Not another knot: Boa’s unique golf shoe lacing system wraps foot in comfort

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Not another knot: Boa’s unique golf shoe lacing system wraps foot in comfort

Equipment

Not another knot: Boa’s unique golf shoe lacing system wraps foot in comfort

I have clown feet and apparently never really learned to tie my shoes. Aside from spending hours wandering the aisles of golf shops trying to find a wide pair that fits, my favorite thing about golf shoes always has been taking them off. Blisters, hot spots, pressure points, sore arches – I’ve felt them all.

Turns out, I’m not alone. Richard Fryer, director of footwear product management at FootJoy, said about 70 percent of golfers wear the wrong size shoe. That means three players out of each foursome are improperly shodden and possibly suffering unnecessary discomfort.

I always believed I was missing out on something – surely I wasn’t the only golfer to wear out shoes too quickly. And after my recent purchase of a new pair of athletic-looking kicks that included the Boa Fit System, I now know that what I was missing was a way to dial in comfort and support.

Started with snowboard boots

The Boa Fit System was introduced in snowboard boots in 2001 in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Jason Peters, the company’s regional account manager for golf, said Boa has grabbed about 90-percent market share in snowboard boots with significant inroads in other sports such as cycling. The product has made its way into everything from running shoes to hiking boots.

Many golf manufacturers have licensed use of the system. FootJoy, Ecco, Adidas, Nike and Under Armour are among the companies offering golf shoes with Boa. Puma has a similar proprietary system called Disc.

The Boa Fit System works like this: The shoes have a dial, and instead of traditional laces, the shoes incorporate thin cables constructed of 49 strands of stainless steel covered with nylon. Each cable stretches through low-friction guides and tubing in strategic parts of the shoe, and the wearer can customize the fit with a click of the dial. Instead of being tight near the knot and possibly loose toward the toe of the shoe, the cables cinch smoothly with even pressure as the wearer rotates the dial to a comfortable setting.

Everything can feel snug without squeezing, which boosts stability throughout a golf swing because the feet don’t slip or slide inside the shoe. The same dial is released to loosen the cables for adjustment or taking off the shoe.

“With a traditional lace, the pressure is on top of your foot, the high point where your instep is,” Peters said. “With Boa, each turn is 1 millimeter (tighter). You can’t really get that with a traditional shoelace. Our system allows the foot to really dictate where the lace should be.”

FootJoy places the dial in the back of the shoe on the heel, and the cables run through the collar to the dial.

“When you tie a traditional lace, it pulls the lace down on the top of the foot, and that’s fine. We’ve had laces for 100 years, and that’s OK,” Fryer said. “But with the Boa System, because the source of the pull is in the heel, it is not only pulling down, it is pulling back into that heel. And that will give you a more secure fit, which not only gives better comfort throughout your round, it also gives a performance benefit with a more secure footing. …

“The other key is the elimination of pressure over the top of the foot. With a traditional lace-up, you run the risk that it might be tight in one bit of the shoe and slightly loose in another, and you end up with a small pressure point on the top of your foot. It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play golf, but it detracts from the comfort.”

The difference is immediately noticeable. As I tighten my new Boa-equipped shoes, they feel like a favorite pair of comfortable slippers. My heels aren’t sliding around in my new shoes, my toes aren’t jammed together, there’s no need to adjust the laces on every tee box and I basically am able to forget about my shoes altogether. It might not fix my duck hook off the tee, but my feet sure feel better as I stomp around looking for the ball.

Is Boa an absolute necessity? Of course not. As Fryer said, laces have worked in golf shoes for more than 100 years. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

‘A performance-fit enabler’

“Boa is a performance-fit enabler,” Peters said. “In golf, where people are getting fitted for clubs and using all the technology they can, they are starting to look at footwear in the same way.”

Shoes outfitted with Boa typically cost $25 to $30 more than their traditional counterparts, Fryer said. The technology is especially popular in Asia, and Fryer said 80 to 90 percent of FootJoy shoes sold in Japan and South Korea use Boa.

“It’s hard to find a laced FootJoy shoe in Tokyo,” he said. The Boa usage rate among FootJoy shoes in the United States is still in the single digits but growing, Fryer said.

“The best thing is to get it onto the foot and feel the difference,” Fryer said. “What we typically see is that once people try it, they become Boa users
for life. …

“We had a great quote from Padraig Harrington, who said, ‘You can’t fire a rocket from a canoe.’ He’s right. You need that secure base.” Gwk

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