Monday, January 19, 2009

Footjoy's Response

A few weeks ago I e-mailed a bunch of golf shoe companies saying that I was a fan of Ben Hogan and told them about the 13 spike pattern Hogan had in his golf shoes. Particularly, he had an extra spike under the ball of his foot. It's where Mike Maves came up with his excellent concept in 'The Secret Is In The Dirt' (btw, shot -1 today, in 40 degree weather, 3 weeks back into the game that I took 8 years off of, hadn't touched a club in 4 days, and coming off surgery 10 weeks ago). I asked the companies as to why they have less spikes, usually a 7 spike pattern, instead of Hogan's 13 spike pattern. I got a response from Nike (, but didn't receive a response from anybody else. Today, Footjoy gave me a response.

In Hogan's day, all outsoles were flat with no additional traction.The only interaction with the turf came from the spikes. When the metal spikes were placed around the perimeter (usually 11 spikes per shoe) there were some large areas that did not have any traction. Thus, Hogan would have seen some benefit from adding a couple of spikes. There were some comfort issues back in his day though. The spikes under the ball of the foot would often cause discomfort and could lead to blistering on the bottom of the foot.

The current state of golf shoes is very different. Most courses will not allow metal spikes. Plastic cleats are the norm. When the industry went through the change from spikes to cleats there was a change in the overall outsole design theory. Now outsoles are designed with various traction elements that enhance the traction provided by the cleats. FootJoy studied the impact of each cleat position on the overall traction and stability ofthe whole shoe. It was found that certain positions (such as the toe cleat in the "old" configurations) had very little to no impact on the groundforces in the golf swing. We found by moving the toe cleat more medially, traction was enhanced. From this study the current 7 cleat configuration combined with traction elements molded in the outsole was found to provide the optimal traction and stability while enhancing comfort. We went so far as to test shoes without the cleats and found the traction provided by the molded elements in the outsole was nearly as good as those with the cleats in. Bottom line: the traction provided by today's golf shoe technology is better than the state-of-the-art in Mr. Hogan's days. No modifications are needed.


Nancy A. Santos
Consumer Relations
Acushnet Company

Ms. Santos did a nice, thorough job of the questions I had in mind. I definitely suggest trying shoes out first and if you use Maves' 'pre-torque' technique, try screwing that back foot into the ground. I say this because this weekend I was bored and we were at the PGA Tour Superstore and I decided to try on some shoes. I will definitely be buying some in the future, but I have some other purchases I want to make first. I initially endorsed the Adidas 360 3.0 Tour shoes. I'm not so sure about that now. One would think they would be great for the pre-torque move, but for me I really couldn't feel it. Although it may be different for yourself. OTOH, I tried Nike's TW Air Zoom and they felt really good for the ball of the foot, but I didn't like the positions of the spikes on the heel. I could get a good pressure point on the ball of the foot, but the heel kept slipping.

So, the search continues.


No comments: