Your weight is placed lightly on the balls of your feet, balanced between your front and rear foot. There is a slight shift to the back foot, then another shift back to the front. Sound like dance steps? These intricate movements actually describe what goes on below the knees during an ordinary golf swing.

Feeling grounded, both inside yourself as well as with the playing surface, is essential for good golf. Good foot action is the mark of an accomplished golfer. “All timing, distance and direction comes out of the lower body with the feet leading the way,” golf legend Jack Nicklaus has said. Nicklaus and most other golf professionals will tell you that problems with the feet, even a small corn or callus, may impede timing and balance to the point where it’s reflected on the scorecard at the end of the day. Wearing properly fitted, functional golf shoes is critical to good foot action.

Many golfers complain about finding a comfortable shoe. Here’s an interesting tip that can help you find the perfect fit: The LAST comes FIRST. A shoe “last” is the solid model that the shoe uppers are stretched around.

The last determines the volume of space inside the shoe, its proportional shape, length, width, depth, girth, toe shape, and heel fit. In essence, it is designed to replicate the foot. Each brand golf shoe uses a different last, and there are different lasts for different styles within each brand. That explains why, when you find a great shoe and buy another pair but a different style, it doesn’t fit well. It’s a different last.  Ask your professional fitter which last will work best for your foot shape. Once you have determined which last works best for you, stick with it!

In more severe cases of foot abnormalities such as bunions, hammer toes, or two different size feet, custom made lasts are now available using 3-D scanners to capture precise individual foot measurements. The shoes are then custom made over your lasts and to your specifications of style, colors, and leathers. The digitized lasts are kept on file for future pairs.

Foot orthotics for golf can help prevent pain and improve your game. For the foot that is not able to function normally due to biomechanical conditions such as excessive pronation (rolling in) or supination (rolling out), a state of optimal biomechanics can be achieved through the use of custom orthotics. These custom molded shoe inserts are designed and made specifically for each foot. Orthotics allow the feet to function normally and can alleviate the predisposition to injury brought on by biomechanical imbalances.

If you already wear orthotics in your street shoes, by all means transfer them to your golf shoes. If you play golf regularly, you may want to invest in a pair of custom orthotics designed to be used when golfing. The unusual function of feet in golf shoes calls for different orthotic function than may be needed for walking or running. Consult your podiatrist or pedorthist to see if golf orthotics can help you.

Feeling solidly grounded with properly fitted shoes and orthotics can offer you more power, greater distance, accuracy, performance and fewer injuries. And who knows, it may just lower your handicap!

David Fischer is a Board Certified Pedorthist and can be reached at 575.770.7156.

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