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At first glance, golf and running seem like the complete opposite of each other. One requires constant movement, and the other you’re just standing firmly on the ground.

Even though both sports have their differences, they share a few similarities.

These similarities are most prominent in the shoes the two sports require. We know it can be confusing. So we’ll explore both sports to identify the differences between golf and running shoes.

Golf shoe and running shoe

Understanding the Purpose of Golf and Running Shoes

You can’t understand the difference between either shoe if you don’t know the purpose they serve. Let’s take a quick look.

Running Shoes

Ultimately, running shoes act as safety equipment for athletes. When you’re running, you repeatedly stomp on the ground with full force, which can put a heavy toll on your muscles.

Good running shoes have a proper cushioning system, which can absorb the impact of the collision. Not only does this make the running experience more comfortable, but it also prevents potential injuries.

Additionally, running shoes offer excellent traction, which provides better maneuverability, improving runners’ responses, stability, and agility.

Runner Feet Running on Stadium Closeup -outdoor shot
Running shoes

Golf Shoes

Golf is about making accurate, long-distance shots. To do that, you need firm footing that helps you keep your stability while you’re swinging. That’s what golf shoes do.

Besides maintaining balance, golf shoes provide excellent shock absorption. If you’re new to golf, that might confuse you: “Why would I need shock absorption when I play golf?” 

Well, when golfers make a swing, they put a lot of pressure on the ball of their feet.

Without proper golf shoes, their feet would ache, affecting their performance for the rest of the game.

A pair of golf shoes on a white background with copy space
Golf shoes

The Differences Between Golf and Running Shoes

While both shoes share a few similarities, they have different roles. 

Naturally, these differences depend on the nature of both sports. Manufacturers make these shoes to cater to their requirements. Let’s see how.

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When professionals look at golf and running shoes, the first difference they note is the design.

Running Shoes

Running shoes don’t come in one design or have one generic look. Athletes usually run on various surfaces.

To accommodate the differences in these grounds, manufacturers diversify their designs.

Road-Running Shoes

Road-running shoes target those who run on sidewalks, roads, and tracks. They’re lightweight and flexible, which helps runners maintain their balance while stomping on concrete.

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They usually have smooth soles to provide better contact with the ground, allowing runners to maintain their speed. They also come with a wide toe box to maximize comfort.

Trail-Running Shoes

Trail-running shoes are made for running on mud, rocks, and terrains. So, they have bigger outsole lugs to provide a better grip on these rocky grounds.

They come with a tighter toe box as well to provide more maneuverability on uneven surfaces.

However, runners have been demanding shoe manufacturers to produce bigger trail-running shoes to accommodate those with big feet. So now you can find trail-running shoes with wide toe boxes too.

When it comes to offering protection, few can compete with trail-running shoes. Most models provide a layer of protection for your toes, reinforced upper sides, and water resistance. 

Golf Shoes

Golf Shoes have gone through several changes throughout history, with each one offering different pros and cons. 

Spiked Shoes

As the name suggests, the most prominent feature of spiked shoes is the spikes. They help golfers properly plant their feet on the ground and avoid slipping accidents while swinging.

That made them bulkier than spikeless models. However, modern technology allowed manufacturers to make lightweight versions.

That said, spiked shoes are flexible in that you can replace the spikes when they wear out. Many modern models also come with a BOA dial, which lets you adjust the fit of your shoes with a twist of a knob.

Spiked golf shoes

Spikeless Shoes

It’s easy to guess that spikeless shoes don’t have spikes at the bottom of the soles. While that reduces the level of traction it offers, spikeless shoes make up for that with their flexibility.

They usually come in flat soles and a lightweight design, making them more comfortable than their spiked counterparts. Instead of spikes, they feature rubber studs, which offer a solid footing on firm grounds.


Now that you understand how both shoes differ in design, let’s see how the materials they come in complement their styles. 

Running Shoes

Manufacturers usually combine several materials to produce running shoes. That’s to ensure that every part brings out players’ full potential.

The Upper Side

The upper side of most running shoes usually comes in polyurethane. It’s synthetic leather that provides reinforcement and prevents the feet from moving too much inside the shoes while running.

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The Midsole

The most common material in midsoles is ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). Soft, flexible, and lightweight, EVA offers excellent cushioning for long jogs.

The Outsole

The outsoles are usually made from carbon rubber. While it’s durable and long-lasting, it’s too rigid, which might hinder your speed. 

Blown rubber is also a common material. It’s softer, lighter, and more flexible. However, it’s less durable.

new running shoes white background
Running shoes

Golf Shoes

Golf shoes come in various materials, offering different levels of comfort and maneuverability. 


Light and flexible, it’s no wonder leather is the most common material to use in golf shoes. Not only is it a durable material that offers a comfortable experience, but it also grants you the necessary stability while you’re swinging.


Despite being less premium than leather, synthetic still offers a lot of value. It’s water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about ruining your shoes in the rain. It’s more flexible than leather too. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer much breathability. 

Waterproof Linings

As the name suggests, waterproof-lining shoes are perfect for winter games because of their water-resistant attributes. Despite being a bit heavy, they offer excellent warmth and breathability.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you play golf in running shoes?

For the most part, running shoes can be an efficient alternative to golf shoes, as they provide excellent traction. That makes it easier for players to plant their feet firmly on the ground while swinging.

However, it’s worth noting that the rotational movement forces your shoes to twist too much, causing poor swing technique and excess wear.

Although not necessary, it’s important to wear proper golf shoes when playing golf.

This video explains why.

What is the best pair of running shoes to use for golf?

Nike Men Gymnastic Shoes have everything you need in golf shoes. They feature a perfect balance between flexibility and comfort. They also provide excellent traction, which helps you maintain your balance while swinging.

Wrapping Up

Despite having a few similarities, golf and running shoes are inherently different, and these differences are reflected in their designs and used materials.

Running shoes aim to cushion the straining impact of running, while golf shoes provide proper footing to swing comfortably.

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