Over the past several years, golf shoes have evolved in a strange way. Golf spikes have gone from looking—and feeling—like dress shoes to having the aesthetics and performance characteristics of cross trainers.
adidas combines elements of traditional style with modern functionality in its TOUR360 All-Terrain Versatility [ATV] golf shoe, scheduled to be unveiled by its roster of PGA Tour players—including Sergio Garcia, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, Y.E. Yang, Retief Goosen and Sean O’Hair—at The Barclays starting today, Aug. 25. The shoe will be available in retail outlets on Sept. 15 for $190.
Through a process that took 18 to 24 months, adidas designed and produced a golf shoe that they claim is tailor-made for the toughest situations on a course, such as hitting out of thick rough or hard sand. Think of it as the off-road golf shoe. Grant Knudson, global product marketing manager for adidas golf footwear, says, “You’re getting that performance benefit and getting it closer to the ground while maintaining a flexible forefoot in all ways.”
Knudson recounts adidas’ three primary goals for the shoe: keeping the upper as low to the ground as possible, in response to pro player requests; creating rigidity in the mid-foot for support; and providing flexibility for forefoot twists during swings. He says the shoe must withstand the rigors of play when worn by PGA Tour players, whose powerful swings create a great deal of torsion on their shoes.
This is the fifth incarnation of the TOUR360. According to Knudson, the outsole is more rigid and durable than in the past. He says, “We’ve done it before, but we haven’t focused on it like we did this time.” Recreational golfers may not notice this characteristic of the outsole, or they may not analyze it the way the pros do. But even duffers will likely notice the spike placement system. The TOUR360 has 10 spikes and six flex grooves, which help the shoe move through tall grass and coarse sand during a swing.
adidas used more than 300 testers during the shoe’s development, producing four or five prototypes for the upper and outsole. “It can be seven or eight models before you get to where it’s really dialed in,” says Knudson.
Bottom line: the TOUR360 must meet the needs of casual golfers as well as adidas’ roster of PGA players. In theory, the shoe will satisfy both groups. The first practical test will come this weekend when Garcia, Day and others make their way around The Barclays.
Kyle Stack is a New York-based writer/reporter who covers health, technology, business and media in sports. He also writes for SLAM, Wired and ESPN. His work can be found at kylestack.com.