How do you make the best shoe in golf and one of the best shoes in the history of the game better? Well, if anyone can, it’s FootJoy. But I suppose the real question here is not how but if FootJoy have managed to achieve it or not?
Introducing the long-awaited Pro|SL and Pro|SL Carbon golf shoes for 2020.
What’s It All About?
Same name, pretty much the same styling, so what’s new I hear you ask? To be honest, not very much, and that’s not a criticism from me, that’s coming straight from FootJoy themselves. When consulting Tour players about how they should change the original Pro|SL, introduced back in November 2016, the answer from FootJoy’s nearest and dearest was pretty resounding: “Don’t!”.
However, based on the success of the Pro|SL, FootJoy was always going to bring out a new updated version, it was inevitable really, and here's the technicalities of what they have done to improve things.
Surprise, surprise, the all-new Pro|SL is said to offer more traction and stability for the golfer. Therefore, probably the biggest change you will see from the old Pro|SL is the new infinity outsole. This completely redesigned outsole is in the shape of a figure of 8, or an infinity symbol if you’re the FootJoy marketing team.
With 189 points of traction it’s said to deliver superb contact with the ground and the perfect foundation for the golf swing. In short – the outsole in the new Pro|SL is wider for that little bit more stability. Specifically – the heel is 11.5% wider.
The old Pro|SL set new standards for the level of comfort a golf shoe could offer and it looks like the new Pro|SL will do the same. A dual density midsole is said to deliver both stability and cushioning. Whereas the new Carbon model features an ortholites impressions fitbed which I first tested in the FJ Fury shoe of 2019, and was seriously impressed with. It was the shoe's standout feature.
The all-new Carbon does exactly what it says on the tin. FootJoy have taken the Pro|SL blueprint and fitted it with an integrated full-length carbon fibre insert in the midsole. The carbon fibre is said to flex and elastically snap back to its moulded position with each step. This is said to give golfers better energy return whilst walking, and result in less leg and foot fatigue at the end of the round.
“We’ve developed a product that delivers more stability, more traction, more comfort and more choice, setting the standard in performance footwear, again”.
Richard Fryer, Director of Product Management FJ Footwear.
Hear more from Richard as we caught up with him in person at the 2020 PGA Show.
There's a lot of big claims being thrown about by FJ here - time to hit the course.
When golfers see the Pro|SL next to the Pro|SL Carbon in their local golf shop, they will be asking why the £30 difference in price? So I wanted to test that and find out whether there is much difference.
An impressive looking shoe launch like this deserves an impressive looking golf course to test it on, so after a few days at the 2020 PGA Show, I headed to Grand Cypress and played the front nine in the Pro|SL Carbon and the back nine in the Pro|SL. At this point I would like to point out that although I am self-confessed golf shoe addict, I don’t normally change shoes on the 10th tee every time I play.
Perks of the job eyyyy…?
FootJoy Pro|SL Golf Shoe Review
Looks-wise with the Pro|SL, I suppose the beauty is, there is nothing to not like. The Pro|SL as a stand-alone shoe brand is astonishingly No.2 behind FootJoy as a whole in terms of sales since 2017. I think that's been one of the main reasons for the Pro|SL's success - there's not a golfer on the planet who could look at them and dislike them.
The main design feature giving these shoes some shelf appeal is a new powerharness on the redesigned upper. Apart from being aesthetically striking, it is said to offer medial and lateral control to the foot. This feature is something we have seen in FootJoy shoes for years now, most recently, the Tour X shoes which feature a powerstrap. The difference in name? Another one for the marketing team...
The Pro|SL shoe feels lightweight and nimble to hold and touch. This is mainly to the redesigned upper featuring chromoskin leather by Pittards. FJ use Pittards premium leather in the majority of their top-end offerings and it goes without saying it's good quality stuff.
As I previously mentioned, another new aspect of the Pro|SL is the slightly altered outsole unit. Before I get onto analysing the infinity outsole and the benefits of that, the make up of the outsole has been altered too. It's built up of three separate sections that sit on top of one another.
It's advanced design has two densities of FJ finetuned foam (which is what the FTF stands for on the side of the shoe). The three sections are: a firm FTF around the perimeter for support and control, a softer FTF underfoot for cushioning, and the actual infinity outsole.
I have to say the Pro|SL shoes are extremely comfy to swing and walk in. Out of the box and straight on to the golf course I had no issues at all. The combination of the super-soft leather upper, the powerharness which hugged the bridge of my foot giving support around the laces, and finally the FTF outsole, really put a spring in my step.
I also preferred the wider outsole. Whether 11.5% more width can really make that much difference on my performance on the golf course, I'm struggling to confirm. However even if it was a just a placebo effect when standing over the ball, seeing and feeling like I had a more solid base to make a a golf swing upon - I'm a fan. Especially with the big dog in hand - you feel like you're strapped in.
FootJoy Pro|SL Carbon Golf Shoe Review
Moving on to the Pro|SL Carbon shoes. To quote FootJoy when I first heard about these shoes last year: "It's basically the Pro|SL on steroids."
By steroids, I think what FootJoy means is a few more bells and whistles. These come in the form of: a tour spec stretch tongue, and carbon fibre inlay through the midsole, a 3D moulded heel collar and the aforementioned ortholite impressions insole.
These four aspects are going to cost you £30. So do I think it's worth it? Yes. I think these new features make all the difference to be honest. Comparing the Pro|SL shoes directly to the Carbon in the same round of golf meant that I could see the differences in the shoes immediately.
Firstly, I think the Pro|SL Carbon shoes are comfier. This is down to the ortholite insole and 3D moulded heel combo. The ortholite impressions fitbed is one of the best insoles in golf.
It's got a really spongy and soft feel to it like a premium memory foam mattress. Firm enough when you want it to be, but soft enough too.
However the main difference here in the shoes technology-wise is the proprietary FTF midsole which features a lightweight, carbon insert for enhanced stability and motion control. As I explained, the carbon fibre flexes and elastically snaps back to its moulded position while walking and allowing the legs to work less, leaving you less fatigued after a round.
This is something I can't really agree with or confirm. It may have done, but compared to the standard Pro|SL, as you imagine, it's extremely hard to tell.
Aesthetically, it's hard to tell the two models apart but the new Carbon just looks that little bit meatier. It features some extra bits of nice detailing and TLC here and there. For example, the carbon fibre supports on the heel, the metallic eyelets and even the laces just have more of a rugged, 'techy' feel to them.
I think all in all these small additions will see the more avid, slightly better players perhaps leaning towards the Carbon. Whether I fall into that category or not, I'd go with Carbon all day, simply because of the extra heel support and comfort.
FootJoy Pro|SL & Pro|SL Carbon Shoe Verdict
After testing, I could see keen golfers buying both shoes. The Pro|SL would be a golfer's summer shoe - it's a little more breathable and lightweight whereas you really could play in the Pro|SL Carbon in any conditions. It just offers that little more warmth, comfort, support and as I said looks a little meatier. Regardless of seasons - Pro|SL would be your Sunday afternoon 9 hole pair, Carbon would be your Saturday morning medal pair.
I would like to readdress my original question of how you make the Pro|SL better. After testing the new Pro|SL I would like to retract that statement and say it’s not a question of how, more a question of which Pro|SL model you choose to play your golf in for the 2020 season. It really is a simple as that, both these golf shoes are that good.
Personally I would choose the Carbon model as the extra comfort with the ortholite sole and extra padding around the heel really made the difference for me. And the small issue of the extra £30? It really is a small issue. Correct me if I'm wrong, but golfers paying £150 plus for a pair of golf shoes, I can't see them really missing the extra £30 if it's the Carbon they prefer based on the extra comfort.
Would I Use It?
I'm already looking forward to my next round of golf in these shoes.
FootJoy Pro|SL Pros
- Classic design still remains
- Good price point
- Premium waterproof leather upper
- Comfy feel under the foot due to FTF midsole.
FootJoy Pro|SL Cons
- Leather heel may rub a little for some golfers out of the box
FootJoy Pro|SL Carbon Pros
- Ortholite impressions fitbed is super-comfy
- 3D moulded heel collar adds extra support and comfort
- Design hugs the foot well
- Looks will appeal to more avid golfers
FootJoy Pro|SL Carbon Cons
- Hard to say whether carbon fibre really makes a real difference taking into account price difference