Earlier this year I was told by FootJoy that they would be releasing a shoe that their ambassadors could wear on their way to the course. Instead of turning up to tournaments in a pair of Nike or Adidas trainers, before changing into their FJ golf shoes to play in, FJ wanted them in something FJ. Which to be fair, you can’t blame them for.
The answer? Introducing the all-new FJ Flex.
What’s It All About?
The Flex is FootJoy's answer to the golf shoe that really can be worn off the golf course. Yes, the Pro/SL is a spikeless shoe that can be worn in a spike bar or travelling from car to course. But let's be honest, you'd look a bit of a plonker nipping for that third pint in the pub or walking down the freezer isle in Sainsbury's picking up Saturday night's tea wearing them, wouldn't you?
So the Flex offers golfers that extra option - a golf shoe that you can wear outside of a golfing environment and then stroll straight onto the course and crack on with a round of golf. FootJoy of course claim you can do so without sacrificing the benefits of a 'proper' golf shoe.
‘The FJ Flex introduces the Versa-Trax traction system for exceptional on-course golf performance. Lightweight mesh uppers and a molded EVA FitBed for underfoot comfort, delivers enhanced cushioning. Experience on and off course versatility.’
This test was conducted in the most sublime of conditions. Courtesy of the Costa Daurada Tourist Board and Lumine Golf and Beach Resort I found myself playing 18 holes of golf at Lumine Lakes Course and 18 holes at Costa Daurada Golf Club. In what can only be described as perfect golfing conditions.
28 degrees heat, a slight breeze, and no rain in sight - not even a cloud for that matter.
The FJ Flex were put through their paces over 36 holes of golf over two days as well as being my footwear of choice from leaving the hotel to golf course. I wore them all day encountering all manner of terrains including fairway, rough, sand, cart path, hotel lobby, and of course the 19th. You need a pint after 18 holes in that kind of heat right?
FootJoy Flex Golf Shoe Review
I like the idea of the FJ Flex. When I first heard about them and saw the first pictures I was impressed. Could FootJoy actually create a golf shoe that was essentially a trainer adapted for the golf course?
It sounds like an easy task really for a company that has been making the best shoes in golf for over 160 years, but you'd be surprised.
Un-boxing the shoes, it was no surprise that the FJ Flex felt extremely lightweight to hold. The performance mesh upper, said to offer outstanding breathability, felt thin and highly manipulable.
It was clear to see that FootJoy had put the focus on comfort and modern looks. Or at least that's what I took from having a closer look at the shoes. Bending and manipulating the shoe I couldn't help but think that they wouldn't quite offer me the support and stability I require during a golf swing.
Looks-wise, I can't say I was sold either... As you can see I tested the shoes in navy and white and from the word go, they just didn't suit my eye. I just felt as if they looked like the product of a golf shoe manufacturer trying to make something that they weren't 100% comfortable making. Like if Ferrari tried to make an electric car - there's no doubting they'd probably be good at it, but it just wouldn't look right.
I couldn't help but think that ironically in trying to create a 'younger-looking' shoe, FootJoy had actually achieved the opposite. The FJ Flex to me looked like something your Grandad would would go play bowls in.
Anyway, time to find out what really matters - how did they perform on the golf course?
On The Course
If you're looking for a reasonably priced, simple summer shoe, to be worn both on and off the course - you can't really go too far wrong with the FJ Flex. These shoes are going to tick a lot of boxes for a lot of golfers in the market for this kind of shoe.
Straight out of the box I had no issues with any rubbing or wearing-in, the Flex really are like slippers. Stick them straight on and you're good to go.
The EVA midsole provided my foot with soft cushioning through 18 holes on both days of testing. I had an extra spring in my step, walking the course was made easy. In the comfort department, there are no issues whatsoever.
I played in the perfect conditions to test the breathability of the the FJ Flex, and once again - they excelled in this department. Even with a thick pair of golf socks on, the lightweight performance mesh allowed my feet to be kept cool. Once I had finished 18 holes, I didn't find myself itching to take them off and swap into another pair.
I also found the overall fit of the Flex pretty good. FootJoy refer to this fit as a 'Laser Sport Fit'. Now I'm not 100% sure what that really means, but I do know they felt good to me. The Flex felt roomy around the toes but then once the laces were tightened around my instep, my feet felt pretty locked into the shoe where it mattered too.
Golfers who normally lean towards a wide fit and are maybe quite heavy on their feet will get a lot of joy out of the FJ Flex because they are flexible enough to cater for a number of different styles. The slightly narrow heel also helped to complete what FootJoy refer to as 'the athletic profile.'
So far so good, but unfortunately the traction and grip for me is where this shoe really lets itself down. I carried out this test in 100% dry conditions and still had some issues. Unfortunately I experienced the 'right-foot-slip-high-pull-left-hand-off-the-club-golf-shot (obviously nothing to do with my golfing ability) one too many times whilst testing the FJ Flex. Granted, this didn't ruin my scorecard by any stretch of the imagination but it did affect my confidence once standing over the following shot.
FootJoy claim: "the Versa-Trax outsole is engineered with traction elements to create an outsole that is perfect for on course performance with wear-to-the-course versatility. Each traction zone maximises traction during your swing and provides exceptional grip when walking the course."
From my findings, I don't believe this to be quite true. If you started to 'go after it' in the Flex, I'm pretty sure a lot of golfers would lose their footing from time to time.
I like a golf shoe to grip the turf and stick to it. With the Flex I felt as if I was just sitting on top of the turf and not gripped tightly to it like I'd want to be. Therefore if you were to play a round of golf in summer wearing the Flex and it began to rain, I can imagine you'd be in trouble.
For the Flex to really be a success, I believe FJ need to do two things - re-think the traction, and look at releasing a waterproof version. If they get these two elements right, you'd be onto a serious contender to the Pro/SL's spikeless crown.
This is a good golf shoe, however I'd be lying if I thought it was a great golf shoe.
Would I Use It?
No, I probably wouldn't if I'm honest. I think there are better spikeless golf shoes on the market that can genuinely be worn off the course, look better, and still offer you good traction and stability on the golf course.
FootJoy have created a shoe here that no doubt golfers will get a lot of benefit from. But, I can't imagine it doing exactly what they set out to do. For me the looks aren't good enough for you to genuinely want to wear them off the course and then the traction isn't quite good enough to give you 100% confidence to go after it on the course or risk wearing them in anything other than bone dry conditions.
FootJoy Flex Golf Shoe Review Verdict
Fans of FootJoy will probably love this shoe and with its reasonable price point I can see it selling well at club golfer level. If you're popping to the range after work, or just nipping up to do half an hour's worth of short-game practice in the summer - these shoes are the one.
I could even see a lot of golfers wearing the Flex for certain post-round activities like walking the dog or nipping to the shops, you just wouldn't catch me doing it.
For me, the Flex is an extremely comfortable, good shoe and a step in the right direction for FootJoy but not quite the finished article. I expect the follow up to the Flex to be more up my street, so let's wait and see what 2020 holds...
- Outstanding comfort for more than 18 holes
- Breathable in dry and warm conditions
- Extremely lightweight
- Good amount of choice in terms of colourways
- Outsole seems hard wearing and like it would last
- Attractive price tag
- White colourway will be extremely hard to keep clean
- Looks don't quite do it for me
- For players with faster swing speeds, balance and stability may become an issue
- Not waterproof, wouldn't advise wearing in wet conditions