Can your shoes REALLY add distance? Under Armour says the new Spieth 2 shoes can... so four TG readers put the claim to the test.
How often have you watched the world's best players on TV and thought: "How do they hit it so far with seemingly so little effort?"
There are many differences between a tour player's swing and a club golfer's swing. But one of the biggest is how elite players use the ground to create leverage in their swing. Biomechanics expert Jean-Jacques Rivet is a leader in the field, and he has proved that the vast majority amateurs don't use the ground effectively during their swing.
They sway. They rock. They roll their feet. Their legs wobble and their knees knock... and they don't hit it anywhere near as far as their body would let them by using the ground more effectively. To help them – and give all golfers a more stable platform on which to build power, whether they're Jordan Spieth or a 14-handicapper – Under Armour and Rivet went back to the shoe design drawing board, by examining the human foot and how it moves in a golf swing.
The result is innovative new technology and delivers Rotational Resistance Traction; put simply, a more stable base thanks to unique RST spikes, integrated laces and a sole construction that provides more comfort and swing stability. It all adds up to a power platform that leads to more consistency – and more distance. This focus on traction and comfort is a unique approach to golf footwear design, but typical of the way Under Armour innovates in every market-leading product it creates. The big question, though, is: Does it work?
To find out, we took four TG readers, ranging from five to 11 handicap, to JJ Rivet's Biomecaswing Sport Performance Centre at Terre Blanche in the south of France. There, they compared their own shoes against the Spieth 2s, both on foot pressure sensors and on the course, to find out if they make a difference. The results were startling...(jump to)
Why is your footwork so important in golf?
To maximise your consistency and distance, you need a good coil in your backswing – and for that you need some resistance, to create a disassociation between your lower and upper bodies, to increase elastic muscle energy. Everything must start with your feet. You need to store this energy in your trail foot, so you can transmit it to your upper-body and then your arms, to release the club.
So how do the Spieth 2s help you do this?
In order to use the ground as a base, you need a shoe which is able to help your foot feel where to create this coiling. We looked at a foot without any shoes, and asked "how can we improve the way to create coil?" Understanding which part of the foot helps create the coil led to this design.
How much difference can they make?
We can now talk about the shoe like a golf club – depending on the shoe you're wearing, you can create a natural coil and increase vertical force into the ground. All the guys here improved their coil. In the downswing, we saw much less sideways movement in all the swings. We saw 8-30kg more force, which they were able to release into the ball. Think of it like a slingshot, the more resistance you create – in this case force into the ground – the more speed and power you'll be able to generate in your swing.
You've done lots of work with tour players, but are you pleased with this test on real golfers?
We saw all four guys use the shoes to achieve a minimum improvement of 8kg in vertical force – and a maximum of 33kg! All four had different swings, but better grounding, more stability, and their swing felt more effortless.
TG Readers: Find Out What They Made Of Under Armour's Spieth 2 Shoes - & What They Gained From The Experience
|Name: Paul Pettinger
Home club: Wath Golf Club, South Yorks
Ground force: (own shoes): 130kg
Ground force (Under Armour Spieth 2): 141kg
Increase in ground force: 11kg
I'm really impressed. Straight out of the box they're comfortable, but when you start hitting balls... You don't feel as if you're swinging the club any harder, but you immediately think "that's gone further". Because you've got a more stable base, you're gaining extra yards with less effort, which is exactly what the pros do.
My problem is that I get too much weight on my toes, but in the Spieth 2s I feel like I can get my weight in the heels easier, and my feet stay there as I take the club back and start down. They certainly helped me stay more balanced, and keep more weight on my right foot during the backswing; I can get too much on the left. They feel like they really encompass your feet; your foot doesn't move in the shoe at all.
I do think there's something in it for club golfers, especially players like me who will try anything to get an advantage. If I can find five yards I'll take anything to give me that chance. I've never thought of shoes before as a performance aid, just something you wear on your feet! But to actually see them work on a force plate monitor was amazing, a real eye-opener. I buy a lot of golf kit, but I've always bought shoes based on "they'll look nice with a pair of trousers". I've never thought shoes could help your game – but we've just proved they can.
|Name: Michael Tomlinson
Home club: Rochford Hundred GC, Essex
Ground force: (own shoes): 137kg
Ground force: (Under Armour Spieth 2) 145kg
Increase in Ground force: 8kg
I was taught years ago to set-up on the balls of my feet, in an athletic posture, but the modern power swing comes from the ground, and you need a more stable platform to generate it. The Spieth 2s put me more in my heels and I immediately felt a difference.
They're so comfortable too, straight out of the box – I've played three rounds in three days without a single problem. I've never thought that shoes could help my game – I've always just bought a pair based on the design, comfort and the price. But with the Spieth 2s, the technology is there – you can see it in the spikes and the sole design – and it's helping you hit better, more consistent shots. And the numbers prove it in the data.
If you can gain extra stability, speed and distance from a pair of shoes, why wouldn't you? The numbers speak for themselves. I'm impressed. Since returning from France, I've played in them a lot. As well as still being comfortable, the soles are good on soft ground and the cleats don't get clogged with mud, which I find happens with other shoes. And I still seem to be hitting the ball further staying on my heels, which these shoes encourage you to do!
| Name: Matt Davies
Home club: Magnolia Park, Bucks
Ground force: (own shoes): 110kg
Ground force: (Spieth 2): 118kg
Increase in Ground force: 8kg
It's been an eye-opening experience. The first thing that struck me was how comfortable the Spieth 2s are, particularly when I took them off and put my own shoes back on. And when they're on, you realise how stable they are, both for walking and swinging. My ground force numbers increased immediately – and JJ gave me some drills to work on to increase them even more, wearing shoes that feel more solid and grounded than anything I've ever worn before.
My tendency is to be a bit on the front foot, but the shoes allowed me to get more weight in my heels. The shoes certainly make you feel more planted, and solid to the ground. It means you can hit it as far, if not further, with less effort; it's a strange feeling!
I never thought shoes could help you play better golf shots... until today. It's amazing. In the past, when I've bought golf shoes, I've done so because a pro wears them, they look good or they go with an outfit. You don't actually think of them as a performance tool; I never thought shoes could have this much impact on your game. It's only when you go into it in this depth, and see the numbers, that you appreciate that the swing starts from the ground. When you get it right, it makes a huge difference to your strike.
I think club golfers need to think a bit more about why they're buying a certain pair of shoes. They won't have access to a studio like this, or an expert like JJ Rivet, but they need to have a bit more of an understanding of what a shoe is doing. There's science behind it – and it all stacks up. When you do see how important it is for your feel to be stable as you swing, it's a real eye-opener. There's a performance gain from wearing different shoes – who wouldn't want that? Since I came back from France I've managed to shoot 37 and 39 points in two rounds. One of my playing partners was so impressed that he has bought a pair!
Name: Will Sands
This fitting was really interesting, when you get down to the nitty gritty of how your feet work during the golf swing. I learned a lot, about the shoes and how to swing in them. The numbers back up Under Armour's marketing claims, too. You can feel the shoes working – you can feel they're helping you keep your feet on the ground, and move more force into the ball so you don't lose anything in your bottom half.
I found it got easier the more balls I hit, too – I picked up 10kg of ground force immediately after swopping to the Spieth 2s, but as I hit more balls and got more comfortable with the feeling, that number increased; it finished at 33kg, which equates to four or five yards with a 6-iron. JJ explained things really well, and they've designed the shoes to lock into the ground. So, when you use the technology, and stay more planted, you can swing less hard but you get a better flight and it goes further.
The design of the shoe makes it easier to use your feet correctly in the swing – stay stable, loading your right leg on the way back and then "pushing" off the ground on the way down. Even the spikes have been designed to help you generate more traction. I'm sold on the technology. What they say makes sense. I don't understand why no-one's done it before! JJ believes it's because other brands build on what they've already got, whereas Under Armour started with a foot and a blank sheet of paper.