Normally, a new version of FootJoy shoes would not be met with such a buzz. The latest versions would be upgraded with a slight modification of the lines and possibly the spikes might be updated for better traction. This wouldn't draw much attention in and of itself.
This time around FootJoy has added something new and exciting. The BOA Lacing System adds a new twist and level of technology never seen in golf shoes before. Gone are the days of loose fitting shoes and laces the come undone or wear out. Now comes a new generation of golf shoes that not only need no breaking in, but fit perfectly right out of the box.
Too good to be true? Not really.
Design and Look
I'll try not to bore you too much with the small details of how the shoe looks. I'd rather focus on the few design changes that make the ReelFits special.
I'll begin with the only negative I could find with these shoes: the heel. Sure, there is a little knob sticking out - I've gotten more than a few remarks that my shoes appear to be plugged in to "The Matrix" - but it's fairly small and inconspicuous. My issue is with the heel itself. It's blue, and I'm not sure why FootJoy chose to color it blue. I feel it stands out a bit too much.
Beyond the heel, the ReelFit is a classic looking shoe that comes in brown saddle, black saddle, or solid black. The lines on the shoe are very nice as well. The ReelFits even look better than the more expensive Classic Tours - except for that blue insert in the heel.
That being said, the only other big difference is the laces. And of course when I say laces, I mean "there are no laces." In their place you'll find a high-strength plastic-coated wire. Twist the knob to "tighten" the shoe, unlock to loosen. You've seen the ads, haven't you?
The ads are right: No more lacing your golf shoes or double knotting them to get them to stay tied. No more loose heels and painful calluses. No more laces to collect dirt and debris from your trips into the more wooded or "adventurous" areas of the course. The ReelFits are easy to get on and easy to get off with a twist and a pop.
The BOA Lacing system takes the place of the traditional laces. The high-strength wire overlaps the tongue several times and wraps around both sides of the ankle area, terminating in the back at the "Matrix Knob" as I've taken to calling it.
To use FootJoy's ReelFit shoes, all you have to do is slip them on and twist the knob clockwise to ratchet up the tension You will feel not only the front of the shoe start to pull down on your foot but the back of the heel and the GelCollar start tightening around your ankle. It is a bit strange, but reminds me of tightening drawstrings. Unlike drawstrings, the ReelFit/BOA system applies tension rather evenly across the length of the laces and around your ankle, providing support and comfort.
To release the tension, all you have to do is pull the knob out. The wire is released along with your foot, making the process of removing your shoes easier and faster than it's ever been. The design not only makes the ReelFit the best fitting shoe I've ever used, but the most convenient to use as well.
There are a myriad of other technologies found in the ReelFit and other FootJoy shoes such as the aforementioned GelCollar, the Tri-Density TOP Outsoles, OptiFlex sole, and more. You can read more about these on FootJoy's ReelFit page as well as in our initial coverage of the FootJoy ReelFit.
Feel and Performance
I've owned Nike, Adidas, and FootJoy golf shoes. In my experience, Nike shoes take forever to break in (if ever) and leave nasty sores all over my feet. Adidas shoes take a handful of rounds, but were admirable performers after break-in, and required a round or two to re-stretch them at the beginning of a new golf season.
FootJoys are in another league.
They feel great right out of the box and you barely need to wear them around the house for an hour to break them in. I wore the ReelFits a few times at the practice range before taking them on the course. You might think walking a 7000-yard golf course that has some decent elevation and terrain changes would be a bit rough on my feet. Not so with the ReelFit. From the balls of my feet through my calves, I didn't feel any pain or discomfort. They feel like slippers on the course, and they're so comfortable you might be tempted to put them on at night! Just remember to take them off before you climb into bed. Wives don't like being kicked in the shins with golf shoes. <grin>
Aside from how your feet feel after a round, the other area I judge a shoe and how it performs is how it handles on the ground. Like other FootJoys, the ReelFits do a great job.
With the ReelFit, I never had to worry about slipping or maintaining control during my swing. WIth other shoes, my right foot will slip on a little dew once in awhile, but I didn't experience that during a wet, early morning round with the ReelFits. The Pulsar cleats by Softspikes do a great job. I've seen these spikes wear out a bit faster than others, but they are still some of the best plastic spikes out there.
Between swings the ReelFits also did a great job. Winter golf in North Carolina usually includes frequent trips into the dormant, brown, thin Bermuda grass through which trekking and maintaining balance can be difficult. I intentionally walked a few hills in the ReelFits to see if I would have any problems, and I'm happy to report that not once did I lose my footing.
Not once did I lose the impression that the ReelFits were the best golf shoes I've ever worn.
Coming from another FootJoy model - the GF:IIs - I knew what I would likely get from the FootJoy ReelFits: a solid golf shoe that is comfortable the moment you slide them on. What I didn't expect was that they would be so much better. Don't get me wrong - I love my GF:IIs. They are great golf shoes. With the added BOA Technology in the ReelFits, I will probably let the GF:IIs sit idle for a while.
For $199 at Edwin Watts, the ReelFits carry a hefty price tag. They are about $30 more than the GF:IIs and quite a bit more than I'm usually willing to dole out for a pair of golf shoes. Even so, you owe it to your feet to at least try them on and see for yourself just how comfortable they are and how easy the ReelFits are to use and adjust. Now golf shoes can be put on and adjusted as quickly and accurately as a golf glove.
I've gone through the full circle of golf shoes only to come back to FootJoys. The ReelFit is a leap in the technology and development of the golf shoe that will keep me hooked for a while. Pros including Davis Love III, David Toms, J.B. Holmes, Adam Scott, and many others are also hooked and using the ReelFits. You may be turned off by the knob in the back of the shoe, but if you give it a turn I'm sure your initial opinion may take a turn as well.