Fall Footwear Podcast – FootJoy, Adidas & Ecco

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Episode #255 of the Worldwide Golf Shops Insider Podcast is a special one. We take a trip around the United States to check out the latest footwear from FootJoy, Ecco, and Adidas.

In this episode, we talk with Jim Griffin of FootJoy Golf about the D.N.A. Helix line, Eric Meyer of Ecco Golf about the new S-Drive golf shoe, and Sean Koutahi of Adidas Golf about the new Tour 360 2.0 golf shoe.

Take a listen to our podcast. You can do so by our Soundcloud link below, on our website or subscribe free on iTunes.

Tom Brassell: Welcome to the Worldwide Golf Shops Insider Podcast, episode 255. Hello, everyone. Tom Brassell here. Thanks so much for joining us. Your first time joining us is today or you’re a long time listener or maybe somewhere in the middle. Either way, we’re just glad that you joined us.

In today’s episode, we are going to go coast to coast and speak with some of the top footwear manufacturers in the golf business to find out exactly what’s hot and new in their product offerings. So without further ado, let’s head east to Fairhaven, Massachusetts where we catch up with our good friend, National Sales Manager and Vice President of Sales for FootJoy, Mr. Jim Griffin. Griff, tell us about the D.N.A. Helix.

Jim Griffin: Well, D.N.A. Helix was just introduced to the market. It’s an incredible product. If you’ll remember, it’s really kind of the brother of our original D.N.A. shoe which was introduced in 2014. And D.N.A., when it was introduced in 2014, quickly became the number one selling premium shoe in golf, and we had great tour representation with the product. It was a great looking blend of both athletic but yet traditional inspired upper patterns. And the tour players quickly adopted the product. Adam Scott was one of them that put it in play pretty quickly. And basically, this is kind of our third rendition of that D.N.A. product, and it’s being termed Helix.

We took some feedback, specific feedback. And one of the great things with our tour staff is we literally sit down with them quite often out there. We’ve got a tremendous representation of tour players and a great tour team that follows them around. And literally, these guys are so passionate about our products and wearing our products that they share information with us regularly. And one of the things that they recommended that we take a look at with respect to the D.N.A. Helix was just looking at possibly increasing the platform stability a little bit because these guys are all about, obviously, remaining stable over the golf ball.

We took that to heart. We made some changes. The bolts to the outsole to make it a little bit more stable; it’s now almost 38 percent more stable than our original shoe. But we did that, we still retain most of the comfort and flexibility features that they were looking for, so they feel like they’ve got a product that from a playability perspective has improved tremendously. It’s a little bit lighter in weight, besides being even more stable. They love the looks of the shoe when they’re looking down at it.

One of these guys – Jason Kokrak, for example – is a member of our tour team. He won the, actually won the long drive competition at the PGA Championship and he moved right into this shoe. And that’s what we’re finding. A lot of the guys who like to go at it really hard love the fact that it’s really lightweight, but the platform stability is pretty incredible. Sean O’Hair’s got it in play. Scott Stallings has it in play.

It’s been on your shelves since the end of June, which is an interesting time, obviously, to try to launch a product in the U.S. because it’s a little bit past the peak selling period. But the reaction time that the consumers have provided to this category for us has been nothing short of amazing. It’s a great, great product and we couldn’t be more pleased with the sell-through early on here. And again, the feedback we’re getting from our tour ambassadors has been nothing but fantastic. So we really feel like we’ve got a winner here that really, kind of, if you don’t mind goes right up alongside Pro/SL, so we have a great one-two punch now in Helix, D.N.A. Helix.

And then those players that love a spikeless opportunity or spikeless version, our Pro/SL shoe has been nothing short of phenomenal, actually. And just a little feedback on that. If you think about our product line and our tour staff – and again, our tour staff comprises about 60 percent of the tour wins out there on a pretty regular basis – we allow them, Tom, to basically wear any product category that they’d prefer. We don’t direct our tour players anywhere. They come to us and they say, “I really like this particular shoe,” we send it to them.

And you know how wide our line is and the number of footwear categories that we have. But the number of players that have come to us and have decided that they want to wear Pro/SL – which has quickly become the number one selling spikeless shoe in golf – has been phenomenal. We’ve got 25 of the top 100 players of the world wearing this product. It’s actually become the most popular shoe we’ve ever had on tour, and it’s pretty incredible.

And it goes back to Adam Scott, again. You don’t hear Adam Scott’s name, but he came to us in 2015 and he wanted to test this product. He really liked it a lot. He put it in play first at Chambers Bay in the 2015 U.S. Open. And if you remember the conditions there, very hard, very dry. Those are conditions that you don’t usually like to tee it up in a spikeless shoe because of the fact that, again, hard and dry is difficult usually with spikeless products. He absolutely fell in love with the shoe at Chambers Bay.

A month later, he goes over and plays in the Open Championship at St. Andrews, and that’s the complete opposite condition if you think about it. St. Andrews, very soft, very wet. And again, he loved it. And so Adam came to our tour team and said, “Listen, I’ve worn this shoe in every possible condition and I absolutely feel like it’s the best thing I’ve ever worn.” And he hasn’t taken it off since.

And if you’ve been watching and paying any attention to the tour, we have had an unbelievable number of players kind of follow Adam down that road: Charlie Hoffman, Jason Dufner, Ian Poulter, Dave Johnson, Louis Oostuizen. I mean the list just kind of continues to go on and on with players that have absolutely fallen in love with our Pro/SL style.

So we continue to produce great new options there. We’ve got some new colors that just hit the market. Again in the month of June, we’ll have a new thing sitting in the market here, too, early in ’18 in that particular category as well. So this thing is hotter than all get out right now, Tom, so we couldn’t be more thrilled with the combination of excitement and momentum that we have going not only with our cleated product but also with our spikeless Pro/SL product.

Tom Brassell: Thanks, Griff. Let’s take it out to Phoenix, Arizona where we have Eric Meyer on the line from Ecco Footwear. It’s all about the S-Drive. Eric, tell us about it.

Eric Meyer: Well, the S-Drive for us is our take or our perspective on an athletic golf shoe. And we drew our inspiration from a lot of these textile athletic shoes that you see out there in the marketplace in general that are just real popular. And what we saw in the marketplace was an opportunity, because a lot of those current golf shoes that are athletic shoes are good at being lightweight and breathable, but they don’t really have the performance that people are used to in a true golf shoe, which means support, stability and all that. So that’s where we saw an opportunity.

We wanted to make sure, number one, that the upper of the shoe – meaning the textile part of it – would give you support. And a lot of times, if you’re using a really lightweight, thin mesh your foot can move a lot inside the shoe as you’re walking and as you’re swinging. And when you’re swinging and you’re moving around inside the shoe, it doesn’t give you a lot of confidence and stability, and therefore your performance goes down. So we’re using a really high-quality microfiber and mesh combination that will give you the strength and support and stability you need. And it’s going to give you all that breathability, but then it’s also going to come with a two-year waterproof guarantee. So that’s kind of the upper part of the shoe.

And then what we really wanted to do was to keep the support and stability on the outsole as well. So you’re still going to get that renowned spikeless traction you get from Ecco that, because we’re using a polyurethane – a firmer plastic polyurethane which is heat treated – it’s going to be really durable, where most of our competition just uses rubber. So you’re going to get five times the durability out of the bottom of the shoe, those little spikeless traction outsoles are going to last longer and hold its shape better.

So that’s why we think, Tom, that this is really going to be a true performance athletic shoe. It’s going to breathe, it’s going to look fresh, and it’s going to have some really cool colors, it’s going to be lightweight, but it’s also just going to give you all that support you want when you’re swinging a golf club and when you’re walking.

It’s definitely going to appeal to either a younger person that likes that athletic shoe look, or someone who really wants some bright colors to freshen up their look. Because the cool thing about golf footwear now is color doesn’t scare people as much. So I think when you see the collection of this S-Drive hitting the shelves, you’re going to really notice the bright colors.

So the one color we have which is really eye-catching is this Bermuda blue with an orange trim to it, and that’s really kind of the eye-catching shoe. And then we have a pretty neutral shoe that is like a dark gray with a red trim. And then we have a nice off-white, light gray color with a lime green outsole. So those are the three colors we have that are definitely going to follow the trend which you see in athletic wear, which is pretty bright and bold looks.

Tom Brassell: Eric, what about the price point on this shoe and the availability date?

Eric Meyer: These just hit shelves not too far behind when we’re making this conversation right now. So they hit the shelves October 15th, and they will be retail at $159.99.

Tom Brassell: Thanks so much, Eric.

Eric Meyer: You got it, Tom.

Tom Brassell: Keeping it out west but on the west coast, Sean Koutahi from Adidas joins us. Sean, before we get into the new shoe, give us a brief history lesson on the Adidas Tour 360.

Sean Koutahi: Sure. The Tour 360 first launched end of 2005, and in 2015 we had the 10 year anniversary. When we first launched the Tour 360 it was iconic right out of the gate. It was something different than the golf industry had ever seen. It was athletic-inspired footwear for golf.

When the golfer was normally used to more traditional looking shoes, more dress-like looking shoes, we kind of changed the script there and introduced something that the golfer had never seen. And it was all about performance. So we brought a different element of performance to the golf game.

And then we had the 10 year anniversary back in December of 2015, and it’s become one of the most iconic shoes in golf. So it’s all been built around performance, and every single edition of the Tour 360 that’s come out since 2005 has improved upon the one before.

Tom Brassell: And right now, it’s all about the Adidas Tour 360 2.0, correct?

Sean Koutahi: Correct. So the Tour 360 Boost has been one of the best selling shoes in golf for the last 18 months since we reintroduced it with Boost Technology. And now the Tour 360 2.0 gets updated with some subtle, yet impactful, refinements.

Our quest here at Adidas to create the perfect golf shoe is one step closer with this new Tour 360 2.0. From first glance, the Tour 360 2.0 closely resembles its predecessor, which was intentional. But if you look closer at the well thought out updates, it becomes clearer that this model will once again be the pinnacle of golf footwear.

So as we start to dissect the shoe, we say what’s the same? When you look at the 10-spike TPU outsole, the Boost mid-sole, the two-year waterproof warranty, and that Torsion Tunnel that provides excellent stability, all remains the same. But yet, we’ve made some subtle but very impactful refinements like I mentioned.

And what’s new? The top plate above that Boost mid-sole is slightly less rigid, so what that allows the shoe to do is flex with your foot and giving you a better, natural foot flexion. The plate also wraps up a little bit higher on the lateral-medial side, and that just gives you more enhanced stability. And then we have a floating Three Stripe execution, so what that allows the shoe to do is give you a more customized fit depending on foot shape. So some people have higher insteps, some people have lower insteps. Those three stripes now shape to your foot a lot better than they have in the past.

And then a couple of other subtle refinements, we have a one piece clean toe, so just a cleaner look when you look down. And then we have a traditional shaped heel as well, so we’ve gone back to a traditional shaped heel. And then last but not least, I think one of the best refinements that we made to the 2.0, it has a premium leather-lined heel. So again, not major differences when you look at the shoe. But then when you pick it up and you start to examine it, there’s subtle, but very impactful, refinements.

And then, a couple other cool things that we’re coming out with. We’ve done really well with some of these special edition executions that we do in season. So as we get into 2018, you can expect to see some really unique executions of special edition versions of the Tour 360 2.0.

Tom Brassell: And the response from your tour players has been nothing short of amazing, I’m told.

Sean Koutahi: Yeah. We couldn’t have asked for a better start. So the first week that D.J. put it in play at the Northern Trust, he comes out with a win in a playoff with Jordan Speith in the new shoes. So again, couldn’t ask for a better start for the shoe. Obviously, Dustin Johnson will continue to be our iconic player that’s in the Tour 360, and he absolutely loves it. His feedback has been nothing but positive, so we’re expecting another great year for the Tour 360 2.0.

Tom Brassell: Sean, thanks so much for spending the time with us.

Sean Koutahi: No problem. Thank you. Appreciate it, Tom.

Tom Brassell: Well there you have it, some of the hottest fall footwear you do not want to miss: the FootJoy D.N.A. Helix, the S-Drive from Ecco, and the Adidas Tour 360 2.0.

Special, special thanks to Jim Griffin from FootJoy, to Eric Meyer from Ecco, and to Sean Koutahi from Adidas for joining us today. And to you, our listeners. And we’ll do it again next time when we have another episode of The Worldwide Golf Shops Insider Podcast, here at worldwidegolfshops.com. So long, everyone.

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