly more amateurs will wear spikeless shoes if it's dry and/or a lot of walking as spikeless shoes are generally more comfortable and not as rigid as spiked shoes.
In the past, spikeless golf shoes were more comfortable, hands down. Spikeless may still have an advantage, but today’s spiked golf shoes are also incredibly comfortable. The gap between the two has been drastically reduced.
AND THE WINNER IS....
While both spiked and spikeless styles are suitable for new players, the former should be the better option for beginners, while they learn the game and build the necessary techniques. The majority of professional golfers continue to wear spiked golf shoes, including the increasingly rare metal spikes, but many of the world’s best golfers are going spikeless.
Causal & frequent golfers are arguably the main market for spikeless shoes, even though this is not a hard & fast rule. We are more likely to settle for whatever our personal preferences or inclinations are - of course in addition to course conditions and budget... yes some of us will decide based on the value we think we are getting, and that normally is the price tag $$$.
It is always worth consulting the dress code beforehand.
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