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“Barefoot” Golf May 4, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Golf , 1 comment so far

Golf is an activity I enjoy.  In keeping with the theme of this blog, I decided to try it in my Vibram Five Finger (VFF) shoes.  My first exposure was the driving range.  It was certainly different than wearing traditional golf shoes.  Of course, the VFFs don’t have spikes, but I felt like I had amazingly good grip on the turf.

Another advantage to “barefooting” in golf is the increased balance.  According to Rick Martino, PGA Director of Instruction, the “key ingredients” in creating your ideal set-up position are, “The effective blending of ball position, body position, relationship of the club to your body and balance.” (Emphasis added.)  Most people I know will do nearly anything to give themselves an advantage on the golf course.  Amazingly, people return again and again to the golf course in an effort to improve/perfect their golf swing and lower their score.  As frustrating as it can sometimes be, we keep going back for more.  Spend a little time watching people tee off on the first tee and you’ll see countless frustrations.  You’ll hear multiple expletives.  Yet, you’ll see the same people coming back again and again.  I don’t want to delve into the reasons people continue to golf as it would probably take up several volumes of text.  My intent, of course, is to share a bit about my “barefoot” experience.

Let’s talk a little bit about balance.  While doing a rotation in Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, & Throat), Dr. Bikhazi, my preceptor, described balance in the following way which I thought was very simple, to the point, and extremely relevant.  We have three inputs into our balance.

  1. Eyesight
  2. The vestibular system in the inner ear
  3. Proprioception or knowing where our body is in space

We need two of the three components functioning in order to have balance.

Where I feel this is relevant to golf and barefooting is that when wearing my VFFs, I have an increased sensory input from my feet, or increased proprioception.  I felt more aware of where I was in space in relation to the ground.  I have an increased sense of balance when I’m barefoot or wearing my VFFs.  My experience on the driving range was not scientific, but from my perception my golf swing improved.  I felt like I hit more straight drives and iron shots.  Traditionally, I would need to hit toward the left side of the range as my shots would sometimes have a wicked slice and either hit the fence or put other golfers, cars, or innocent bystanders in danger of being pelted by a rogue golf ball.  I’m sure there are many factors in my perceived improvement, but for me, it was a positive experience golfing in my VFFs.

Chalk up another activity you can do in your Vibrams or your bare feet.  Check out John Daly playing a hole in his bare feet.