Tiger Woods played his last competitive round of golf on May 12, but leg pain forced him to walk off TPC Sawgrass after just nine holes.
Woods returns to action this week, and he will walk onto the course at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, wearing a prototype golf shoe inspired by Nike Free running shoes. Nike's Free running shoes, which are extremely flexible and light, are designed to replicate running in bare feet but provide some protection and traction. According to a release from Nike, Tobie Hatfield, whose group developed the first Nike Free shoes in 2004, worked with Woods to create the shoe.
“I love the feel of Nike Free for training, so I asked Tobie if it was possible to bring that technology to the golf course," Woods said. "It’s exciting to see a conversation like that come to life, and I look forward to wearing them this week."
The prototype shoe is designed to let Tiger's forefoot move more freely, which Nike says should allow him to transfer more power from his swing into the ball. Small heel counters provide some extra lateral support for the follow through.
The upper is made from polyurethane coated with a stretch fabric that is used in some of Nike's basketball shoes. A portion of the shoe's heel comes from recycled Nike Air Max units that have been melted into thread and then woven into a textile material. The shoe's outsole is taken from Nike's Special Field Boot that was designed for first-responders at emergency sites.
There is no word from Nike on when, or if, Tiger's prototype shoe will be made available to the public. See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Nike clubs and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC or Golfsmith. Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook