What happens during tour seeding for new FootJoy shoes?

Golf Equipment

We go behind the scenes with FootJoy at the British Masters as tour players test a brand new golf shoe…

Tour seeding – a phrase which means nothing to your average club golfer.

But it’s a vital process for all golf equipment companies. The tour is their first port of call for feedback on new products.

I went behind the scenes with FootJoy during the British Masters at Close House to find out how the process works.

The product in question is unlikely to be hitting pro shops for a good few months yet.

What I can tell you is that it’s a golf shoe. That’s it.

So how do tour players know there are some new FootJoy shoes?

The brand identifies which players are likely to be interested in this new shoe based on what they currently wear.

Let’s, hypothetically, say that these new shoes are a sporty, trainer style model.

That would rule out those who like to wear a classic like the FootJoy Icon. So Andy Sullivan, Robert Karlsson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Henrik Stenson and Justin Thomas wouldn’t be getting the memo.

Henrik Stenson WITB

Those who fit the criteria of the new shoe will be emailed to say there is a new product available for trial.

They’ll be asked to come over to the tour truck to pick up a pair before heading to the range or out for a practice round.

FJ also send out WhatsApp messages to remind the players who haven’t been in yet.

While I’m on-site at Close House, Lee Westwood replies to say he’ll be in for his later in the afternoon.

During the morning, I base myself on the tour truck (it’s the Titleist truck which FJ and Titleist staff both use during tournaments).

A few players come on to the truck who like the look of the shoe, put it on and head straight for the practice ground.

“Yep. I’ll wear these this week,” says Anthony Wall within five seconds of slipping them on.

He asks for a bag to pop his muddy Pro SLs – the No 1 model on tour – in and he’s off with the shiny new model.

Next up is Thongchai Jaidee who is actually after a slightly smaller size following an early practice round in them.

He switches from a 7.5 to a 7 then heads to the range happy – but not before offering to clean the pair he’d already worn.

New FootJoy shoes

That’s where I head next then follow a few groups during their practice rounds on the course.

These new shoes are everywhere so they have obviously gone down well.

When the tournament starts I spot the new shoes on the feet of Chris Hanson, Andrew Dodt, and Jaidee among others.

So why does ‘tour seeding’ take place for new FootJoy shoes?

New FootJoy shoes

We spoke to FootJoy’s Guy Smith (Acushnet leadership promotion manager for his full title) who explained how timing is key.

“We don’t want people to see them on tour six months before they can buy them,” he said.

“We’ll look at the guys who will like the performance benefits but also the styling is important. We look at the type of apparel the guys are wearing and see if the new shoe will suit that.

“After that we’ll put together an order with the factory and the shoes will come out to tour on the truck.”

Is there a big spreadsheet with all the players exact sizes?

New FootJoy sheos

“The actual sizing will be exactly the same model to model but they are made with different moulds so they may be a little bit wider or narrower in the toe.

“We’ll sit down with the player and go through a proper fitting to make sure it’s right. It’s not just a case of they’ve been a 9 before so here’s another 9 and off you go.”

Are FootJoy after any specific feedback on the new shoes?

“The first thing they see is what the shoe looks like so that’s their first impression.

“No matter how good the performance is or how comfortable it is, if they don’t like the look, they won’t wear it – they won’t even want to try it on.

“Once we get the shoe on the foot of they player they’ll say ‘yeah I like these’ then they’ll go and hit some balls on the range or go and play nine holes in them and we’ll follow up with them the following day or ask them to send us a text or a WhatsApp message about them.

“We don’t want to give the players preconceived ideas we just want them to go and give them a try and we’ll sit down and have a chat about it.

“We’ve got so many difference performance shoes in the range and so many different looks. We’re not a brand that says ‘we want you to wear that shoe’. We want the player to be wearing the best FootJoy shoe for them.”

Do FootJoy just give new shoes to players contracted to wear FootJoy shoes?

“It’s not like ‘you can’t try these because you’ve not got a contract with us’.

“The majority of the guys will be under agreement to wear our products but we have several players out on the European Tour that choose to wear FootJoy and we’ll look after all those players too.”

So keep your eyes to the ground when watching golf (European and PGA Tour) on television over the next couple of months and you’ll no doubt notice a FootJoy model we haven’t talked about yet…

New FootJoy shoes

More information can be found on the FootJoy website.

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