Are Spikeless Golf Shoes Here To Stay?
Golf course greens keepers were instrumental in making metal spiked golf shoes obsolete. Too much damage to golf course greens was the complaint, and led to an increasing number of private and public golf courses disallowing play with metal spiked golf shoes.
Golf shoe manufacturers responded in the early 90s with removable spikes made of much softer materials called soft spikes. Circular, removable disks with various surrounding configurations of blunt nubs seemed to work best providing good traction and stability while dramatically reducing damage to greens. Additionally the putting surfaces of greens were less disturbed during play.
The new soft spike golf shoe was often referred to as a spikeless golf shoe, specifically referring to no metal spikes. Soon they became a mandatory requirement at most public and nearly all private golf courses, and by the year 2000 most touring golf pros were wearing soft spike golf shoes. The golf shoe industry exploded with new designs and new companies all in pursuit of the growing demand for soft spike golf shoes.
Eliminating Spike Replacement
Soft spikes still need to be replaced, and this is a knuckle busting nightmare requiring special tools and lots of patience. Now the industry is offering an alternative to soft spike golf shoes thereby eliminating the need to ever replace the spikes. We are entering the age of true spikelessness in golf shoes. Comfort seems to be the driving force.
If truth be told most golfers rarely replace their soft spikes. The molded, irregular soft spike sole provides adequate traction long after the replaceable soft spikes have worn down. So many golfers just keep playing with these shoes and as a last resort just replace them for other reasons. This propelled golf shoe manufacturers to start offering real spikeless golf shoes.
At the beginning of this golf shoe trend in the 90s the focus was on replacing metal spiked golf shoes. Entering 2015 a spikeless golf shoe conversation is most likely going to be a golf shoe that no longer has replaceable soft spikes. It will be a truly spikeless, light weight golf shoe often looking very much like a high quality jogging shoe.
A Quiet Revolution
Demand for these new light weight, spikeless golf shoes has been nothing short of a quiet revolution in the amateur, weekend golfer ranks . Leading manufacturers are feverishly researching new ways to address the biggest knock on these golf shoes, traction and stability, and they are succeeding. At the same time they are leveraging this golf shoe design’s greatest feature … comfort.
Perhaps not yet quite measuring up to the soft spike golf shoe’s traction on hilly, wet slopes out on the course, they seem to be meeting the challenge of stability during the golf swing. There is an enormous amount of anatomical foot research going into the designs of these shoes and this just might result in spikeless golf shoe designs that in fact enhance the golfers stability during the golf swing.
Certainly these new spikeless golf shoes are setting new levels of golfer satisfaction for comfort. With close to 20 different golf shoe manufacturers getting in the game, there has been an explosion of different designs and models of from which to choose. It makes the selection process for most weekend golfers a dizzying experience.
Of course participating manufacturers include the likes of Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Puma, and Sketchers all focusing on the golf shoe niche. Then there are a handful of manufacturers whose golf shoes are an extension of their casual, dress, and/or hiking shoe product lines. Most notable in this category are ECCO, Footjoy, Oakley and Allen Edmonds.
The growing list of golf shoe manufacturers includes several relative newcomers such as Ashworth and TrueLinkswear. Ashworth is a TaylorMade company focusing on the spikeless golf shoe niche. TrueLinkswear co-founder is Ryan Moore, a three time PGA tour winner, which might explain the company’s current focus on golf shoes only. These companies are all investing heavily on technology and research that mimics the natural movement and shape of the human foot.
Traction and Stability
This matter is not totally settled and may not be for some time. Traction is more of an issue in very wet conditions, but seems to be a non issue in dry conditions. By most accounts stability is actually improved over soft spike golf shoes.
The most logical reason for this is the focus on foot anatomy to achieve the most stable and comfortable golf shoe possible. Manufacturers are actually improving the “feel” so that the spikeless golf shoe seems to “hug” the foot and golf course more than soft spike designs. Golfers are saying their feet are more in contact with the ground.
Swing velocity is another balance factor to consider, which might explain the tremendous popularity of spikeless golf shoes amongst amateur weekend golfers. This group is less likely to generate swing velocities approaching 125 mph like the Pros, who are admittedly moving more slowly to this new trend in golf shoes.
If history repeats, the golf shoe evolution from soft spike to true spikelessness will be a slow process, but my money is on the golf shoe industry. There is just too much at stake, and with the help of modern technology a truly spikeless golf shoe choice will become a viable choice for all gofers … even the Pros.
The Pros Are Starting To Wear Them
The golfing public is highly influenced by the PGA and LPGA tour players, so you can bet that spikeless golf shoe manufacturers are focused on winning over this group. It took the Pros a long time to move away from metal spiked golf shoes, but in the end move away they did finally to the soft spike golf shoe. It is highly likely that golf shoe history will be repeated as we move into the era of the true spikelessness.
Fred Couples is a Pros Pro which explains why his peers started to take notice when he showed up at the 2010 Masters in a pair of ECCO spikeless golf shoes. Fred’s primary motivation for wearing this shoe was to ease his long standing battle with lower back pain. Comfort and easing acquired body pain might be one of primary driving reasons for growth of this golf shoe in the Pro ranks. Tiger Woods is a good example and helps explain that he has been seen wearing a Nike brand, light weight spikeless golf shoe.
The list of Pros showing up in golf tournaments wearing this new golf shoe is growing. This year’s Masters was played in marvelous weather and spikeless golf shoe sightings occurred often. Many Pros are still holding on to the perception that swing stability requires them to wear soft spiked golf shoes, but the lure of endorsement deals should contribute to this growing trend of spikelessness amongst the Pros.
So Yes … Spikeless Golf Shoes Are Here To Stay.
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