For as long as I can remember, growing up in this game of golf, the apparel has always been a bit different than what we would normally wear in our every day lives going to work, dinner or other mundane tasks. One of the major differences has been footwear for the golf course and I am not speaking in general about the fact that most golf shoes have cleats for traction, but rather the style that went with them. Saddle shoes and classic wing tips have long been associated with golf footwear, and been a sharp and stylish look and something that differentiates the sport from other activities in one’s life.
A few years back, the golf specific footwear started to come out in a few other styles and it was music to the ears of those that felt that certain looks remained stuffy rather than classic. Athletic (sneaker) style shoes became more prevalent as companies such as Nike and adidas Golf hit their strides in the footwear market and many flocked to the lighter weight and comfort that these offered. While they did not dominate or command the marketshare as much as classic styles did, they offered the golfer choices that for many years seemed impossible.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago and a new generation of golf shoes seems to be hitting the market and the popularity is growing more by the day. This being that of the “casual” shoe or “hybrid” golf shoe in that many times it is spikeless (in the traditional sense) and can be worn from the course to the 19th hole and back again. The style of the shoe looks less like its for golf and more like it was made for day to day activities. Company after company is entering this market and it is only a matter of time before more golfers are flocking to the less than traditional look.
ECCO Golf Street
Some would call this shoe the one that got it all started. Fred Couples wearing them at the Masters was all the talk and golfers everywhere were drawn to the unique look that they offered. Trying them on showed off their extreme comfort and the ability to wear them away from the course added to their appeal. In 2011, ECCO released their latest version of the popular casual shoes and while the design changed slightly, the extreme comfort has not. The 2011 Golf Street shoes feature incredibly soft uppers made of camel leather and a breathable liner to aid in comfort. During our testing we found the heel support that most are seeking absolutely wonderful in these shoes and the microfiber grip on the heel offered softness to avoid any slipping.
Nike Golf Air Rate/Range
Last year Nike Golf came out with the Anthem and they had a unique casual sneaker look to them and we liked them quite a bit. This year Nike Golf has a new line in this category made up of Air Rate and Air Range that are almost a hybrid of sorts between a casual shoe and athletic style footwear. The difference between the two appears to be waterproofing as the styles and looks are similar. In our testing, the shoes felt extremely light and almost breathable offering superior comfort throughout the heel and footbed. Both shoes feature a combination of built in traction as well as traditional spikes to provide stability in all conditions.
Earlier this year at the PGA Show, THP got a sneak peek at the latest from Ashworth and we were pretty excited when we saw the new shoe line. One shoe in particular stood out that fits very well in this new category and that was the Cardiff. The shoe offers spikeless support and waterproofing on the technical side of things and then add to that a casual style made up of extremely soft leather with suede accents and you have a shoe that is perfect for the course and the restaurant following the round. During THP testing, we found that these shoes offered solid comfort and support that needed no break in time at all.
PUMA Club 917
Another shoe debuting at the 2011 PGA Show was PUMA Club 917 golf shoe and as soon as we took a look at them, we knew we had to have them. The Club 917 shows a hint of throwback to the Chuck Taylor shoes with all kinds of current technology thrown into the mix. They feature a style we would describe as casual athletic and have a combination of spikeless traction to go along with PUMA Smart Quill Technology. The shoes feature a synthetic upper that offers water resistance and a lightly padded collar and tongue for maximum support and comfort. In our testing we found the shoes to offer great stability and traction and a style that few companies are putting out.
Long known for its classic and traditional styles, FootJoy has entered into this market as well with the launch of the new Street shoe. Chris Kirk wore them this past weekend when he picked up his first win on tour. A classic sneaker style shoe and another with throwback appeal to the Chuck Taylor athletic shoes from the past, the Street offers a casual shoe look without sacrificing any of the comfort or technology that many are accustomed to with FootJoy products. These shoes feature premium grade leather uppers and offer traditional spikes for maximum traction. In our testing, the FootJoy Street shoe was extremely comfortable and offered a completely different look than what we have come to expect from the company in the past.
With so many companies coming out with these new styles, golfers everywhere have the ability to jump into a more casual shoe and find one that works perfectly for them. Let us know what is your favorite from the list and what your thoughts are on these new trends in footwear.
Till Next Time