Shoes v socks v bare feet
The latest pairs claim to boost distance and consistency. But do they?
What difference do shoes really make? We took them off to find out.
We’ve seen some wild claims about golf equipment over the years, but one of the most difficult to get your head around is how your golf shoes help you hit it further. It’s a difficult one to prove, so we thought we’d come at it from a different angle. To see how much difference golf shoes can make across a wide spectrum of swing speeds, TG test pro Chris Ryan and Equipment Ed Simon Daddow hit balls at the range barefoot, in socks and wearing spiked and spikeless shoes. A launch monitor recorded data. To ensure a fair test both testers used a new pair of spiked and spikeless shoes and a clean pair of socks!
Test #1 Bare feet
It’s not particularly comfortable hitting balls barefoot from a range mat. We also got a few strange looks! The data also told us we’d be much less consistent. With drop-offs in ball speed of 7mph and 20 yards of carry, the torque that’s generated by loading and unleashing the power your swing generates, playing consistent golf certainly wouldn’t be on the cards (even if John Daly does it) n Average ball speed: 151mph Average carry: 253 yards
Test #2 Just socks
This is where it gets interesting, because putting a sock layer (that’s really not very stable) between the foot and ground robs you of grip, and speed. Simon lost 14 yards of carry on average against his longest combination, whilst Chris was reigned in by nine yards, with a 28-yard drop between his longest and shortest drives in socks. n Average ball speed: 149mph
Average carry: 247 yards
Test #3 Spikeless shoes
You wouldn’t expect to see too much difference between spikeless and spiked shoes from a range matt (but we will be conducting a future test comparing them from wet grass) and to be fair we didn’t. The tiny grips on the sole dig in just as well as a spiked alternative. n Average ball speed: 150mph
Average carry: 257 yards
Test #4 Spiked shoes
It’s no surprise spiked shoes came out of our test smelling of roses; they are the golfing equivalent of the Formula One car tyre. Our testers gained (over socks) on average 12 yards of carry from the tee which is substantial. But it’s the consistency we saw which tells us the right shoes play a huge part in creating the grip and traction you need. n Average ball speed: 151mph
Average carry: 259 yards