New Balance 997 SL Golf Shoe Review

New Balance produce some extremely stylish footwear and, in this review, Matt Cradock takes their spikeless 997 SL onto the course

The New Balance 997 SL Golf Shoe on a green background
(Image credit: Matt Cradock)
Golf Monthly Verdict

Inspired by New Balance's 997H shoe, the 997 SL provides excellent aesthetics that many will absolutely adore. Producing a comfortable feel when out on the course, there is a surprising amount of grip, with this model a great option for off-course activities also.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Minimalist style will appeal to most

  • +

    Great grip in range of conditions

  • +

    Padding around ankle provides great comfort

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Personally feel more support is needed around the ball of the foot section

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New Balance are known for their athletic footwear and a decade ago, in 2014, started introducing golf shoes onto the market. Amongst their range are a mixture of spiked and spikeless models and, recently, I've been testing one of the latter, as the 997 SL was sent my way.

First things first, the SL is inspired by New Balance's 997H shoes, which the brand claim is: "Made for those with an appreciation for style and a desire for comfort." Taking the SL out of the box for the first time, it's hard to disagree with this statement when it comes to looks, as they ooze class and style. Personally, I think these will easily rank amongst the best casual golf shoes money can buy.

The New Balance 997 SL Golf Shoes side by side

(Image credit: Matt Cradock)

Available in multiple colorways, the model I tested came in a white and navy and, rather handily, New Balance do offer the 997 SL in 'standard' width, as well as 'wide' and 'x-wide'. Although the picture doesn't show it, the look of these are slightly narrow so, if you are someone who does possess wide feet, I would recommend opting for one of those wider options, due to the fact that, when I slid my foot into the shoe, it did feel a touch snug, but not to the point where it was uncomfortable.

In terms of comfort, I was impressed by the 997 SL, with the padding around the ankle and the heel keeping me locked in whilst walking the course and taking my shots. What's more, after a few rounds, there have been no signs of blistering but, the only slight negative I will say, is that I felt there could have been more support around the ball of my foot. 

It does feature an Abzorb midsole and CUSH+ insole that worked well around the majority of my foot but, after around 14 holes, the balls of my feet, especially my right foot, did start to hurt slightly. It's worth mentioning that, over time, this could change as the midsole shapes to my foot more and, unlike the New Balance 997 shoe we tested last year, I found that the 997 SL seemed to have better temperature control and breathability, as my feet didn't sweat in hotter temperatures.

The New Balance 997 SL Golf Shoe from above

(Image credit: Matt Cradock)

When it comes to the best spikeless golf shoes, you will often find that they don't have as good a grip as the best spiked models. Although this is the case in the 997 SL, I was still impressed by the grip on offer when testing them in both dry and wet conditions.

The shoe features an Ndurance rubber outsole that is designed to move naturally with the foot. This, along with the various-shaped rubber nubs on the sole of the shoe, helped keep me planted throughout and what I particularly liked is that it struck the balance well, as I remained stable but with a fair amount of freedom of movement still.

The sole of the New Balance 997 SL Golf Shoe

(Image credit: Matt Cradock)

Overall, the New Balance 997 SL is a really good-performing golf shoe that I would certainly recommend wearing in the summer and up to the driving range. Although it has a decent amount of grip for a spikeless shoe, the sneaker-style look is better suited to sunnier conditions, whilst the suede on the feather edge and toe cap is slightly difficult to clean, hence why it's best for summer when the ground is firm and hard.

So, if you are a golfer who is looking for a good summer shoe, or wants a model that is easy to slip on for a twilight round in warm months and then a beer at the pub afterwards, the 997 SL is a great option that won't break the bank, especially as its RRP of around $100 puts it amongst the best budget golf shoes.

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x