People who are new to golf sometimes wonder why they need to purchase shoes specific to the game. You use golf shoes to play golf for the same reason you use soccer cleats to play soccer: because the shoes were designed specifically for the game. Golf is like any other game; if you attempt to play without the correct equipment you will not play up to your potential.
If you look at the way the bottom of a golf shoe is designed, you will notice that it is a little different than other sports shoes such as tennis sneakers or soccer cleats. The base of a golf shoe is designed for proper distribution of weight during your swing. The base of a golf shoe is broader than other athletic shoes because the other shoes are designed for mobility, whereas a golf shoe is designed for the swinging motion done while standing in place. Other athletic shoes will not allow for proper weight shifting during a swing because they lack the broad base that provides balance.
Another way that golf shoes differ from other athletic shoes is that golf shoes tend to be more flexible. Whereas football spikes and basketball sneakers provide stability for the ankle during movement, the golf shoe does not hold the foot in one place during a swing. A golfer may be forced to stand on an awkward slope during a swing, and the action of hitting the ball from an awkward stance can force the feet to move in different directions. Golf shoes are designed to move with the feet.
Golf is a series of motions: first a swing, then a walk out to the ball. Even if you rent a cart, you will do a fair amount of standing and walking depending on where the ball lands. The padding and sole design of a golf shoe was created to offer comfort specific to the needs of a golfer. Golf shoes are designed to be so comfortable that you may find the occasional golfer wearing her golf shoes at an amusement park or anywhere else where she may be required to do a great deal of standing and walking.
Many people wonder why they cannot wear soccer or football cleats to play golf. The anchor system of the soft spikes on a golf shoe is specifically designed for the game of golf. The spike design on the golf shoe allows for fluid motion during a swing, whereas football and soccer cleats were designed for running. The golf shoe offers offers an anchor where the golfer needs it, and it also offers mobility during the swing as well. Golf spikes are shorter to allow for the motion of the swing, and to minimize the damage done to a golf course. Not only will football and soccer cleats deter a good golf swing, they will get you removed from the course immediately.
The heel of a golf shoe is designed to be raised more than other athletic shoes. This is to go along with the natural motion of a golf swing. No other athletic shoe is has the sole designed with the heel and toe in line with a golf swing like the golf shoe does. Swinging without a golf shoe will cause you to feel awkward when you bring the club through the ball.