Inside the Leather
Published: August 2009
By Scott Kramer
The latest in performance golf shoes
Footwear designers have Made strides to improve golf shoes, with goals as basic as enhancing comfort and as complicated as adding cleats that rotate with the terrain (though, thankfully, not with your swing). The biggest advances have occurred at ground level. Companies have taken varying approaches to how their soles function—increasing flexibility or lowering the player's center of gravity (CG), to name but two. Some of the following are classic in style, others are more modern, but all provide a stable, powerful platform.
Adidas Golf Tour360 LTD
Tour pros are obsessed with feeling "connected," from their grip on the club to their shoes' grip on the turf, so Robert Allenby was only half-joking when he said that if pros "could screw cleats directly into their feet, they would." Adidas took this feedback seriously, lowering the Tour360 LTD's platform 2.5 mm closer to the ground than it was previously. And yes, the difference is noticeable. Other Tour-inspired innovations include a sewn-in "mono-tongue" construction (so the upper won't slip) and a ten-cleat configuration on the split outsole. $250. Call 800-888-2582 or visit adidasgolf.com.
Callaway Golf XTT Chev Tour Saddle
Designed for Tour professionals, who often prefer the snugness of a slightly smaller last, the Chev Tour boasts classic looks (an elegantly simple European waterproof calfskin upper) and top-of-the-line technology, including adjustable-width insoles and an independent-suspension traction system in which each cleat articulates and rotates with the terrain. Speaking of the cleats, they're oversize and asymmetrical to provide better grip. $320. Call 800-588-9836 or visit callawaygolf.com.
Ecco World Class City GTX
Ecco's wingtip-like World Class City GTX feel a bit stiff at first, but they seem to melt to your feet within minutes—an anatomical heel counter provides a customized nonslip fit. The attention to detail is obvious from the ultra-high-grade calf leathers, but during play you'll also notice how well the heel absorbs shock (thanks to a cushioned midsole) and how stable they feel in every lie and turf condition. Best of all, they command a three-year waterproof guarantee. $400. Call 800-886-3226 or visit eccousa.com.
Hi-Tec CDT Super Power Tour
The first thing you notice about the Super Power, besides the futuristic look, is the bulky, stable sole. Padraig Harrington won the 2007 British Open in a pair of Hi-Tecs and praises the way this outsole helps him keep his CG moving toward the target longer. This model features asymmetrical cleats that can be oriented (using a standard wrench) to improve gripping on various terrains. Finally, Hi-Tecs are great for golfers with wide feet, though spacers easily narrow the fit for others. $210. Call 800-521-1698 or visit cdtpower.com.
The outsoles of the new DryJoys have seven strategically placed stability "pods" so more of the shoe stays in contact with the ground throughout the swing, and an enhanced OptiFlex zone offers loads of flexibility. Built for comfort, the Pittards leather uppers are first-rate, and the cushioning in the midsole never sets—meaning it will be soft every time you slip your foot in the shoe. $160. Call 800-225-8500 or visit footjoy.com.
Nike Golf Air Tour TW 8.5
Just because these comfortable, low-profile shoes were designed for Tiger Woods doesn't mean they won't also work for you (unlike, say, his custom-made driver). Try on the Air Tour TW 8.5 and you'll quickly understand what the world's best golfer demands from his footwear. The upper is made of soft, premium full-grain leather, and the heel sports a cushioned Air-Sole. The outsole consists of medial and lateral "push plates" separated by a network of channels configured to let the sole flex the way the foot does naturally. This is accomplished so gracefully that you may well forget to take them off after the round. In fact, the TW 8.5 comes with a rare forty-five-day comfort warranty. $230. Call 888-799-6453 or visit nikegolf.com.
Odyssey Marxman X-Act Putting Wedge
Todd Hamilton's famous shot notwithstanding, hybrids aren't designed for the chip-and-run. But seventy-five years ago everyone (even the great Bobby Jones) bumped their greenside shots with a club called a jigger: a short-shafted, high-lofted, often putterlike design. With 37 degrees of loft and a 35-inch shaft, the Marxman X-Act is much more versatile than the old, railed Kmart chippers and could be a valuable ally for your next links trip. $150. Call 800-588-9836 or visit odysseygolf.com.
Wilson Staff Spine Driver
There's little doubt that the high-MOI advantage offered by the new crop of geometric drivers is the wave of the future. Wilson Staff's entry, which the company calls the first true perimeter-weighted driver, is defined by its scooped-out crown. Its saved weight is pushed out to the perimeter and pulled back to lower the CG, creating the central spine that supports the clubface at impact. The stock shaft is the popular UST Proforce V2. $399. Call 773-714-6400 or visit wilsonstaff.com.
ProQuip Ultralite and Sunderland WhisperDry Rain Suits
The Scots know bad-weather golf as well as anyone, so why not follow their lead in rain gear?The Sunderland WhisperDry (top; $169 jacket/$139 trousers; 800-999-6599, sunderlandusa.com) offers exceptional breathability and lightweight comfort, and the ProQuip Ultralite suit ($240 jacket/ $190 trousers; 800-322-9939, proquipusa.net) from the North Berwick–based company has been worn by U.S. squads in both the Ryder and the Solheim Cups.