Minimalist Shoes Wear Tester – Golf
Robert is a second-generation native of Phoenix, Arizona. When not practicing law, he can usually be found playing–as he has for the past 44 years–one of the nearly 300 golf courses in and around the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Since I first discovered “barefoot-style” golf shoes two years ago, I haven’t played in anything else. I’ve played in VivoBarefoot’s Hybrid golf shoe and in nearly every model of True Linkswear’s shoes, including the Stealth, the Tour, the PHX and the Sensei (their cross-over golf/running shoe).
The barefoot style shoes are game-changers. Because they’re typically spike-less, no longer do I have to change shoes at the course before or after rounds. Instead, I slip them on in the morning, go to the office or grocery, play 18, and take them off when I get home. But as much as I like the convenience of them off the course, I appreciate them the most during a round.
With the thinnest soles of any shoes, on or off the course, these new barefoot-style golf shoes allow me to feel the course. When I’m uncertain of the line and break of a putt, I can verify the green’s slope by standing along the line and feeling the slope in my feet. In bunkers, I can feel the depth and weight of the sand and therefore better judge the speed of my wedge through it. And after walking across a green, because I can feel its firmness, I can better estimate the ball’s reaction on chips and pitches.
Whereas traditional golf shoes have steel shanks in the soles, the new minimalist golf shoes have abandoned the thick, stiff sole in favor of thin, flexible, light-weight soles. Minimalist golf shoes also abandoned the soft spikes in favor or a series of strategically placed “nubs,” or cleats.
I no longer test a pair of barefoot-style shoes to see if I want to change from traditional golf shoes. (I’ve already gotten rid of all of my old golf shoes). Instead, I test them to determine which among the barefoot shoes I prefer.
I recently had a chance to try a pair of shoes from a relative new-comer to the universe of minimalist golf shoes—Barefoot B.E.R.B.S.
The BERBS are the first true hybrid to bridge the gap between the traditional, soft-spike golf shoe and the minimalist, spike-less shoe.
The BERBS, for example, use a rigid–though super-thin sole–into which they’ve incorporated, not a full set of soft-spikes, but merely five well placed ones. The result is a shoe that retains much of the traction of a traditional soft-spike shoe, but that has all of the comfort and feel of a minimalist or barefoot-style shoe.
The BERBS have also abandoned traditional laces in favor of Velcro straps both across the upper as well as behind the heel. The two straps provide great versatility in adjusting the fit for comfort and performance.
The BERBS have a wide toe box (as do all the other minimalist shoes), that allow the toes to spread naturally and to provide maximum balance and feel.
Visually, the BERBS are the most unorthodox of the minimalist shoes I’ve tried. Their uppers are a very soft and supple leather, and the shoe’s profile is therefore extremely low. When I first put them on, the toe box seemed, perhaps a bit too low and I feared that after 4 to 5 hours walking in them my toes might feel a little pinched.
I’ve played several rounds in them, and I’m happy to say that my initial concerns were unwarranted. My toes are just fine. And I’ve adapted to the visually low profile of the shoes.
I had some concern that the shoes looked perhaps a little too different, i.e., more like a ballet slipper than a golf shoe, but that worry, too, was assuaged, during my second round in them when one of my playing companions exclaimed on the 10th hole: “I’ve been trying to figure out how you hit the ball so far, and I just realized it’s those ‘Ninja shoes’ you’re wearing!” Apparently, the shoes look traditional enough that it took someone 10 holes to realize they were different, and once they realized it, their first thought wasn’t of the Bolshoi, it was of Bruce Lee.
While the incorporation of soft-spikes may provide a modicum of additional traction, they also have the disadvantage of collecting grass and debris which require them to be cleaned like the traditional golf shoes after a round. And while I’m comfortable wearing other barefoot-style golf shoes from my closet to my car, to the course and back, the soft-spikes on the BERBS makes me wonder whether I should be wearing them anywhere except on the course.
Still, I like the BERBS. They’re comfortable, they perform, and they look just different enough to be interesting on a golf course.
*Product provided by Barefoot BERBS. CMP.LY/1 Review
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