It’s been the golf industry’s secret for years. Women’s shoes have rarely actually been designed for women’s feet. Instead of investing in totally fresh engineering based on the real architecture of women’s feet, golf footwear has decided to simply “shrink it and pink it”—scale down a men’s shoe, and then change the styling. But women’s feet aren’t just smaller than men’s feet—they’re built differently. A study done at Penn State University, showed that there are 11 significant points of difference between men and women, and that 4 of those are in the feet. Researchers found that, “at the same foot length a woman’s foot has a higher arch, a shallower first toe, a shorter ankle length, a shorter length of the outside ball of foot, and a smaller instep circumference than a man’s foot.” So, even if a man and a woman have the same foot size, there are significant differences between how their feet are built, and so not surprisingly, they also concluded that, “women’s shoes should not be simply scaled-down versions of men’s shoes if optimal fit is to be obtained.”
So why does this matter for golf? Simply put, fit creates stability, and stability creates both consistency and distance. If your foot is either cramped in your shoe, with your toes unable to have the proper spread, or rolling around in a shoe that wasn’t proportioned for your feet, you’ll lose stability and essentially bleed some of the power out of your swing.
As Daisy May Kenny, a Biomechanics specialist and self-declared golf geek, puts it, “with a standard shoe, they're very narrow and what that does is when you get into your takeaway, it causes you to roll onto the outside of your foot. When you roll pressure onto the outside of your foot, it inhibits efficient rotation in your backswing, and it makes it a lot harder to make all different compensations to be able to get the foot back to where it needs to be to create the driving force of the golf swing.”
Kenny also points out that because women tend to carry more of their strength in the lower body, rather than the upper body, ensuring that you have performance footwear to harness the transfer of energy your swing releases—ground force reaction—is essential to maximizing a female golfer’s game.
Still skeptical? Imagine taking to the course in a pair of heels, Kenny says. Visualize how far you could drive the ball in golf shoes, versus in a pair of stilettos. Much farther, right? So it’s not surprising that Kenny’s testing has shown that the right pair of golf shoes would amplify your drives even farther.
Your next golf shoes should respect the power you bring to your game by catering to the unique architecture of your feet. Look for shoes designed specifically for women that create a balanced foundation for your swing.