To call Sqairz golf shoes “polarizing” is like calling Casablanca a “decent flick.”
But the funny-looking shoes with the square toe box and the big claims are riding high, following two straight “Best Stability” finishes in MyGolfSpy’s Spiked Golf Show Buyer’s Guides. Now in its fourth year, Sqairz is building a legion of fans and true believers.
But there are those who sneer at the looks. And others who find the notion that shoes can help you hit it farther to be utter nonsense.
To those, Sqairz founder and CEO Bob Winskowicz channels his inner Bogie and offers a heartfelt “Here’s looking at you, kid.“
“There are things you can do with golf footwear that seem very insignificant, independently,” says Winskowicz. “But when you add them all up, they can reduce swing inefficiencies. And reducing those inefficiencies creates better performance.”
So, yeah, you may think Sqairz golf shoes are funny looking. And, yeah, you may think your golf shoes are nothing more than comfortable fashion accessories. But if you’re looking for stability and its first cousin, balance, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more stable golf shoe.
And that, Louie, could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Sqairz Golf Shoes and the Science of Stability
Ask Bob Winskowicz a question about Sqairz golf shoes and be prepared. You will get a detailed – and thoughtful – answer.
“We knew the testing we did was legitimate and would validate the performance,” says Winskowicz when asked about the initial reaction to the unique look of Sqairz golf shoes. “I wasn’t worried about the look of the shoe as long as we could provide the backup and evidence. Progress always has a different look to it.”
Consider, if you will, the original Big Bertha, Karsten’s early PING irons, the Two-Ball putter or COBRA’s oversized lineup of the mid-’90s. Traditionalists, nay-sayers and chronic cynics all had their say on those market-changing products. They all disrupted the established market for one simple reason: They worked.
“The science is solid,” says Winskowicz. “But we learned people value golf shoes for fashion and for comfort. No one looked into the structure of lightweight, sneaker-type shoes. We saw in our testing all of the inefficiencies they can cause.
“When you plot them out, each one may seem insignificant. But they turn into a tremendous amount of inefficiencies in the golf swing.”
Modifying The Message
As mentioned, Sqairz golf shoes are polarizing. The brand has an expanding army of square-toed enthusiasts as sales growth since the 2020 launch can attest. But the naysayers still have a field day with the looks and with what they consider wild claims of added distance.
“We focused on the science of balance and stability,” says Winskowicz. “We focused on the narrative that it can improve your distance and accuracy.”
Sqairz has worked extensively with Terry Hashimoto, the co-developer of the BodiTrack pressure mapping system, to validate the science behind its wide-toe box and square-toe design.
“With a traditional shoe, as you start angling your toes into the center of the shoe, you start losing mobility and create tension in the ankle,” says Winskowicz. “The more you angle your toes to the center of the shoe, the more you lose balance and stability.”
With Hashimoto’s pressure-mapping system, one can see how much ground pressure the long hitters generate, often 1.3 to 1.5 times their body weight.
“If you’re putting that kind of pressure on the ground, your toes naturally want to splay,” explains Winskowicz. “In rounded-toe shoes, they only have one way to go, which is down because they’re angled to the center. Because your toes are getting rolled under, you lose balance and you lose stability.”
That message really hasn’t changed since Sqairz golf shoes launched in 2020, even with backlash from cynics scoffing at the idea of shoes helping you hit it farther.
“We didn’t alter our message but we did try to adapt it to how we think golfers are listening,” says Winskowicz. “The message is this shoe can give you better balance and stability and that translates into distance. We’re just saying it in different ways.”
Pyramid of Influence
Winskowicz has further validated Sqairz golf shoes’ performance benefits through the PGA TOUR’s Sepp Straka and through an impressive array of teaching professionals. He says high-profile instructors are his most effective advocates.
“I have Rick Smith, Jim McLain, Mark Immelman, Bobby Clampett and others. They’re not going to endorse or wear anything they haven’t put through the paces.”
Again, cynics can claim that if you stuff enough Benjamins into someone’s pocket, they’ll say anything you want. That, no doubt, is true. But not in this case. Sqairz doesn’t pay those teaching pros a dime in endorsement fees.
“I give them free shoes and they can join our affiliate program if they want but I’m not paying them anything to endorse us,” insists Winskowicz. “These high-profile instructors have huge credibility. They test the ever-loving stuffing out of everything before they wear or endorse it.”
Changes On The Horizon
Sqairz shoes have evolved. The newest Sqairz Speed Bold, for instance, is noticeably lighter than the originals.
“We’ve made it a priority to reduce weight without messing with the structure and stability of the shoe,” says Winskowicz. “When you take weight out the shoe, you inevitably take structure out of the shoe.”
While the Sqairz golf shoes’ signature wide-toe box and square-toe won’t change, you will see enhancements in new designs.
“We do heat-mapping studies of the shoe that tell you where the most energy is exerted. We’ve learned there’s a lot of stress on the lateral side. We’re coming out with a new model that strengthens the lateral side so you won’t lose energy to the right or left. It’ll go up and down which is where you want it to go.
And you’ll soon see the Sqairz name in some unexpected areas, specifically the baseball diamond and the pickleball court.
“There are 38 million people playing pickleball right now and injury is plaguing the sport. It’s because of rollover injuries. The game is played on the forefoot and our shoe provides better balance, better stability and easier movement left to right.”
Sqairz launched a baseball turf shoe for batting practice in February (six Major Leaguers are using it) and they are expecting to release a molded cleat in June.
“We partnered with the Louisville Slugger Hitting Science Center and they tested over 1,400 baseball players,” explains Winskowicz. “On average, they’re seeing a 2.6-mile-per-hour increase in exit velocity.”
According to the study, every one mile per hour equals about 10 feet of distance. So on average, hitters were picking up 26 feet. That’s the difference between warning-track power and touching them all.
The Anti-Spikeless Movement
Numbers don’t lie and one number that rankles Winskowicz is the fact that more than half of us who play golf for fun are wearing spikeless shoes.
“You can wear spikeless shoes off the course as well as on the course, which is nice. But if you’re worried about the nubs wearing down, why would you do that? Any shoe that you can wear to the supermarket probably isn’t a golf shoe.”
A 2019 study by Top 100 teaching professional Eric Alpenfels and UNC-Greensboro kinesiology professor Bob Christina shockingly showed that spikeless shoes can cost you yards, consistency and accuracy. Lower-handicap golfers found three more yards of carry with spiked shoes over spikeless while higher handicappers gained six yards. Level and downhill lies with a 6-iron showed similar results.
“If you hold a shoe by the heel and toe and can twist it, throw it away. You simply cannot facilitate that energy exchange with the ground,” insists Winskowicz. “People will pay $600 for a new driver because they’re looking for hope on a stick. But at the end of the day, the lack of balance and stability can render any club and ball impotent.”
Sqairz Golf Shoes: The Obvious Question
Everything about the Sqairz golf shoes story is carefully researched, well-crafted and logically sound. But it does raise a rather obvious question:
If wide, square-toed shoes promote better balance, stability and golf performance, why the heck didn’t adidas, NIKE, FootJoy or PUMA think of it first?
“I contend the greatest innovations come from small companies,” says Winskowicz. “They’re the ones who take the risks. They innovate and they place their bets.”
And often wind up getting snapped up by larger companies. Callaway didn’t invent Topgolf, Odyssey or Ogio, and Acushnet didn’t invent Club Glove or KJUS. But once those entities were established, well, the checkbooks came out.
“I’m very surprised that some of the bigger companies haven’t gone out and done this, knowing that the science is out there,” says Winskowicz. “Everybody jumped on the spikeless bandwagon but no one said, ‘Look, this isn’t good for you.’”
Which is why market leaders rarely, if ever, get into market disruption. If your aim is to sell a lot of shoes and you are, in fact, selling a lot of shoes, why screw around with it? You won’t want to disrupt the market.
“That’s just the way it is,” says Winskowicz. “It’s small companies like ours that take risks, innovate and disrupt the market.”
3 weeks ago
I have narrow feet. I wonder if this shoe would work for me.