Best Substitute For Golf Shoes

Some people might believe that you can’t play golf unless you have golf shoes. While some golf clubs do enforce strict rules on footwear others will be a little more lenient.

Given the look and design of most golf shoes these days that’s hardly surprising as most just look like trainers.

While I would recommend getting golf shoes if you start to get serious about the game, if you are only an occasional player or have just started then there are a few other options available to you. Before spending even more money on golf-related equipment check out my advice on the best substitute for golf shoes.

Best Substitute For Golf Shoes

What Should I Wear If I Don’t Have Golf Shoes?

Trainers or Sneakers

Most people will already have some form of trainers or sneakers. These should be ideal for a casual game now and again. First and foremost you need to get shoes that aren’t going to damage the playing surfaces, in particular the greens.

So if you’re thinking about playing in high heels then please don’t! Not unless you want the greenkeeper to come chasing after you with the scythe!

Trail Shoes

Trail shoes are another option, as long as the tread and sole of the shoe won’t cause any damage. As these are designed for walking/running they should offer reasonable levels of comfort and support while you’re walking the golf course.

Hitting shots barefoot


Personally, I wouldn’t go this route as there are too many ways for you to damage your feet. Even the most well-maintained golf course has areas that could cause you severe problems if you’re not wearing any shoes.

By all accounts the great Sam Snead often played barefoot and apparently Rocco Mediate is also known to play barefoot occasionally.

If you are looking for something a little different then you might consider:

Golf Sandals

Trying to play golf in ordinary sandals has always been a definite nonstarter. While it’s unlikely the shoe would do much damage to the playing surfaces they wouldn’t be much use if you’re trying to walk the course or worse still actually try to hit shots.

However, the good news for those that like to give their toes free rein is that a number of companies now produce sandals for golf. These have much more supportive soles and may even come with soft spikes to aid your grip while walking. Footjoy and Sketchers can help you out if this is a route you’d like to pursue.

Golf Shandals

These are custom designs made by a shoemaker called Alan James Raddon. It’s unlikely you’ll be in the market for such a product due to their price but they look nice nonetheless.

Can I Wear Any Shoes To Golf?

No, you need to make sure that the sole of the shoe won’t cause any damage to the golf course.

For example, any sports shoes with large cleats like American football, soccer, baseball or rugby are all going to be a definite no-no on a golf course as you would turn the greens into Swiss cheese!

Aside from damaging the course you want to make sure that the shoes are comfortable for you to wear since a round of golf will involve around 5 miles of walking and could take up to 4 hours (probably a lot longer if you are on the PGA Tour!).

Ideally, it would also be useful if your shoes were waterproof. This does depend somewhat on the weather where you will be playing though.

Adidas Golf Shoes
Geoffrey Baker – Adidas Golf Shoes

Do You Really Need Golf Shoes?

Long-term your feet will certainly thank you for investing in a pair of good quality golf shoes but if you only play very infrequently then a pair of sneakers may see you through.

There are several reasons for using golf shoes:

  • Grip
  • Comfort
  • Support
  • Protection

Depending on where you’re going to play, grip may be more or less of a problem. If you’re going to play somewhere that has plenty of warm sunny weather then grip will be less of an issue than somewhere like the UK which gets plenty of rain and can therefore be quite flippant on all those lovely slopes!

Even if you can’t afford top-of-the-range golf shoes you should still consider a pair of budget golf shoes.

If you’re just going to the driving range occasionally then spiked golf shoes probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense anyway. I tend to prefer using spikeless golf shoes on the range but trainers with some reasonable tread can probably do the job too.

If you get some spikeless golf shoes they are versatile enough to be useful in other situations.

Best Substitute For Golf Shoes: Conclusion

No, you don’t need to have golf shoes although it’s advisable If you are going to take the game up seriously.

As a stopgap, you can use trainers or sports shoes until you decide to commit to the game.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Best Non-Golf Shoes For Golf

The best non-golf shoes for golf would be trainers or sneakers with some significant tread to help you grip while you swing and walk.

If they are waterproof as well then even better.

Does Merrell Make Golf Shoes?

No. Merrell does not appear to make any golf shoes although they do make some for playing disc golf.

Can You Wear Sport Shoes For Golf?

It depends partly on where you are golfing. Some golf courses will insist on proper golf shoes (even though these days many styles are spikeless). With many trainers, it will be difficult to see how your average golf shop could tell the difference anyway.

Obviously, shoes designed for other sports like baseball or American soccer would not be suitable as they will cause damage to the playing surfaces.

Can You Wear Soccer Cleats For Golf?

Not if you want to stay on friendly terms with the greens staff! Most golf clubs have now banned metal spikes in golf shoes because people tended to drag their feet creating spike marks.

Imagine what someone would do with soccer cleats particularly if the greens were a little damp!

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