WHAT WE TRIED
Hi, I’m Chris and I’m a golf-obsessed member of the MyGolfSpy team. As the Director of Business Development, I generally work as a conduit between our staff and other golf companies. I also spend a fair bit of time in my hot tub collecting thoughts into ramblings on equipment or other golf topics. And, like many of you, I grew up during the era when “it’s gotta be the shoes” meant something.
Hi, I’m Harry and I am a professional golf product tester. (Yes, they exist.) I test a lot of things at MyGolfSpy and play professionally when I’m not checking and comparing specs on gloves, rangefinders, bags, ball retrievers, etc. You can call me the Director of Product Testing here at MGS. You can also just call me Harry. That’s fine, too.
WHY ARE WE TRYING IT?
Michael Jordan is a global icon whose Jumpman logo is ubiquitous in the world of sports. And if you’re a sneakerhead, every Jordan brand golf shoe release warrants a deeper dive.
WHAT IS THE JORDAN GOLF ADG 3?
Within the Jordan family tree of golf shoes, there are two main branches: Retail releases and retro silhouette launches.
The retro options are limited runs that pay homage to classic Jordan basketball shoes. Snagging a pair at the retail price ($220) isn’t impossible. Then again, neither is getting a tee time at Jordan’s uber-private course, The Grove XXIII. As such, most buyers end up purchasing in the aftermarket. Prices vary but a pair can go anywhere from a fairly reasonable $235 to more than $1,500 depending on size and model. That top-end number is driven primarily by the Air Jordan 1 Golf shoes and, more specifically, the Jordan 1 High Golf Cleat Chicago. If you’ve been watching that space, you already know the “Taxi” Air Jordan 12 Golf is tentatively set to drop on March 9. Fingers crossed.
Conversely, Jordan ADG line represents a more affordable entry point ($140) for golfers who want to rep the brand without dropping a car payment for a single pair. The intention of the ADG series is to create a comfortable spikeless shoe with distinct Jordan aesthetics. Moreover, the strategy with ADG 3 is to maintain typical inventory levels so that, within reason, anyone who wants a pair can access it.
TESTING THE JORDAN ADG 3
Harry: I’ll be as blunt as I can because you, the consumer, deserve it. Coming from the independent golf shoe expert, when it comes to NIKE-related golf shoes, I’d rather put s**t in my hands and clap than play them. The NIKE Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes leave a lot to be desired from the comfort and performance standpoints. They might look sweet and I know the target demographic is high on looks. I get it. But comfort has to be high on the list for a golf shoe. Period.
Chris: I don’t disagree but aren’t we talking about the Jordan ADG 3, not NIKE golf shoes in general?
Harry: Here’s the dilemma I have with the Jordan ADG 3. It looks sweet, like most NIKE-related golf shoes, but they don’t have the performance aspect for me. Yes, they have the iconic Jumpman logo which makes it way cooler but less cool for me who didn’t grow up in the States. But I know he’s an icon here and everywhere where basketball is a thing so I respect that. But in my mind, performance needs to come first.
Chris: There’s only one reason you wouldn’t wear this shoe—and it isn’t related to performance. You either have no style, can’t stand nice things or you were a Knicks fan. OK, that’s three. And I’m kidding. Mostly. That aside, I’m the perfect target buyer for the Jordan ADG 3. Original Jordan posters hang in my garage and I still have a couple of pairs of Jordan basketball shoes from high school stored in my closet. The nostalgic draw of Jumpman is reason enough to buy them for those of us who mowed lawns for an entire summer to buy a pair of the Tinker Hatfield-designed Air Jordan 4s. But I hear you on the importance of performance. But, in the context of footwear, what does “performance” actually mean?
Harry: With performance in mind, here’s what I found. The shoe itself is way more comfortable than any NIKE golf shoes I have tried before. It’s a lot. Trust me. It is wide from the heel to the toe box but yet looks narrow when looking down at them. Unfortunately, the heel box is too wide and allows your heel to move too much and causes issues with weight transfer. You either get to your right side and struggle to get back to your left or you stay central and struggle to use the ground effectively.
Chris: Is it possible you simply have odd-shaped feet? I tend to fit best into medium-width shoes and didn’t have any issue with heel slippage. It’s also entirely possible that I don’t create the same ground reaction force in my swing as you do in yours.
Harry: Another issue with the Jordan ADG 3 is its sole. Like many NIKE golf shoes, they are too narrow and follow the contour of the upper leather. Why is that important? A narrow sole allows your foot to spill over and potentially roll too much weight over to either side which causes timing issues, energy transfer loss, not transferring weight at all, getting stuck on your right side, increases the chances of a slice … the list goes on. You need somewhat of a wider base to have better stability and give you a chance to maximize energy transfer from one side to the other. That means you can push off your right side on the downswing and hopefully hit those dingers.
Chris: If this is true, it seems like potentially an easy fix, right? Beyond that, it seems to me that golfers who shift far too much weight to the outside of the rear foot likely need more help than just a shoe with a wider sole. Similarly, golfers who shift weight appropriately to the rear heel also don’t necessarily require the same amount of stability. Otherwise, how in the name of Freddie Couples do professional golfers wear street-style kicks during professional events?
Harry: The last part where the Jordan ADG 3 needs work is traction. If you play on courses where they keep the fairways longer or find yourself in the rough more often than not, you’re good to go. However, if you play a course with tight lies or is slightly wet, you are Bambi on ice to an extent. The reason for this is that the direction and orientation of the spikes just aren’t effective. The spikes are all on one level which basically makes it a flat sole. Think a flip-flop sole and that’s what you’ve got.
Chris: You’re not going to get much argument from me on this one. I might be a Jordan fanboy and am therefore inclined to overlook some flaws as a result. That aside, any golf shoe—Jumpman logo or not—that costs me strokes (and $$$) on the course isn’t going to get much playing time. I might not be a “professional golf shoe reviewer guy.” But I am a consumer and, ultimately, every shoe purchase comes down to three factors: fit, traction and comfort. Yes, style plays a role but if you can’t appreciate the subtle nod to the Jordan 4 (wing-shaped upper eyelets and heel-tab), it might be time for you to crack open the history books and do some research.
WEARING THE ADG 3
Harry: I’ve been wearing these cheeky monkeys for a couple of days in the office and took them for a nine-hole spin. I’ll tell you what. I didn’t get any blisters and the shoe was comfortable enough for a pleasant round. There weren’t any places where the shoe dug into my foot and, in my experience, that is a huge win. So you could say my opinion is changing with NIKE-related shoes. OK, not quite, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Chris: That’s likely the benefit of the Zoom Air pocket in the forefoot and soft midsole construction of the ADG 3.
Harry: It really comes down to what kind of golfer you are. Those who actually care about performance and their score should NOT wear this shoe. Those who don’t care about their score and treat golf as a way to get with the lads or ladies should consider this shoe. It looks good, comfort is there and it looks good. I know I said that twice but that’s what a lot of golfers care about.
Chris: You couldn’t be more wrong. The real problem is dichotomous thinking that shoes either have sufficient performance or they don’t. That aside, I’m not going to put the ADG 3 in the same category as the adidas Tour360 line and I agree the ADG 3 is better suited for casual rounds than competitive situations. BTW, the majority of rounds of golf are played by amateurs without a handicap in casual environments where the USGA rules are, at most, a guide. With that in mind, I took ADG 3s for a 36-hole spin in Arizona this past weekend. It was mostly dry, desert golf although morning dew and cooler temps kept plenty of moisture on the course for the first round. This is where spikeless shoes can be a liability. For a casual round, it wasn’t a big deal. But if I were playing in a tournament, I’d opt for something with more robust traction. That said, the ADG 3 do come with a one-year waterproof guarantee.
Once the course dried out, I didn’t notice any slipping or situations that caused me to question the overall traction. The integrated traction pattern is good but not great. It’s the same basic arrangement as the original ADG shoes which NIKE went away from in favor of a tooth-like, linear pattern in ADG 2.
In terms of comfort, the ADG 3 is clearly better than the two previous versions. And while not quite at the level of the ST Trainer, the ADG 3 offers a better total fit than limited release Air Jordan 3 or Air Jordan 11 “Concord” shoes. This would be an easy shoe for me to wear from my house to the course and then forget to take off. And because the ADG 3 doesn’t give off a traditional golf shoe vibe, you won’t catch any flak from your buddies (or spouse) if you wear them straight from the course to dinner. In fact, you’ll probably receive several compliments.
Harry: I believe you need to define yourself as a serious golfer or casual. Yes, you could be both and wear the ADG 3 from the office to the course for practice. But the problem lies here: If you want to get really good at something, you want to wear the same shoes that you compete in to get the same muscle memory. Otherwise, you’re making it way harder than it needs to be. Those who are casual golfers and love a few beers on the course and listening to music should go all in with this shoe. At the end of the day, if you’re going to shoot in the 90s and above, you might as well do it in style.
Chris: NIKE/Jordan branded golf shoes are a conundrum. Non-Jordan NIKE golf shoes (Zoom Victory Tour, Zoom Infinity Tour, React Infinity Pro) tend to be uncomfortable with poor traction. Not a great combination. Conversely, the ADG line (and several limited releases) are exactly the opposite: plenty of supple qualities and ample grip. Certainly, the ADG 3 is going to be most attractive to the retail Jordan enthusiast. But for golfers who either don’t know or don’t care about the Jordan brand, I don’t see the ADG 3 as more attractive than similar sneaker-like golf shoes.
Most golfers who want a Jordan brand shoe are going to buy this one as opposed to the limited silhouette releases. As such, I have a few suggestions. First, come out with both spiked and spikeless versions. Secondly, make the Zoom Air more of a marketing focal point and visual technology. Like Macklemore said, it’s “that air bubble, that mesh …”
As always, tell us what you think!
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