After watching a host of top professionals with lower back pain turn to spikeless, street-style golf shoes – I had to know – is there any solace without spikes?
So, I set off in search of the perfect spikeless golf shoe for a 30-something scratch golfer with chronic back pain.
What did I find? A company best known for making comfortable preppy shirts is actually the dark horse in this new and comfy boom town for golf manufacturers.
Ever since Freddie Couples introduced shirt hiking and laid back shoulder struggling into his pre-shot routine Ashworth Golf has been known for producing cool, casual and comfy golf apparel.
The shirts and jumpers may have been a bit on the baggy side but the soft cotton and cool styles introduced the best of American country club style into the UK and European golf markets.
In 2008, TaylorMade Adidas Golf bought Ashworth and since then the brand has grown and brought out a surprisingly diverse range of products, including its first golf shoe, the Ashworth Cardiff.
A painful case of golfer’s back
Like most golfers, I suffer from lower back pain – though in my case it’s serious – I exploded my L5 disc in 2006 and narrowly avoided having my vertebrate fused together.
I usually finish a round in discomfort and am sore for a couple of days afterwards.
When I saw that fellow back pain sufferers, Fred Couples, Justin Rose and Ernie Els had switched to the new trend of casual, spikeless “street style” golf shoe – for added comfort and pain relief – I knew I had to test out the best on the market.
From word of mouth, observation and research, Ecco’s Street Shoe looked hot favourite but when I tried them on they were broad and clunky, and fairly pricey too. The shoe that really caught my eye on looks was the Ashworth Cardiff.
Back to Basics
Let’s set aside the manufacturer’s bumph on materials, design, breathability, waterproofing etc and take it back to basics – like we did as kids when our parents took us to the shoe shop.
Within 60 seconds of slipping on the Cardiff and walking around the golf shop I knew I loved them.
They felt comfortable, energetic, fit well and felt robust and I loved the grey leather, blue suede trim which make the shoe look a smart casual town shoe or hybrid shoe-trainer. They go well with cream, blue, white, grey or black pants and look seriously cool with jeans.
At £70 you can’t sniff at the price tag either.
Just this week I took a trip to review a golf course and hotel in Suffolk and wore them on the train with jeans and a shirt.
Ok, so they feel and look good but what about on course?
I had no qualms about putting this shoe straight on to play competitive golf. They didn’t need breaking in like a traditional leather spiked shoe and were immediately comfortable from the first tee.
So much sole!
The huge number of rubber dimples on the sole perform as well as soft spikes and I have only had one foot slip, on a tee that was especially wet after a downpour.
The Cardiff gives a feeling of being grounded and able to root in and draw energy from the ground up during the swing.
I noticed that I felt less sore during and after a round and wearing these shoes made it easier on the hamstrings, calves and lower back. There was still some soreness but nowhere near as much as when I was wearing the FootJoy DryJoy Tour with soft spikes.
Guaranteed to stay dry
The shoes come with a two-year waterproof guarantee, although I have yet to play with them in the wet. Like most casual spikeless golf shoes they are better suited to good weather and firm ground, especially as they would be extremely difficult to clean if you played with them on in muddy conditions in the depths of winter.
Cleaning them is obviously more difficult than if you just took the black leather polish to your traditional leather shoes but they tend not to get too tired or dirty quickly anyway.
I also love the idea that you can walk straight off the course and into the bar without changing your shoes, or even if you wish – hop straight in the car and drive off. They are truly versatile in passing as a casual sporty shoe both on and off course.
– Look cool
– Feel great
– 2 year waterproof guarantee
– Come with white and blue laces
– Supreme comfort straight from the box
– Wear them on the plane or train
– You can easily drive in them
– Difficult to clean
– Not suited to wet or muddy conditions
– Best worn in Summer only
– Can make your feet hot – but only because the comfort makes you wear them for so long
After wearing these shoes for a few weeks I’m definitely a convert to the spikeless street golf shoe. More and more people are turning to the casual shoe, like Ecco and FootJoy’s Contour Casual and hybrid M-Project shoe, but don’t throw away your leather spikes just yet – winter is just around the corner.
For more: www.taylormadegolf.com/ashworth
The Ashworth Cardiff is available in white, black and grey with blue suede trim. The shoes come with a choice of two pairs of laces and have a SRP (suggested retail price) of £70.