Vibram launches Fivefinger golf shoes for 2013

The Speed XC Lite is one of four golf-specific Vibram Fivefinger shoes to debut in the fall of 2013.

ORLANDO, Fla. – At Wednesday’s Demo Day, a line of customers circled Vibram's booth so thickly that the company’s signage disappeared in the crowd. Sales reps didn’t see it coming, and at the PGA Merchandise Show the hype continued for the company behind the Fivefingers style natural running shoe.

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The Speed XC Lite is one of four golf-specific Vibram Fivefinger shoes to debut in 2013.

“We didn’t know what to expect coming here,” said sales representative Doug Cole. “We had a lot more brand awareness here than we expected to.”

The company has been known for its barefoot technology since 2006. Peter von Conta, vice president of product design for North America, said a golf-specific Vibram model is something that has been percolating in the background, as more professional golfers use the shoe away from the course for running and other forms of training.

Vibram introduced four golf-specific Fivefinger models for 2013, and they’ll be available to the public in big-box sports stores in the fall. Prices range from $90 to $140. One of those models, the TrekSport, is a spinoff of the traditional Vibram Fivefingers running shoe. Another model, the Speed XC, is water resistant.

“When we’ve done testing, we found that people feel comfortable walking in the shoes for 18 holes,” von Conta said. “It’s probably the kind of shoe that people would have to get used to.”

In addition to the Vibram Fivefingers golf shoe, Vibram also will continue its soling business. The company provides a series of golf-shoe specific soles to small companies and is working on partnerships with major golf brands.

With the push for fitness in the golf industry (among the PGA of America’s recent initiatives is Let’s Move on Course!, introduced in 2012), Vibram is a good fit.

“I think it’s a natural synthesis for us, so the timing is just right,” von Conta said.

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