No spikes, no problem: Spikeless golf footwear evolves, improves and performs

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No spikes, no problem: Spikeless golf footwear evolves, improves and performs

Equipment

No spikes, no problem: Spikeless golf footwear evolves, improves and performs

It’s been more than eight years since Fred Couples helped introduce spikeless golf footwear to the masses after television cameras showed Couples wearing a pair of Ecco Street Premieres at the 2010 Masters.

“That was probably the first time that I or anybody else had ever seen announcers at a golf tournament talking about someone’s shoes,” said Thomas Dixon, Ecco Golf’s product manager of golf and sport. “It really took off after that.”

Golfers who wear spikeless generally are searching for better comfort.

There’s no secret that putting spikes or receptacles into footwear outsoles adds weight and decreases comfort.

The challenge with spikeless footwear has been getting golfers to trust that the shoe can provide adequate traction. But the latest spikeless or hybrid designs have taken performance to a new level not only in comfort, but also traction and stability.

FootJoy’s Pro/SL is a great example. The shoe is worn by many golfers on the PGA and European tours. It features a three-piece outsole that combines two blends of Fine Tuned Foam with a TPU mold for improved cushioning, stability and traction.

“It feels like you have athletic-type performance under the foot with Tour-level traction,” said Keith Duffy, FootJoy’s senior product manager of golf footwear. “With the strategic placement of the TPU traction on the outsole – how it was designed, the number of points of contact it has with the ground – players often say it feels like Velcro.”

Duffy likes to refer to the Pro/SL as “performance spikeless.”

Masun Denison, global footwear director of Adidas Golf, has a similar term to describe Adidas’ spikeless footwear such as the Adipower S Boost 3
and Adipure Sport women’s shoe: “technical spikeless.”

“It’s a product that is spikeless – no cleats or receptacles – but where the lugs are placed and shaped offer you grip and performance closer to that of a cleated shoe,” Denison said.

One of the main challenges in designing a spikeless product is to not sacrifice comfort for traction, yet still provide a stable base. Many companies won’t add an element to an outsole if it doesn’t serve a purpose, because that adds weight.

Ecco’s BIOM Hybrid 3 features a three-zoned outsole – for stability, durability and traction – and utilizes an open, web-like TPU bottom that increases flexibility and decreases weight. Then there’s Nike Golf’s Articulated Integrated Traction technology, which Matt Plumb, Nike’s global product line manager, calls neither a spiked nor spikeless pattern but rather “an engineered system to provide traction, stability and comfort.”

AIT was created using pressure mapping data and is designed to support a golfer during the three planes of motion – linear, rotational and vertical – while the decoupling of the outsole allows the foot to move more naturally during walking.

“Instead of isolating the traction unit to a few individual spikes, the unique design places more traction in more places along the foot,” Plumb said. Nike more recently introduced another innovative outsole.

The Roshe G shoe features what Nike calls a generative design pattern, where the outsole is created with materials of two different levels of hardness, and raised traction pods made of a slightly firmer material to provide additional traction and durability.

Spikeless technology is certainly improving. And it also is becoming increasingly popular among Tour players. Duffy recalls a conversation he had with Adam Scott about FootJoy’s Pro/SL spikeless shoe. “He said, ‘If you would’ve told me seven or eight years ago that I would be wearing a spikeless golf shoe and I would tell you that I thought it provided better traction than any of the other cleated options, I’d laugh at you,’” Duffy said, “and he really believes that.”

Believe it. Spikeless works. Gwk

(Note: This story appears in the May 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

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