In recent years, golf shoe makers have seemingly have been trying as hard as they could to make shoes as lightweight as possible. Light is still right, but many of this year's footwear releases include more comfort and stability to create a more well-rounded shoe.
PUMA: With Rickie Fowler carrying its torch, Puma Golf has always exuded coolness as a brand. And to hammer home its point that its new TitanTour shoes are the "coolest shoes in golf," the shoes in its booth here at the PGA Show are packed in ice.
The reason: The TitanTour features proactive Outlast cooling technology – which was created to help astronauts stay comfortable in their spacesuits – to regulate the temperature in the shoes and keep golfers cool throughout their rounds.
To achieve this, Puma applies its Outlast coating to the shoe's insole, and the coating stores excess heat away from the foot. If the temperature inside the shoe cools off, the shoe releases the warmth. And if not, it keeps the heat away from the foot.
The TitanTour also features Puma's Shapelock memory foam – like that in beds – for comfort and stability, an ultra-thin "Power Frame" in the midsole for flexibility and stability, and low-profile cleats. It's available in seven color options: black/white, white/vibrant orange, white/strong blue, white/gray violet, brown/mustang, white/black, and "flash" (a reflective material).
They'll be available at retail on Feb. 1, with a suggested retail price of $190.
FOOTJOY: One of the shoes that hits this new sweetspot of comfort and stability is the HyperFlex from FootJoy – which looks more progressive and less like a traditional FootJoy release than perhaps anything the company has ever created.
The HyperFlex's most distinctive feature is its FlexGrid 2.0 exoskeleton, which is made of a high-performance material that helps to control the foot during the swing. If the exoskeleton pattern looks familiar to Northeasterners, it's because it was inspired by the cable-like structure that supports the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston.
"Our designers have carried out research in civil engineering and construction to create the distinguishing aesthetics of HyperFlex that are also fundamental to its performance," said Doug Robinson, FootJoy's vice president of design and development worldwide. This outer layer also incorporates a breathable membrane that's guaranteed waterproof for two years.
Stability comes from the bottom as well as the top of the HyperFlex. An Optimized Performance Stabilizer (O.P.S.), which you can see on the rear of the shoe, provides support and motion control to the heel during the swing, and the sole is outfitted with SoftSpikes' brand-new Tornado cleats that provide even more grip that standard SoftSpikes models.
The HyperFlex comes in four styles (Navy/Electric Green, White/Grey/Blue, Black and Grey/Orange) for $190, along with three styles (White/Grey/Blue, Grey/Orange and Black/Red) with the Boa Lacing System ($210). The standard model will be available Feb. 15 for $190 per air, while the Boa version will be available April 15 for $210 per pair.
ADIDAS: In its new adipower Boost golf shoes, adidas focuses on optimizing energy return – storing and releasing energy during the golf swing. The company is adapting this technology from its running and basketball shoes to golf for the first time.
In the Boost, thousands of TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) energy capsules are imbedded in the show via a high-pressure steam molding process. The integrity of the EVA foam used in many other shoes can get hard in cold weather and break down in the heat, adidas says, but its Boost material retains its cushioning and responsiveness in all weather conditions.
"During the swing, the energy return is noticeable – as if you can feel the technology in action," said PGA Tour player Jason Day. "They feel good, and look good, too."
Adidas rounded out the shoe by adding gripmore spikes of varying sizes, and placing them in strategic locations on the outsole for improved traction and stability.
The adipower Boost will be available Feb. 27 in four colorways, and will carry a suggested retail price of $190 per pair.
NIKE: The big news about Nike's new Lunar Control 3 shoe is that incorporates a lot of feedback from world No. 1 Rory McIlroy. His big suggestion – make the shoe more stable so he can swing more aggressively without having to worry about slipping.
The Nike designers listened. They widened the shoe's base to improve its stability and remain in contact with the ground longer through impact. They also added a lightweight carbon fiber midfoot shank to make the shoe stronger yet still flexible.
The Lunar Control comes in four colorways: Black/Pure Platinum, Pure Platinum/Bright Crimson, White/Pure Platinum and White/Volt. It is available now with a suggested retail price of $210 per pair.
ECCO: Danish shoemaker Ecco Golf is out with its BIOM Hybrid 2, the next generation of its best-selling golf shoe. This new edition – worn by Fred Couples, Ernie Els and Graeme McDowell – is 15 percent lighter than the original model thanks to an extra-thin midsole that helps bring players closer to the ground.
The shoe also has a dual-density TPU outsole, which is harder in areas that need the most stability and softer in the key comfort zones around the foot.
Like all Ecco golf shoes, BIOM Hybrid 2 is created using a direct-injection process that bonds the upper and outsole unit to make a one-piece shoe without glue or stitching. This, the company says, gives it an exceptionally water-tight seal as well as comfort and flexibility without the need for a break-in period.
The shoes contain soft and breathable uppers made of yak leather and treated to resist both staining and water. The bottom is outfitted with molded bars that offer hundreds of traction angles for superb grip.
They're available now at a suggested retail price of $195 per pair.