So here’s the thing about hiking shoes – they’re not made for much other than hiking.
Yeah, I understand that a lot of disc golf involves walking around on less than ideal terrain. Hell, disc golf is really just light hiking with a few dozen moments of stressful physical exertion tossed in to keep it interesting.
Think of it this way: In a tournament round, you might spend 3 hours on the course and only be setting up and throwing for a total of 29 minutes….and that’s IF you use your ENTIRE 30 seconds of allotted time per throw.
We all know one guy who definitely does that, but, odds are it isn’t you.
If we’re being honest, we’re only acutally throwing frisbees for about 4 minutes per 3-hour round. That’s 0.02% percent of the time that we’re out there.
By that math, well over 99% of disc golfing is hiking. So sure, an “athletic” hiking shoe seems like the best bet, especially if you’re playing a course that looks like it was carved out of the side of a mountain with a dull pickaxe and cheap dynamite.
But what about when we’re ACTUALLY throwing frisbees? Are these naturally clunky hiking shoes holding us back?
The inconvenient truth of the whole thing is that yeah…they probably are.
Let’s be real: Keen was on board with disc golf back in the day, even releasing a disc golf specific shoe. But, for the young guys, Keen was always seen as a dorky brand. The shoes were round, soft, and frankly fuckin’ pedestrian.
It’s what the old dudes wore, so, thinking that hiking shoes were still the way to go, guys like Paul McBeth starting rocking the Adidas Terrex series.
You can play along at home: Next time you’re at a sanctioned tournament, look around at the players’ meeting and count the amount of Adidas shoes that you see….Adidas’s choice to burn Paul McBeth may go down as one of the dumbest in disc golf business history.
Despite the modern players’ nearly-religious use of the Adidas Terrex, these are still just active hiking shoes. They are built to prevent you from busting your ass while you commune with nature, bro. They aren’t made for complex, swiveling weight shifts and the complicated footwork that comes with higher level disc golfing maneuvers.
So…I hear you…If I’m so smart, what’s a viable alternative?
I see you looking for that back button, but hear me out. Let’s take a look at some footwork:
Here’s what your feet do during a standard, right hand back hand drive. Pay particular attention to what the feet are doing during “the hit”, where you crack the whip and swivel those hips like Elvis before the bloat.
Now here’s a left handed batter in the MLB:
Hell, just look at those two frozen frames side-by-side. That’s no coincidence.
wHaT aBoUt mE? I tHroW siDeArm and oVeRhAnD, bRaH?
I can almost hear the lightbulbs going off in your heads from here.
There’s a reason that baseball pitchers take to overhands and sidearm so often in disc golf. The motions are eerily similar, just on different planes.
Now, herein lies the problem:
Nobody’s gonna start rocking cleats on the course.
And they shouldn’t, that would be dumb. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost in our quest to steal some well-honed technology from the sport-ball world.
For the uninitiated, I give you baseball TURF shoes: Kinda like the indoor soccer shoes of our national pastime.
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These bad boys have all the same athletically-tuned nuances of their sharp and nasty cousins, but with a tread pattern designed for a slightly less intense brand of the game. (So, no, you can’t go Ty Cobb-ing any of your card mates).
They’re going to rock and pivot far better than the Terrex, (or just about any other hiking shoe out there), and they have a pretty fair grip to boot. (But just fair).
Not to mention that, because this nation is OBSESSED with baseball, these shoes come and go cheaply and quickly. Uniform suppliers like Eastbay can get you hooked up with just about whatever colors you could possibly need in order to complete your steez kit for tourney season.
Oh, and literally over a century of love for the game has gone into creating the best shoe for our pitchers and batters to make these maneuvers with.
So, for 5 rounds and a couple weeks of putting league, I’ve been rocking the Under Armour Ultimate Turf Men’s Baseball Trainer.
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What did I think of them?
They look more like a golf shoe from the Back to The Future’s version of the year 2015 than they look like a modern baseball shoe, which suits out purposes just fine over here at FROLFER.com.
They also look a little like the sort of shoe that people make dad-BBQ jokes about, but then got super popular because DRAKE started wearing them.
The Under Armour’s are pleasantly comfortable, but absolutely no-frills. A quick Google search and the fact that I bought them at TJ Maxx should have been an indicator that they were probably somewhere on the quality spectrum between entry-level and beer league.
The materials feel a little cheap, but, yeah. High schoolers go through these things like profile pics, so Under Amour is PUUUUMPING them out.
This works in our favor because that means they were cheap AF. Like, thirty bucks. Seriously. $29.99.
They fit just a little bit big. I would have gone down a half size if I could have a do over. (If you know what Vans shoes fit like, these fit true to those).
Now for my favorite part: The beveled heel. There is still a nice, recessed tread in there to keep you upright as you sprint downhill toward that putt you just canned from 70 feet, but on your hit/heelturn, you ride up on the edges, taking the tread out of the equation.
On the Terrex, you didn’t really consider them “broken in” until you’ve ground that heel to a nub or shredded it all to hell.
This means you’re using less energy to make your turn, saving that spunk for shotgunning beers back in the parking lot before round two.
They make throwing less grind and more glide, at least in the footwork department.
Are they waterproof?
Nope. Not in the slightest. Not even close.
This PVC stuff on the toe and heel is pretty good at keeping you dry, and a dewy morning wouldn’t be a problem, but the middle is cheap mesh. Like, basketball shorts mesh. And it’s a little spongy. Not a pleasant combo, but an avoidable concern.
Great for wet grass, abhorrent in standing water.
Also, these definitely are not hiking shoes, so leave ’em at home when you’re playing those courses that feel more like boot camp than frisbee golf contests.
I’ll also say, the no-frills aspect of the shoe is nice in regard to the quick casual round. You can drive in these comfortably, and you wouldn’t look too out of place stopping into the bodega to snag some tallboys on the way to the local golf track.
They’re the shoe that says, “maybe I’ll disc golf today, maybe I won’t. But I’ll have my shoes on just in case”.
A grippier, improved insole would do WONDERS for this shoe, but, again: $29.99 at TJ Maxx.
Are these underdogs going to dethrone the Terrex anytime soon?
Not a chance, but they are a perfectly viable alternative for fair weather, super casual rounds, or just taking it a bit easy out there…something we could all stand to do a little more of.