One of the world’s best-known soccer shoes has crossed over to the golf course.
Adidas AG introduced the Samba in February, the latest in non-traditional golf shoes. It’s based on the soccer training shoe of the same name, which has been one of the company’s biggest sellers for over 60 years.
“Golf footwear is changing and it’s changing quick,” Grant Knudson, Global Product Marketing Manager of Adidas Golf Footwear, said in a telephone interview. “What was viewed as a golf shoe two, three, four years ago is completely different today.”
The Samba debuted in 1950 as an indoor soccer training shoe with rubber soles that provide grip on hard surfaces. It’s made the crossover to an everyday shoe and, with about 35 million sold worldwide, is Adidas’s second-most popular behind the Stan Smith model tennis shoe.
Golf shoes that look as though they belong in the gym have become more visible on the professional tours. Not only do players want to be comfortable as they walk 18 holes, they’re also looking for a bit more style than you get with the dress- style golf shoes of yesterday.
“Everybody wants to go with comfort,” Dustin Johnson, who wears the Samba in practice rounds, said in an interview yesterday at the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in Lancashire, England. “And they look good and they work. Beats the old heavy classics.”
The golf Samba looks similar to its soccer namesake, with the addition of spikes attached to the bottom to provide traction on the course.
Johnson, a paid endorser of Taylormade-Adidas, wears Adidas’s Tour 360 shoes in tournaments, but said he may consider the Samba in the future.
“They perform very well,” said Johnson, who also wears the soccer shoes off the course. “They’re stable, they’ve got a lot of grip.”
Knudson said Adidas expects to produce more than 150,000 pairs of Samba shoes worldwide in 2012 and golfers have taken to them.
“They’ve been flying off the shelf,” Alex Bradley, who works at the American Golf store at Broadgate in London, said in an interview. “It’s a new innovative design that people are interested in trying. It appeals to a lot of people.”
Even to the professionals. South African Rory Sabbatini wears Samba full-time on the U.S. PGA Tour, while England’s Justin Rose has used them in practice rounds.
“I like the look of them and they’re extremely comfortable to wear,” Sabbatini, who also wears the soccer shoe, said in an interview at last weekend’s John Deere Classic. “They give you good feel in regard to the ground, good traction. The Sambas overall perform very well for me.”
The $99 shoe comes in several colors including the original soccer model’s black with Adidas’s trademark three white stripes.
The company has also unveiled a limited-edition Majors Collection, priced at $120, in honor of the four Grand Slam tournaments, producing 1,950 individually numbered pairs in honor of the year the Samba was introduced.
The model for this week’s British Open comes in blue, white and red and was inspired by the Union Jack flag.
The shoes for the Masters, a combination of Augusta National’s traditional green with yellow, and U.S. Open in red, white and blue, both sold out. The U.S. PGA Championship edition, in light blue and yellow to represent the beach at this year’s site, Kiawah Island, South Carolina, will be available this month.
The popularity of the Samba name makes it attractive to both the professional and the high-handicapper, according to Knudson.
“It’s such an iconic shoe for us,” he said. “We really wanted to create a golf shoe that made them comfortable on the golf course. From a styling standpoint it’s definitely catering toward the masses of the golfing population, but has the performance of a tour-level shoe.”
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