By John Strege
Who's to say anymore what a golf shoe ought to look like? Convention has been discarded. Function has replaced form.
There might be no more unusual looking golf shoes than those introduced by Vibram Fivefingers at the recent PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
Vibram Fivefingers gained popularity as a running shoe, part of the trend toward footwear that resembles running barefoot, though with a protective layer.
"When you strip away all the cushioning and arch support, what happens is people started running in them and realizing that their gait changed, their biomechnics are different," Tyler Allan, a representative of Vibram, said." So we started realizing it's a lot more beneficial to work out and use these for exercise. So we've been in the fitness and running industry the last few years.
"We thought it made sense [to make a golf shoe]. A lot of golfers are hitting balls barefoot. What we're trying to accomplish is just to give that barefoot feel with traction and with a reputable brand like Vibram providing a barefoot shoe we think will be a great fit for golf."
England's Oliver Wilson caused a stir when he wore Vibram Fivefingers running shoes in the European Tour's Dubai World Championship in 2010.
"So far reaction has been great," Allan said. "We've been testing with all different types of golfers. Everyone is really liking the feedback of being able to feel the ground or the firmness of the greens. We have all these sensory perceptors on our feet, just like our hands, that we haven't been using.
"We used our original Trek sole designed specifically for trail running and we combined that with a lug sole for traction. Spreading out the toes over time increases the strength of the toes. Stronger toes provides better balance."
The Speed XC Lite shown here will retail for $110 and will be available in July. The Speed XC is already in the market and retails for $140.