Though Nike's line of golf equipment has expanded over the years to include for the most part, anything you'd ever need, they continue to stay true to their footwear roots year after year by offering everything from the radical to sporty to premier/upper echelon. They've established a great practice of producing shoes for just about anyone, no matter what their looking for. This year marks the initial release of the Nike Lunar Control, a shoe that, in my opinion, could easily appeal to nearly everyone, young or old, traditional or modern, those seeking comfort over anything else, as well as those concerned with appearance above all. Though this is only the first year they've been available, after searching the Internet a bit, it seems that they've already gotten quite a fan base.
What makes them so great? Well, you'll have to follow along to find out.I've sported the Swoosh for as long as I can remember, going all the way back to my baseball and basketball days, so it was pretty natural for me to look to Nike for my footwear when I took up golf. That's not to say I'm blindly loyal - in fact, I tend to be more critical of them when I don't like a design or something doesn't perform like I expect. It's almost like when a parent, a child, or a buddy does something you're not wild about; you tend to be a little more critical because you expect better. Over the past few years, I've worn (and continue to wear) a number of different Nike golf shoes, from my Air Zoom Elites to my Air Zoom TW (2009 model). Then there's the Air Max Summer (please bring something like these or the Air Max Edge back), which I simply loved as a lightweight, more athletic golf shoe that works extremely well when it's hot, as it is here on the gulf coast for 10 months out of the year. So when I've looked at a lot of their newer shoes, I was a bit disappointed as it looked like the Air Rate was the likely athletic-type of shoe, and to say I wasn't happy about it was an understatement because, well, to be honest they're just not something I'd wear, and I'll leave it at that. When I'm wearing shorts, the golf shoes that have an aesthetic design taken more from standard athletic shoes just appeal to me more because I think they look more natural. Anyway, I digress from the topic at hand.
Being a bit of a sneaker nut, I'm a little particular about what I wear, but I also like a ton of variety. So with that in mind, when I saw the new Nike Lunar Control, which made it's debut at the WGC-HSBC Champions event, I thought it would be cool to try out a saddle type of shoe. I've actually never owned any, and have always honestly turned off on them just based on appearance. Though I just hit 30, I think my head is still somewhere in the lower 20's (and that's being pretty generous) and I like younger styles, though maybe not quite as extreme as Fowler's. I did find a couple of the different Lunar Control colorways attractive and immediately recognized a couple of things they had in common with the Air Max 2010s that I wear on a daily basis.
Shortly after I published my article on the release of the Lunar Control along with a number of other new items from Nike, they were nice enough to send a pair of the all black Lunar Controls my way. Before we get caught up in what I thought about them, let's take a look at the ins and outs of these new golf shoes from Nike.
Design and Technology
The Nike Lunar Control was designed with the same goals as most other golf shoes - stability and comfort wrapped up in a lightweight design. Of course, a lot of those same goals are shared between golf and most other sports, so why not implement some of the innovative materials and construction technologies found in those other sport-specific shoes and apply them to a classic saddle design that appeals to most traditional golfers? The end result is the new Nike Lunar Control, which became the first Nike golf shoe to incorporate new tech like Lunarlon Foam and Flywire.
Nike's proprietary Lunarlon cushioning system - another technology created in their Innovation Kitchen - is the encompassing cushioning system used not only in the new Lunar Control, but many other popular Nike running shoes. Of course, as you might be able to gather based on the name, the material used in the Lunar Control's cushioning system is Lunarlon Foam, which makes up the midsole. First and foremost, the Lunarlon Foam provides a soft, comfortable experience for your feet, though they also maintain a highly responsive feel. Ultimately, the player is left with comfortable shoes that don't punish the feet, while at the same time providing grip and support you'd expect out of a company that has been making shoes for nearly 50 years and is the largest athletic shoe manufacturer in the world.
The attention to stability doesn't stop there. Again they borrow tech from their mainstream athletic shoes in the form of Flywire, which, in simplest terms is a very strong thread used in the upper of the shoe to minimize weight and maximize support. These high tensile threads are actually composed of Vectran fibers (a lightweight, inexpensive fiber, that's thinner than a human hair, yet high in tensile strength, and has been used in a wide variety of applications, most notably a number of NASA projects). Nike's use of these fibers in Flywire functions much the same as that of cables supporting a suspension bridge in that multiple fibers are positioned strategically, providing support in key areas of the foot. They encompass the midfoot in order to provide lightweight structure and support. The use of Flywire has resulted in a weight reduction of 50%. While the lightweight saddle panel moves with the foot naturally, the combination of these high-tensile fibers and a TPU overlay serves as a dynamic, supportive foundation that doesn't stretch out of it's natural fit over time. There's nothing worse than a pair of shoes that are only a year or two old that have that fat belly bulge over the soles.
Rounding out the list of key features of the Nike Lunar Control is the ample use of full-grain, waterproof leather by Sadesa with hydrophobic treatment which repels water and helps keep your feet dry and the leather in great shape for years to come. Inside, you'll find a full-length contoured sockliner for additional support and comfort. At the base is Nike's Power Platform, which promotes optimal balance, a strong impact push, and efficient weight transfer throughout the swing. It's also noteworthy that they come protected by a 2-Year limited waterproof warranty.
Fit and Performance
Like I said earlier, I've worn Nike shoes nearly exclusively for most all of my athletic "career", and one of the biggest reasons why is because, along with their exceptional good looks, they have always fit me as near perfect as possible. I have recently come to find out that, comparatively speaking, they run maybe a half a size smaller than Adidas. I found that out the hard way, as for Christmas, I bought my dad a pair of Adidas Tech Response golf shoes (in the same size as a pair of Nikes he has worn for a while) and ended up having to exchange them for a bigger size. Bottom line is that if you're planning on ordering a pair from an Internet retailer, my suggestion is that if you don't have a lot of experience with Nike's golf shoes, you may want to try a similar pair on at a local shop before ordering.
Anyway, finding a near-perfect fit in a golf shoe is just as important as any other sport-specific footwear. You definitely don't want shoes that are too loose as constant walking and weight shifting leads to excessive rubbing, which leads to not only premature wearing of certain areas of the shoe, but more importantly chafing, blisters, and potential foot injuries. At times we end up in less than ideal situations where moisture from rain, puddles, or whatever magnify the situation. Luckily, none of that is an issue with the Nike Lunar Control. They fit snugly in the heel and in the midfoot, though not so tight that I felt like my feet weren't breathing properly. I've tried on shoes that would give me that snug feeling, but were excessively stiff. That's simply not the case here, as the Lunar Control felt incredible from the first time I put them on up until the last time I wore them (which was roughly a week ago).
They're soft in all the right places, and equally as firm (but not rock hard) in areas where additional support is needed most. A prime example is the heel support area. I have a pair of the Nike Air Zoom Elites that I picked up for cheap at a local Nike outlet a few years back, and one of the biggest complaints I had was that the heel area from top to bottom was entirely too stiff. I'm not sure that saying the Lunar Controls are polar opposites is correct; they are firm in the heel, as they should be, but provide what I'd say is the optimal amount of flexibility.
The midfoot and Flywire upper are quite superb, as I have worn them almost exclusively for the past month and a half, and they show no signs of stretching or deforming in a way some shoes do over time. They truly do fit like a glove every time I put them on. What I found crazy was that it really does seem like this section of the shoe was weightless, and when comparing these to other pairs of golf shoes I own, it was evident that the Flywire really does reduce the overall weight of the shoe as advertised. If you see these out at your favorite retailer, just pick them up for a second - I think you'll be surprised at how light they are. I liked how the Adidas Tour 360 4.0 Review had a chart to compare the weight of the shoes being reviewed to others, so below is what I was able to gather from my ever-expanding collection. Note that I made sure the shoes were cleaned of grass, dirt, etc.
Brand Model Size Weight ----- --------------- ---- ------ Nike Air Max Summer 12 437g Nike Lunar Control 12 477g Nike Air Zoom Elite 12 600g Nike Air Zoom TW 12 539g Nike Air Max 2010 12 458g
You'll noticed that that I also included my athletic shoes for comparative reasons. I've always found golf shoes to be considerably heavier than regular cross training shoes, but here you can see that it's not the huge difference one might expect. It opened my eyes, no doubt. Only 19g separate the Lunar Control from the Air Max 2010. If you feel a difference of 19 grams in your feet, it might be time to hit the gym.
Where the Lunar Control really shined to me, however, was the feel of the sole and the inner foot cushioning. If any of you keep up with any activity in our forums, you'll know that I've been in the gym pretty religiously as of late, and my training shoe of choice is the Nike Air Max 2010 which features Flywire like the Lunar Control, but uses the 360 air sole as opposed to the Lunarlon foam. The reason I bring this up is because I've always held those shoes as my gold standard for comfort. What was so crazy to me was that, with my Air Max being a 10/10, the Lunar Control is easily a 9.8 out of 10, if not better. I really didn't think that was possible for a shoe that didn't have the Max Air midsole, let alone a golf shoe to equal the comfort of an all-purpose cross training shoe. The Lunarlon Foam really is that comfortable and stable, but it's an indescribable, different feel than the 360 air cushioning. I wish I could give you more than that, or at least a good analogy, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. Just know that these things are EXTREMELY pleasing to wear especially for an extended period of time. That's a stark contrast from the Air Zoom Elites that I mentioned before, which would start off okay, but by the end of a round, I couldn't wait to take them off.
The Lunarlon Foam serves multiple other purposes as well. It contributes to the overall form-fitting nature of this shoe, along with the Flywire tech. Even though form fitting sometimes evolves into "flattening" over extended time and periods of wear, that just doesn't seem to be the case here. Winters here in the south tend to be pretty mild, and thus I've been able to wear them at least once a week (if not more) for the past couple of months, and they feel just as good now as they did when they came out of the box.
An additional function of the Lunarlon foam is that it allows the shoe to situate the player lower to the ground. This lower profile leads to an increase in stability and leverage, and can be the difference to the player digging in on the backswing or losing their footing and/or balance. The final factor in that equation is the swappable Champ Scorpion Stinger spikes. As for real world experience here, I don't notice the height difference, but then again, for someone who borders on 6'3" with shoes on, how much difference does a few millimeters actually make? Even if it did, I'm not sure I'd feel it as years of walking barefoot on the beach, hot pavement, dirt, etc. have probably taken away whatever ability to feel it that I might have had. Regardless, everything in this aspect of the shoe works as advertised. I felt stable and comfortably anchored to the ground regardless of whether I was hitting from the tee box, or battling with a steep sidehill lie.
A pleasant surprise was how well the Lunar Controls allowed my feet to breathe. I wasn't sure what to expect here, as out of my three other pairs of golf shoes, the ones closest to these in terms of materials (Air Zoom Elites) are probably the least airflow-friendly pair of shoes I've got. The Lunar Control ranks right up there with my Air Zoom TWs, and barely behind my Air Max Summers. Quite frankly, that was shocking, as I expected the full leather to restrict airflow a bit and thus preventing them from breathing as well as the other golf shoes I own. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Do they look good in person? ABSOLUTELY! Coming from someone who never has been a big fan of saddle shoes, I think they're very appealing. The Lunar Control, despite the possibly futuristic sounding name, is a great combination of traditional and modern design. The Lunar Control is exceptionally sharp yet subdued, but everyone has different tastes in style, so I'd rather let you make your own mind up here.
I really hate to see the warm weather arrive, as usually the only time I wear black shoes is with black or dark grey pants, which means that these will likely be put up until next fall. It's a shame, as the overall comfort I've experienced with them makes me think they'd be great for the summer too.
Plain and simple - if you've ever considered trying a pair of Nike's golf shoes, the Lunar Control should be the ones you choose. Aesthetically, they're as traditional as anything Nike has ever made, yet they maintain a slight modern edge. They're as comfortable as any other golf shoe I've worn, I really can't stress that enough. As a golf shoe, they provide ample support in all the right areas, and provide the traction you'd expect. Seriously, what more can I say about them? I've actually vacillated back and forth on whether to buy a pair in white and metallic pewter to replace my Air Zoom Elites. The only thing that has held me back is how ridiculous it would be for me to own that many pairs of golf shoes. If it weren't for my own guilt, I'd easily drop $130 (MSRP is $190) on another pair.