By Jeffrey A. Rendall
Accessories, you can't live without 'em, yet you don't want to think about 'em.
The game of golf is rapidly becoming accessorized. Whereas the first golfers used to play it with wooden sticks and whatever they could find for a ball, these days you'll need the latest high-tech gadgets just to keep up. That probably means the most advanced composite metals in your clubheads, feather light but strong shafts, solid core golf balls and video enhanced lessons to ensure a proper golf swing.
And we haven't even accessorized yet. Just breeze through your club's golf shop, and you'll see apparel, shoes, socks, ball retrievers, rain gear, monogrammed golf balls, divot repair tools, leather golf gloves and laser guided distance finders. Wow. If you don't reach for these things instinctively, you'll certainly do it after noticing your opponents' cart is more decked out than Rodney Dangerfield's in Caddyshack.
Somehow, you'll need all the 'extras' to maintain a competitive edge. At least that's what the manufacturers hope you'll think.
Space age science hasn't escaped these areas, either. And there's no better example of how computer assisted research has reached your shop's shelves than the brand new Footjoy Gel Fusion golf shoes.
Footjoy's boasted for years that its shoes were dryer, more comfortable, more durable and better looking than its competition. And as I indicated last year, that's been my experience. I've always paid the extra money for Footjoy products, and it's not just because of the cool looking logo. On the whole, Footjoy is a better value.
I've enjoyed my Footjoy Classics Premiere shoes for over a year now. While it took a few rounds for the shoes to break-in, now they're not only superior looking, they're incredibly comfortable too. A lot of the top tour pros wear them, probably because they're the type of shoes you can spend sixty hours a week in and not be plagued with foot fatigue.
But when I heard the company was coming out with a new shoe that 'revolutionizes the foundation of the game,' well, that got my attention. The Gel Fusion shoes apparently offered superior 'contour-ability,' exceptional stability and unmatched comfort, all in one shoe. And they weren't just thrown together by your local cobbler, either -- the technology in the shoe was a combination of the expertise of touring pros and biomechanics specialists. Can't you just see Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III sitting in a product-planning meeting with the cast of 'Revenge of the Nerds?'
Seems like an odd combination, but it worked. Rob Kelley, Director of Brand Marketing for Footjoy, explains how the different viewpoints 'gelled' into the product:
"Golf shoe construction has always been a balancing act between increasing performance by providing a stable platform for your swing and providing superior comfort, flexibility, and reduced foot fatigue when you walk. Gel Fusion offers golfers the best of both worlds. Our new breakthrough technology uses advanced TPU formulation, biomechanical flexzones and a new independent rotational axis that allows the Gel Fusion shoe to match the natural anatomical rotation of the foot while following the natural contours of the ground, essentially molding your foot to the surface."
Appears that Kelley was sitting in on the meetings, too.
And if the shoe's 'concept' sounds like it's like a car's independent suspension, then you're getting the idea. The technology is similar to that of a sports car's suspension, designed to isolate movement of the 'wheels' while keeping optimum contact with the 'road.'
Having 'road tested' the shoes for several rounds now, I can see where the Footjoy folks are coming from. The shoes were initially very comfortable (which is a huge plus in my book), and the best thing I can say about them is, after wearing them for several hours at a time, I didn't even think about them. Best of all, I was hardly in a rush to take them off after a round – what higher compliment could you give to a pair of golf shoes?
Though I'll admit I didn't really think about how one shoe was acting vis-à-vis the other, there was no doubting the comfort of the combination. I couldn't exactly see how they work, but there aren't any pressure points, they seem to grip the playing surfaces well (with Black Widow soft spikes), and their looks (with platinum accents) grant me access to the clubhouse without blushing from embarrassment.
I'm certainly not going to abandon my Classics Premiere shoes, but knowing the closet contains both pairs is certainly a luxury. But if it came down to a comfort contest between the Classics Premieres and the Gel Fusion, the Gel Fusion wins hands-down (which is saying something, because the CP's are very comfortable).
While accessorizing with the shoes, I also tried some of Footjoy's Performance Outerwear. Having suffered through numerous seasons without any rain gear more sophisticated than a golf umbrella, it was time to join the ranks of the happy and dry.
Thankfully, Footjoy recently introduced the DryJoys Tournament Pullover. While the older versions of 'cheap' rain gear probably didn't look much different than a rubber rain slicker, or a trash bag with three holes cut for your head and arms, this jacket actually looks like something you can wear inside.
As if that wasn't enough, the Tournament Pullover is packed with innovative new industry-leading benefits. Andy Jones, Vice President of Acushnet Apparel, elaborates: "Our outerwear business is rapidly growing, as we continue to offer golf consumers innovative performance-related products to enhance their enjoyment of the game. The new DryJoys Tournament Pullover has some truly outstanding features, including snap-off sleeves, a built-in belt bag pouch and a cinch-cord system. This versatile piece is perfect for changing weather conditions on the golf course."
Versatility is the operative word. But what else would you want from an accessory? If it doesn't make your life better, it's not only unessential, it's not even desirable. True to Jones' word, the sleeves come off easily for those hot, steamy summer thunderstorms, and the entire jacket easily folds into the lower inside pocket, converting to a belt bag.
Like the shoes, it's another accessory that offers maximum utility without the need to even 'think about it.' Unconscious performance – the key to success!
There are other benefits to top-of-the-line rain gear you wouldn't otherwise consider. In an age when many upscale courses are hesitant to offer 'rain checks,' you'll be able to weather the storm and get your money's worth. At least you'll stay dry. And comfort's more than an extravagance these days – it's a requirement.
The next time you need to accessorize, I'd recommend heading towards the Footjoy aisle. There, you're sure to find the latest in high-tech products to help you forget about everything but your golf game.
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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