By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images Courtesy of Nike Golf
BEAVERTON, OR – “Shopping for the right golf shoe is by definition a personal choice, but the type of golfer who would gravitate towards the Nike Lunar Clayton is someone who appreciates the lifestyle of the game, someone looking for the highest in craftsmanship but also the latest in performance innovation. Someone who lives the game,” says Lee Walker, Nike Golf’s Global Footwear Marketing Director.
Living the game – it’s something a lot of us can’t help. And if golf is what we must do, then we might as well look and feel good from head to toe while playing it.
With Nike’s new Lunar Clayton golf shoes, we can do just that. We liked the sound of the Lunar Clayton because it offered the best of traditional-style golf shoes while packing in the latest technologies to help us through a round.
According to Walker, the shoe’s traditional looks were part of the plan from the beginning. “It's true that a lot of golf shoes today reflect a more modern interpretation of the sport. At Nike Golf, we filter through the lens of Athletic Golf for all of our footwear designs, focusing on performance first and foremost -- so for many of our models, the end results stay true to the old ‘form follows function’ philosophy.”
Walker continues, “In the case of the Lunar Clayton, we deliberately set out to infuse a nod to classic footwear craftsmanship – and to combine that with the latest performance innovation. Marrying the cap-toe design with brogue details onto a platform of Lunarlon foam cushioning, Dynamic Fit support system and Integrated Traction creates a juxtaposition that satisfies on both aesthetic as well as functional levels.”
That’s right. The Lunar Claytons are a beautiful example of manufacturing and design. They’re not exactly the Johnny Miller saddle shoes of the 70’s – but they are also distinctly different than the space-age varieties we see so much of today.
Turn on the PGA Tour and you can hardly believe that some of those things the pros are wearing are actually golf shoes.
But what about the “stuff” that goes into them? Can they look traditional and still take advantage of all the latest technological innovations?
Walker says yes. “The Lunar Clayton oozes luxury and craftsmanship but it's also packed with technology under the hood.”
Summing up, the benefits are:
_Premium, full-grain Waterproof leather upper (in addition to the waterproof membrane lining, this extra layer of waterproof leather doesn't absorb water so it weighs less and is more durable over the life of the shoe)
_Internal Dynamic Fit system cradles the foot for improved fit and lateral support
_Lunarlon foam cushioning in the heel for underfoot comfort
_Integrated Traction outsole for optimal traction on and off the course
Fancy sounding gear, isn’t it? Glancing at the Lunar Clayton shoes, you wouldn’t necessarily see the technology, but then again, I don’t think you’re supposed to. There is a “Venom green” layer on the bottom, but other than that, the shoe style appears like it’s been around for a long time.
(Note: We got the white version. It also comes in black, which includes a white bottom layer.)
They are quite comfortable, and didn’t require much, if any, break-in period. Granted, we haven’t worn them for long, but they certainly passed the out-of-the-box test.
In other words, they “performed” well. But with shoes, what does “performance” really mean?
Walker expounds: “Performance is integral to every shoe we design and develop. We take our direction from athletes – we listen to what they need to help them perform and then we set about solving for those needs. For a long time, golf shoes just needed to have traction to be thought of as performance.”
“From listening to athletes, we've been able to deliver performance on many levels, addressing stability, traction, comfort, freedom of movement, ground feel and reduced weight. Lightweight has grown in importance as golfers realize how carrying less weight on their feet throughout their round helps reduce fatigue. The key here is to not sacrifice the other non-negotiables (comfort, stability, traction) in the search for reduced weight.”
The Lunar Claytons are indeed light. You probably won’t notice much weight difference from your regular cross-trainers or running shoes – though they are considerably more rigid than a running shoe.
That’s probably where the traction comes in – an essential element on a golf course. Oddly enough, the Lunar Clayton sole does not have spikes, metal or otherwise.
“The outsole of the Lunar Clayton features Integrated Traction, a configuration of rubber geometric traction elements designed for optimal traction that is versatile enough to perform on the course, on the range or in the clubhouse. Today's golfer is more open to alternative traction solutions beyond just the traditional replacement spike,” Walker explained.
“They understand there are benefits to Integrated Traction outsoles, including removal of spike pressure, lower profile, more stability, lighter weight, and greater versatility for use off the golf course. That said, there will always be a place for replacement spikes as the absolute expression of ultimate traction performance, so we see golfers playing in both spiked and Integrated Traction golf shoes depending on the course, the conditions and their occasion.”
Since the sole doesn’t look all that different than a casual shoe, you won’t get nasty stares for wearing them indoors. We even wore them around the house to assess fit – and no damage to the floors!
But make no mistake, the Lunar Clayton is made to wear outdoors on the course. With golf courses comes moisture – from rain, or otherwise. Since the shoes are leather, we were concerned about water-proofing. Walker said waterproofing was a big part of the design.
“Some of the waterproof membranes (layer of protection sandwiched between the upper and the inner lining) are the same whether using natural or synthetic leathers. Some of the higher grade synthetics (technical microfiber) are already pretty well water repellent but also afford other performance advantages over natural leather, including: lighter, won't stretch, easier to clean, more durable, take color and graphics well.”
“Really it's a personal preference and depending on the conditions, many golfers have both natural and synthetic leather golf shoes.”
So we’re good on most of the concerns that come along with golf shoes. But with so many types of shoes available at the golf shop, what do the experts recommend in choosing what’s best for you?
“Comfort is definitely important since golfers wear their shoes for hours, sometimes walking over 5 miles over 18 holes,” Walker said. “Style is always a tricky area since design is subjective by nature, but golf seems to be one of those sports where looking good can help you feel good --and feeling good can help you play good!”
Too true. Footwear is a vital piece of equipment, even if we don’t always think of it that way. Scrimping on shoes can be a real mistake, since you’re stuck with them once you’ve worn them.
Walker says to put your shoes through the paces in the store just as you would take some swings in the hitting bay before purchasing new golf clubs.
There’s more. “Depending on the golfer, other criteria may influence their consideration, such as: finding a fit that allows the foot a natural range of motion; or finding a system that combines the best comfort with the best stability; or perhaps they're looking for a shoe that performs on the golf course but also affords some flexibility for use to and from the course, in the office or clubhouse etc.”
In golf, shoes probably rival apparel in terms of the sheer number of products to choose from. The major manufacturers offer numerous models and price ranges – so the real key is deciding how high you want to go up the ladder, and then go try them on.
Nike has come a long way in introducing cutting-edge golf equipment, but there was never any reason to doubt the company’s proficiency in shoes.
The Lunar Clayton is not inexpensive. But if you’re seeking a traditional look and guaranteed top-level shoe technology, it should definitely be on your list to try if you’re in the market for new golf shoes.
Nike Golf’s Lunar Clayton Golf Shoes
Available at your higher-end golf retailers and club pro shops.
Click here to see the Lunar Clayton on the Nike website.
Check out more information about Nike Golf products at: www.nikegolf.com . Like you’d expect from Nike, the website puts on a good show, too.
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