ORLANDO -- At the risk of you not reading past this first sentence, I have a confession to make: I have average-looking feet. Indeed, if my feet had a handicap index, I think they'd be about a 14.5, which (sadly) mirrors my actual handicap index.
What does that have to do with anything, you might ask? Well, I was walking past the Vibram Golf booth at the PGA Merchandise Show and noticed the unusual looking footwear the Italian-based company with its U.S. headquarters in Concord, Mass., sells.
Rather than the traditional rounded toe of an ordinary shoe, what you have with Vibram's assorted offerings are five actual toes that you stick your own little piggies in. (They refer to them as "five fingers," which seems to suggest somebody missed anatomy class, but I digress.) The shoe looks like an actual foot, and if you have average looking feet, well ... you see where I'm going with this.
The unusual design stopped me long enough to learn that this is the second year Vibram has offered a spikeless golf line. The V-Classic ($130, with a washable polyester mesh upper) and the V-Classic LR ($190, with a kangaroo leather upper) are the new models the company is showing off here. And there seems to be some honest-to-goodness science to support the unorthodox look.
The "Five Fingers" design, according to the company, lets your feet and toes curl and flex as they would if you were walking barefoot. In turn your balance and stability are honed in a natural way, allowing you to strengthen your lower leg and foot, and, in theory, reduce injuries.
The shoes have found a niche among runners. Logically, given the amount of walking done on a golf course, there would seem to be a market here as well. Maybe you recall old photos of Sam Snead hitting balls while barefoot? By being connected directly to the ground, he said it allowed him to make a more proficient swing. In theory, the Vibram shoes would do the same thing.
Plus, by wearing them you wouldn't have to see my average feet.