Nike's endorsement of Tiger Woods, the most prominent face in golf, dates back to when he first began his professional career in 1996. Since then, shoe technology has evolved tremendously, thanks to the development of new design materials that have made footwear lighter and more comfortable. To that end, Nike has introduced the TW '15, Woods' latest signature shoe. Unlike in previous versions, though, this release brings Flyweave technology to the table, a first for golf shoes. For the uninitiated, Flyweave made its debut on basketball shoes last year, with the promise of being lightweight, flexible and stable. All of which are important for golfers, too.
But just how much can the TW '15 really help get Tiger Woods back on top? After all, he hasn't won a major tournament since 2008. And, perhaps more importantly, can this $200 sneakerreally help the average Joe who wants to take their golf game to the next level? To answer these questions, we spoke to Woods and Nike Senior Director of Athlete Innovation Tobie Hatfield.
Gallery: Nike's TW '15 with Flyweave technology | 6 Photos
Tiger, can you talk about the TW '15 shoe and the technology behind it?
The tech part is easy. I wanted more mobility and more stability. Those two things are counterintuitive. But that is one of the reasons why Tobie [TW '15 designer] is so gifted; he gave me that. This Flyweave technology allows that to happen. The first Flyweave shoe we tried actually had too much flexibility and didn't have enough stability, but the great thing about it is that Tobie was able to tighten up the Flyweave without sacrificing any weight. So the next version had more stability, no added weight and I could hit it harder.
Having a lighter shoe that, over the course of walking 18 holes or if you have rain delays and you have to go back and finish up a round, and you are out there 8, 10 or 12 hours, that is going to save you a lot of energy. And to have a shoe that is that stable, so I can use my explosiveness and strength again is only going to enhance my game.
How will the TW '15 help you with your overall game?
First off I think it will help that the shoe is lighter. My legs won't get as tired. Secondly, the stability of it I love. And the mobility is, in certain places, more mobile than the TW '14, which is something I wanted. To use more of the ground force as my push-off point and use that as a platform to create power.
More importantly, how can it help the recreational, non-pro players with their game?
" It may not help their swing, but that's for their local golf pro."
Well, I think it will be very simple. They will notice immediately how light the shoe feels and the comfort of it. As far as their ability to play, the mobility will help them generate more speed. It may not help their swing, but that's for their local golf pro.
How do these compare to what you were wearing on your first Tour?
"It is like playing in a tennis shoe now, versus a dress shoe with spikes nailed into your feet.""
Ha! It is like playing in a tennis shoe now, versus a dress shoe with spikes nailed into your feet, which was the case when I made my Tour debut.
Lastly, Tiger, what would you like to see next ? What type of technology do you think could help in terms of comfort and to make the game easier?
The next innovation would be to somehow create NikeId for Flyweave, like we had in the TW '14 shoe. To have the consumer design their own shoe colors and have that personal touch. We don't have the technology yet for Flyweave, but it's Tobie and Nike, so [they] will figure out a way to do it if it's possible. It is neat to see how light and stable this shoe is for me and I am excited for this year, playing in it and seeing the power I can generate because of it.
I don't want to go back in the past with golf shoes. Golf started with dress shoes with nails in them. So let's keep pushing the envelope, what we've got here. Keep innovating; keep pushing the limits of the conservatism of golf. Make it more athletic; make it a sport; it's not an activity. I think I have shown that on Tour, training is important and this golf shoe allows you to perform like an athlete.
There is a lot of talk about the Back to the Future-style of shoe. For golf it might not be appropriate based on not being able to tighten the shoe the way you need to for this sport. But you never know what the future will bring.
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