Over my years of reviewing golf equipment it is great to see products that you believe are good go ahead and surprise even the manufacturer with their success.
One of these was the DryJoys Casual shoe that provided a combination of spikeless versatility with good golfing performance that saw it adopted by more amateurs and Tour players than FootJoy were expecting.
Seeing they had a potential tour spikeless shoe on their hands they went to work on improving it further and the result is the FootJoy Pro/SL.
At the launch FootJoy were keen to stress that the Pro/SL is not a successor, but a replacement for the DryJoys Casual that takes the best bits forward into a shoe that is a bit more serious about performance.
The main thing is that the stability of the Pro/SL upper has been improved to give the ankle and rear of the foot more support through the swing.
This comes from a combination of a higher tensile strength leather in the upper and the addition of an X shaped leather panel beside the ankle on each side of the shoe.
This extra stability is an improvement over the slight compromises inherent in a casual spikeless shoe design like the DryJoys Casual, especially over time as the leather broke in.
The Pro/SL tongue area is a wider U shape than before, but the tongue and broad laces are still the same and just as comfortable when tied up.
Unless you go for the BOA version, you now only get one set of laces that will match the white or black base colour of the four initial styles of the Pro/SL, instead of a second contrast colour pair that the DryJoys Casual had.
This is a bit of a shame, but the market has spoken and any disappointment is overshadowed by the rest of the visual makeover, which is done very well and creates a stylish look that emphasises the performance nature of the Pro/SL.
The Pro/SL is based on the FootJoy Laser Plus last that uses a little more contouring in the sole than their standard Laser last.
The removable insole is something FootJoy work very hard on and this version is no different and the cushioning is very good.
The upper is made from Pittards' ChromoSkin leather that is treated to give it a one year waterproof guarantee. Having already used the Pro/SL in some heavy dew-laden rounds, I can vouch that it keeps you feet nice and dry.
The sole section continues with the Dual Durometer design that uses different types of Fine Tune Foam (FTF) to provide comfort and stability.
First seen in the FootJoy DNA shoe in 2014, FTF is 10% lighter than traditional EVA foam and the blue upper layer is the softer version to provide the comfort.
This sits on top and peaks through a white layer of firmer FTF that is there to create the stability.
The white layer is moulded into a shape that slightly protrudes beyond the edge of the shoes to give lateral support as your weight transitions through the swing
Finally the coloured TPU Traction Unit is the same grid of mini-spikes that really sets the Pro/SL apart from other spikeless shoes.
It provides excellent comfort and traction on all surface and really stands out on firm courses where other spikes would not go into the grass as much. It also works better in soft conditions than traditional spikes because it keeps the grip but does not get clogged up with as much damp grass.
The rather extended pre-launch Tour seeding phase over the last six months has seen high adoption levels for the Pro/SL amongst FootJoy Pro's, with a lot coming to spikeless from the more structured spiked FootJoy Icon shoe.
When you get a chance to try the shoe it is not hard to see why, as the improvement in stability combined with spikeless comfort, grip and versatility mean that the Pro/SL should again exceed FootJoy's expectations, but maybe this time, it won't be such a surprise.