About a year ago, I set out on a quest to modernize my golf swing. I wasn’t sure what that meant at the time, but I knew it needed a reboot. See, I got hooked on golf during one of the biggest transition periods for the game. Persimmon drivers were giving way to Tour Burners, early-generations of graphite shafts were as whippy as Twizzlers, and square-grooved wedges had balata balls spinning like tops on the greens.
Forget Trackmans, and swing videos were luxury items (and grainy, low-def ones at that). You found your swing in the dirt and if you swung it correctly, your back arrived in an awkward reverse C position. And, your golf shoes? Well, they looked like your grandfather’s dress shoes with nails on the bottom. They were considered good if you weren’t reaching for bandages by the 12th green.
Fast forward a few decades and those original metal woods have been replaced with titanium and carbon heads. Graphite shafts are as stout as steel but lighter and tuned to your every move. Golf balls fly far and land soft. Along the way, the golf swing changed to one driven by power. And your golf shoes? They have as much technology as that $800 driver and are your connection to your power source–the ground.
A year into this swing overhaul and the idea of using the ground for power is still as foreign a concept as those French classes I took in high school. It has been a long, windy, and bumpy road, but the biggest surprise is that it has led me to a new brand of golf shoes.
If you think PAYNTR is the latest infomercial gimmick, guess again. It is the braintrust of co-founders Mike Forsey and David Paynter. Forsey has 30+ years experience in creating performance footwear, especially golf shoes, with a fairly well-known sneaker brand based in Oregon. Paynter is a former professional cricket player who founded the PAYNTR brand of high-tech kicks in the U.K. In just a short period of time, PAYNTR has become the choice of former Masters Champ Mike Weir. It also earned MyGolfSpy’s award for Best Spikeless Shoe this year for the X 002 LE while its counterpart, the X 003 F, grabbed the third spot on that same list.
When talking about building speed from the ground up, there is no better place to start than the three dimensional traction system, which allows the X 001 F to resist rotational movement, control linear motion, and harness vertical ground forces.
From there, the pillowy PMX foam midsole houses an innovative graphite propulsion plate that can be seen through the ‘window’ in the outsole. While most of us look to the midsole of a shoe to provide just comfort, the integrated midsole on the X 001 F is yet another source of power.
One of the areas where I’ve spent the most time trying to groove my new swing is the gentle squat that triggers the downswing. This movement creates another leverage point with the ground and is where I feel the biggest benefit of the X 001 F. As the traction elements on the outsole grab and resist rotational movement, the graphite propulsion plate in the midsole stores and returns energy speeding the club towards impact.
But what would power and speed be without control? Well, your feet would be wildly sliding around in your shoes. PAYNTR’s dual durometer midsole is engineered with different zones to provide maximum stability where it is needed most and responsive cushioning to keep you striding down the fairways all day.
The performance qualities don’t stop there as the upper of the X 001 F is constructed from a flexible textile base with a Clarino microfiber skin. While it is not surprising to find an microfiber upper on an athletic golf shoe these days, Clarino is certainly a unique material. Designed specifically for footwear, Clarino replicates the natural collagen fiber structure of animal leather. This gives it a similar feel, durability, and stretch to real leather in a lighter package that surprisingly reduces water waste, CO2 emissions, and organic solvents during the manufacturing process. The upper is then treated with the superhydrophobic NeverWet solution to keep water out.
With all of the technology in the outsole, midsole, and upper, it would be easy to overlook the tongue on X 001 F, but it is one of my favorite features. Vented and slightly padded, the tongue allows warm air to escape and moves perspiration away from the foot. ‘Locked in’ has become a major buzz phrase in golf footwear over the last few years, but as more shoes keep feet stable during the swing, tongues oftentimes fetter the foot and lack flexibility while walking. On the other hand, the mesh material on the tongue of the X 001 F allows the foot to expand with every step while wrapping around the foot during the swing.
Whether you are on the same journey as I am to modernize your swing, or looking for a high-performance golf shoe that will go 36 holes or more, the PAYNTR X 001 F should be on your short list for the 2022 season.