Sometimes a product comes along that is so bizarre-looking that you just have to take notice. Heaven Golf Shoes are just such a product, and they promise to be a revolutionary development in the game of golf. If nothing else, they’re sure to distract spectators from your duck hook into the wrong fairway.
Personally, my golf game needs all the help it can get, so when I saw the promises made by Heaven Golf, I was eager to find out what they could do. Their new product has been available in Europe for over a year now, but they are now being demoed for the first time in America at the annual PGA product show this week. So what’s the skinny on this eccentric-looking pair of kicks?
The patented technology behind Heaven Golf Shoes is their unique rounded outsole that actually lifts you several centimeters above the ground compared to normal shoes. The open chassis creates a spring-like action that provides feedback to the golfer with every step and every movement. They promise “a more fluid, natural walking motion that contributes to better overall health.”
An additional benefit is that the extra height will keep you dry when you are walking around on a dewy or damp course. They also contribute to improving your swing by providing better awareness of your balance before you even begin to draw the club back. I’m a unique case that might just be the ideal candidate to benefit from Heaven Golf Shoes.
You see, about a decade ago I was in a bad snowmobile accident, proving that Southerners like me should stay the heck off of those machines and limit ourselves to Jet Skis and four-wheelers. I ended up breaking my right ankle just about every way you could break it and still have a pound of metal plates, screws and pins holding everything together. Other than the ability to predict the weather through my aching bones, the main side effect of this development has been to my golf game. My utter lack of flexibility in my trailing foot means that my golf swing is about 90% arms, and I have great difficulty achieving the proper weight exchange through my swing. I pretty much screw my spikes into the ground before every swing and hack away. The resulting loss of distance has made me the last pick in every foursome. (Sad trombone sound.)
So when I first laced up these shoes, I felt like I was strapping on a set of Oscar Pistorius’s running blades. True to their heavenly name, I felt like a was walking on a cloud with an extra spring in my step. While the feedback from the springy soles took a little bit of getting used to, the gait felt quite natural after a few minutes of use. Plus I felt about an inch taller, so that contributed to self-confidence.
It’s still a little cold to play a full round on my local track, but I did find a little time to take my new Heavenly Golf Shoes out to the driving range. I drew a few curious looks as I walked up to the practice mat, but I’m used to the attention since I often have to apologize for my unorthodox swing and suggest other golfers avert their eyes to avoid screwing up years of lessons and practice.
Taking my first stance, the setup over the ball felt awkward as I addressed the ball, but my practice swings felt awesome. For the first time in a decade I actually felt like I could swing through the ball as the compressible outsole of the shoe mimicked what my ankle and lower body should have been doing for years. Then I actually hit a ball.
I topped it, sending a worm-burner skittering across the brown grass of the range. “No problem,” I thought. “That’s nothing new for me.” Plus I hadn’t swung a club for months, so I was not in any sort of a groove. So I placed another ball, gripped it and ripped it. And hit the top third of the ball again. This time there was a nice banana slice in the trajectory too, so the other patrons of the driving range began to tee their balls up a little behind me in the line. Self-preservation is a strong motivator.
After a few more crappy shots, I stepped (sprang) back and considered the situation. Then it suddenly occurred to me in a flash. I was an inch taller than normal, so of course I’d be hitting on the top of the ball!
Now if your swing is the result of many lessons and you have it dialed in the way you like it, you might want to consider longer clubs when using the Heaven Golf Shoes to put the ball in the middle of the sweet spot of the club head, although the FAQ at Heaven says that you won’t. Fortunately, my swing is certainly not infinitely repeatable. Every stroke is a new adventure for me.
The simpler solution was just to bend my knees and move a little closer to the ball at address. This turned out to be an excellent fix because not only did I begin to groove my swings long and down the middle, but the combination of the newfound weight transfer from my shoes and the actual quasi-athletic stance of bended knees made me feel like a real golfer. The manufacturers of Heavenly weren’t kidding around about the improved feedback and balance awareness. Even with the springiness of the soles, I felt like I was firmly planted in the ground with the added benefit of being able to push off of my back foot as I followed through.
By the end of a small bucket of balls, I felt like I really belonged on the practice mat with the rest of the rangers. I worked my way through short and long irons and then pulled out my driver to let the big dawg eat. It was with my driver where I noticed the biggest difference in my swing and results. Since it’s already the longest and most forgiving club in my bag, the driver required the least stance adjustment at address. But because I was actually able to finally shift my weight from my right to left side through the swing instead of just muscling through with my upper body, the feel, sound and trajectory of my swing was great!
Did I feel a little strange walking out there in these revolutionary shoes? Sure, I couldn’t keep from thinking that I was making “boing-boing” noises with every step. But golfers are notorious when it comes to buying and using all sorts of strange gadgets to lower their score. (My favorite tool is the eraser on my pencil.) Unlike some of the other snake oil golf products out there, the Heaven Golf Shoes have some real science behind them that seems logical to me. Even if you don’t have a robotic ankle like I do, I would imagine that many folks could benefit from improved balance and weight transfer. Personally I can’t wait to get out on the course to try them out in real life situations.
If only the darned Polar Vortex would cooperate!
Heaven Golf Shoes are available online at the company’s website and should start to show up at retail golf shops now that they have been discovered at the PGA show.
MSRP: $299.99 plus shipping
What I Liked: Unique look and comfortable fit. Improved balance and feedback. Ease of weight transfer should add yards to your shots.
What Needs Improvement: At almost $300, they are a little pricier than I would normally shell out for golf shoes, but you can’t put a price on better golf scores. Though, lord knows, the folks who make the newest putters, drivers and irons sure try to!
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample