Regular readers will know that when it comes to buying golf shoes I end up with a collection that a former First Lady of the Phillipines would be proud of.
It's not because I have penchant for shoes, although I won't deny that golfing versions do get me going. It's more because I use orthotics and through a combination of not finding a shoe to accomodate them and my own poor decision making, I end up with quite a few pairs of shoes gathering dust in the cupboard.
Usually they start off with great promise, but after a few rounds they don't hold my foot correctly or they hurt my little piggies. It hurts my wallet too, but certain cancer charity shops locally have a great golf section.
In golf you can get custom fitted for clubs and more recently balls, so why not the key piece of equipment that keeps you attached to the golf course? Yes I know there are experts in pro-shops all over the place, but if you have a foot size in double digits, no retailer ever has your size available, never mind in more than one width or style.
Not before time, FootJoy has taken up the challenge and this year has been running shoe fitting sessions throughout the country with advice on how to find the right fit and every adult size in four widths that should cover all the bases. When the chance came up to have my fitting demons exorcised, I leapt at it.
Most sessions run at current FootJoy stockists and a portable stand is set up by the pro-shop or store to do the fitting. I met up with FootJoy's Lewis Mackle at the impressive PlaySport facility in East Kilbride to go through the process.
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 by looking for wear marks on the forefoot and inside the heel. To his credit Lewis did not put his hands on his hips and give a sharp intake of breath when I produced the top 3 least offending shoes I was using from my current squad rotation system.
What he could see right away was that there were some issues with sizing and style due to the creases of material that were building up on the front of the shoe. And that was on the FootJoy DryJoys Tour shoes that were the best in my exhaustive list of candidates. My heart sank.
The next step was to measure my foot in the Brannock device that all FootJoy accounts have, which is like those old metal foot measurers you had for school shoes when you were kid. As well as measuring length, it also measures width and most importantly the length of your arch to the first metatarsal of your toe, so beloved by English strikers.
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. A lot.
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. However mine were both almost identical at size 11, medium width. Believe it or not I am in the minority, as apparently the majority of the people Lewis has fitted so far have been measured as a wide fit.
Now this is where I have gone wrong in the past as I thought that if the Brannock says 11 then that is what I should go for. However as Lewis explained, when you are moving your foot it contracts a little and as a result, most people take a smaller shoe. The Brannock measurement acts as a starting point, so we took a size 11 medium (11M) from the DryJoys Tour samples and continued down in half sizes until the Flex Zone was in the right place and my foot was held correctly.
You could tell almost immediately if a size was going to be right as there was a little 'woosh' 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 woosh for me was the 9.5M, although it did feel slightly loose aroud the heel. However going to the 10 narrow (10N) or 9 wide (9W) did not improve the situation, so 9.5M it was.
I had been getting around this issue by going for the excellent BOA version of the DryJoys Tour in 9.5M as the wired lacing system pulls the foot back and secures it better than laces in the shoe for me. However this design comes with a U shaped throat for the laces rather than a V shaped one. This is what creates the creasing of the extra material at the front of the shoe for me, even though it is the right size. If you have a high foot arch then the U-throat would give you that extra space.
Any extra material will result in larger creases that over time could result in the leather cracking and reducing the performance and life span of the shoe.
Using a V-throat made the front of the 9.5M fit a lot better and the heel was almost the same, so that was the best size and design for me. You could tell because when the laces were done up tightly, the tongues had a nice V shape with the gap between the eyelets at the top being a thumbs-width apart. Any more or less than a thumbs-width means the shoes are not the right size for you.
So there you have it. In around 20 minutes I established that I am a 9.5M in a FootJoy and best with a V-throat style if I can manage the heel thing, although the BOA version is not the end of the world. From here it is just getting the right sock/shoe combo to ensure a good fit. FootJoy do a great range of quality socks with excellent padding and ventilation and maybe adding these into the custom fitting process would be a good next step.
Like most shoe manufacturers, FootJoy currently builds shoes using 9 different lasts, which is essentially the chassis of the shoe. Their lasts do vary from model to model in overall width, as well as forefoot and heel width too, so once you have your sizing you can go and experiment in the nearby store. They use the DryJoys Tour for these fittings as it is the style that tends to fit most people best.
Sometimes the materials used will affect sizing too as for example FootJoy has found that most people can go down half a size if they are buying a FootJoy DNA shoe. This is because the design of the DNA last allows the toes to spread in the forefoot to promote extra stability, therefore giving it a more spacious feel.
If your feet are different shapes, then you can order a pair of shoes with different sizes for left and right through the excellent FootJoy MyJoys website. It is a little more expensive, but it will be worth it.
Not only can getting the correct fit save you money it can also improve your golf. FootJoy have 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%. That's a big difference.
Now your handicap will thank you as well as your feet and your wallet.