FootJoy Golf Shoe Fitting Review
Golfshake ambassador Andrew Picken recently experienced the FootJoy fitting process and was quite surprised with the outcome and the effect on his golf. Find out how he got on.
This isn’t my usual style of product review as it all started off as a bit of a personal crusade.
I am one of life’s sceptics; but I am still a sucker to read all the new golfing advertisements extolling the virtue of the newest, best ever, performance enhancing products we are tempted to part with our hard earned cash to acquire.
For this article, I decided to challenge them by using myself as an awkward guinea pig and potential customer.
I know that I am not an average shoe customer because of a variety of issues and injuries I have suffered but who better to test the manufacturer’s claims. Plus I already had a keen interest in making sure my shoes are the best they can be as I almost crippled myself by foolishly buying the wrong pair years ago. Around 20 years ago I went on a golf trip to Ireland playing 36 holes a day over 4 days around Dublin. A small stumble off the step leading from a tee box led me to rupture my Achilles Tendon.
Pain! I have never felt anything like it. It was agony. That was until the intramuscular injections directly into the tendon by the doctor prior to a period of 7 weeks in toe to thigh plaster cast. Coincide this with time off work and golf together with a brilliant English summer leading to one brown leg and one white.
As you can imagine properly fitting shoes for me has become an important issue.
I recovered from the injury and started playing again only to have the same injury rear its ugly head some 15 years later. I started to get incredible pain in the sole of my foot as I walked the course. I felt like a nail was inside my foot and it got to the point where I almost had to give up the game as I couldn’t walk more than 3 holes at a time.
My doctor couldn’t help but a referral to a sports injury specialist revealed that I had altered my walk and gait to compensate for the Achilles problem. This realigned my hips, causing a different part of the sole of my foot to become the main weight carrying part and the feeling of the nail was actually bone calcification under the skin.
This has been rectified by specially designed orthotics that put my hips back into line and I am now able to carry a bag and walk for 36 holes again.
If this tale of woe doesn’t convince you to get properly fitting shoes consider the following facts:
Not only can getting the correct fit save you money it can also improve your golf. FootJoy has done studies with their tour players on pressure plates with different sizes of shoes over 3 years and the results are amazing.
If your shoes are too long and too wide then you could experience a loss of power through lower ground force traction of 26%. If they are just too wide the loss is 18% and too long 12%.
During the golf swing the body acts as a whip, power production starts with the feet pushing against the ground.
The foot pivots and provides intrinsic lateral movement to enable the hip to fully rotate around a fixed leg position. Each foot moves differently during a golf swing, the back foot must allow for more pronation during the follow through of the swing than the front foot.
If you generate 100 mph club head speed that is a lot of force being transmitted through your body and feet in particular.
Think about these facts. An average round of golf consists of 13,000 steps. If you play twice a week that is 1,248,000 steps per year. That’s a lot of steps if you are in badly fitting shoes!
As I started to research this article I became aware that there are some real opportunities for enhancing performance by ensuring that the shoe provides balance and grip. Most power in your swing comes from the ground up. If your shoes are the only thing connecting you to mother earth why not have them properly fitted?
I had spotted a fitting opportunity with FootJoy at a course that I was reviewing so I invited one of my golfing mates who has had even more trouble with his feet than me. He is recovering from an ankle bone fusion and is pending a second operation on the other side.
He loves his golf but has had to stick to using a buggy to play recently. Between us, we offer a real challenge to footwear fitters.
The Golf Shoe Fitting process
When was the last time you had your feet properly measured?
Think about it...... was it the first pair for school?
In my case, I know my shoe size, size 9 medium fit, and that’s what I always buy? Certainly, for the last 30 years at least!
We were asked to bring in our current shoes so the fitter could check them out for the telltale signs of badly fitting shoes.
Our FJ fitter for the day was Ben Gowling. He has a passion for shoes and golf; knowledge and experience allow him to measure feet by eye so don’t be surprised on introduction to see him glance at your feet knowingly.
The first thing to do is to bring along your current shoes so they can see how bad you have been at choosing shoes so far. They closely examine wear marks on the forefoot and inside the heel.
He recognised right away was that there were some issues with sizing and style in my current shoes due to the creases of material that were building up on the front of the shoe.
My fitting became even more complicated to accommodate the orthotics I now have to use in every pair of shoes I wear.
The next step was to measure my foot in the Brannock device that all FootJoy accounts use. This is like those old metal foot measurers you had for school shoes when you were a kid. As well as measuring length, it also measures the width and most importantly the length of your arch to the first metatarsal of your toe.
This is crucial as the perfect scenario is to get the metatarsal in line with the horizontal flex zone on the base of the shoe. If you don't then the shoe won't bend in the correct place for your foot and it will hurt.
You are given a fitting sheet with the sizes for each foot, as quite a few people have one foot a different size than the other.
Mine were both almost identical at size 7, medium width.
Ben was not at all surprised with my wrongly sized old shoes as 70 % of all those he fits are currently wearing the wrong size shoe. That is an incredible number given the number of active golfers in this country.
At first, I thought that Size 7 seemed to be very small but Ben explained when you are moving your foot it contracts a little and as a result, most people take a smaller shoe.
You could tell almost immediately if a size was going to be right as there was a little 'whoosh' sound from the air coming out of the shoe when you put your foot in if the fit was going to be good.
The size with the best whoosh for me was the 7M. This also provided the best support for the arch of the foot.
I was told to watch out for the type of lace fastening and the V pattern is very different to the support given by the U-shaped lace arrangement.
If you want to know more about this process check out the really helpful FootJoy fitting video on the Golfshake site.
I had been given a pair of decent quality Footjoy socks for Xmas and had worn them for the fitting. Being a sceptic I asked what difference it makes having the correct socks and Ben smiled knowingly.
He replied. ”Try an experiment when you buy the correctly fitting shoes. When you next play wear golf socks on one foot and “normal” socks on the other. You will get the answer to your question.”
He was absolutely correct. The normal sock was minging, it left bobbles in between my toes. It was damp and unpleasant. The properly designed sock wicked away the sweat and the extra support on the top of the foot made them incredibly comfortable. The leather in these shoes is designed to draw the sweat from the foot and the correct socks helped this process.
Having had an eye opening experience with this process I bought a pair of size 7 shoes, inserted the orthotic, and walked 5 miles carrying my bag. Straight out of the box they were like slippers, so comfortable and none of the usual breaking in period.
I have been converted to the custom fitting of clubs having seen the performance benefits and I am now a total convert into the world of golf shoe fitting.
This fitting process is not just for those like me with foot problems. In my humble opinion, it is something that should be considered by all golfers from a comfort and performance perspective.
I have been persuaded to invest some of the kids inheritance (SKI-ING) and am now the proud owner of a new pair of FootJoy shoes. My old collection is now gracing the shelves of my local charity shop. If they don't sell then this is my plan B option.
The pair I selected as my main ones are FootJoy Pro/SL. I have played 6 rounds in as many days and can clearly state that they are the most comfortable golf shoes I have ever used in over 30 years of golfing.
It also coincides with my first full shot reduction in handicap for 3 years. I can’t prove that it is down to the shoes but I certainly feel that I am striking the ball better and further than I have before.
I thoroughly recommend this fitting process for any golfer who is considering the purchase of a new pair of golf shoes.
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