Golf is a sport that requires precision, focus, and a lot of walking. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just getting started, one thing remains constant – the importance of comfortable and supportive attire.
While clubs, balls, and attire are all essential components of your golfing experience, one often underestimated item that can make a significant difference in your game is the humble sock.
In this guide, we'll help you understand why selecting the best socks for golf is a crucial decision and provide you with a comprehensive list of the top options available to enhance your golfing experience.
Why socks matter in golf
You might be wondering why socks matter so much when it comes to golf. After all, they're just socks, right? Wrong. The socks you wear can have a significant impact on your game and overall comfort during those long hours on the course. Here are some reasons why selecting the right golf socks is essential:
Moisture management: Golf is a physically demanding sport, and you're bound to work up a sweat on the course, especially during hot weather. Moisture-wicking socks help keep your feet dry and prevent blisters, ensuring you stay comfortable throughout your round.
Cushioning and support: Golf involves a lot of walking, often on uneven terrain. The best golf socks provide ample cushioning and arch support to reduce fatigue and prevent foot pain, helping you maintain your focus on your swing.
Temperature regulation: Whether you're playing in the scorching sun or cooler temperatures, golf socks with temperature-regulating properties can keep your feet at the right temperature, enhancing your overall comfort.
Blister prevention: Blisters can ruin a round of golf. Quality golf socks minimise friction and reduce the risk of developing painful blisters, allowing you to concentrate on your game.
Now that we've established why golf socks are important, let's explore some of the key considerations when choosing a specific golf sock.
Selecting the right yarn: the key to finding the best golf socks
What sets apart the best golf socks from the rest isn't just their brand name or design; it's the type of yarn used in their construction. Let's explore the different types of yarn that make the best golf socks.
- Merino Wool
Merino wool is a favourite amongst golfers and outdoor enthusiasts for good reason. It's known for its exceptional moisture-wicking properties, temperature regulation, and softness.
Merino wool fibres can absorb and release moisture, keeping your feet dry and comfortable under various conditions.
Additionally, merino wool is naturally odour-resistant, ensuring your socks stay fresh even during extended rounds of golf. Golf socks made from merino wool offer superior comfort and performance.
Being a natural fibre, they require more care to keep them at their best. Ideally, merino wool golf socks should be washed by hand or at the least in cold water in a machine, and line dried. [For more on merino wool, read our detailed blog post].
Cotton is also a very popular yarn for all types of socks, including golf socks. While it doesn't offer the moisture-wicking and anti-odour properties of merino wool, cotton is cheaper and -- depending on its grade -- softer. It's very breathable and can keep you cool in hot temperatures; however, it tends to retain moisture which may offset its other benefits in the context of socks specifically designed for golf.
Bamboo yarn is gaining popularity in the world of golf socks due to its exceptional moisture-wicking abilities and breathability. Bamboo fibres are naturally moisture-absorbing, keeping your feet dry and preventing blisters. Additionally, bamboo yarn is incredibly soft and gentle on the skin, making it a great choice for golfers who prioritise comfort. There are question marks over its durability and longevity, however.
Nylon is often blended with other yarns to enhance durability and elasticity in golf socks. While it may not offer moisture-wicking properties on its own, when combined with moisture-wicking yarns like merino wool or bamboo, it can contribute to the sock's longevity and shape retention, ensuring your socks remain comfortable and in good condition after repeated use.
Acrylic is a popular synthetic yarn made from acrylonitrile (a polymer) and is also commonly used in golf socks, particularly at the lower price points. Acrylic is good for its moisture-wicking capabilities and durability. It also dries quickly, making it a suitable choice for golfers who frequently play in wet conditions or sweat heavily during their rounds. Synthetic yarns are generally cheaper than natural yarns and easier to care for as they can be tossed into the washing machine.
- Spandex or Lycra
Spandex or Lycra is often added to golf socks to provide stretch and elasticity. This helps the sock maintain a snug fit and prevents it from bunching up or slipping down during your game. While not a moisture-wicking material itself, spandex or Lycra enhances the overall performance and comfort of golf socks.
[For more on the evolution of sock materials, read our detailed blog post on the topic]
The bottom line on the best golf sock yarns
When it comes to finding the best golf socks, the choice of yarn is paramount. Yarns like merino wool and bamboo offer superior moisture management, temperature regulation, and comfort, making them ideal choices for golfers looking to enhance their performance on the course. Nylon and polyester can complement these natural fibres, providing durability and shape retention. Additionally, the inclusion of spandex or Lycra ensures a secure and comfortable fit.
Investing in golf socks made from the right yarn can make a significant difference in your game. Your feet will stay dry, comfortable, and well-supported, allowing you to focus on your swing and enjoy every moment on the golf course. So, remember to prioritise the type of yarn when choosing your golf socks, and step up your golfing experience with socks that offer the perfect blend of performance and comfort.
What do golfers say?
—On cotton vs merino wool golf sock yarns:
Over on Reddit, which tends to have the most candid comments, @at_work_keep_it_safe has the following advice:
"In general, avoid cotton. Wool does better wicking away moisture and more importantly is still comfortable when sweating. I find cotton socks feel damp & drenched when sweating while wool socks don't get that bad."
—On merino wool golf socks and the ideal golf sock height:
And on Amazon, a customer also raves about merino wool for golf socks:
"...if you’ve only tried cotton socks before, these will absolutely blow you away. They manage moisture way better than cotton/poly athletic socks, the fit is great and the [ankle] height is ideal if you’re going to wear them for active pursuits (might be a little high if you want a complete no-show look). They also don’t shrink in the wash, which I was worried about."
Cushioning refers to the thickness, material and positioning of the layers of yarn in the sock. For example, in the image below of a golf sock turned inside out, you can see that the sole and heel areas are thicker than the upper area of the sock.
Look for golf socks that feature extra cushioning on the soles and heels, as those points will be making the most contact with the ground. It's hard to detect these nuances when shopping online, as most brands do not provide this level of detailed description.
Another comfort-enhancing feature is a compression arch band. Few golf socks offer this feature, in which the area around the arch is knitted more tightly to provide a gentle squeeze and promote circulation, resulting in an energy boost.
Related to cushioning, the best performance-oriented golf socks will feature an 'anti-blister tab' at the top of the heel area, which is meant to protrude slightly above the heel of your golf shoes. It helps the socks stay up and provides additional cushioning where blisters typically occur.
More than just the 'feel good' factor, choosing a sustainably-made product will ensure the least amount of toxins in the product itself. Look for socks made with yarns certified by international standards like OEKO-TEX or GOTS.
Some brands have also committed to carbon neutrality in their supply chains by purchasing carbon offsets. And some have even incorporated a social mission such as donating products to charity or working with non-profit organisations to support environmental causes. [Read more about hipSwan's sustainability policies here]
Summing up... what to look for in golf socks
So, in summary, these are the top 5 aspects of golf sock design that you should consider in choosing the right socks for you:
1. Base yarn
4. Blister prevention
In many ways, the properties that make the best golf socks are quite similar to those of hiking socks. In fact, golf socks could double as hiking socks, so you can kill two birds with one stone, stocking up your drawer for both types of activities.
And -- last but not least -- if you're looking for all of these qualities, look no further than hipSwan's "Dash" merino wool socks, perfect for golf:
Golf socks - Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of socks to wear to play golf?
The best socks to wear when playing golf are ones that are comfortable for long stretches of time, as you will be out on the course for several hours. Look for socks that feature extra cushioning on the soles and heels, a blister tab, compression support at the arch, and moisture-wicking yarn.
Actually, it's a good idea to pack 1 or 2 extra pairs of socks for the day especially if the weather is damp. If you're ready to buy merino wool golf socks, consider opting for a 3 or 6 pack which not only offers savings but also free shipping.
What is the best material for golf socks?
We advocate merino wool as the best base yarn for golf socks. Merino wool is a great yarn for golf socks as well as other sports where your feet would tend to get wet either from perspiration or from the field / course conditions.
Do you need special socks for golf?
No. Specially designed golf socks would enhance your comfort and, possibly, performance, on the golf course. For example, conditions could be wet and your socks would also tend to get wet if the yarn does not absorb moisture effectively.
Do pro golfers wear long socks?
Pro golfers wear socks that are suitable for the conditions of the courses they play, the dress code (if any) and their personal style preferences. There is no single rule or guideline. On practice rounds, players on the PGA are permitted to wear shorts which they typically pair with ankle socks.
Apart from the pro tour there are dress codes on certain courses but they are unlikely to specify sock length. In hot and humid weather, pro golfers (given the choice) would tend to opt for socks with lower heights and superior moisture wicking properties.
What is the difference between golf socks and normal socks?
Golf socks are merely a marketing/positioning title for socks that are designed to perform well under typical conditions when playing the sport of golf. The design differences between golf socks and normal socks can be found in their yarn composition, cushioning, support, and blister prevention features.
Are merino wool socks good for golf?
Yes, we recommend merino wool socks as an ideal choice for golf socks. Merino wool's moisture-wicking, anti-odour and temperature regulating nature are preferred by most golfers. However, they are more expensive than cotton or synthetic socks, and may not be as durable. They also require more care during washing.
About the author - hipSwan
Launched in October, 2021 after two years of research & development, Brighton-based hipSwan specialises in performance socks for conscious consumers. With hundreds of 5-star reviews and thousands of happy UK customers, hipSwan not only offers eco-friendly socks but is also committed to a sustainable business model with batch production, carbon offsets, minimal/recycled packaging, and supporting charities that improve the environment. To date, the hipSwan company forest has grown to over 10,000 trees in partnership with TreeSisters UK.