Rory McIlroy teed it up in the second round of the Northern Trust Open at the famed Riviera Country Club on Friday in Nike Golf’s new Flyknit Chukka shoe. Even though Rory sported the high-top-style shoe earlier in the week during practice rounds, this was the first time that the World No. 3 played a competitive round in them. By all indications, he seems to be getting along just fine with them as he fired a two under par 69 to move into a tie for seventh, four shots off the lead.
Although Brooks Koepka and Jamie Lovemark were spotted wearing the street-savvy kicks earlier this year, Nike officially unveiled them on Monday in Southern California. The launch of the Flyknit Chukkas is significant on several levels.
(1) It is another example of how traditional golf fashion is being disrupted by progressive street styles that appeal to a younger, hipper demographic.
(2) High-top-style shoes are the biggest trend in golf footwear and Nike becomes the first brand to have a high-top in the market. (Sorry, I’m not counting the Nike Lunar Bandon or Adidas Climaheat boots in this category.)
(3) Knit uppers have become popular in athletic and streetwear shoes over the past few years, and Nike is, again, the first brand to bring a knit upper to the golf market. (Look for Adidas Golf to release a Primeknit version of its TOUR360 BOOST shoe in the coming months.)
The Flyknit Chukka was originally created in 2013 as part of a collaboration between Nike, Inc. CEO and designer Mark Parker, Nike design legend Tinker Hatfield and street style icon Hiroshi Fujiwara, as part of the Swoosh’s aptly-named HTM line (HTM = Mark + Tinker + Hiroshi). It wasn’t until the shoe appeared on the feet of medal-winning athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics, did the whole Flyknit craze begin, though.
So, what is Flyknit? Nike describes it as, “A revolutionary manufacturing method, Flyknit enables designers to micro-engineer every stitch of the Chukka to create a featherweight, formfitting one-piece upper while simultaneously reducing manufacturing waste and materials.” Nike’s Flywire technology is also integrated into the upper for added support.
In order for the Flyknit Chukka to meet the performance needs of the best players in the world, Nike gave it some golf-specific tweaks. A thin TPU layer was added to the upper for water resistance against light rain and morning dew, and a Nike Free-inspired sole unit, with traction elements in the toe and heel, was attached to the upper. If you have concerns about the traction of this shoe, just consider the fact that McIlroy and Koepka have some of the fastest swing speeds in the world.
The Flyknit Chukkas are available at retail stores now for $190. McIlroy sported the black/white colorway in the second round of the Northern Trust Open and wore the racer blue/white colorway during Wednesday’s Pro-Am.