Shoes Buyer’s Guide 2006

Still wondering what piece of new golf equipment you must have to play your best in ?06? Look no further than the bottom of your feet.

Shoes Buyer's Guide 2006Golf shoes are just as vital as any club in your bag. They stabilize you, help you leverage your body against the turf and, most importantly, provide gripping support and comfort to protect your feet for the duration of the round. Today's golf footwear features the kind of technology previously reserved for hiking boots, running and walking shoes and even climbing shoes–all wrapped up in one advanced piece of golf equipment.

Speaking of performance, golf shoe manufacturers have taken the golf shoe beyond just comfort and traction, now broadening their focus to a new element in the design of the golf shoe. Weight management, as golf instructors like to call it, is the science of how the body shifts its weight from one foot to another during the swing. More specifically, it's how the golfer's center of gravity performs in relation to the toe and heel of each foot, as well as where the golfer's weight is at impact. The ideal combo is a weight shift that moves to the heel of the rear foot on the backswing toward the toe of the forward foot on the downswing. Golf shoe manufacturers have spent countless hours developing dual-pod soles, variable-flex shoe shanks and multi-density blends of rubber and thermoplastic urethane (TPU) to develop a golf shoe that helps golfers better shift their weight to the correct regions of the foot during the swing.

Wait a minute, so we're saying that there are golf shoes that actually help you hit the ball farther and more consistently by aiding in a proper weight shift? You bet we are.

Let's not forget that golf shoes are also more waterproof, more breathable and more durable than previous iterations. Check out a few cool new shoes that have so much technology built in, you'll wonder why your running shoes aren't as comfortable as the shoes you wear playing golf. Be prepared for some aggressive styling, too. The classic saddle may soon go the way of the dodo.

Pressure Points Perfected Golf shoes have come a long way in helping golfers not only better grip the ground, but also aid in shifting weight on the backswing and downswing. For instance, the above illustrates how Hi-Tec's CDT Power golf shoe places weight in the key heel and ball regions of the foot from the address position well into the finish. Notice how in each diagram, weight pressure is never on or near the center of the foot. This affords not only a better weight shift, but a more stable and balanced action from start to finish. This pod-sole design also cradles the foot arch for better comfort and support.

How To Buy Shoes "When purchasing golf shoes, a consumer should keep a few things in mind," says Kenneth Depew, director of golf operations at the Ritz-Carlton Resort in Rose Hall, Jamaica. "Your shoes must be comfortable, so walk around the golf shop when trying them on. Do some knee bends and take a couple of practice swings. Also, make sure to get your feet measured. Try on several brands and styles to compare fit. Factor in your typical playing conditions: Don't get a shoe with mesh uppers if you usually play in early-morning dew. Instead, consider a pair with a waterproof guarantee. For the truest fit, go shoe shopping in the morning (before your feet swell) and wear your usual golf socks." –Scott Kramer

Adidas ClimaCool TradewindAdidas Golf ClimaCool Tradewind $100 Cool. No, really, it is. Promoting air circulation into and out of the shoe through a system of channels, ducts and perforations is the modus operandi of the ClimaCool Tradewind. This shoe is also unique in that it's a spikeless design, rugged enough to provide excellent traction on the golf course but also suitable for off-course activities. In other words, you can literally play 18 holes and go for your evening run in the same pair of shoes. The Adiprene heel cushions against shock and the lightweight EVA midsole cradles and supports the entire foot. The ClimaCool Tradewind haven't any leather on them, so even if they do get wet, they dry quickly and are easy to clean with soap and water. Be sure and check out the full line of new adidas Golf footwear in classic, modern and athletic styles.

Hi Tec-V-Lite Typhoon II CDTHi-Tec V-Lite Typhoon II CDT $90 Hi-Tec, a company rooted steep in outdoor performance footwear, produced the V-Lite Typhoon II CDT with the serious golfer in mind. The Typhoon II features a flexible two-pod sole bridged together with a Vortex TPU shank that moves weight away from the middle of the foot and toward the heel and toe regions where it's needed most. Other features include a V-Lite upper that combines leather and microfiber with non-metallic hardware for the utmost in lightness and breathability, and a Vortex outsole with CDT (Custom Directional Traction) technology that grips with powerful support. By adjusting the CDT spike legs, golfers can position traction in key regions where it's needed most during the swing, without compromising an ounce of tractional support. Hi-Tec has multiple styles and colors available, including a full line of women's golf shoes.

FootJoy GFIIFootJoy GF:II $199 FootJoy has long been a leader in not only selling golf shoes, but in creating shoes designed for comfort, durability and performance. The new GF:II is full of advancements such as EVA molded insoles, Tri-Density TPU outsoles and what's called a Wishbone Suspension system that's designed to mimic the foot's axial rotation. For additional support, there's a perforated alloy shank for rigidity during the swing and Dual OptiFlex2 channels in the sole for walking comfort. Round it out with Pittards leather, Pulsar cleats and an IntelliTemp footbed, and the GF:II is FootJoy's most high-tech shoe to date.

Ecco Casual Cool HydromaxEcco Casual Cool Hydromax $149 From a company whose motto is "Never underestimate the power of comfort," one would only expect the utmost in the Casual Cool Hydromax shoe. The Cool Hydromax feature Ecco's signature comfort technology that consists of a removable leather insole, heel shock absorber, an internal stabilizer shank and a TPU sole design that optimizes traction during the swing and while walking on the course. Part of the ingenuity in all of Ecco's shoes is the glueless bond between the leather upper and sole. While other golf shoes often separate in this area with use and wear, the bond in the Ecco shoes is permanent. Also, the lack of glue means no yellow fading.

Etonic Difference 3ZEtonic Difference 3Z $179 Don't miss Etonic this year. The new Difference 3Z is the company's best shoe to date, complete with Gore-Tex_¨ waterproofing and full-grain uppers. The Ergo-Fit footbed molds to the foot and the Bi-Fit insole is firmer in the heel for support and softer toward the toe for walking comfort. Multiple flex grooves aid in proper shoe flexing, and a phylon midsole cradles the foot, while TPU pods enhance lateral stability. The feel and comfort of all Etonic golf shoes has greatly improved, along with the modern styling and athletic fit of each model. Best of the new features is the two-pod sole design to help golfers better manage weight movement and balance.

Bite Golf BiosportBite Golf Biosport $109 Promoting good health is a hallmark of Bite Shoes, and the Biosport definitely lives up to that mantra. The Biosport features a wide toe box, Forefoot grooves for flex support while walking, a Trufit fiberglass arch shank for torsional control, heel support contours for lateral stability, and a unique Shockgrid cushion system for added comfort while walking and making swings. The most notable feature of the Biosport is the ability golfers have in using orthotics. By simply removing the insole, golfers can insert their own custom orthotics for a truly custom fit. Also, don't miss the line of Bite Golf's unique golf sandals, which have become a warm-weather favorite for feet.

Nike Shox GolfNike Golf Shox Golf $130 If there ever was a golf shoe that most resembled a running shoe, the Nike Shox is it. It features Nike's popular Shox heel treatment, which provides shock-like cushioning and response that until now was reserved primarily for high-impact sports such as running and basketball. The shoe also sports Nike Golf's trademark [email protected] (Traction at Contact) spike design, replete with six removable Q-LOK Scorpion Stinger spikes and three spikes that are built into the sole. A lightweight mesh upper is both cool and breathable, making the Nike Shox Golf a solid warm-weather option. In addition to the Shox, Nike's SP and SP Sport series are viable options for a classic look.


_Ê Tech Talk Form And Function By Karen Pitts Vice President of Global Marketing Etonic

Karen PittsThe catchphrase in footwear right now is "fusion": building comfortable shoes with the added bonus of fashion. In golf, we see that idea evolving even further by incorporating the best performance attributes found in different segments of the market–waterproofing, comfort, traction and stability technologies, along with fresh new styling. It's similar to how hybrid clubs have re-energized the wood category.

Several brands are offering shoes with non-cleated soles. They're not like the models you may recall from a decade ago that slipped all over. These have protruding nubs of various sizes, shapes and patterns that grip the ground easily and provide excellent comfort. –Scott Kramer

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