The growth of Under Armour golf clothing has been rapid over the last few years and now they are dipping their toes into the golf show market, leading with Jordan Speith's new shoe for 2017. I decided to find out more and putting my best foot forward I walked onto the Under Armour stand at the 2017 PGA Merchandise show to meet Director of Golf Footwear, Mike Forsey.
Hi Mike. Can you explain the rationale behind the Spieth One shoe?
Yeah, we wanted to develop a shoe for Jordan. Not only to address his performance needs, but also so that we could put a signature model in the marketplace. A lot of the things that we learnt by working with Jordan we can translate to working with the recreational golfer as well. Tour players have great footwork, whereas the recreational player…not so much!
Tour players have great balance and footwork, but the same thing that happens with tour players feet also happens with a recreational player. So if I had a mirror image of my left foot outsole, my right foot would have this rotational resistance traction.
What we want to resist is when you load up your fore foot, it twists out and your heel twists in. Then when you come to impact, your heel twists in the medial or inward direction and your forefoot twists out. Well, Jordan twists out, and most recreational players twist out, and that’s where they slip during the golf swing.
Therefore we can organise these spikes in the position that we want them, so we have designed this spike to have this resistance wall that has an under-cut. It actually rotates in to the turf and stops in both the lateral and medial positions. Then all of the other spikes on the outsole help with golf swing, but also help to walk the golf course as well.
How did you develop this new spike?
We worked with Champ and developed the spikes. The normal spikes are Champ Zarma and the new shape is our Under Armour RST Spike, which stands for ‘Rotational Resistance’.
We all know Jordan’s swing with its left foot movement, so if that spike goes into the turf and stops when he is maybe expecting it to move, is that a not going to create a problem?
So it will rotate in, if you’ve got grass coming in this way, it will rotate in this way. So that undercut, that turf will slide right in there and stop.
But then the other nice thing about this is that on the outsole, you have surface area and contact points. Surface area will spread that weight bearing low for the golfer so you’ll do zero damage because you’re spreading the weight.
When you look at the spike, it actually splays out when you put weight on it so that there is no damage done to the greens, but at the same time, the contact points will actually give a golfer the traction to walk the course in comfort.
How will the outsole benefit golfers?
Now the outsole, also being low-profile will benefit the recreational golfer. The closer to the ground you can get, the better. You don’t want to be up on a platform, you want to be more low-profile. By low-profile I mean the height of the outsole. If the outsole was thicker, you’d actually sit up higher off the ground, so we want to get as low as possible.
With that unique move that we talked about, we don’t want to build Jordan up and have him fall to his left side. But now we can get him lower to the ground to get him to move more naturally and aggressively to his left side, without feeling like “hey, I’m going to fall off this shoe”.
When I took the shoe out of the box, the sole feels a little on the heavy side, but it doesn’t feel heavy when it’s on my foot. So is there some specific technology behind that?
Yes of course. That’s the other thing, if you make the outsole lower in profile. Even down to the diamond shape on the outsole, that is in a negative position on the outsole and in a positive position in the midsole. So we don’t reduce the amount of cushioning, but those two locking together, keep the golfer lower in profile, which then takes weight out of the product. Because if you add material, you’re adding weight to the product.
Is there any advances in the upper too?
The upper features the same ideology. You only have one seam, all the overlays are done with a hot-melt, which is a micro-dot hot-melt, or a laser etching. So you have the perforations in the vents for breathability, the JS logo for aesthetics and the perforations on the heel are all done with laser etching.
Even the TPU overlay in the toe is meant for a purpose as it’s on left and right, but if you toe drag when you’re following through, you don’t want to upbraid the upper. Therefore this has a TPU film that keeps you from upbraiding the upper.
Then you have no overlays, no seams and no stitching on the upper, so less bulk and more flexibility. The lining has a waterproof breathable membrane fused right to it so it becomes one. Finally there is a gasket on the bottom of the insole, resulting in complete waterproof, breathability.
The upper is breathable, the membrane is breathable, and so the environment inside the shoe as you’re playing four, five, six hour rounds means perspiration will continue to pass out of the product.
What proportion of your sales do you expect the Spieth One to have relative to your other shoe products?
Wow, that’s quite high for the top of the range shoe I presume?
Yes it is, exactly.
Moving onto the Under Amour Tour Tip shoes, what is the difference between this and the Spieth One?
The Tour Tip has the same outsole plus the carbon fibre and it’s really all about the upper. The upper is a traditional wing tip design that we have made more contemporary and more modern and remember when I talked about eliminating overlays, seams and stitching with the Spieth One? Well, the Tour Tips model has one seam, just in the heel.
Are all Under Armour shoes designed like this?
We try to eliminate as many seams as possible. So this is a one piece upper, we have some that are two-piece and the Spieth One is a three piece upper. So if we can do that, we take out bulk, we can make our shoes more flexible and more comfortable.
Even the detail in the tip is again micro dot hot-melt so there is not a stitching detail issue now. It makes it more modern, but also super-lightweight, comfortable and flexible.
It has the same rotational resistance traction spikes, two-year waterproof warranty and it comes in the all-white and then the black-white spectator style.
Do you also have any spikeless shoes in the range?
The Performance SL is our spikeless, so non-receptacle, non-replacement spike shoe. This has nub detail and has an undercut to it, it has the wall, and the exact opposite in the heel so it will resist that rotation. This shoe has a seam in the heel and a seam across the forefoot. Then we join these two together without a stitch so just with a hot melt seam tape.
The shoe is waterproof, durable, so has a two-year waterproof guarantee. Available in multiple colours and also in women’s as well.
You also have the Tempo Sport and Tempo Hybrid golf shoes, so tell me about them?
The Tempo Sport golf shoes have the same TPU outsole, same spike system, but it has a little more of a true midsole. So a little more cushioning for the golfer that walks the golf course. It’s a little lighter in weight because it is a textile upper.
But what we do with this is, we have put a DWR finish on the textile, we covered the tip with toe-drag and this also has a waterproof, breathable membrane fused to the lining and then a gasket on the bottom and comes in lace or BOA for men and women.
The last shoe in the range is actually a carry-over from last year, called Tempo Hybrid. Golfers can wear this on and off the course and it's super-comfortable. I’ve actually got the black on today and you can wear them casually, so this just is a really nice all-round shoe.
Thank you Mike
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