The FootJoy D.N.A. Helix shoe is the first product to feature the footprint of new CEO Chris Lindner on it. Not necessarily in its design as that will have been well underway before he arrived in January 2017, but more in how it is being promoted.
With their large tour presence FootJoy has been selling the shoe to its players and going all out mid-season to align everything in Europe and worldwide with the usual earlier USA launch date and tour seeding.
The D.N.A. Helix is born out of tour player consultation anyway, as it is based on the D.N.A. 2.0 shoe that they wanted greater stability from.
Enter the new NitroThin 3.0 outsole that features a revised design with a wider heel area where the two back spikes or 'cleats' are further apart and more towards the rear.
The outsole is also 26g or 7% lighter as there is less of the heavier TPU chassis and more of the lighter EVA, which is the comfy stuff formerly known on their other shoes as Fine Tune Foam.
Using their BodiTrak system to gauge the stability of their shoes, FootJoy says that this makes the Helix 38% more of a structured shoe than the D.N.A. 2.0 and on a level with the excellent Pro S/L.
This should be what their Tour players want as the success of the more robust Pro S/L shoes proves, because several had commented on how the D.N.A. 2.0 was letting their foot roll out too much.
Certainly on the course the whole heel area felt much more stable and that your heel was being held more firmly than the previous model as you transitioned through the swing.
The support comes more from the base than the upper as if you compare to the Pro S/L you will find that the rear of the D.N.A. Helix is more flexible.
The spikes in the sole are Translucent LP Pulsar and use the TourLock fastening system and there is a bit more of a pod style to the sole than the D.N.A. 2.0.
This also gives a slightly different look from the side that may make some greenkeepers nervous, but in reality the sole is as green friendly as any other spiked shoe.
You can feel the additional EVA in the sole as you walk and it really adds to the comfort and works well with the soft Pulsar spikes on a parkland course. In firmer conditions, like playing in the summer on the links, you may feel the spikes more than you would with a spikeless shoe as there is less moulded support around them than the Hyperflex II, but it is not a deal breaker.
The upper is still made from a Pittards' Chromoskin leather that is treated to deliver a 1 year waterproof guarantee without having to use a membrane and feels robust, yet breaks in easily.
After the 2014 D.N.A. shoe, the 2.0 version went for sweeping lines, but now the Helix version has toned that down and uses hints of colour around the heel.
The initial offerings will be the red/blue and the all black, but there are other options planned for early 2018 that you may see on Tour before then and it would have been good to see them all up front, even if availability was later.
Also deferred is the BOA option that features a new IP1 dial that not only tightens the wires clockwise, but you can also loosen them a little with a small anti-clockwise turn instead of having to pull the dial out to fully loosen and start again.
This is a welcome development and now that other BOA options are in the market, I think that the benefits of the FootJoy exclusivity on the heel position with the wires going around the back of the foot and pulling it back into the heel will become more widely recognised and is well worth the extra £20
The TourSpec Stretch tongue has also come in for a makeover and the small pressure pad has been replaced with a wider padded area at the top and stretch section below it to stop it moving around as much during play. It's sad to see the pressure pad go, but the overall tongue is a bit more comfortable than before, even if it could maybe do with a touch more padding.
Comfort around the heel has always been big with the D.N.A. and the Helix retains the 3D FoamCollar 2.0 to work with the tongue to provide excellent comfort and grip and this is one of its big selling points.
One of the issues with the previous D.N.A. models was that they seemed half a size bigger than you usual FootJoy size and to alleviate this, the insole is 2mm or 40% thicker in the forefoot than before with the heel depth remaining at 14mm.
This does create a better fit, but given the LoPro Last looks to be the same size, maybe it's only 1/4 of a size difference now, as I still found I had to go down a half size from my Pro S/L, more to do with the length of the forefoot than the width or volume inside. Admittedly it's a snugger fit, but the shorter length is better and the upper should mould and stretch over time if the last D.N.A. is anything to go by.
Overall the D.N.A. Helix is an improvement on the previous model and the changes FootJoy has made to improve the stability adds a bit more performance to what was already a classy looking package.
Even with the premium price, the similar stability improvements in the Pro S/L from the DryJoys Casual saw that model take off and a similar thing could happen with the D.N.A. Helix for those who prefer a spiked shoe.