Every so often certain pieces of golf equipment come along that you know are going to be that little bit special. The sort of products that golfers will be talking about for years. The ones that get the rest of your fourball talking and asking questions. There's no official way to put your finger on why this is, they just are.
This review features not one but three of those products. The culprits? FootJoy have done it again.
What's It All About?
2021 is a biggy for FootJoy. It is celebrating 75 consecutive years as the number 1 shoe on the PGA Tour, which I'm sure you'll agree is an impressive streak. With that in mind they've decided to throw the kitchen sink at it with their footwear collection and basically throw a party to celebrate everything we've grown to love about FJ.
This year has already seen the introduction of a number of new FootJoy models to the golf footwear market. Notable mentions go to the Stratos and the HyperFlex III we've already reviewed, but the Premiere Series no doubt takes the headlines.
The Premiere Series is all about celebrating the history and heritage of the FootJoy brand and features three different models of shoe: Flint, Packard and Tarlow, which are all inspired by FootJoy family legends from over the years.
This is 2021 however so whilst tradition is top of the agenda here, FJ is still making the most of modern day technologies to offer the ultimate in performance to the modern golfer across the line-up. FootJoy call it "inspired by then, and supercharged for now".
For this review I will playing golf in two of the three models, the Flint and the Tarlow. 9 holes in each pair at the stunning Prestbury Golf Club to see how they perform. My colleague Dan also came along for the ride, sporting a pair of the Packard to see how they stacked up.
Conditions were wet and cold to start with but brightened up as the round went on. A typical spring day in the North of England.
FootJoy Premiere Series Golf Shoe Review
Inspired by Perley Flint, a Harvard graduate and avid golfer who designed FootJoy's first golf shoe in the 1920's, there isn't much to dislike about the Flint model. The design is simple, classic and very uncluttered from every angle.
A ChromoSkin leather is used in the upper, which is highlighted by some embossed detailing on the saddle area. There is also a refined FJ ornament as well as piping on the side to just add that little bit of detail.
I tested the shoes in Navy/Red colourway and I have to say I'm not usually a fan of Navy golf shoes (I've never owned a pair), but after a few holes I was sold with the Flint. The shaping was narrow around the toes and everything looked just they way it should from a pair of golf shoes.
For me the only slight drawback when it came to looks was the outsole seemed to stick out quite a lot from the upper, especially around the toe. I just found this to catch my eye a lot during the test as well as be a safe resting place for plenty of course debris including sand, grass and the odd bit of mud.
The crazy thing with new Premiere Series is that these shoes certainly don't look like they are going to be that comfortable, but I can assure you they are. I found the Flint to be the most comfortable in the range in fact.
This is down to the Ortholite EcoPlush FitBed that delivers on it's promise of perimeter stability in the heel as well as super-soft and comfortable custom underfoot cushioning.
I found the Flint to offer a great blend of stiffness and softness under the foot. It may seem silly but sometimes I think modern golf shoes can be a little 'too comfy' so you lose stability and engagement with the turf, which I think is key to making a good golf swing. There's none of that with the Flint as the insole offers a great balance.
This is the only area I can offer any type of criticism for the Flint as I thought the spikeless VersaTrax+ outsole would offer me more grip to be honest. This new tread pattern that is in each shoe throughout the Premiere Series is said to be 'anti-channelling and is engineered to provide grip for any lie'.
Basically it utilises multiple TPU compounds to grip any surface and is made up of a harder TPU for on-course grip (the silver triangles) and a softer TPU for traction on harder surfaces (the navy smaller triangles).
There were two problems I found when testing at Prestbury - I slipped a couple of times during my golf swing. In fairness It was wet underfoot and the grass was a little slippy but still I wouldn't have expected to lose my footing the way I did.
Secondly I felt the that the outsole seemed to collect quite a lot of debris over the first few holes, making the shoes that little bit less lightweight. I like the idea of the VersaTrax+ outsole, but in practice there were some instances where it didn't perform as highly as I thought it would.
Now the Tarlow is the shoe that really got me excited about the new Premiere Series. What an unbelievable looking golf shoe. In my opinion they are exactly how golf shoes should look, I'd go as far to say some of the best I've ever seen.
Inspired again by big names in the FootJoy family: Bill and Dick Tarlow, they bought the business in 1957 and decided to focus it primarily on golf and, well, the rest is history.
The Tarlow features a modern interpretation of the timeless cap toe design using a natural grain leather in the vamp and quarter, which is complemented by a croc print in the heel, cap toe and eyestay.
I tested the White model but they are also available in a White/Navy contrast which are undoubtedly the most eye-catching shoes in the Premiere Series range. Turn up rocking these beauties and you better be able to play though, they're not for the faint-hearted.
What else can I say? Proper looking golf shoes that really pop.
Like the Flint, the Tarlow shoes are a lot comfier than you would expect - especially in the heel area which at first glance looked a little scary. I really didn't expect them to deliver the level of out-of-the-box comfort that they offered.
Luxurious, soft and supple sheepskin linings inside the Tarlow also offered a firm yet comforting feel that hugged the foot into place for the duration of my test.
The laser street last offered the perfect fit for my feet too: full rounded toe character, standard forefoot and instep with a slightly narrow heel and refined toe shape for a classic profile. I not only think this shape looks great but it also offered great comfort.
No rubbing, no niggles, no aches - no qualms at all in the comfort department once again.
As well as looking slightly better than the Flint, I also thought the Tarlow performed better. I mentioned that the spikeless VersaTrax+ outsole didn't do too much for me in the grip department. So what was it missing? The answer is simple - Softspikes.
With the simple addition of pulsar low profile cleats by Softspikes to the outsole, it performed magnificently. What I really loved about both shoes was how low to the ground I felt - this is an important factor for me with golf shoes. I want to feel like I'm locked into the turf but can also use it during the swing for the ultimate in feel.
With the Flint, I'd think twice before wearing them in wet conditions. With the Tarlow - you'll have no such issues.
Quick mention also to the shoes' waterproofing. On a number of occasions I found myself searching for ball in thick, wet rough at Prestbury (I'll blame Dan - not me) and the shoes stood up very well. No leaking even through the laces section in both the Tarlow and Flint models. You can also be reassured by each shoe coming with a 1-year waterproof warranty.
FootJoy Premiere Series Golf Shoes Verdict
There is a lot to love about the new Premiere Series golf shoes. They are a celebration of all things FootJoy new and old and I have to say it was a joy to get out and review them. I love the heritage story and the fact that the names are inspired by FootJoy family legends.
It's a respectful doff of the cap to what you would call traditional golf shoe design for eye-catching aesthetics, whilst using modern technologies to offer the ultimate in performance.
Out of the three models it's fair to say that the spiked offerings (Tarlow and Packard) came out on top during the test, simply down to the VersaTrax+ outsole not quite offering the grip I wanted on some golf shots. But hey, don't be put off by this - one shoe had spikes, they other didn't - it's clear which is going to offer more grip.
Already we've seen FootJoy ambassadors taking to the fairways in the Premiere Series bringing a real element of style back to the PGA and European Tours. The likes of Justin Thomas, Ian Poulter, Adam Scott and Billy Horschel really have caught the eye and I thank FootJoy for that.
In a world of Air Jordan and Air Max, sometimes it's good to be a Tarlow.
Would I Use Them?
Yes. The FootJoy Premiere Series Tarlow will be my shoe of choice on those special golfing occasions for the next few years.
They are comfortable, high-performing, timeless and will compliment any golf outfit under the sun - what more could you want?
- Stunning looks in each model - especially the Tarlow
- Unexpectedly comfortable
- Tour validation
- Great blend of modern tech with classic design
- Good choice of spiked/spikeless models
- Good price tag compared to classic FootJoy shoes of the past
- Waterproof warranty
- VersaTrax+ spikeless outsole wasn't that grippy
- Outsole collected some debris
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