By Jeffrey A. Rendall
Contact. It's the key to the game of golf, and may just be the most essential element in every sport. It's the point where your club strikes the ball -- a simple proposition--no contact, no propulsion. Likewise, in football, you can't tackle without contacting the ball carrier -- or score without touching the ball. In baseball, the action starts where the bat hits the horsehide. To mention an over-used cliche, contact is where the rubber hits the road.
In order to make solid contact, you'll need the best equipment. And the logic extends to other contact points as well.
For example, what could be more important than where your feet touch the earth, or where your hands grip the club? Arnold Palmer's on TV all the time talking about how the grip is most important -- but I'd argue it's the glove -- because the glove's the thing that actually contacts your skin.
Or maybe even the shoes. They're the forgotten entities here, but in a lot of ways, bipedal comfort is paramount to golfing success. If you can't walk with a basic proficiency, you can't play (even Casey Martin would agree with that statement). And if your feet are cold, wet or uncomfortable, you're in trouble. It's hard enough to concentrate on golf when conditions are perfect -- don't throw in unnecessary variables to mess things up.
So it all boils down to that moment of contact -- club on ball, hand on club, feet on shoe and shoe on grass. Since we're able to narrow contact down to the 'bare' essentials, then we'll want the best essentials covering up our bare skin. I enlisted FootJoy for the job -- I wanted a proven winner to protect the sensitive areas.
FootJoy's more than just a logo, though you see it nearly everywhere when you're watching a PGA Tour event or shopping at the golf shop. It's more than just weighty endorsement contracts or a mass marketing blitz. Simply put -- you see a lot of FootJoy because its products are the best.
I've used FootJoy goods my entire golfing life, and over the course of those 25 or so years, I've come to try many different brands of shoes, gloves and socks. While many manufacturers make quality products, there's no doubt FootJoy makes the best stuff for the best value. It's not the least expensive -- not by a long shot. But if you're seeking to get the best performance for your buck, there's none better.
Naturally, being the best is FootJoy's mission. Maria Bonzagni, Director of Marketing, FootJoy Gloves & Accessories, elaborates: "Our goal for our products is to increase the enjoyment of the game by providing golf shoes, gloves, socks, outerwear and accessories that offer superior comfort, fit and performance. While other companies may view these products as accessories, we view them as vital equipment for the head to toe consumer experience and performance on the golf course." I couldn't have said it better myself.
Rob Kelley, Director of Brand Marketing for FootJoy, sheds light on how quality is assured throughout the line. "Our products are rigorously and continually tested to ensure that every pair of shoes and socks, each glove and outerwear item exceeds the expectations of the best players in the world."
For this review's purposes, I tried out FootJoy's 'point of contact' products, namely gloves, shoes and socks. I'll start right off by saying I can't measure the relative performance of a pair of socks, so I'll leave it to an observation -- they're extremely well made, keep my feet dry, and look great with the rest of my golf wardrobe. They're the antithesis of your run-of-the-mill gym socks -- they've got Úlan in abundance.
And as Lieutenant Dan said in Forrest Gump, "dry socks can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt." Similarly, dry socks can be the difference between an enjoyable morning golf round and a miserable five hours of frigid feet. I chose an especially cool, dew-filled morning to try them out.
The socks and shoes together passed the dry test -- and I didn't baby them. When I'd hit a ball astray into the weeds (several, actually), I went after it, moisture filled wetlands or not. I didn't find the ball, but my feet stayed dry! Sometimes you have to find solace in little victories ...
The gloves and shoes are easier to 'test,' so my results will provide for more comparison to other brands. I've always favored FootJoy Sta-Sof gloves, because they seem to fit best, are softer than other brands, and oddly enough, last longer (for as soft as they are, I thought they'd wear out easiest -- not true). For this test, I tried out FootJoy's newest glove, the F3 -- fit, feel and flex.
As a note of explanation -- the primary reason I've paid more for FootJoy gloves over the years is because some of the cheaper brands aren't cost effective to buy. It's hard to quantify, but they always seem to wear out quickly in the pad of the hand as well as in the knuckles. They're also not nearly as comfortable (speaking specifically of the ones with 'imitation' leather -- only the real cabretta leather feels like itself). The FootJoys often cost twice as much (speaking in comparison to the less-so fake leather gloves), but I've used them on average twice as long -- and they simply feel better.
Another over-used cliche -- you get what you pay for.
So, essentially, I was pitting the new F3 glove against the older Sta-Sof glove. The F3 certainly has the qualities of the older model -- it's comfortable, water resistant, and durable. Performance-wise, I noticed little difference -- both are excellent. But if I had to choose, I'd still prefer the Sta-Sof -- primarily because of fit and it lasts just a tad longer -- maybe my particular hand; maybe it's habit; but I think the Sta-Sof rates just a smidgen better. Either way, it's a clear victory for the FootJoy brand -- and just goes to show, it's hard to improve on the best.
Speaking of the best, in the shoe category, I tried out a pair of FootJoy Classics Dry, Premier series. It's a pair of golf shoes unlike anything I've ever owned -- in fact, this footwear is better than any I've ever owned. In looks, style and feel, there's no matching them.
This hand-made in America product features premium calfskin construction -- which not only looks superior, it's incredibly comfortable. Not just for show, the shoes also offer Black Widow cleats (by Softspikes), which not only anchor your feet -- they'll grip on the slipperiest of slopes. You won't have to worry about losing your traction with these things -- your feet aren't going anywhere you don't want 'em to.
It's hard to believe, but if I took the spikes off, these would probably be my best pair of business shoes -- they're that impressive (and I got the 50013 style, which is jet black). Don't tempt me to wear 'em to the office.
I will mention -- they're not inexpensive, but again, if you want the best products and pay for them, you'll end up with the greatest value more often than not. There's a two-year limited waterproof warranty that comes with each pair, but I'm guessing you won't need it. This footwear will wear out before they let in water. Combine the shoes with the socks, and you're as dry as the Sahara in summer. Contact points are preserved, what more can you ask for?
To sum up, contact's important in the game of golf, because it's where your body meets the course. The elements aren't always friendly, either -- and in those instances where there's precipitation or any other watery obstacles, you'll want to have the best on your side, and on your skin. That's why I chose FootJoy, and it didn't let me down.
So go make contact with your nearest FootJoy dealer -- you won't be sorry.
FootJoy -- The #1 Shoe and Glove in Golf
Along with Titleist and Cobra, comprise the Acushnet Company
Available at fine Pro Shops and Golf Retail Stores
Check out all of FootJoy's outstanding products at www.FootJoy.com
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