How much does footwear affect your swing? We put it to the test

A good pair of golf shoes might cost you $200. A bad pair might cost you 25 yards. 

For the thousands of factors affecting the golf swing, feet — and, more pressingly, the shoes attached to them — frequently get overlooked. After all, our feet are our only point of contact with the ground throughout the golf swing. They are a source of power, speed and, in the wrong environment, even the source of injuries. 

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To test this, we conducted an experiment with our friend (and noted shoe aficionado) Joaquin Niemann. First, we had Joaquin swing barefoot. Next, in a pair of sandals, then sneakers, then snowboard boots (above) and then, finally, spiked golf shoes. 

In golf shoes, Joaquin was his regular self — pumping drives 320 yards with ease through a narrow chute. While swinging barefoot, in sandals and in sneakers, he was a shell of himself, losing ball speed and dispersion. And once we squeezed him into the snowboard boots, we watched as his lack of lower body movement forced him to compensate with his upper half, leading to drops in speed and huge duck hooks. 

The lesson? Your lower body plays a major role in your golf swing. If you’re looking to add distance, learn how to activate your legs and drive through your feet. Oh, and don’t skimp on the spikes — your game will thank you. 

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a broad range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow, during which time he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from.