Model: FootJoy Pro/SL
Upper Material: ChromoSkin Pittards
Sole Material: TPU
Colorways: 4 – (4 laces / 1 BOA)
Price: $149.99 /$169.99 BOA
There’s an argument to be made that FootJoy’s Pro/SL is the opposite of its FreeStyle, which we reviewed earlier this season.
While FreeStyle can be described as an exceptionally mobile spiked golf shoe, the Pro/SL offers an incredibly stable, spikeless, alternative. That alone makes the Pro/SL a bit of an enigma. It’s not at all what we expect from a spikeless design, and in that, lies its brilliance.
The Pro/SL Design
The bulk of the FootJoy Pro/SL is constructed from FootJoy’s proprietary FTF (Fine Tuned Foam) material, which is 10% lighter than more commonly-used EVA foam. The first layer of the FTF material is softer to provide cushioning and comfort, while the second layer is firmer for support and balance during the swing.
The spikeless sole is made from a durable TPU material. In this case, spikeless is a bit of a misnomer. Instead of the nubs found on most spikeless models, the Pro/SL features what I’d describe as a needle design. While not as long or as sharp (and destructive) as the old metal spikes, the primary spike pattern does offer some similarity of design.
Finally, the upper is made from ChromoSkin leather from Pittards. The total package comes with the 2-year waterproof warranty you’d expect from FootJoy.
Aesthetically, a bold colorway or two aside, the Pro/SL has a bit of a conservative slant to it; especially when contrast with the more audacious FreeStyle.
One reader described it as a nurse shoe. I didn’t initially see it, but I suppose there’s a hint of it in the white colorways. That said, nobody’s hit me with “nice shoes, grandpa,” so I think they’re plenty good enough in the looks department.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, we can’t exactly put a golf shoe on a launch monitor, so we have to settle for an admittedly subjective look at what I believe are the key metrics that contribute to golf shoe performance.
As it does with most of its offerings, FootJoy offers the Pro/SL is a multitude of size/width combinations. My count puts that number at +/-35 options in the laced, white colorway. Nobody in the industry will match that number.
Performance begins with finding a comfortable fit, and nobody in the golf shoe business goes to greater lengths than FootJoy to ensure golfers can find a shoe that fits properly.
Sizing benefits aside, I experienced no comfort issues of any consequence while wearing the Pro/SL. I was able to get in roughly the equivalent of 10 rounds of golf, all walking, all over hilly terrain while wearing the Pro/SL.
From a pure comfort perspective, the Pro/SL is nearly flawless. No break-in required, no blisters, no discomfort; beginning with my walk from the parking lot to the first tee and ending when the snow fell several rounds later.
One minor comfort note: from time to time, while walking, I did notice some contact between the edge of the tongue and my foot. The tongue hits right at the hinge between shin and foot. This could be limited to the BOA model. It could also be related to my particular anatomy or even the crease in my socks.
As I said, it’s a minor thing. I wouldn’t call it a discomfort so much as an awareness, but it did notice it on occasion. Your actual mileage may vary.
On comfort alone, the Pro/SL is a winner.
Stability and Traction
Stability and Traction are without question the most interesting facets of the Pro/SL design. In most cases, there’s an inherent trade-off that comes from moving between spiked and spikeless shoes. More often than not, you must sacrifice stability and sacrifice traction, to gain the everyday comfort and sometimes the aesthetic of a street shoe.
Almost none of that applies to the Pro/SL.
In every meaningful respect, the Pro/SL is a real golf shoe that just happens to have non-replaceable spikes. That minor distinction aside, it can hold its own with any other non-spikeless golf shoe on the market.
What does that mean?
The Pro/SL is stable like a real golf shoe. It offers, for example, far less mobility than the FreeStyle. There isn’t that wobbly foot, tentacles gripping the ground sensation like there is with FreeStyle. Frankly, that’s what I love of about FreeStyle, but I get that it’s not for everyone. In that respect, the Pro/SL is much more mainstream.
Now it’s true; the Pro/SL’s stability certainly costs you in versatility, and it lacks the vibe of a street shoe. Both of those potential drawbacks contribute to what makes the Pro/SL such a revelation in the spikeless category.
The Pro/SL is the rare spikeless golf shoe that’s infinitely better suited to the golf course than casual Fridays at the office.
Traction isn’t just good, or adequate; it’s exceptional. It’s on par, and arguably better than many replacement spike models.
While initially, I tested the Pro/SL in reasonably dry conditions, I did the bulk of my testing in the soft fall conditions of a dwindling New York golf season. Wet grass, muddy, leaves everywhere, etc.; basically, I gave the Pro/SL every opportunity to fail and instead, it exceeded my expectations every literal step of the way.
No slipping, minimal clogging, and no bleeding. Infinitely comfortable and nearly perfect.
As I said earlier, I have less than a dozen rounds in the Pro/SL to date. Consider this section incomplete and ongoing, but thus far there are no durability concerns to report. All aspects of the shoe are holding up well with no visible wear on the spikes themselves.
The Final Word
It’s the kind of praise that might make the FootJoy team cringe just a bit, but the Pro/SL is the perfect shoe for golfers who hate spikeless shoes. That only tells half the story.
I don’t hate spikeless shoes.
I’m a guy who likes spikeless shoes just fine, so long as it’s dry, and I’m not playing in a tournament, and there’s no meaningful amount of money on the line. If I’m playing for anything at all, I’m playing in spikes. At least I was.
While I still mix in the FreeStyle and some other spiked favorites from time to time, the Pro/SL is the first spikeless shoe that I’ll confidently wear in any conditions.
The combination of comfort, stability, and traction I’ve personally experienced helps to explain why so many of FootJoy’s PGA Tour staffers have made the jump to this shoe. It’s that good.
For more information, visit FootJoy.com