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|The 13.8-ounce Nike Air Zoom Vapor golf shoes were inspired by one of Nike's soccer shoes. (Courtesy of Nike Golf)|
I recently entered into a discussion of golf shoes with another golf writer as we were working our way around a course. He was pointing out his old-school saddle shoes, admitting that he was a traditionalist when it came to shoes: White leather, and the heavier the better.
"Heavy shoes just seem more stable to me," he said. He also admitted that he rarely walked.
In direct counterpoint, as a player who prefers to walk if not working on a course review, I offered up the all-black Nike Air Zoom Vapors (MSRP $176) which I was sporting for the first time. These newest of Nike golf kicks weigh just 13.8 ounces (each), which made each step feel almost weightless.
The other writer was skeptical, though. How could such a light golf shoe provide stability?
When I received the Air Zoom Vapors, my first impression was that they looked like soccer shoes. As it turns out, my old high school soccer player instincts were right. The Air Zoom Vapors were inspired by the Mercurial Vapor Soccer boot.
The upper is coupled with a full-length chassis. The one-piece synthetic upper is, according to Nike, more durable than leather, more form-fitting and will not stretch over time.
Importantly, the Nike Power Channel that runs down the north-south axis of the sole and the wide-set cleats left me feeling every bit as stable as I do with heavier shoes. The Power Channel is incorporated into Nike's Power Platform Ultra, which is supposed to facilitate weight transfer and balance control.
The litmus test for any golf shoe is comfort right out of the box, and the full-length, contoured, sock liner in these shoes protected against hotspots from heel to toe.
However, I found it curious that the Vapors felt overly narrow, despite the fact that they were the same size and width as another pair of Nike golf shoes, the Air Zoom Elite II, which I recently reviewed. I hate loose shoes, but the Vapors were stretching at the seams—and pinching my feet a bit.
And herein lies the irony: If the upper were leather, it would stretch out and eventually be perfect. Only time will tell if the Vapors will form themselves to my feet. If not, despite their incredible lightness, they might be suited only to golf-cart rounds.
These are some great-looking, ultra-chic and sporty shoes, and were debuted by such fashion-forward PGA Tour players as Nike Golf athletes Stephen Ames, Stewart Cink, David Duval, Lucas Glover, Carl Pettersson and Bo Van Pelt at the FBR Open. Even my non-golfing wife remarked on the good looks and almost un-golf-like styling when I took them out of the box.
Lightweight and space-aged materials make for great performance, including excellent stability.
The one knock on the Vapors is that for some reason, the pair I got felt quite narrow compared to other Nike models of the same size.
Even so, I would still pick them any day over white saddle shoes.
March 9, 2009
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
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