2010 footwear: Sturdy and sporty

(From left to right) Nike Air Zoom TW 2010, FootJoy FJ Sports, Adidas TOUR360 4.0 and Ecco Golf Street Premier.

The evolution of golf into a more athletic endeavor is affecting not only how golfers train and compete, but influencing the look and performance of footwear.

Yesterday’s saddle shoes are giving way to footwear with dynamic styling and bold colors. Plus, these models are loaded with technological features, thanks to intensive research and development.

Advances in traction and stability promise to help golfers transfer their weight more effectively, which should aid in ballstriking. New materials also are producing lighter and more breathable shoes – making golf an even better walk in the park.

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FootJoy FJ Sport

FootJoy FJ Sport

The skinny: FJ Sport, the latest addition to the company’s lineup, caters to a new generation of golfers. According to Mike Foley, FootJoy’s director of footwear marketing, the new line is designed to “make a statement on the golf course with sleek, fashion-forward footwear” and “maximize (their) athletic, powerful golf swings.” FJ Sport features premium full-grain leather uppers, mesh linings for breathability, EVA midsole for lightweight cushioning and molded TPU outsole for stability. The shoes, which have a two-year limited waterproof warranty, come in five color options.

Cost: $135

Availability: February

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Adidas TOUR360 4.0

Adidas TOUR360 4.0

The skinny: The principle tenet of Adidas designers is to lower golfers’ feet closer to the ground for greater stability, enhanced balance, improved feel – and ultimately, they say, better ballstriking. The company’s newest flagship model takes that concept a step further by creating a cleat – and its receptacle unit – that reduces the thickness of conventional designs by 30 percent.

The Performance Insert System, designed jointly with PrideSports (maker of Fast-Twist cleats), in turn, allows for thinner soles. The technology, which is exclusive to Adidas through 2011, soon will be incorporated into all Adidas Golf footwear.

Cost: $180

Availability: Immediate

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Nike Air Zoom TW 2010

Nike Air Zoom TW 2010

The skinny: Nike’s top-of-the-line model was scheduled to hit stores this month, and it already has recorded its first pro victory: Tiger Woods debuted the footwear in November in Australia, winning the JBWere Masters. The shoes’ lateral stabilizer is the key technical link: It works in concert with the ballistic mesh in the upper and the Power Platform TW outsole to secure the foot, preventing rollover and loss of power at impact.

Cost: $270

Availability: Jan. 1

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Ecco Golf Street Premier

Ecco Golf Street Premier

The skinny: This hybrid sport-casual shoe is designed to be worn on or off the course. The shoes feature molded TPU traction bars that provide grip on turf, but also are durable enough to withstand pavement pounding, according to Ecco. The “youthful silhouette” of the Street Premier includes full-grain leather uppers, a sleek mid-sole and metal-rivet accents, and it comes with wide-flat laces in two colors for stylish customization.

Cost: $140

Availability: Immediate

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