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We are all trying to be more consistent on the golf course. We are all trying to find more fairways and get a bit more distance. So what’s the first thing we change? We rarely think twice about splashing hundreds of pounds on a new driver, but have you ever thought about upgrading your golf shoes?

That’s where Under Armour come in. For a long time the brand has seen golf shoes as part of your equipment setup. The brand has worked its star player, Jordan Spieth, as well as

biomechanists – most notably JJ Rivet – to ensure its premier shoe each year is its most advanced yet.

And that has never been truer than right now with the introduction of the Drive Pro, a golf shoe biomechanically engineered and laboratory tested to provide the traction and lateral support your feet need to unlock the power of your natural swing.

So how does it achieve this? Let’s take a look under the bonnet…

Under Armour Drive Pro
An exploded shot of the Drive Pro shoes shows off the different layers. (Credit: Under Armour)

Traction System: Custom UA S3 spikes with game-changing directional traction sit within a molded lightweight TPU sole plate that wraps up the side of the foot for added support at impact.

HOVR Midsole System: A softer, energy-returning HOVR foam is strategically placed on the medial side, with a more supportive charged foam on the lateral side. A molded sockliner is added for improved fit and comfort.

Upper Lockdown System: UA’s S3 lockdown lacing and upper provides biomechanically correct support from the lateral ball and medial arch, while a new last adds width at the ball of the foot for improved fitness and stability.

And that’s not all! The brand new S3 spike from Under Armour is specifically designed to help maintain traction throughout your swing.

Under Armour Drive Pro
The Drive Pro shoes feature the new S3 spikes. (Credit: Under Armour)

The brand has worked with biomechanist JJ Rivet to built a spike that is more dynamic, including separate “legs” that flex at different rates to offer two levels of traction. The coloured legs contact the ground first, with soft durometer then the clear legs contact the ground with firm durometer.

The spikes have also been turned 10° clockwise to hit the exact angle of the slip golfers want to resist.

How the Under Armour Drive Pro came to life

With all this in mind, we chatted to Jake Haley, Under Armour’s CEO of Golf Footwear, to find out more about how the Drive Pro shoes became a reality.

Here’s what he had to say…

Let’s get straight to it. What’s Jordan Spieth like to work with?

It’s a blessing to work with Jordan. I’ve heard people calling him the nicest guy on tour and it’s definitely the truth. We meet with him about four times a year and he just gives incredible feedback. He knows a lot about footwear, and heknows exactly what he wants, so he’s able to really help.

With the current Drive Pro Series, we met with him in October 2022 and we started talking through our ideation of the shoe, going through drawings that our designer had done and talking through the story. He’s given feedback all the way from back in that design phase on what he likes about the look of the shoes, and what types of materials he likes.

Then we make three or four prototypes and he tests each one and gives us feedback on exactly what he wants. But I’ve worked with him for around five years, so I know what he likes and that means I’m able to build that into the shoes without always having to bug him and ask him. He’s a busy guy!

• Review: How the Drive Pro shoes improved my golf

• Techsplainer: How to properly tie your golf shoe laces

Well that begs the question: what sorts of things does he like in a golf shoe?

He’s big on a few things and there are three that stick out. The first one is heel lock-in. He’s got really narrow feet. Where we talk about shoes in terms of fit, you have narrow, regular, wide and extra-wide, Jordan is extra narrow, so we do have to create a fit specifically for his foot. He finds in other shoes his foot slips in and out a lot. So, locking in that heel is huge for him.

He’s also got a unique move on to his left foot where he almost rolls over onto the outside of it. A lot more guys on tour do this than we think, but he needs that move to be supported so that he’s not falling off a cliff as he gets to his left side. And then because he pushes really hard off his right foot, he needs that lateral ball support on that right shoe.

Have there been any moments where he’s just flat out turned something down or wanted something changing?

We went from spiked to spikeless in the Spieth 5 and that was a huge thing to ask Jordan. He’s worn spikes his entire life, but being the good guy he is he tried it, and he was like: ‘This is amazing what you’ve done to make a spikeless shoe so grippy and grounded.’ So, he wore them in tournaments but found that on certain grasses, where he’s playing in the morning and it’s really tightly mowed, and it’s firm and slick, he slipped one time in an event. That was enough, and he went back to spikes and he’ll probably be wearing them forever now.

Under Armour Drive Pro
Jake Haley takes on feedback from Jordan Spieth about the Drive Pro. (Credit: Under Armour)

While spikeless models dominate in grassroots, spiked models tend to be more popular on tour…

I did a little study last year where I looked at the top 50 in the golf ranking and -what shoes they wear. And if you look at that versus what sells, there’s a massive gap and it’s not like that in any other sport.

You look at soccer, basketball, American football, and people are buying from who they’re aspiring to be. They’re buying the Steph Currys because you know that’s the best of the best. Yet when you look at golf, it’s a big gap in terms of not playing golf as a career, where one slip could cost millions of dollars, and it’s more about having fun.

So with things like your footwear you want to be more comfortable and more versatile. You want to put your shoes on at home before heading to the course, maybe you need to stop somewhere along the way, without the need to change. And that’s where you see the gap between what the pros are wearing and what amateurs are wearing.

We define our consumers into two segments. One we call the ‘tactician’ – a player who’s really looking at their shoes as a way to gain a competitive edge, so they’re looking for that performance story that we’re telling in the Drive Pro. Then there’s the ‘transcendent’ – the golfer who’s looking for comfort first and foremost and then style.

Under Armour Drive Pro
The Drive Pro on the drawing board. (Credit: Under Armour)

Speaking of which, UA are among the leaders in the golf sneaker revolution as brands start to move away from the traditional styles of yesteryear…

If you were to look at the top shoes on the market five years ago, very much traditional synthetics and leathers, exactly what you would imagine a classic golf shoe to look like. Now you’ve got a huge influx of what we call athletic silhouettes. A lot of brands are taking their lifestyle shoe and building a golf shoe out of it.

People want to represent themselves on the course, but not everyone wants the ‘country club’ look, so they want to wear what they would away from the course and be who they are while on the links.

And of course there’s your work with JJ Rivet. How do you marry up the input of what a tour player is telling you he wants with a biomechanist telling you what you need?

It’s a huge balance! We started having our first official Drive Pro discussions with JJ in early 2022, and we met him monthly throughout the first half of that year, which was the ideation phase, going through all his input on what he thinks should be built into this shoe.

So we drew out the shoe, crafted it with the factory, then once we had our first prototype we travelled out to JJ’s compound in France in October 2022 to test them. That was an incredibly important step in the process. We put it up against seven other shoes – some ours, some competitors – and we had some European Tour pros come in and they would go through every pair, running the same strict testing protocol, so we could learn how to make this shoe better.

During that week with JJ, we made a good shoe into a great one.

How so?

We refined our spike system, we tweaked the lacing lockdown system 100 times, and we put the finishing touches on what became the Swing Support System™. So working with him in person like that, with people testing out our shoes, there is really no better way to do it because he can see live what’s happening with someone’s foot during the swing, what the shoe is doing, and what it can
be doing better.

He’s big on the balance of stability and support and mobility athleticism, so when we had those European Tour testers in, we saw a lot of other brand’s shoes are beefed up with a load of support and we noticed the guys were, say, pulling every shot when they hit a signature fade.

So JJ’s telling us that it’s because he can’t get to his left side because the shoe has outriggers, and it’s not letting him roll or shift to his left side as his ankle is too locked in. You actually need stability at the ball of the foot and in the heel, but you need mobility at the ankle and the toes, so you need that balance in order to really get that desired outcome.

It all sounds rather technical!

There are so many fine details in terms of the biomechanics of a golf shoe, and really, we’re just blessed to be able to work with JJ and to do that in person is really fun. We’re lucky to have him.

Under Armour Drive Pro review

So, the million dollar question: do they actually work? Our gear editor James Tait went to find out. Watch the video in the player below, or over on the bunkered YouTube channel

• The Under Armour Drive Pro golf shoes are out now and available from the UA Golf website.

author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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