Jake was a competitive golfer for over a decade dating back to the days of being the Captain of his high school golf team. He has played more than 200 courses across 32 different states in the US. Now semi-retired, Jake continues to golf 3-4 days a week with a current 2 handicap, gives golf lessons to his friends and family, and provides a wealth of knowledge to Golf Circuit from his competitive playing days. Jake combines practical expertise with technical knowledge to create golfing strategies and training techniques for both beginners and scratch golfers.
Life has some pretty big unanswered questions. Where do we go when we die? What is consciousness? Will AI take over the world?
And lastly, but just as importantly, can you play golf barefoot?
While I might not be able to answer the first three, I’m pretty sure I can give you an answer to maneuvering a golf course sans shoes.
If you live in hotter climates, you might fancy the idea of taking of freeing your feet and feeling the soft grass (or sand, depending on if you end up in a bunker) between your toes.
In this article, I’ll talk you through whether you’re allowed to go barefoot on a golf course, the benefits, as well as the one major downside to playing without shoes that you do NOT want to miss knowing about.
Ditching The Golf Shoes And Playing Barefoot
Generally speaking, there’s no hard and fast rule that states you have to wear shoes on a golf course. In fact, the USGA doesn’t offer up any regulations around not going barefooted.
It’s not all good news, though; many courses will state that closed-toes must be worn when playing a round of golf. (See our article on if golf shoes really make a difference.)
In fact, many courses have strict dress codes, which presumably means wearing something on your feet before stepping foot on the green.
So, if you’re unwilling to invest in the best golf shoes for walking, you probably won’t want to expose your feet the second you get on onto the course.
Doing so will probably lead you to introductions to various members of concerned staff questioning how you are feeling today. Some of which might want to encourage you to take your business (and naked feet) elsewhere.
Many people don’t let a minor technicality such as not being allowed to do something on a golf course as red. So, if you’re willing to risk the potential wrath of your clubhouse, why not give it a go?
Wearing golf shoes is overrated, anyway.
If hitting golf balls barefooted is your thing, I’d suggest slipping your socks and shoes off sometime after you’ve played the first hole to minimize any attention you might bring to yourself.
But – and it’s a big but – just because some clubs might be unwilling you accept your barefooted charm on their grounds doesn’t mean to say that golfing barefoot doesn’t have its perks, as we’ll learn below.
Are There Benefits To Playing Golf Barefoot?
There are a few barefoot golf benefits.
Firstly, wearing shoes can limit feeling the break of a putt, which, in case you aren’t aware, is when a golf ball will roll, turn or curve due to the underlying ground.
When walking barefoot, even an average golfer will be able to get much more of a feel for what direction the ball will move in. Therefore, you shouldn’t need as many attempts to putt the ball as you would normally do, giving you a good chance to score par.
Golfing barefoot will also help your swing. No, seriously, it will.
Practicing barefoot will allow your swing to stay within its natural parameters and prevent overswinging.
Also, when using a driver, it will stop you from concentrating solely on hitting the ball as far away as possible; instead, it encourages you to hit with a smoother and more consistent stroke.
Then there’s also the benefit of better judging both the firmness and density of the sand if your shot goes awry and ends up in the bunker.
Told you there were great benefits to playing golf in your bare feet!
Spoiler alert: there is a pretty big downside to mention before you throw your golf scandals in the trash.
The Major Downside To Playing Barefoot
There is a very valid argument for keeping your feet covered on the course and choosing to wear golf shoes. This reason involves what you could stand on if you walk barefoot throughout 18 rounds of golf.
Depending on how good you are, your shots could end up out-of-bounds or in some other desolate location where’d you’d rather not venture.
With that comes all manner of things, ranging from dead animals to spiked shrubbery, which golf shoes could help avoid you accidentally stepping in or on.
Even if you are on a driving range that looks immaculate, it’s likely because some pretty harsh chemicals have been used to make it look so bizarrely beautiful.
What About The Professionals: Do They Ever Play Golf Barefoot?
While it’s not likely you’ll see any professional golfer take a golf swing without socks in a tournament because they like the feel of the grass on their feet, there are certain instances when the pros do like to go barefoot.
In competitive golf, the only real time you’re going to see the pros without shoes and socks on is if they’ve hit a ball into a water hazard or are simply practicing before a game.
Professional golf is a strict game, and it’s not like the PGA is likely to relax its rules anytime soon. When you can’t flash your knee caps on the green, there’s little chance of a rule change to allow bare feet on show!
While playing golf barefoot is largely harmless (minus the pesticides) and can even help improve the quality of your game, you should try to be respectful to those on the golf course.
The game of golf can be rather snobby, so if you don’t want to offend anyone, your best bet is to keep your shoes firmly on during a casual round with friends.
Most golf courses (like some of the best golf courses in Michigan) will not appreciate – or tolerate – someone not abiding by their rules and playing barefoot.
However, as we have seen, golfing barefoot has quite a number of benefits, so if you feel like raging against the golfing overlords at your local golf clubs, just don’t blame us if your membership gets revoked!