Course of Style: Adidas introduces its best low-budget golf shoe

Saturday February 26th, 2011
Adidas adiCOMFORT2 shoes
Adidas Golf

This month Adidas Golf introduces its new adiCOMFORT 2 golf shoe. It seems a small thing — an Adidas golf shoe for about $75 to $80 retail — but it is a significant step for the Carlsbad, Calif., based Taylormade-Adidas Golf.

The sweet spot in the golf-shoe market is right around the $100 price point. (FootJoy's Contour series, the best-selling shoes in golf, cost about $115, but often retail for less.) Adidas has made big inroads in the golf shoe market, especially in the upper end ($140+), rising from a somewhat distant fourth to second in American sales (it dominates certain foreign markets). This is its play to win the large, juicy budget market.

"Golf footwear under $100 is around 60 percent of the total dollar share in the U.S.," said Grant Knudson, a product manager for Adidas Golf. "We see this as a huge growth opportunity."

The adiComfort 2 is waterproof (two-year warranty) and designed to provide step-in comfort. While Adidas golf shoes are known for their technological bells and whistles — "thintech" soles; 360-degree wraparound support, and "x-static" fibers — the adiCOMFORT 2 is not so loaded. But it looks good and features soft leather uppers, a cushiony midsole with three millimeters of extra foam, and the thin-tech cleat system. "The focus here is on comfort," Knudson said. "It's the best shoe we've ever offered at $80."

In other words, it's not a Tour-quality shoe. But how many of us are Tour golfers?

Put a sock in it
We think about socks only when they develop an annoying hole (which seems to happen rather quickly with modern socks). But out on the golf course, socks can be important. Socks that itch, bunch, chafe or get soggy can detract from the pleasure of a round. Many companies now make high-tech socks, but Kentwool of Greenville, S.C., has set out to make, "the world's best golf sock."

Since 1843, five generations of the Kent family have been involved in making regular street socks here in USA. But recently, the company's CEO, Mark Kent, an avid golfer, took a special interest in making an elite golf sock after getting a blister in a pro-am.

What he came up with is a proprietary blend of two-ply merino wool and performance fibers (including Spandex) that, according to the company, "create an innovative, micro-climate system for superior moisture management, wicking and odor control." What is especially nice about them (this columnist has road-tested a pair) is the extra cushioning in the heel and toe, the major stress points on the foot. The socks carry a blister-proof guarantee.

"We designed a sock for someone who is on his or her feet for more than a couple of hours a day," Mark Kent said. "It's a golf sock with other uses. Doctors and nurses wear them, Wal-Mart workers, too."

He added that many Tour players, including Bubba Watson, Jonathan Byrd, and Brendon de Jonge have been wearing Kentwool socks. Peter Jacobsen has been hired as a spokesman for the line.

Kentwool golf hosiery does not come cheap. The socks are sold at country clubs (and at kentwool.com/shop) for $19.95 (low profile) to $24.95 (standard length).

Maybe the thing to do is buy inexpensive golf shoes — and wear them with high-end socks.

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