Inside the BOA Performance Fit Lab
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Inside the BOA Performance Fit Lab

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Inside the BOA Performance Fit Lab

Which is more technologically advanced: a light switch or a pair of shoes with BOA’s proprietary performance fit system? We all know what a light switch does. At one point, it was revolutionary. Now it’s an afterthought. Conversely, how much “technology” could a pair of golf shoes contain?

Some companies would have you believe that the right pair of shoes can help you hit the ball further and shoot lower scores. So what in the name of Bill Bowerman is going on here?

BOA Technology believes it has an answer. More importantly, its crack team of Ph.D-equipped researchers is charged with creating a repository of information that assesses the impact of various closure systems on a range of athletic movements. In 2018, BOA constructed a performance laboratory at its Denver, Colo., headquarters. The directive was simple: gather evidence that the academic community would accept which supported a clear and definitive performance benefit on footwear that leveraged BOA’s unique performance fit system.

Easier said than done.

WHAT IS BOA?

 

Quick recap. While the brand name might not conjure up a clear response, many golfers recognize shoes with that “twisty, dial thingy” instead of traditional laces. The short version is that BOA believes its system can offer athletes a better-fitting shoe. And if a shoe fits better, it will lead to enhanced performance.

Those are the generalities. How well a shoe fits involves several criteria. The same is true for performance. And though terms like “comfort” introduce an element of subjectivity, most of this stuff can be measured. It stands to reason that if it can be measured, the data can be assessed, studied and ultimately passed along to the consumer.

BOA is already the dominant player in multiple product categories and markets. But the golf industry is often slow to adopt cutting-edge materials or technologies. Some of that is likely due to the game’s reputation as a traditional pursuit. Other factors include time, cost and perceived benefit.

That said, progress is still undefeated. It’s why we can tell Alexa to turn off the lights instead of flipping the switch.

BACK IN THE BOA PERFORMANCE FIT LAB

BOA’s Performance Fit Lab is a state-of-the-art facility charged with “advancing human performance by conducting independent scientific studies that measure the biomechanical impact of fit.” Translation: If the technology works, BOA is adamant that it be able to prove its efficacy. Moreover, the bar set by the academic community as what qualifies as evidence is quite a bit higher than the annual performance claims typically trotted out by equipment manufacturers. Often brands go with whatever the legal department can comfortably support. BOA’s team is subject to peer review from an industry full of Ph.D holders.

Inside the BOA Performance Fit Lab, teams evaluate three key measures of performance: agility and speed, power and precision, and endurance and health. Golf fits under the second area of study: power and precision.

SWING LAB

Using a complex system of force plates, proprietary software and Trackman launch monitors, researchers can calculate how athletes generate power and translate it into the golf swing. In its most basic form, that’s the purpose of a golf swing: to create maximal power and transfer it to the ball.

In the process of determining what, if any, quantifiable benefit exists, the team ran numerous studies, chiefly for academic purposes. The most practical evaluative test involves one golfer and the same pair of shoes with different lacing systems. What researchers determined is that the BOA Fit System does provide a clear and statistically significant performance benefit for golfers. More on this in a bit.

Think of the lab as having two arms. One to push forward and increase the academic body of knowledge germane to neuromechanics and biomechanics. And the other, more rudimentary application is to aid product design and R&D teams. Think of this as equal parts exploratory and evaluative. This isn’t to suggest that supporting the development of the next BOA-enabled golf shoe isn’t important. It’s just a bit like driving a Ferrari to check the mailbox.

BOA’s HQ campus includes an in-house prototyping facility. It looks like a cross between a massive JoAnn Fabrics and a NASA laboratory. What this means is that BOA can, from scratch, design, create and test multiple variations of a single design in a compressed time frame. Practically, this allows BOA to work with vendors (e.g., FootJoy, adidas) to bring products to market more efficiently.

FORCE PLATES

During my visit to BOA, I had the opportunity to take a run at the Performance Fit Lab and see what, if anything, it could tell me about my kinematic sequence. After fixing me up with several adhesive straps, bands and devices, I laced up (and twisted on) a couple pairs of shoes to see what story the data might tell.

It’s a minute sample size, upon which no one would make any grand conclusions. That said, anecdotally, I didn’t see any major differences in swing speed, ball speed or the typical performance metrics most golfers would first notice. Funny thing—that’s also been the primary conclusion from the research team.

To date, the salient findings suggest the BOA Fit system is beneficial for golfers but not strictly from a distance perspective. Going a bit deeper, the research concludes that golf shoes with the BOA Fit System don’t drastically increase a golfer’s peak swing speed (and theoretically ball speed and distance). But what it does do is allow golfers to produce this level of performance more consistently and for a longer duration. Put simply: if your maximum driver swing speed is 100 mph, BOA isn’t going to unilaterally increase that number to 105. However, wearing a shoe with the proper closure system can allow a golfer to generate maximum power more consistently and over a greater percentage of swings.

Anecdotally, manufacturers such as FootJoy and Squairz cite independent tests showing that improved balance and stability lead to greater vertical power and energy transfer during the swing. While not directly related to the BOA Fit System, there’s a growing body of evidence dedicated to assessing the performance benefits of footwear.

FOOT SCAN

Additionally, BOA’s research staff created a 3D rendering of my feet which it added to a proprietary database. Of no likely interest to anyone, I can now tell you exactly the length, width, shape, and volume of each of my feet.

The thinking is that eventually, BOA’s big data can serve multiple purposes. Immense data sets create layers of dots to connect which then create more dots and eventually a blue ocean of information. What that leads to is anyone’s guess.

But for now, the two most likely initial applications center around supporting manufacturers’ design strategies and creating tools to aid consumers in finding the optimal fit.

If you have a narrow foot with a high arch, try these … or based on the total foot volume, here are the top three spikeless models … that sort of thing.

MY $0.05

a closeup image of the micro-adjustable BOA closure system on the adidas TOUR360 22 BOA golf shoe

What one person sees as technology another might accept as the status quo. For a certain group, the light switch represented a revolutionary leap forward. Today, it’s an afterthought.

Smartphones are damned near required for life in modern society and internet access might as well be a public utility. So what is “technology,” anyway?

I get that a pair of classic wing-tip golf shoes with laces isn’t going to give way to dials and steel-infused nylon laces overnight. And though golf is a game steeped in tradition, sometimes to its own detriment, performance remains undefeated. Eventually, the better product wins out. Solid-core golf balls and graphite shafts serve as examples that changed the entire equipment landscape. I’m not suggesting BOA will have the same sweeping impact on footwear. But golfers who are willing to accept the thesis that a pair of shoes can help them shoot lower scores will likely find that to be the case.

And therein lies both the justification for and limitations of a technology like BOA. Sports like cycling, running and snowboarding don’t have the same stigma about footwear as golf.

If there is technology in your driver, why can’t there be equivalent technology in your shoes?

 

For You

For You

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Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris is a self-diagnosed equipment and golf junkie with a penchant for top-shelf ice cream. When he's not coaching the local high school team, he's probably on the range or trying to keep up with his wife and seven beautiful daughters. Chris is based out of Fort Collins, CO and his neighbors believe long brown boxes are simply part of his porch decor. "Isn't it funny? The truth just sounds different."

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel





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      Matt A

      2 years ago

      I thought the saying was $0.02 :-). I’ve always thought BOA fit better overall, problem is that FJ shoe lasts just don’t fit my foot

      Reply

      Shannon Severson

      2 years ago

      I have 2 pairs, one Foot Joy and one Adidas with the BOA. I will never buy a lace pair again. The ability to tighten your shoe on the fly when golfing is easy. So much in fact, I don’t even think about it anymore, it just happens by habit. I broke a dial on my Foot Joys and BOA sent me the replacement, no questions asked and shipped it for free. Try that with laces…..

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      I actually just bought a few pairs of inexpensive spiked Adidas shoes. They’re comfortable & fit great, especially since I wear custom orthotics in all my shoes. All four pairs cost me less than $200 in total. They’re not fully waterproof, but I play all my rounds in the early afternoon or later. So while this product seems like an interesting idea & I’m sure it works for some people, it’s not something that I’m going to invest golf $ in right now

      Reply

      rick

      2 years ago

      cool story bro

      Reply

      F. Amazon

      2 years ago

      I currently have 2 Adidas, 1FJ Boa. Also 1 Puma Fasten 8.Have worn the Boas hundreds of times and the Fasten 8 once. Experience probably 10 years. Big plus for me is that I have one foot that swells because of a cancer op. I can re-tighten or loosen at will. Worth the extra cost in ease and comfort.

      Reply

      Doug Kush

      2 years ago

      I have several pairs of cycling shoes with BOA systems and Footjoy SLs (about five years old) with BOA. Love the BOA system on cycling shoes. Don’t love it on the Footjoys but for reasons that may have been addressed in latest designs. Cyclying shoes are thin and therefore it is very easy to get a snug fit. With my FJ’s, the padding is much thicker and with the BOA on the back, it was very hard to get it snug in addition to being a little awkward to reach back and twist hard. I noticed that the most recent versions have the BOA dial on the side which should be better. However, I just bought a new pair of FJ Tour Alphas and decided against the BOA based on my last experience.

      Reply

      Joseph K

      2 years ago

      When Adam starts wearing BOA, I’ll convert too.

      Reply

      RT

      2 years ago

      I purchased a pair of PUMA Tour BOA leather golf shoes and they were terrible!!!!
      They were constantly loose and would not stay tight !!!!!!!!!!
      I will never purchase another BOA type shoe period !!!!!!!!

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      2 years ago

      RT – If you bought a pair of PUMA shoes, then it was exceptionally unlikely that it was a BOA fit system that you were using – PUMA has a proprietary FASTEN8 Disc product it uses – which for my money, isn’t nearly as good as what BOA offers.

      Reply

      Bob

      2 years ago

      I had a pair of Footjoy counter with the boa system . In all I liked them comfort and fit But I live in Thailand the boa is not the way to go here due to the amount of sandy soil it got yo the point that I couldn’t loosen the shoe enough to get them off easily and the back started breaking down

      Reply

      Terry

      2 years ago

      I have one pair of Adidas Tour 360s (my favorite shows of all time) with the BOA system and I HATE them. I also have high instep and narrow feet and never feel like my foot is secure until I have them tightened to where my instep begins aching.

      Reply

      mackdaddy9

      2 years ago

      I have two pair with BOA and three pair without. I find that the Boa tends to slip some. I don’t always tie my shoes. I just have knots that keep them tight enough. I also think that consistant hold pressure is a key to comfort. I don’t tie my Adidas or my Eccos. The Eccos have spikes and may well be the most comfortabble shoes I own. I think spikes are a big difference makes on wet days.

      Reply

      Ryan Smith

      2 years ago

      I am never paying that much for shoes.

      Reply

      NH Golfer

      2 years ago

      No thanks to BOA. I’ve had two pair of FJs with the BOA system. Both pair the button kept popping out while playing. Maybe I’m just unlucky. On the bright side, FJ replaced both pair for me because BOAs have a lifetime warranty. But I see no real advantage to the system. Certainly not enough to put up with the popping out nonsense. I will keep lacing up my faithful ECCOs!

      Reply

      UncleMookie

      2 years ago

      On both my motorcycle boots and golf shoes, constant re-tightening. Shoes n’ feet are subjective territory by nature, soooo YMMV?

      That said, for me, BOA is a solution looking for a problem…

      Reply

      Doug Hansen

      2 years ago

      I have a sense that the lacing on BOA is more precise across the top. I too have a very high instep which will bother me if I over-tighten. I am getting a new pair of Eccos (my favorite shoe for golf) with BOA as a tee prize in January and am looking forward to trying them. (PS, I find if I get irritation across my high instep the rolling out my anterior tib-fib muscle along the outside of my shin bone brings instant relief in most cases). .

      Reply

      PaulS

      2 years ago

      I have a problem keeping them tight. I have had a pair of FJ with the rear BOA and they are comfortable. Shoe or BOA? I don’t know. My main complaint with them is it is very hard for me to get them tight. No one else has that complaint, so I must have a wimpy grip.. They also loosen up many times a round. I would replace them for laces, but whether it is the show or the BOA, they are the most comfortable golf shoe I have owned.

      Reply

      Manotee

      2 years ago

      I have two pair of Hyperflex BOas, and are happy with the BOA technology. My only complaint is the BOA button needs t be easier to grip, a little more grip-ability. My only complaint is the waterproofing is starting to fail in about a year. My feet don’t get soaked, but there is notable dampness.

      For many years I have been using Lock Laces in all my sports lace shoes. I bought the BOAs because they fit well and were available locally. I think the lock laces are in general a little more comfortable. Because they flex, the shoes have some “giver and take” during the swing. They never feel tight. The Lock Laces are an inexpensive replacement for traditional laces and very easy to tighten and loosen during a round. To loosen a BOA, you have to release and retighten.

      When my Hyperflex BOAs need to be replaced, I will return to the FootJoy Golf Sneaker with Lock Laces.

      Reply

      Ryan Richardson

      2 years ago

      I have the Footjoy Tour Alpha Boa, and I can honestly say they are the most comfortable and stable golf shoes I’ve ever worn. I have seen a performance increase as well. Stability in golf shoes is everything. There is a reason Tour players don’t wear casual spike less shoes like 80% of the guys shooting 95 at your local Muni.

      Reply

      Dee

      2 years ago

      if a lace breaks, it is an easy fix.
      when my boa shoes broke and could no longer be tightened,
      it cost me $200 for new shoes.

      Reply

      John C

      2 years ago

      I broke the knob on mine inadvertently. I emailed FootJoy and they sent a new knob and string. 10 minutes later they were as good as new.

      Reply

      Charles Miller

      2 years ago

      Why not just use velcro? It’s cheaper and I’m sure the shoe can be made so it doesn’t look like it contains velcro. Just glue the laces on the tongue. Voila..

      Reply

      Tom

      2 years ago

      Current shoe lineup doesn’t feature any BOA-equipped shoes, but have had several (adidas, Footjoy) in the past. Both of my junior-aged son’s shoes have been BOA-equipped. I loved them due to the ease of snugging them up with just a twist.. My son loves them, well, because he doesn’t have to tie/untie them!

      Great article, Chris. I had no illusions of a significant increase in swing speed or anything else. The ability to easily snug them up to provide a feeling of a solid, tighter base gave me one less thing to worry about when I took the club away.

      You might ask though, if I loved them so much, why don’t I have them currently? Guess I need another pair of golf shoes. ????

      Reply

      Jason M

      2 years ago

      What’s the debate? If you like them, then buy them. If you don’t, then lace up. (Didn’t read entire article though). I have them & love them.

      Reply

      Patrick Burrell

      2 years ago

      I would love to try BOA

      Reply

      Dr Tee

      2 years ago

      Have two pair of FJ BOA’s and one pair of ECCO BOA’s. Will never go back to laces. Comfort, convenience, micro-swift adjustability even during a round is beyond compare. Never have to sit down to lace or re-lace my shoes or fix a shoe which has become unlaced. It is my understanding that the BOA system, by the way, carries a lifetime warranty. Mine have shown no sign of wear even after > 5 years. I have found that the rear heel placement of the system on the FJ’s is much easier to tighten and adjust. For me, a right hander, anything atop or on the outboard side of the left foot is a definite non-starter, so choose wisely.

      Reply

      Robbie

      2 years ago

      I have owned BOA lacing systems on both Footjoy golf shoes and my snowshoes. The dial on the golf shoes is at the heel which is ideal if wearing shorts; not so ideal if wearing pants as the dial seems to catch the pantleg and eventually damage the pant cuff.
      Generally I have been very happy happy with them, although this year the BOA system has not worked well. Do they have some sort of guarantee?

      Reply

      Steve S

      2 years ago

      I buy into the comfort, stability increase will help you play more consistently. This summer I switched from golf shoes with conventional spikes to hiking shoes. They are very comfortable and extremely stable. I find that after walking 18 my feet don’t hurt and I’m not fatigued as I was in my golf shoes. They have the added benefit of lasting longer and staying waterproof thru the life of the shoe as opposed to my “2 year” guarantee water proof golf shoe. which never stayed waterproof longer than a year. Added bonus..they cost less than the $125 Footjoys.

      Reply

      Bob

      2 years ago

      IDK about any performance enhancement with the BOA system, I just love the convenience! I hate laces, even in everyday shoes. All shoes should have some sort of BOA system IMO. I won’t buy golf shoes unless they have it! I’ve had Adidas, Sketchers, and Puma all with their version of BOA, they were all great!

      Reply

      SteveE

      2 years ago

      I’ve heard from a reliable source that … “laces are for losers” …

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      2 years ago

      It’s “Laces are for suckers,” Steve…Come on, man! :)

      Reply

      Jim

      2 years ago

      I own one pair of BOA shoes out of the 40 pair of golf shoes I own . Not a fan of them . I feel like I always tighten them too much . No benefit from me. I never found it hard to tie my shoes.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      2 years ago

      Jim – Crazy idea here, but have you ever considered just not tightening the BOA dial quite as much?

      Reply

      Phil&delphia

      2 years ago

      I have several pairs of golf shoes with BOA closures. They are micro adjustable and make the fit of the shoes extraordinarily comfortable. I highly recommend BOA over laces.

      Reply

      GeorgeO

      2 years ago

      Hi, Good article. I have never put any faith into what a golf shoe company states it will do for my game.. When they invent the Auto-Straight Drive shoe, I’m all in. My main considerations when buying are comfort, fit all the way around the foot and the type of traction used on the bottom. When FootJoy first came out with their BOA shoes I was all in and all I bought. Not because of not wanting to tie my shows, but because the BOA gave a firm, consistent tightness across the shoe AND around the ankle. None of the other manufactories have been able to duplicate their method…..IMO. However, with all that said, about a year ago I purchased a pair of Sketchers and will never use another brand. Unless they find a way to mess a good thing up. While they do not have the BOA, they are incredibly comfortable, excellent fit, super light and I really like the their nub type of spike option over the cleat. I think those are also better for the greens when you might get a little lazy with your walk and scuff the green. Now, If only Sketchers would come out with an equally good BOA shoe as FootJoy. Sketchers does have a BOA, but like other manufactories it only tightens across the top of the foot and they are well, not the best looking style, at all. But that’s another IMO. Again, real nice article.

      Reply

      Glenn

      2 years ago

      I love BOA lacing. I have them on golf shoes, ice skates, rollers blades and XC ski boots..

      Reply

      Thomas A

      2 years ago

      If it’s not a True Linkswear shoe then it doesn’t matter. Low drop, wide toe box will get you more performance benefits than a closure system.

      Reply

      Chris Nickel

      2 years ago

      I think there are several people with quite a bit more education around this topic that would vehemently disagree with that statement.

      Reply

      Dr Tee

      2 years ago

      I used to be a TRUE fan because of the wide toe box and comfort but have found the low drop and in particular lack of support in the medial toe area of the knit and cloth designs to be nonstarters. They ruined a good thing. And–the footbeds are too thin, uncomfortable and poorly designed. They may fit RyMo but they don’t fit me.

      Reply

      mardukes

      2 years ago

      I don’t even need to read the article. I don’t know how many of us have big, high insteps but I do. I lace down one eyelet to avoid irritating my tendons — couldn’t wear hightops for HS football. I look at these and say, no way I would even try them. They are only for the table-legged, 145-pounders.

      Reply

      Doug Hansen

      2 years ago

      Hey Mardukes,

      Hey Mardukes,

      I too have high insteps that get irritated when I lace too tight. I find that by rolling out my anterior tib-fib muscle (the one along the outside of my shin bone) brings instant relief in most if not all cases. I am a 70 year old with both knees replaced.

      Once I couldn’t sleep, it was so bad after the first day of a tournament. I got up and took a few passes up and down my shin bone with a Tiger Tail roller and … boom… instant release and relief. You could probably even use the heel of your hand and a little cream or oil. Good luck!!!

      Reply

      andrew

      2 years ago

      Had a few pairs of these, and the laces never hold up..

      Reply

      Steve G

      2 years ago

      After many seasons of wearing BOA shoes both from Foot Joy and ECCO I will never go back to laces. More comfortable and supportive simultaneously, and the ability to quickly adjust fit on the fly in seconds is great. I find that my shoe fit changes slightly as the round progresses and adjusting these is effortless. Currently wearing Foot Joy Tour alpha BOA and they are wonderfully stable and comfortable.

      Reply

      Jonathan

      2 years ago

      Seems like all they need to show to help the company’s mission is that the BOA system does not NEGATIVELY impact performance. I like the BOA system simply for the convenience – it’s just easier/quicker to put on a shoe and get it into a good fit than it is to deal with laces and tying and such. That alone, with no change in performance, makes it a superior product.

      Reply

      GolfDog2023

      2 years ago

      BOA – my strong preference. Have owned many pairs over the years, currently 3 pairs. Ease of use was what attracted me to them at the start, and being a PNW golfer, never having to deal with wet or damp laces while playing is a huge plus. Twist-Lock-Play. Shoes are such an individual fit decision, currently I wear my Adidas over my Footjoy BOA’s. I like the side placement of the BOA dial on Adidas verses the rear placement….for some reason I would kick or hit the rear placed BOA dial and release it during a round…side mounted no problem…probably just me.

      Reply

      Dr Tee

      2 years ago

      Have had 2 pair of FJ BOA with rear placement for years. One new pair of ECCO with BOA dial atop forefoot. Having a bad lt. knee and being rt handed I have found the ECCO’s infinitely more difficult to tighten and adjust than the rear placement of the dial on the BOA. Nevertheless, I am a fan of both. Have never had a problem inadvertently releasing the FJ’s.

      Reply

      Jack Kagarise

      2 years ago

      I believe it was all summed up with the question ” if there is technology in your driver, why not technology in your shoes”? . The game is being compromised by technology, the true spirit and beauty of the game has been prostituted by technology.

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      Huh? How so? So you’d rather be playing 220 cc wood drivers from the ’70s & completely unforgiving blades from that era also? Wow, hard to believe that something such as a dial on a shoe could upset you that much. Now if you said driver & ball technology has rendered some old courses obsolete for the pros, I’ll agree. But that’s the way of the world. And, even with all those equipment improvements, 99.99999% of golfers can still play the same course they’ve always played without “out-hitting” it.

      Reply

      Dave R

      2 years ago

      Like many golfers, I’ve got both laced and BOA shoes, as well as PUMA Disc. I generally love the BOA/Disc shoes – I’m a walker and as my feet settle and shoes stretch, its easier to tighten up the BOA shoes than to find a place to sit and re-tie my laces.. Frankly I see that as the biggest advantage – the ability to adjust easily mid-round.
      However, I do have a pair of Adidas with BOA – I can never get them tight enough and my feet slosh around. I suspect its because they too few connections to the shoe.
      Lastly – I haven’t seen any difference in the performance of the BOA versus the DISC system on Pumas.

      Reply

      Kevin C

      2 years ago

      As a golfer with feet more towards the narrow end, I love the way a golf shoe with Boa fits. Unfortunately many golf shoes don’t offer the Boa system and the ones that do are generally the most expensive.

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      I will never buy another pair of golf shoes without Boa laces. I’ve been using FJ’s with it for about 5 years now. Also found daily shoes to wear that have Boa. Tying your laces is overrated!

      Reply

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    Tyrrell Hatton Tyrrell Hatton
    News
    Jun 14, 2024
    ‘Mad’ Hatton Searches For Right Mix Of Grace And Agita
    Golf Apparel
    Jun 14, 2024
    I Found The Coolest U.S. Open Gear
    Best Golf Vests Best Golf Vests
    Buyer's Guides
    Jun 14, 2024
    The Best Golf Vests