Golf Shoe 101: Do Materials Matter?
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Golf Shoe 101: Do Materials Matter?

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Golf Shoe 101: Do Materials Matter?

A few months ago I wrote about the new adidas S2G: a $110 spikeless shoe made primarily from leather. What I didn’t know at the time was that adidas offered the same shoe, sans leather, for $10 less. The “normal” S2G is made from ripstop rather than leather.

This discovery has led me on a journey that I’m happy to share with you. The goal? Tofind the answer to this burning question: Do materials make a difference? Put a different way: given the choice between the two shoes of differing material construction, which is best?

For golf footwear specifically, I’ve always gravitated towards real materials (leathers, suedes, etc.) and have stayed away from synthetics. But the existence of two different S2G models from adidas has me reconsidering my stance.

I’ve thoroughly compared and contrasted both the leather and ripstop adidas S2G golf shoes, and I’ve spent time speaking with materials experts to learn more. Here’s what I’ve learned about footwear material science and how different materials might impact your performance on the golf course.

My Take

Before we talk about what the actual experts have to say, I want to share my thoughts. As mentioned, I’m a sucker for leather and real, raw materials. That said, a quick comparison of the S2G in both ripstop and leather has me curious.

Weight

The first thing I noticed about the two shoes was the weight difference. On the scale, the ripstop S2G is about one ounce lighter than its leather counterpart, confirming my original hypothesis.

One ounce doesn’t sound like a lot but in hand and on foot, there is a noticeable difference in weight. Unlike golf clubs where taking weight from one area gives engineers room to add weight to another, a material change to save weight just makes the shoe that much lighter. The weight isn’t reallocated or moved around.

In my experience with golf shoes, a lighter golf shoe is (most of the time) inherently more comfortable.

Comfort

Speaking of comfort, the material difference in both shoes does change the overall comfort, at least at first. Comfort is obviously subjective so take what I say with a grain of salt. The reality is that the ripstop is thinner and lighter and requires no break-in time. It’s flexible and moves with the foot. The leather, while still comfortable, is thicker and requires some breaking in.

As you know, a broken-in, worn-in leather is soft and supple. But right out of the box, the leather S2G doesn’t feel that way.

Over time. the leather will start to flex, stretch and mold to your foot. But in the meantime, fresh out the box, the ripstop S2G feels a little bit more comfortable.

Durability

As far as wear and durability, I’d have to give the edge to ripstop. The material itself was created to be highly durable so it’s used often in outdoor gear, stuff that needs to take a beating. The weaving process makes ripstop inherently tear-resistant, hence the name.

Leather is also naturally durable but, without proper care, can start to break down over time. Not to mention the possibility of stretching, which could throw off the entire fit of your shoes. The woven ripstop should be less prone to stretch, meaning the fit you start with is the same fit you’ll have for the lifetime of the shoes.

What a Materials Expert Has to Say

After my initial analysis of the adidas S2G golf shoes, I was able to interview a member of the adidas material development team to get further insight into the two district golf shoe offerings.

My biggest question: Why would someone choose ripstop over leather?

“Ripstop textile is a woven fabric engineered to be more resistant to tearing or ripping.” said Chase Aaronson, Senior Manager of Materials Development, adidas Golf.

“These characteristics—durable, protective, and lightweight—make ripstop a popular material choice for the outdoor industry. However, since these qualities are also essential for golf, our team felt this was an opportunity to introduce this versatile textile into the S2G line, a family built to endure various conditions.”

Ripstop, unlike leather, is synthetic. As such, it allows the development team to control performance attributes and even “customize” the material to serve different purposes.

“Ripstops are commonly made of synthetic fibers so they are more uniform in appearance, more resilient to change over time and can be developed in a wide range of weights, textures and constructions,” Aaronson continued.

“The material variance is based on the ability to change fiber size, yarn size and construction, giving it completely different functionalities such as high breathability or wind resistance, depending on the weave density.”

But what about leather? Surely it has its performance merits, too.

The key difference here, though, is the absence of “control.” Using natural materials like leather doesn’t allow for real material development in the same sense of working with synthetics like ripstop. Instead, the challenge is to find ways to enhance the natural capabilities and performance characteristics that already exist.

“The characteristic that makes leather stand out from other types of footwear is that it is a natural material that molds to your foot.” Aaronson said. “For the golfer, this adaptability contributes to a high level of comfort.

“With the correct treatment, leathers can also be water-resistant, preventing water absorption from the grass or wet climates.”

Which Should You Buy?

If I had to recommend one shoe over the other, I’d suggest the ripstop pair. That’s a shock, even to me. For $10 less, you’re getting better performance in some categories.

As for Aaronson? It’s a toss-up.

“The ripstop version provides an athletic, outdoor-inspired look with a slight weight reduction due to the textile upper while the leather version has a classic, refined look that ages nicely with each round played.”

Whichever side you’re on, the real winner here is you. As a consumer, it’s awesome to have so many great options, both natural and synthetic.

The big takeaway is to have an open mind when it comes to shopping for golf shoes. Leather is nice but companies like adidas have put in time and effort to make synthetics that perform just as well or, in some cases, better than natural materials.

The choice is yours and the options are plentiful. All that’s left is to try out a new pair of golf shoes.

This article was written in partnership with adidas.

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Connor Lindeman

Connor Lindeman

Connor Lindeman

Connor is MyGolfSpy's resident sneakerhead who believes that golf is more enjoyable with a fresh pair of kicks. When he isn't scrolling Twitter to find his next golf shoe purchase, you can find him at the piano or trying a new dessert place with his wife. #Lefty

Connor Lindeman

Connor Lindeman

Connor Lindeman

Connor Lindeman

Connor Lindeman

Connor Lindeman

Connor Lindeman

Connor Lindeman





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      Max Jhamani

      3 weeks ago

      Consider microfiber (composition) leather materials or even knit uppers.
      We’re finding most golfers are moving towards lightweight materials. Lightweight and waterproof.
      Will take this opportunity to shamelessly plug our line of golf shoes by Exatek.

      Reply

      Wanger Michael

      3 weeks ago

      leather is much better in terms of sweat, heat, stability, smell,…..and lasts longer. I just bought the new FJ HyperFlex Carbon and all leather shoes I had in the past are much better especially in stability and comfortability, after 6 month I had to put them into the trash can. So please keep manufacturing leather shoes, we will pay for them, I know brands only like very high margins and plastic is very cheap.

      Reply

      David B

      3 weeks ago

      For me, the deal-breaker in any pair of golf shoes is waterproofing. I won’t buy a pair of shoes that isn’t waterproof. You didn’t mention that parameter in your review

      Reply

      Tom G

      3 weeks ago

      This feels similar to the Footjoy Pro SL and the Pro SL Sport. I’ve been loving the Pro SL Sport, but have never seen it discussed in most venues as a legit option, and now it seems like Footjoy is moving away, but man, that’s a great golf shoe with a textile upper just like was described in this article. Surpised they haven’t become more common or get more words on golf sites.

      Reply

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    First Look
    Jun 12, 2024
    Want a Personal Shopper? Try Short Par 4
    Drivers
    Jun 11, 2024
    Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver
    Putters
    Jun 11, 2024
    Triple Black Evnroll 38 Tour Spec Putters