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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Golfshoes and the perfect swing

Do shoes make the sportsperson? It would be perfect world if all you required to do was buy the shoes and the expertise of the elite athlete followed, but life is not that simple. Or is it ? Popularity of golf and high profile professional tournaments has attracted shoe designers for years now through the benefits of biomechanics, new sole systems are being incorporated into footwear ranges for both men and women. The addition of cleats as opposed to spikes has come from the successes of the football codes and now polymer technology provides lightweight hard wearing materials to incorporate into the ultimate walking shoe. Hi-Tec Golf have made the claim their shoes improved the golf swing. Hi-Tec has been associated with sport since the mid seventies and is known for suppliers of comfortable footgear. The company have led in court sports shoes for squash and badminton, as well as outdoor and uniform wear. Hi-Tec police boots are very popular in North America. Since 2004, the company took the decision to produce Custom Directional Traction (CDT) footwear as a range of golf shoes. Hi-Tec designers recorded and analysed a range of golfers' swings and foot positions while the flight of the ball was visible. They took the data relating to body mass distribution and plantar pressure patterns of players to develop outsole design and CDT configurations. Working with professional players the company developed CDT Power Cleats , the shoe help the player gain stability through traction and according to the company’s endorsed claims help the golfer swing harder. The end result is the ball travels further because there is more club head available due to better stance which optimises forces when the ball is struck. Hi Tec claims 88 percent of golfers tested improved the consistency and accuracy of their shots using a 5-iron while wearing the CDT shoes and 100 percent said they felt they were hitting the ball further. In 1995 Etonic captured the general move from metal to soft cleats with their golf range called the G-Sok . The shoes met with critical approval and although they were called "non-cleated" the shoes had a multi-zone traction system sole made from a series of tri-directional pyramids, stability bars and critical impact points to account for lateral and longitudinal manoeuvring, and weight transfer during swing and at impact. The nubbled soles were made from a long lasting durable, high-abrasion rubber compound, which were skip resistant and comfortable to wear. According to the manufacturer the lightweight G-Sok fitted like socks and was made from full grain leather, moisture is kept out with the Dri XC and a breathable Dri-Lite membrane, soft suede linings, a removable footbed and extra cushion insole. The shoes were available in both men and women’s sizes. adidas are never far behind and have developed a range of technologically-driven golf shoe including a3 for men, plus SSE Comfort and ClimaCool II for both men and women. Unique elements in adidas footwear include Z-Traxion lugs amidst Fast Twist cleats , ClimaProof wicking , adiPrene cushioning and a torsion support system . The a3 model features a full grain leather upper, a3 heel element, lightweight/cushioned forefoot, textile lining and high-abrasion toe. ECCO Sko A/S is an international group founded in 1963 by Karl Toosbuy in Denmark. Following the success of professional women’s golf ECCO have introduced a new, limited-edition women’s golf shoe called the "Patriotic Collection" . The company are catering for the female foot with extra width at the fore foot. Nike has introduced the SP-6 which features the new T@C (traction at contact), a spikeless outsole that incorporates flex grooves integrated with traction elements. The object of the design is to encourage longer feet contact through the golf swing. According to the manufacturers the horizontal grooves provide normal flexion for walking and the longitudinal grooves allow for more flexibility while shifting weight during the golf swing. The lightweight Women's SP-6 includes Sympatex technology to increase waterproofing and breathability. Made with soft and supple full-grain leather it has a visible heel Air-Sole unit combined with external and internal Phylon midsoles to give lightweight cushioning and comfort for the life of the shoe.

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