In this exclusive interview we talk to FootJoy's product manager and developer to find out some of the secrets behind the new FootJoy shoe; the FreeStyle
This exciting new FootJoy shoe is sure to be among the most talked about golf products of 2016, so we arranged an exclusive chat with the FootJoy FreeStyle's designers, Mike Foley and Mike Feeney, to find out more...
GM - Tell us about the story behind this bold new style?
Mike Foley, FootJoy product manager - “This new FootJoy shoe was born out of a tremendous collaborative effort that involved several intense brainstorming where we discussed the success of D.N.A and the potential of HyperFlex (as it was still months away from its release).
"We talked at length about our recent internal research results, which revealed a segment of players who would actually benefit from a more mobile product – a more flexible shoe – so they could in effect unleash their power.
"This took us down the path of the drawbacks of this type of shoe – they can be sloppy, ill-fitting, too unstructured, not enough traction to maintain ground contact, etc….. and this is where we started tossing out ideas about what types of animals or creatures may have a certain grip capability – thus, along came the Tree Frog."
GM - So that's where the frog comes in.....
Mike Foley - "Yes, our further research with a scanning electron microscope found that the toe pads of torrent frogs are equipped with elongated cells on their edges, with straight channels in between that allow excess water to drain away helping the frog maintain its grip.
“We found through extensive research that the grip properties of a Tree Frog could be emulated in the texture and functional design elements of an outsole unit. It’s all about the relationship between the gripping texture and the ability to maintain ground contact points throughout the golf swing.
"This led to the project being dubbed ‘Frogz’. Despite the frog influence, there were many more influences that contributed to the creation of FreeStyle, including tour feedback, consumer feedback, trend-shopping trips around the world, etc, and our design team certainly had fun with this one.”
GM - So what type of golfer do you think this shoe will appeal to?
Mike Feeney, FootJoy developer - “The performance characteristics will appeal to the player seeking ultimate mobility in order to swing freely through the ball.
"The aesthetics of this new FootJoy shoe will appeal to the younger, athletic player and the young-at-heart older player. Then the comfort delivered will appear to literally ALL golfers.”
GM - You mentioned a few performance aspects there, which is the most prevalent?
Mike Feeney - “It's tough to say which is most prevalent as we made every effort to ensure comfort, flexibility and traction are well represented in this product. That said, after wear-testing, the feature that feels most prevalent in the final version is comfort.”
GM - Of all your recent launches, would you say this has broken the most design shackles?
Mike Foley - “If you think it was easy getting that larger FJ logo passed through senior management………well it wasn’t.
"We fought hard to preserve the bold, fun, overall look and feel of this product. Our brand used to be known strictly as the “traditional brand” – we believe with the release of HyperFlex and now FreeStyle, we have proven that our team can compete with the best athletic designers out there while still being able to produce traditional models as well.”
GM - It certainly looks like it will appeal to the younger audience – do you envisage older golfers taking them up too?
Mike Foley - “Our initial product brief targeted the younger set for sure, but having a strong secondary and tertiary target segments is critical for broader acceptance as we have seen with D.N.A and HyperFlex. There is no doubt that there are a lot of young-at-heart older golfers out there – which is great. Also, we are finally in a day and age where many players are expanding their golf wardrobes and having numerous styles of shoes for different seasons and styles."
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