Puma are bringing their LiteStyle concept to their 2014 line up of shoes to provide lightweight comfort and performance on the course. Putting my best foot forward, I met Grant Knudson, Team Head of Golf Footwear for Puma Golf to find out why Lite is the right Style for golf.
What is LiteStyle and why is it important to Puma?
LiteStyle is all about making a lightweight shoe perform better. There have been very stable shoes in the past but they have also been very heavy. We want to take the stability and comfort, take everything out of it you can, but maintain lightweight, performance and comfort.
Why is lightweight important to golfers?
First of all, the lighter the shoe the less fatigued you are going to be at the end of the round. Our goal is to make a shoe where you don’t feel like you are wearing anything and a lot of the shoes we have created in our 2014 line up give you that performance, that comfort and the style.
You have the Puma Biofusion shoe there, so what is unique about that shoe?
With the Puma Biofusion shoe we completely re-engineered the way we create the outsole. We created a PowerFrame outsole where a TPU encases EVA, so it is very stable, yet flexible and provides a lightweight comfort, so it is really the best of all our technologies rolled into one.
Is there a trade off with lightweight shoes in terms of stability, grip or waterproofness?
I think there used to be, but not anymore and that is due to technology, innovation and materials. Puma make a wide range of football boots and running shoes so we can borrow their technologies and materials to provide lightweight comfort and stability for the golfer, without sacrificing any aspect of the performance.
Is there anything specific that has transferred from football or running into golf?
Absolutely. The main one is the Control Cell technology which fuses the entire shoe making it a system of parts that works together. We do a ton of research to make sure we are getting the best out of all materials and putting them into our golf shoes.
Natural motion was something we heard a lot about in the golf shoe market, but that seems less popular now. Is there any reason behind that?
Our view is that you don’t need to be minimal, but you need to be lightweight. So we are hearing from golfers, professionals and weekend warriors, that it is all about lightweight and comfort, not minimal or natural motion. When you go minimal you lose a little bit of the comfort and you don’t want to sacrifice comfort out on the golf course.
What are the other main trends in golf footwear that you are seeing at the moment?
We are seeing that you want to have flexibility, lightweight, comfort and performance all rolled into one and to do that is actually quite difficult, but we have found that is what can do using all our technologies.
The other main trend is about great style for playing golf and we have a great style, great colour and are on fashion trends, so rolled into one with shoes like Biofusion we are leading on both style and performance trends.
Spikeless is something that is becoming very big. What sort of proportion of your sales and what products have you got that focus on that?
Right now industry wide it is about 40 to 45% and we see our sales in that realm. We are about 50/50 ourselves so that is great for us, as we want to be selling as many spikeless shoes as the market average. It has grown dramatically over the last few years and we have had huge success with shoes like the Monolite, the Biofusion spikeless and the Faas Lite and I think that is going to continue.
Are there any advanges to spikeless from a design point of view?
The great thing about spikeless is that you don’t need cleat receptacles, so you have a lot more flexibility from a design perspective to do what you want with the shoe, so you can make it more comfortable and lower to the ground.
What work are you doing into the durability of the spikeless shoe?
You can replace spikes but most golfers really don’t and the same goes for spikeless. They last a long time and we use a very high grade rubber called carbon rubber on all our spikeless outsoles. It is very durable and our massive wear test programs put the shoes through the ringer and make sure they are going to last throughout their lifetime. There is also a two year warranty to ensure the consumer is happy with the footwear they have purchased.