I can’t think of a more highly anticipated golf shoe launch in recent years than the FootJoy Premiere Series. The first Packard and Tarlow models appeared on the feet of Adam Scott, Max Homa, and Ian Poulter shortly after the PGA Tour restart last summer. Needless to say, these initial sightings were just what I needed to wake me from my COVID lockdown funk. Based on the number of questions we received from GolfThreads’ readers, they captured your attention, too.
I quite liked FootJoy’s launch strategy for the Premiere Series. Unlike other golf shoes that may hit the Tour a couple of weeks before retail availability, FJ seeded the Tour with the Premiere Series 6+ months in advance of the retail launch. Going by the theory that we want what we can’t have, FJ built buzz around the series for months. Adding to the hype, was Billy Horschel’s in-hand preview of the Tarlows from Winged Foot’s locker room at the U.S. Open that rivaled any YouTuber’s unboxing video.
Well, the wait is over! The Premiere Series is finally here! Thanks to the team at FJ for sending an early release (quite the Christmas present) so I could take them for a spin in advance of the launch. After a half dozen rounds in a variety of conditions, here are a few of my (random) initial impressions.
Packaging is often overlooked, but it is an important part of a customer’s experience with a product. In fact, it is the first thing a customer interacts with. FootJoy sets the tone for the Premiere Series’ contemporary elegance by taking a page out of Apple’s minimalist packaging vibe. The simple navy blue box with tonal text hints at the sophisticated looks of the product inside.
Once you pop the lid and unwrap the Tarlow, Packard, or Flint, the clean lines, premium leather, and stacked heel confirm that the Premiere Series is everything you’ve been hoping it would be. If you laced up the Icons or mourned the loss of the old-school Classics, the timeless good looks of the Premiere Series will have you grinning from ear to ear.
The Packard is a modern take on the traditional saddle shoe. The slimmer saddle area features a calfskin croc print in the saddle and is complemented by a pebble grain leather for added texture and dimension in the vamp and the quarter.
As you know, I’m a sucker for a stylish brogue, so it is no surprise The Tarlow is my favorite model in the series. The modern interpretation of a timeless cap toe design uses a natural grain leather in the vamp and quarter, complemented by a coordinated croc print in the heel, cap toe and eyestay. The navy/white colorway is an absolute showstopper.
Rounding out the series is The Flint with a smooth Chromoskin leather upper. Embossed detailing on the saddle area, nice piping on the side, and a refined FJ ornament highlight this shoe’s clean looks.
If you fancy yourself as an emerging shoe designer or just want a bespoke pair of kicks to match your favorite fit, you’re in luck. Word is the Premiere Series will be part of FootJoy’s MyJoys customization program at launch. JT and Ian Poulter have already turned out a couple of custom colorways on Tour.
Lighter Than the Icon
Once you take in the sheer beauty of these shoes, the next thing you’ll notice is that they are considerably lighter than what you’d expect for shoes of this quality. Now, I’m not saying the Premiere Series are the lightest in the pro shop by any means. However, for a proper leather golf shoe with a sturdy, cleated outsole, they are lighter than traditional models of the past. As someone who gamed Icons for years, it was easy to tell that the Premiere Series is in a different weight class at first touch. In fact, the team at FootJoy said they check in at 12% lighter than the shoes they are replacing.
Walking Comfort Out of the Box
As light as the Premiere Series is, the biggest surprise is the comfort. When I first received that pair of Packards, I looked at them as a special occasion shoe. I’d break them out for a round at friends’ country clubs, a trip to a high-end resort course, or a big tournament round. Of course, I’d slip them out of their fancy shoe bag for those few rounds where I found myself cruising in a cart, too. After walking in them for those first 18 holes, I knew they were comfortable enough to be an every-round shoe.
Typically, I would break in a proper pair golf shoes, like the Packards, for several days around the house before daring to lace them up on the course. I was so stoked to take them for a spin, I ignored the home trial. Taking the necessary precautions, I packed my bag with a handful of band-aids and a stick of anti-blister cream. After a few holes, I realized my makeshift medical kit was a needless addition to my bag.
Sure, the lightweight materials play a part in the comfort factor, but so do the soft and supple premium leather and the Ortholite EcoPush FitBed. This fitbed is a dual threat as it couples the stability needed in the heel for the modern swing with a cushioned ride. As comfy as I found the Premiere Series for round one, they are even more comfortable with each subsequent round. I can only imagine how good they will be after a dozen rounds.
After posting some initial pics on social media, some followers expressed concerns about the narrowness of the toe box. Granted the Premiere Series doesn’t have the roomy toe box of FootJoy’s new Stratos shoe, but I find the narrow claims to be unfounded. In fact, I find the toe box on the Premiere Series to be wider than the Pro|SL. When a shoe doesn’t fit me correctly, I feel a pinching in my heel and pinky toe. No such discomfort with the Premiere Series, though.
Get a Grip
While the modern lines and classic details of the uppers will get most of the attention, the new traction system on the Premiere Series is the biggest upgrade from the Icons. Having traversed a mix of dry and wet conditions during this California winter, the VersaTrax+ traction performed in every condition—from bone-dry hardpan to wet and muddy fairways.
At a time when the world’s best players are obsessed with generating power from the ground up, VersaTrax+ is the best example of how FootJoy supercharged these classic-looking shoes for the modern game. The secret sauce is the combination of strategically-placed removable cleats and TPU lugs. The anti-channeling tread pattern utilizes multiple TPU compounds to grip a variety of surfaces.
Shoes of this quality deserve some extra TLC. Use a shoe horn to slip them on before the round. This will protect the heel counter.
After the round, a little soap, water, and a leather cleaner will keep the Premiere Series looking fresh. Then rub in a little leather conditioner to maintain the soft and flexible feel of the uppers.
Spend a few bucks on some nice cedar shoes trees. Not only will the cedar combat odors and absorb moisture, but the shoe tree will smooth the linings, prevent creasing, and return the shoes to their normal shape.
To complete the process, slide them back in their shoe bag. This ritual is well worth it.