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Golfers have always been full of quirks. Seen within your playing groups or on the professional tour, most have their own idiosyncrasies that can’t be explained.

One may waggle quite a bit before hitting; never wear a glove; have specific markings on a golf ball; chip cross-handed; x amount of practice swings; and so on. These are just a few of the habits that give golfers solace on the course. Whatever helps you hit it straight and make a few putts, right?

And for Mark Stevens?

“I just feel comfortable with no shoes on,” he said.

Stevens, an Ellensburg High School grad (1999), doesn’t recall the last time he wore shoes during a round of golf but knows it’s been at least over 10 years. And it was by accident, too, as he forgot his golf shoes at home and his work boots didn’t cut it. So, barefoot is was ever since.

“I was slipping anyways and it was warm,” Stevens said. “So, I ended up taking them off.”

Over the years of playing multiple sports including involvement with rodeo and horses, Stevens bears pain in both knees and his right one suffers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). And if he wears shoes, the pain can be more harrowing when playing a sport. It’s cathartic golfing without them.

During the clement months for golf before putting the clubs in the garage for hunting season in October, Stevens plays three to four times a week at Ellensburg Golf Club, and every other weekend, he and a few buddies travel around the state to play different courses. Occasionally, courses ask that Stevens wears shoes.

“Sometimes the nicer courses ask me to keep my shoes on, and then I have to play like the first hole or something with shoes and then I’ll just take them off,” Stevens chuckled.

There are benefits that come with playing barefoot for Stevens.

“I feel like I can feel the grain a little better,” he said. “Obviously I can tell if it’s super dry or if it’s super wet. I actually will unconsciously put more behind the ball or take a little off if I know it’s super dry and it’s going to roll out quite a bit.”

Putting especially.

“I’ll usually beat most my buddies on the green,” Stevens said. “I’m not sure if it’s because I’m barefoot of if I’m just a better putter. I think it does help.”

Stevens friend and local golfer Dan Whitaker believes it can aid one’s game, especially with the flat stick.

“You know, I didn’t even think of that, feeling the slope of the green, I bet it would be easier,” Whitaker said, who’s know Stevens since the early 2000s. “I’ve heard the pros say — and I know it too — if you walk along the line of your putt, you can kind of let your feet tell you the ground slope and I’m sure which way the putt is going to break.

“… I bet that magnifies that when you have no shoes on. An innate sense of which way the ground’s tilted.”

Stevens said a few of his friends have tried it over the years, but never stuck with it as most claim to lose balance on full swings. But his girlfriend, who recently took upon the sport, “almost refuses to wear shoes,” according to Stevens.

But his advice for anyone attempting to test it out?

“Swing easy,” Stevens said. “It will help you swing a little easier.”

Luke Olson:; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb.


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