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Fit to be tied: 3 new golf shoes vie for 'most comfortable' of 2015

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer
VIvobarefoot LINX golf shoes
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Despite a "barely there" weight, the Vivobarefoot LINX provides excellent support and a waterproof leather outsole. (Courtesy of Vivobarefoot)

I remember my first pair of golf shoes: smashed toes, stiff leather, sharp topline and backstay that blistered my heels within a few holes, and almost zero padding on the insole. Combined with metal spikes, this final feature led to a half-dozen sore spots on my soles, as the spikes pressed back into my feet.

In short, walking in golf shoes was torture. No wonder people got used to riding in carts.

Thankfully, golf shoe design has progressed as much, or more, than golf equipment design.

Now, when I get a pair of shoes to test and review, I take them straight out of the box and head out to walk 18 holes on my slightly hilly home course. If no blisters or hotspots develop, my toes don't pinch together, and my heels don't get sore, the shoes pass the test.

Even a few years ago, only one or two pairs each season would pass. Today, most shoes get pretty high marks. And this past month, I've received three pairs of very different shoes, all of which are legitimate contenders for "Most Comfortable Golf Shoes of 2015."

Ogio City Spiked Shoe ($110)

Pros: A squared toe-box provides generous room for my piggies, and the Ground Control spike system gave me the best traction I've ever felt in soft spikes. On the Irish Course at Whistling Straits, which was cartpath only, I did a lot of walking. Not only that, I did a lot of walking up and down some steep, gnarly dunes. With these spikes, I felt like Spiderman. Finally, the SynkFit insole is made from a type of memory foam, so it feels like you're walking on a pillow.

Cons: Those great spikes do leave a noticeable imprint on the greens, so watch other players' lines. More bothersome is the top layer of the insole, which started to peel away after a couple of rounds. (I noticed the same thing on a pair of Ogio shoes I reviewed last year.)

Ecco BIOM Hybrid 2 ($195)

Pros: Ecco was maybe the first golf shoe manufacturer whose shoes passed the straight-out-of-the-box test. The BIOM Hybrid 2 is a casual, stylish shoe crafted from ultra-soft yak leather. It could be worn as easily out for brunch as out for a round of golf. The unique waffle-iron-like sole provides over 800 traction points. The insole is cushy, and the overall shape of both insole and outsole forms to my foot. After walking 18 holes on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits in these, I felt like I could comfortably walk another 36, and look good doing it.

Cons: Ecco shoes are not cheap, nor are they light. But the BIOM Hybrid 2, like all Ecco shoes, will last -- and look good -- for many years.

Vivobarefoot LINX ($160)

Pros: Never heard of Vivobarefoot? Neither had I. It turns out they make several lines of women's and men's shoes designed to feel like you're hardly wearing any shoes at all. Their tagline is, "The foot has all the technology you need. The shoe lets your foot do its thing." Despite a "barely there" weight of 10.2 oz., the LINX provides excellent support and a waterproof leather outsole. The traction from the molded sole is adequate for most topographies. I wandered up and down several fescue-covered hills at Erin Hills in these shoes and never once slipped. One feature I appreciated was the low topline, which is well below even the short bootie-socks I like to wear. Some shoes with higher toplines tend to grab these socks and work them down into the shoe -- not the Vivobarefoot LINX.

Cons: The LINX are light and feel almost like you're wearing slippers or nothing at all. If you're used to rigid, high-profile golf shoes, they might take some getting used to.

Winner: "Most Comfortable Golf Shoe of 2015"

The title this year goes to the Vivobarefoot LINX. I'm tempted to wear these shoes for all sports activities, not just on the golf course. They'd be good crossfit shoes, walking shoes, running shoes, etc., etc. After 18 holes at Erin Hills -- a 7-plus-mile walk for golfers like me who tend to wander sometimes -- my feet felt better than they do most mornings when I get out of bed.

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Ogio City Spike golf shoesEcco BIOM Hybrid 2 golf shoes

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Most Comfortable golf shoe '15

    David Helter wrote on: Jul 21, 2015

    I have been wearing ECCO golf shoes (and other ECCO shoes) for more than 10 years. They were the first to introduce hybrid or spikeless golf shoes, which has created a revolution in golf footwear around the world. Without a doubt, they are the most confortable and versatile golf footwear I have worn. Regarding price, I always look at the price/value and ECCO provides the best ratio in my mind. Above all, the European styling is just what today's market is looking for.


      • RE: Most Comfortable golf shoe '15

        Kiel Christianson wrote on: Jul 21, 2015

        Agreed--ECCO's entire line is tough to beat. This comfort thing is a tough call. As a walker, I gave a narrow nod to the Vivobarefoot, based mostly on weight. However, the BIOM Hybrid 2 would even be a great shoe for sightseeing, etc. -- it's that comfy (and stylish).