Pros: These offer the complete package: they’re comfortable, good-looking, unbelievably stable, totally waterproof and have great traction. No break-in period required, either.
Cons: They’re $200 a pair and only available in three colors on Oakley’s site: white, ivory and black.
Bottom Line: Oakley’s Carbon Pro 2’s are designed to meet the performance needs of the best golfers in the world, which they do splendidly. While they’re sporty golf shoes at heart, their tasteful styling makes them a fit for both younger, hipper crowds as well as traditionalists.
Now that you know Oakley makes golf shoes, here’s the next thing you need to know. The company’s most premium golf shoe, the Carbon Pro 2, was designed to be worn by two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson, who leads the PGA Tour in clubhead speed (and most likely turf destruction with his feet).
If you haven’t see a slow-motion video of how Watson’s feet move during his 125-mph swing, make sure to checkout the one below from the PGA Tour’s 2014 Waste Management Open.
[youtube id=”SyQ3ErB52yA” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Oakley designers reasoned that if they could build a shoe that helped Watson improve his footwork, then that shoe would likely help all golfers improve their footing, which technologies like force plates continue to prove can lead to more power and control. That’s why the Carbon Pro 2’s sits lower to the ground than any of Oakley’s previous cleated golf shoes — remember, a lower center of gravity improves stability — and use carbon fiber in their midsections to stiffen that area without the addition of too much weight.
The Carbon Pro 2’s weigh 16.74 ounces and have a two-year waterproof warranty. Their uppers are constructed of full grain leather, while their midsoles are made with compression-molded EVA. The outsoles include a high-traction TPU plate, which means that there are tons of little plastic nubs on the bottom of the shoe to help increase traction, as well as a nine-spike PINS system that is sold with Softspikes’ Pulsar cleats installed.
They’re available for $200 in three colors on Oakley’s site: white, ivory and black. Sizes range from 7 to 12 in half-size increments, and sizes 13 and 14 are also available.
Fit and Feel
The most important part of buying (or in this case reviewing) a pair of golf shoes is the first part; when golfers try them on for the first time. What kind of golfers would wear shoes that didn’t feel good on their feet? I’d hope only a reviewer who needs to play several rounds in them for a story.
Luckily for me, the Carbon Pro 2’s were impressive right out of the box. I take a size 11.5 (U.S.) in most brands, although every once in a while I’ll need a size 12. The Carbon Pro 2’s were great fit in 11.5 and provided ample room in my biggest trouble spot, the toe box.
Modern footwear design has led to almost all golf shoes feeling great out of the box, but there are a few things worth noting about the Carbon Pro 2’s that puts them in the upper echelon of comfort.
- Many performance golf shoes have gotten so light in recent years that the materials that surround the foot have become extremely thin, making them feel more like a lightweight running shoe than a golf shoe. The Carbon Pro 2’s uppers are pretty thin at 1.35 millimeters, but they retain the plushness that I remember from some of my favorite older models. Needless to say, they’re much lighter.
- The “Octo-Stick” liner inside the Carbon Pro 2 sounds gimmicky, but the simple silicon-coated insert does an excellent job of keeping the foot – and especially the heel – in place during walking, helping eliminate some of the friction that can cause blisters.
- Oakley made the end of the Carbon Pro 2’s tongue out of a rubber-like material that’s lighter, softer and more stable than leather or knit materials, which keeps the tongue from wrinkling over time and allows it to sit flatter against the top of the foot when a shoe is tied. That adds to the stability of the shoe, which I’ll discuss more later in the review.
- Yes, the Carbon Pro 2’s were really stable when I was swinging, but they were pretty responsive and comfortable when I was walking thanks to the grooves on the outsole that Oakley calls “Coreflex.” That makes walking 18 (or 36 holes) a lot more enjoyable.
Maybe the biggest compliment golfers can pay a shoe is that they hardly notice it.
Think about it: if your shoes don’t fit properly, you’re constantly fidgeting with your socks or the position of your foot to make your feet more comfortable. And if traction is an issue, you’ll be weary of debris in your spikes and the terrain you’re standing on. That’s a lot of wasted energy during the 4-or-so miles golfers walk each round and the 4-or-so hours they spend on the course.
It didn’t take too many holes for me learn that the Carbon Pro 2’s wouldn’t cause me those problems.
The first thing I noticed during testing was the stability I felt from the shoes when I was hitting full shots. My left foot, which as a right-handed golfer is the foot that I hit into during my downswing, resisted the “rolling and twisting” that I’ve experienced from some models. That made me feel more comfortable swinging my longer clubs, in particular my driver, as I’ve been known to slip from time to time.
Certainly the new spikes and fresh traction on the bottom of the shoes played a role, but the stability I enjoyed was about more than that. The Carbon Pro 2’s did an excellent job of wrapping around the midsection of my feet, keeping them more stable during my swing that any shoe I’ve ever tested.
It’s almost as though the Carbon Pro 2’s improve stability from the inside out. If your feet don’t move that much inside your shoes, then your shoes can’t move that much, right? The Carbon Pro 2’s are a testament to that.
But how are they in the rain?
In my last round with the Carbon Pro 2’s, I played 18 holes in a downpour. It was a nightmare that required rain gloves, a rain jacket and added permanent mud stains to the bottom of a perfectly good pair of pants, but it was a fitting conclusion to my testing procedure.
I wondered just how waterproof the Carbon Pro 2’s would be, and additionally, since my pair of shoes were white, how they would look after such a round. I’m happy to report that my feet were the only dry part of my body after 18 holes, and that the shoes were no worse for the wear.
So how exactly could the conditions ruin a pair of pants and not stain my shoes? If you look at the picture above, you’ll notice the transition between the Carbon Pro 2’s outsole and the upper portion of the shoe is protected with stain-proof plastic, which gives the shoe a smooth, one-piece look. It also keeps mud and other debris from getting trapped in any crevices and staining an all-white pair of shoes.
Had mud made its way toward the Carbon Pro 2’s laces, it likely would have required a cleaning session to bring back the all-white look, but I was lucky to only have had a mud problems around the edges of their soles where the shoes are protected.
These days, many golfers are interested in the versatility of spikeless golf shoes that they can wear to work or to dinner, and Oakley does make a few products in that category. I admit that I am fan of spikeless golf shoes and have really enjoyed their versatility in recent years, but the performance of the Carbon Pro 2’s has reinvigorated my interested in spiked models.
While most golfers will see their performance drop if they were to play golf with Bubba Watson’s driver, I’m willing to bet that many of them could actually benefit from wearing a pair of Watson’s golf shoes in the proper size, particularly if their shoes are starting to lose traction.
That’s why I’m encouraging golfers who think a little traction and stability might help their game to seek out a retailer with the Carbon Pro 2’s in stock and see if they fit you as well as they fit me.
If they pass that all-important test, I’m confident you’ll enjoy what they have to offer. If they don’t, well, I guess I’ll be hearing from you in the comments section below.