Spiked vs. Spikeless Golf Shoes

Learn about the differences between spiked and spikeless golf shoes and get the right fit for your game.

It’s time for a new pair of golf shoes, and you find yourself wondering which is the better option for your game: spiked or spikeless?

Pro Tips is here to help. Read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about spiked vs. spikeless golf shoes.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES?

Spiked golf shoes feature actual cleats on the outsole, typically made of soft plastic. Spikeless golf shoes feature a flat outsole with rubber studs or dimples in place of spikes.

DO SPIKES PROVIDE BETTER TRACTION?

Spikes will likely provide a bit more lateral stability overall than spikeless styles, especially on hilly courses and in wet conditions. Today’s spikeless designs are becoming more and more advanced.

“As brands continue to refine the top-down design of both spiked and spikeless golf shoes, the lines have become increasingly blurred,” says Paul McMullen, a Golf Content Specialist at DICK’S Sporting Goods. “For instance, some brands are fusing elements commonly found in spiked golf shoes — grip traction, support — with elements commonly found in spikeless golf shoes — flexibility and ground feel — to create hybrid-like golf shoes.”

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 awkward lies, spikes may help give you an edge.

“Based on my experience, spiked golf shoes offer more reliable traction in a wider range of playing conditions as compared to spikeless golf shoes,” says Paul. “Whether I’m playing in soft, rainy conditions, or hard, dry conditions, I always feel like I have sure footing when I’m wearing spiked golf shoes.”

WHY WEAR SPIKELESS GOLF SHOES?

The biggest advantages are versatility and convenience. You can go straight from the 18th green to the 19th hole in spikeless shoes — no need to change as you would with spikes. Many spikeless styles can also serve as casual footwear you can wear just about anywhere.

Spikeless shoes may also help you feel more balanced.

“Since cleats on spiked golf shoes protrude from the outsole, golfers might notice a slightly elevated feel when walking and addressing the ball,” says Paul. “However, spikeless outsoles can offer the more grounded feel a standard sneaker offers because the traction elements are more in line as compared to their cleated counterpart.”

SO, WHICH ARE MORE COMFORTABLE?

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 difference between the two is minor.

CAN SPIKELESS GOLF SHOES BE WORN ON ANY COURSE?

If you’re playing a more upscale course, such as a country club, you may wonder if spikeless golf shoes are too casual.

“Styles of spikeless golf shoes range from the traditional to the casual, giving golfers plenty of options to choose from based on preferred style,” says Paul. “Since a major emphasis is placed on growing the involvement in golf, I believe many courses are accepting golfers who fit this wide range of player style profiles in an effort to expand and diversify the game.”

Of course, if you have questions, it is always best to consult the club dress code.

WHICH IS THE BETTER CHOICE FOR BEGINNERS?

While there are both spiked and spikeless styles that will suit new players just fine, spiked shoes might be the better option.

“One of the most crucial aspects to any golf swing is a solid foundation, and spiked golf shoes provide just that,” says Paul. “When golfers have a locked-in, reliable foundation, they are able to focus on improving their swing and developing their game. Slipping and excess shifting of the feet during the stroke lead to undesirable outcomes.”

WHICH STYLE DO THE PROS PREFER?

The majority of pros continue to wear spiked golf shoes, including the increasingly rare metal spikes, but many of the world’s best golfers are going spikeless.

Many industry experts believe the spikeless golf shoe trend began at the first major of 2010, when one of the Tour’s more popular players wore ECCO BIOM Hybrid spikeless golf shoes throughout the tournament en route to a 6th place finish. Not only did he turn heads for his style, but for his ability to perform on golf’s biggest stage while wearing non-traditional golf shoes.  

FINAL THOUGHTS

Which shoes are right for you?  It will always come down to personal preference, but you’ll be well served with either spiked or spikeless golf shoes. Consider getting a pair and wearing them based on course conditions. Plus, alternating each round can significantly extend the life of the shoes.