I met Grant Knudson, Head of Footwear of Puma Golf at the 2016 PGA Show in Orlando to discuss the Ignite foam they are using in their latest shoes, as well as the eye-catching high-tops Rickie Fowler has been wearing on Tour.
Hi Grant. I reviewed the Puma TitanTour shoe last year and thought it was one of the best you have done, so how did the TitanTour Ignite evolve from that or is it something completely different?
It was definitely an evolution. We were really happy with the results of the TitanTour. It was definitely our best Tour shoe to date and we were really excited about the technology that made it the coolest shoe in golf plus the premium leather and the response from golfers was amazing. So we really wanted to take the concepts of that shoe and take it a step further with the TitanTour Ignite.
We made some improvements with one of the most notable being the Ignite Foam that was added to the heel which gives you a great transition when you are walking. We also gave it a very stable platform with the PWRFrame and it also still has the PWRCool technology that makes it the coolest shoe in golf.
Another big thing is the last shape so if you look down at the shoe you will notice a rounder, sleeker toe, but with some added volume in the forefoot so you get a really amazing fit with all the same technology, so it is a great evolution for us.
Previous Puma shoes have always had a wider forefoot, so why did you move from that to the sleeker style?
Well you can almost look at footwear like a driver, so that when you look down on it you want the crown to look good at address and when you turn it over you see all of the technology and that is kind of how we think of the golf shoe.
So when you look down at your footwear you don’t want to notice it too much and be a distraction to your game and the sleeker toe is also important to the fit so we feel that in doing it we’ve evolved both the fit and the look.
A lot of those decisions are through testing and scanning people’s feet to make sure the fit is great for a wide variety of golfers because comfort is essential and so much of that comes from the shape of the last.
So with any individual last what sort of percentage of players is it suitable for?
That’s a great question. We always shoot for 100% as you want it to suit as many players as possible, but given that about 20% of shoes that are sold are in a wide fit I would say that therefore most lasts would comfortably cover about 80% of players and then we make a wide last that hopefully accommodates the remaining players.
This is the first time you’ve used the Ignite Foam, but the original TitanTour had some sort of foam in the base of the shoe. What was that?
That was a foam that we call Fusion foam and it’s an EVA foam. The Ignite is a Polyurethane PU foam that doesn’t break down, it lasts longer, it reacts the same in any temperature so whether it is hot or cold it still maintains its shape, performance and rebound so it is such an improvement on the previous foam.
When we got the Ignite Foam from Puma running shoes and other athletic categories we really wanted to make sure that we utilised that in golf as it is such an awesome technology.
The PWRFrame and especially the heel of the shoe are quite rigid structures – is there any reason for that?
Well, it is very soft inside so the step in comfort in phenomenal and the Ignite Spikeless shoe is a soft structure from heel to toe with full length Ignite foam. The TitanTour Ignite is focused on performance so much like a sports car where you feel the bumps as they are rigid.
The heel has cushioning with the internal Ignite Foam, but for Tour players and better golfers typically want a very stable platform so the PWRFrame gives the shoe a really stable base for performance and it helps keep you lower to the ground. It’s like choosing a sports car versus a comfortable car which is what the Ignite Spikeless represents.
You’ve had spikeless shoes in the past, but with the Ignite Spikeless is it fair to say that this is the first time Puma have really pushed a spikeless shoe?
I think so. The Ignite family really gave us the technology to go and push into a variety of shoes that we weren’t able to do before.
Spikeless shoes are about 40% of the market in the United States, so we feel like we really want to concentrate on Tour because it is very important, but you need to also have a great spikeless shoe and by being able to bring the Ignite Foam into the Ignite Spikeless has allowed us to make a shoe that is both stylish, functional and super comfortable.
You can wear it all day long, on and off the course. A lot of guys are travelling in these, in fact they mean you can come to the PGA Show for 7 days and only bring one pair of shoes if you want to!
The Spikeless has Ignite Foam the full length of the shoe and the TitanTour shoe just has it in the heel?
Correct. The spiked shoe goes from the heel up to a little bit of the forefoot. Again at address you are more up on your toes in a ready athletic position when you play golf so we don’t put it right up into the forefoot on purpose for that reason.
We’ve seen Rickie wearing the High Top version of the TitanTour Ignite in recent weeks. Whose idea was that?
We work closely with Rickie throughout the development process and he’s always ready to push the limit and so is Puma so we felt like that was a great way to up our game, show our style and design and performance leadership in the market.
We collaborated with Rickie on the whole look and it’s caught fire. We’ve never had so much exposure on a Puma golf shoe before so it’s been a lot of fun.
Is there a performance benefit from the High Top or is it a style thing?
It’s a little bit of both. It as a Velcro strap and it has the high top he can lace and it helps to give him that feeling of support. He doesn’t lace it up super tight as you still want to have some mobility in your ankles, but it does give you an extra bit of support plus clearly it is a style thing too and not a lot of players could pull that off on Tour like Rickie can. He truly moves the needle and is a great partner with us and we feel that he represents our brand really well so it ended up being a really cool thing.
Do you see that being the way that golf fashion may develop, in terms of the shoes and even in terms of the trousers that he wore with it?
It think it was a combination of the joggers and the high tops that made it such a big deal. With the European Tour now relaxing dress for practice days and the PGA Tour starting to evolve and grow the game, then what better way to do it than making people feel more comfortable to play, whether its shorts or joggers or whatever.
As long as you are having fun out there its “look better, feel better, play better” so whatever that takes I think we just need to get more people interested in the game. Rickie’s joggers and high tops hit mainstream media here in the US and that is great for the game.
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