FootJoy introduced the original Flex model two years ago in 2019. Designed to be the answer to their tour ambassadors turning up to professional events in trainers made by other shoe manufacturers (whilst still being fit for the golf course, of course), the Flex model was met with a positive reaction by the golfers around the world.
The Flex certainly did a job for FootJoy, it filled a gap - specifically that lightweight, spikeless, wear-it-anywhere, casual, summer-type golf shoe gap - in their golf shoe range at the time.
However, during my testing I found the shoes to be somewhat lacking in the performance department. Although FootJoy made it clear that these shoes were not all about performance and it would have been very unlikely to see a tour pro swinging it 120mph plus wearing the Flex shoes, still if your golf shoes don't perform there's little point in wearing them, right?
Step forward the FootJoy Flex XP - the big brother to the Flex has arrived...
What's It All About?
'Playability with Unmatched Versatility' is what FootJoy claim the Flex XP will offer golfers. if you're not quite sure what that means, let me try to explain.
A lot of the same features and ideas from the original Flex remain, however they have been improved slightly. Everything seems to have just been made that little bit more performance-centred: slightly tighter fit, sturdier build quality, a little harder midsole, and more support around the heel and outsole.
The Flex XP also offers an engineered waterproof mesh upper with one-year warranty. Proprietary VersaTrax rubber outside delivers versatile on/off course traction.
To test the Flex XP I played 18 holes at JCB Golf and Country Club.
Not only is JCB a serious test of golf, it's hardly flat either - in fact it's also a serious walk. From green, tee, cart path, bunker, thick rough, fescue, (some) fairways and back again - I put the FootJoy Flex XP through a thorough test to say the least on what was a fairly dry day that started off wet under foot with plenty of dew to test this shoe's traction.
FootJoy Flex XP Golf Shoes Review
I tested the FootJoy Flex XP shoes in the newly introduced Camo Grey colourway, and I have to say for something supposed to be camouflage - you certainly aren't going to miss them. The shoe also comes in Blue, Green, Black and Grey uppers which all look great so there is plenty of choice to match up your outfits, or get a couple of different pairs for the different seasons if you're that way inclined...
I quite like the new Flex XP upper design, they are not my favourite looking spikeless golf shoe in the world but it's certainly an improvement on the original Flex shoe. It's sleeker and therefore more stylish and I think losing the strapping around the middle section has certainly cleaned up the overall aesthetic.
The performance mesh upper again looks a lot better than the previous plan upper - I felt that had a shine to it that just looked a little cheap. No sign of that here.
The shaping has been addressed too resulting in the XP model just having a more sporty, youthful look, because of this I think they therefore tick the versatility box better than ever - they'd go better with casual clothes off the course for definite.
Comfort was never really going to be an issue with this shoe was it?
The EVA midsole really does the trick here. It is both soft and supportive, meaning that FJ have struck a nice balance between softness below your feet for walking the golf course, whilst also delivering firmness in the right areas on which to build the golf swing on.
One area in which I could criticise is the tongue of the shoe. Well, I say the tongue, but there really isn't a tongue at all - we'll go with the 'lace area' instead. Because there isn't too much support or padding in this area, if the laces are tied quite tightly, you may find that the top of your foot may start to ache slightly after a few holes. Personally I was ok as I didn't need to tie these shoes too tightly, but I can imagine it becoming a problem for some golfers that do, or that may have a high instep.
Apart from that niggle, everything else was all good. I particularly liked the heel area of the shoe in which my foot felt secured and really hugged by the shoe and I can't imagine any golfers finding anything to complain about comfort-wise with the Flex XP.
The XPs performed well during my test I have to say. The VersaTrax outsole said to offer max traction for every lie and every condition is actually no different to the outsole in the original Flex - which I didn't rate. The anti-channelling tread pattern engineered to provide traction coverage and reduced slippage remains exactly the same and for me still has it's drawbacks. I just don't think it's that grippy in all honesty.
I can't help but think that FJ may have been close to perfection in a spikeless shoe with a slight improvement on the outsole.
Having said that, I still think the performance of this shoe is decent. Because of the changes to the upper and the slight improvements throughout the main body of the shoe: sockliner, laces system, improved midsole, more secure heel, and just a more secure fit - this made the shoe perform better anyway.
I felt pretty comfortable making swings from hairy lies and tough positions on the course, more because of the security in the fit of the shoe, not the traction the outsole offered me.
I'd like to see an update to the VersaTrax outsole on the next version of a Flex, if there is to be one. I think that would make it a serious contender for one of the best shoes on the market.
FootJoy Flex XP Golf Shoes Verdict
Overall a lot of golfers will get a lot of joy out of the Flex XP golf shoes. As I've mentioned they are certainly an improvement on the original model and I think the performance mesh upper is pretty impressive.
To have an upper as comfortable as it is, whilst being breathable and waterproof is a big bonus.
Again for me though, these shoes will just miss out on a 5-star rating because the traction just isn't high performing enough. It's all well and good making a waterproof shoe for the ever-changing European weather conditions to keep your feet dry, but if you're still going to slip when it's wet then what's the point?
In my mind you need both to work hand in hand to be truly waterproof.
Would I Use Them?
Yes: for the driving range, for that quick nine holes, if I was nipping into the clubhouse for lunch first, if I didn't want to take a spare pair of shoes to change into - you get the picture - in that kind of scenario, you could wear these shoes all day long.
- Improvement on the original Flex model
- Out of the box comfort
- Solid and frim base to build swing from
- Varied styles and colourways
- Secure fit
- Traction still could be improved
- Aesthetics still leave a little to be desired
- Outsole felt a little heavy
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