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Q&A: FootJoy on the importance of shoe fitting

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Golf is difficult sport, maybe even “painful” at times. Your golf shoes shouldn’t add to the discomfort.

FootJoy is leading the way in the golf shoe fitting space, and has for some time with a wide variety of styles and sizes of golf shoes. Recently, the company has created new fitting technology that can not only help golfers find more comfortable shoes, but actually improve their on-course performance. Learn more in our Q&A with FootJoy’s Mike Foley, the company’s director of footwear product management.

Q: Golf footwear has changed tremendously in the last two decades, as has golf fashion, often with the promise of better performance. What has been the biggest change in golf shoe design, and how is it helping golfers play better?

A: I would have to say the biggest change is one that has happened very recently, and that is the research results proving that certain players will perform better with specific types of shoes – structured or mobile – depending on their unique swing trace. We build golf shoes for every different type of player, which includes not only the critical performance aspects of stability or strategic flexibility, but also covers the vast styling tastes of players at every level.

A close second to this would be FIT. Our research corroborates that nearly 70 precent of players are in the wrong size shoes. Further research shows that wearing an improperly fitting shoe – especially one that is too long and wide – will lead to reduced distances due to unstable footing and subsequently the inability to put a solid, balanced swing on the ball. This is why we are out fitting as many people as we can to help spread the Word of Fit. Our goal is to enhance a player’s enjoyment of the game, and determining the proper fit is the first step.

Q: By now, most golf fans have probably seen the commercial that describes the new FootJoy Freestyle shoe as a “launch pad that can give you extra yards.” How long has the FootJoy team been studying the relationship between golf shoe design and distance, and what has it learned? 

A: Short answer: Many, many years. Again, an improperly fitting shoe can sacrifice distance. A properly fitted shoe — not only in size (length/width), but the proper type (structured/mobile) as determined by our FJ Performance Fit System — will allow a player a much better opportunity to experience better quality swings and as a result, distance gains.

At FJ, we have our own research lab called “The Shoe Box” where we have state-of-the-art simulators complete with force-platform technology, as well as our latest iteration of the FJ Performance Fit System that was developed in partnership with the BodiTrak team. This lab is always humming with players testing footwear and technicians analyzing their results. These results then lead us to better-educated engineering and design concepts within our new shoe developments.

Q: Two of the most talked about FootJoy shoes in recent years on GolfWRX have been the Icon Black and the D.N.A. models. Has anything changed in their design for 2016? 

FootJoy's Icon Black (pictured in White/Dark Brown) are worn by Ian Poulter, Billy Horschel, Luke Donald and many other PGA Tour players.

FootJoy’s Icon Black (pictured in White/Dark Brown) are worn by Ian Poulter, Billy Horschel, Luke Donald and many other PGA Tour players.

A: In the Icon Black category, which features luxurious leathers and exquisite high-end detailing, we have added a few ultra-traditional saddle styles. These styles deliver the classic styling that many of our brand loyalists are looking for at the top of our line.

Yadda Yadda Yadda

FootJoy’s DNA 2.0 golf shoes have been updated with TourLock spike receptacles and SoftSpike’s “Tornado” cleats.

In DNA, the second generation continues with the same feature-laden performance package with a new, fresh look in the upper. In addition, we decided to update the cleat/receptacle components in the outsole, choosing to go with the new TourLock receptacles because of their super high-ranking retention properties and brought in the Tornado cleat because it delivers tremendous green-friendly traction elements. We have also added D.N.A. to our popular custom MyJoys program, which gives players more than 14 million possible custom combinations.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake golfers make buying golf shoes, and how can they avoid it? 

A: This goes back to what I said earlier, and I would definitely say FIT. Customers have to realize that, unfortunately, there is no set sizing standard in footwear, so just because your running shoes in one brand are a size 10M doesn’t mean your golf shoes from another brand will also be a 10M. In addition, it continues to amaze us that so many consumers don’t even realize that multiple widths are offered. At FJ, in our top-selling models, we offer 47 different sizes in one style of shoe. That is how much we believe that a proper fit can be beneficial to you as a player. So to players out there planning to buy golf shoes soon, try and get fit on a Brannock Device first.

If that is not available, work with an associate in the shoe department to try on several sizes/widths surrounding the size you normally wear and chances are you will land on a size that you are not used to wearing, but delivers the comfort and fit you have been looking for.

Remember, it’s OK if your running shoes are one size, your basketball shoes are another size and your golf shoes are even a different size from those two. The important thing here is proper fit; the size is merely a number.

From FootJoy: Signs you might be wearing the incorrect size golf shoe.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Shallowface

    Mar 10, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Breed did have a good point the other night about the wrong shoe costing the golfer distance. When they took my metal spikes away, I lost at least 20 yards overnight. I didn’t know I was using the ground back then (never heard of such a thing), but I used to turn the base of the spikes over into the soles of the shoes, particularly in the heels. But the greens are better today. I’m usually in the first group, and we weigh about 225 apiece. Now, instead of leaving those little holes, when we’re finished the area 6 feet around the cup looks like a green cheese grater. But the floors of the carts and the carpet in the clubhouse looks better that it used to. Which is nice.

  2. Buster Cheiry

    Mar 10, 2016 at 12:22 am

    Footjoy needs to go back to their old styling. They have release some very ugly shoes in the last couple years.

  3. Shallowface

    Mar 9, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    When I see Michael Breed, a 50 plus year old man who is trying to appear much younger, wearing those multicolored monstrosities on TV every week, all I can think of is George Carlin saying “that’s not cool that’s chilly, and chilly never was cool.”

    • Pat

      Apr 1, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      Amen. Dude tries too hard to be cool when in fact he’s the biggest dork on tv. Him being old doesn’t help either.

  4. SV

    Mar 9, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Wearing a EEEE width I have a problem finding golf shoes wide enough. Footjoy has given me the most choices over the years. I echo Phillip’s comment about stores only carrying one width. Again I have had better luck with Footjoy, but still hard to find the right size.

  5. golfraven

    Mar 9, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Saddly I was measured wrongly once with the FJ system but luckily did it another time again and got the right size which I continue to buy for any new FJ model. Cannot wait till the Icon Black can be customized. Was not particular keen on Blacks 2015 models but very excited about the 2016 line – all white tips are my favourite. Icons all the way.

  6. Steve

    Mar 9, 2016 at 9:57 am

    It sucks for folks like me with a very narrow foot. Try walking into any golf store in existence and finding any shoe brand in ‘narrow’ size. Not gonna happen. I end up trying on Adidas most times as some of theirs run more narrow. Or I have to custom order a Footjot in narrow size. Which you can’t even try on until it comes in and you’ve already bought it. I end up in improper fitting shoes a lot because finding one that fits a narrow foot is about impossible, as there are none to try on…… Footjoy offers more shoes in narrow sizing than any other brand, but nobody stocks them.

    • Philip

      Mar 9, 2016 at 10:10 am

      Adidas is definitely the most narrow (though they say standard on the shoe) – I really wanted to try them out.

      • golfraven

        Mar 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm

        fully agree with Adidas. Comparing the FJ with Adidas now in same size, I really get sick putting Adidas on those being so narrow.
        MyJoy is really you only option if you want a narrow model.

    • Chris

      Mar 10, 2016 at 11:27 am

      That’s why they have their comfort warranty. If they don’t fit, send them back and try a different size. Sure, it may be a hassle to find the right size if you have to keep “guessing” at the size/width, but at least it is possible to do with just about any shoe company.

  7. Philip

    Mar 8, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I don’t care how many widths Footboy has; it is irrelevant when many stores only tend to carry one width in most designs and sizes, forcing people to get the incorrect larger size. The most comfortable shoes I ever wore was a leather dress shoe with a wooden sole that fit me perfectly. I would love to try other companies, but GolfTown only has them in narrow, standard widths and shoes are too particular to purchase online.

  8. Jerry Curl

    Mar 8, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Footjoy might make the worst shoes in the business these days. I was strict Footjoy customer for years but they lost me a handful of years ago when a pair of Icons and Dryjoys didn’t last 1 golf season. Their shoes don’t fit consistently and fall apart. What was once a quality brand has gone down the crapper.

    • CcShop

      Mar 8, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      If you read the article not all shoes fit the same. Yours probably broke down cause you were in the wrong size

      • Jerry Curl

        Mar 8, 2016 at 10:42 pm

        No it’s because they make poor quality shoes. If you play a 100 plus rounds a year their shoes just don’t last. I wore footjoy shoes for 15 plus years same size and style without problems before I had multiple pairs crap out.

        • Blair

          Mar 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm

          I will disagree with you here. Been using FootJoy’s for over 10 years, current shoes going on their 3rd season. I play 100 rounds a year. Best and most comfortable shoes TO ME. You may not like them but that doesn’t mean they are of poor quality. With them being the number 1 shoe in golf, they can’t be all that bad!

          • Pat

            Apr 1, 2016 at 7:36 pm

            You do realize that the quality of golf shoes has gone down the toilet ever since China started making them. Jerry Curl is correct. Golf shoes these days are garbage and don’t last very long.

    • golfraven

      Mar 9, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      Icons should last you if you keep maintaining/cleaning those regularly and use shoe trees – even those cheap one from FJ. Likely would be the case for the Dryjoys but cannot speak from experience – only have the casuals and those lasted 3 years till now.

  9. Shoe Snob

    Mar 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    I don’t see how the Icons and Classics (when they last made them) are the same price, with the Icons being made of crappier materials in China.

    • CcShop

      Mar 8, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      1. What shoe isn’t made in China?
      2. Inflation- if you understood that concept you would know why products in general aren’t as cheap as 10-15 years ago.
      3. Name a golf shoe with a better leather

    • golfraven

      Mar 9, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      I had the chance to buy last pair of Classics but opted out and bought the Icons instead. Saddle those are made in China which is a shame. However the Icon shoe is more technically advanced just speaking of the sole and much lightet then the Classics ever were. Also I don’t think Classics were as durable as Icons – looking at me pair that I had already 5 seasons. Love me Icons and looking forward to buy a new pair of Icon Blacks that are the next gen Classics.

  10. Michael

    Mar 8, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Cool typo, guys. “Q&A: FootJoy on the importance shoe fitting”

  11. Greg V

    Mar 8, 2016 at 11:11 am

    It would be nice if Footjoy would indicate what type of golf swings benefit from mobile shoes, and what type benefits from structured shoes. I doubt that my local golf store will have any knowledge on this, or the necessary equipment to help me determine which type would be of benefit.

    • Walker

      Mar 8, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Just buy both types and see which ones you play better with. Its the GOLFWRX way.

  12. Double Mocha Man

    Mar 8, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I’ve been wearing FootJoys for years. I accidentally nailed the proper fit on my first pair so now, when I need new FootJoys, I reorder the same size. The shoes never need breaking in. FootJoy did not pay me to say this. But if they want to send me some money that’s fine.

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Whats in the Bag

Jimmy Walker WITB 2020

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  • Equipment accurate as of the Farmers Insurance Open

Driver: Titleist TS3 (8.5 degrees @ 7.75, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X

Fairway wood: Titleist TS3 (18 degrees @ 17.25, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 90 TX

Irons: Titleist 620 CB (3), Titleist 620 MB (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper AMT Tour White X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 WedgeWorks (54-M, 60-04L), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (64 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Putter: L.A.B. Directed Force 2.1T

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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What It’s Like: TaylorMade Golf’s “The Kingdom”

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One of the best parts of this job, beyond the people we get to meet, is the facilities. All of the core OEMs have a “place” that is exclusive, away from anything normal, and you gotta know someone to get a ticket in.

That’s what the “What It’s Like” series is about. Those certain OEM places with no doors open to the public. Those places that if you happened to sneak in, there is no way you can Fletch your way around into two steak sandwiches and a bloody mary.

I never admit this, but I used to manage a night club in Los Angeles called Les Deux (it was cool for a minute). It was a fun although soul-sucking endeavor but the thing that made the experience stick out was the exclusivity of it. If you got in by knowing someone, greased the door guy (me), or got invited, it was four hours of awesome. Yes, it’s a lame example, but there is, unfortunately, something about getting to the other side of a closed door that is just awesome.

TaylorMade Golf’s Kingdom is location No. 1, and as you would expect, it’s nothing short of pure golf ecstasy.

My Experience

I have been to TaylorMade HQ quite a number of times, and typically those visits involve time at what I call the gear junkie mecca (short of Tiger Woods’ garage or the Nike Oven graveyard now called Artisan) AKA The Kingdom.

The coolest thing about it is how subtle the location is. Located just steps away from the front door of TM HQ (and a very random corporate basketball hoop) sits a small-yet-elegant building that if you didn’t know was there, you would fly past it. Once you pull into the side parking lot, unload your sticks, and head to the door, there is still that feeling of “will they actually let me in?”

Here’s the thing. The best (all of them) have been in here. To test, practice, hang out, get fit, get wowed to potentially be on staff and everything in-between. A schmuck like me should get nervous, but then it happens, the door opens and you are not only let in but you are greeted by the master of ceremonies and a man I truly adore Tom “TK” Kroll.

With the passion to match not only yours but anyone else who walks in, he makes sure every nuance is seen and experienced. From the lobby with current TM athletes on the wall to the locker room with your custom locker that sits next to an exact replica of Tiger’s bag. There are snacks, extras shoes, gloves, swag, coffee, beer, and all your wildest dreams…and we are barely in the facility.

From a 35,000 foot view, The Kingdom has everything a golfer would ever want, need, or wish for. Starting with Duane Anderson’s putter studio that has tested thousands of strokes from players ranging from a 20 handicap to Rory McIlroy. The data compiled in this room is staggering. We did a video (link below) that gives you the full rundown.

There are three (one with an Iron Byron for testing) main inside hitting bays with all the bells and whistles you would assume. TrackMans, cameras, big screens, fresh gloves hanging on the wall, and a club fitting matrix with every TM combination you could think of.

The outside hitting area is heaven on earth. There is no other way to describe. Huge hitting area with multiple styles of grass, lies, pins, etc. Any shot you would need to hit can be recreated here on grass with a ball flying into the air and not into a screen. My favorite area is the Flick Tee. In honor of the great teacher and longtime TM staffer Jim Flick. Its tucked up high and privately in the corner of the range under a tree and this may sound ridiculous but you can almost feel Mr. Flick standing there with you as you look out onto the facility. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

As mentioned, the man who manages your experience is Tom Kroll. He’s about as respected and beloved as anyone in the industry and for good reason. You combine passion with service you get an awesome human to hang out with. Everyone that has been through these doors has a TK story, which includes a chuckle and a smile.

I chatted with him recently about The Kingdom, and this is what he had to say.

JW: Walk me through how The Kingdom came to be what it is now? Basically origin to current day…

TK: Back in 1994, I was in R&D, running player testing, and we needed to find our own testing range. We built our headquarters in Carlsbad in the 1990s and added the range in 1998. Only robot, cannon and player testing were done at the start. Once in a while, a tour or staff pro would come out and test, but it was all operated from one building. At the time, what’s currently the clubhouse at The Kingdom was actually a maintenance building. But in 2010, The Kingdom was reimagined to the layout we have now.

Over the last three years I’ve been at The Kingdom, we’ve added GEARS, Quintic high-speed cameras, and a Foresight simulator bay. We transformed the putting lab with a Perfection Platforms articulating floor and SAM technology. Last year we resurfaced the main tee, redesigned and dedicated the Flick Tee, underwent a complete renovation of the short game area with new bunker complexes, redesigned the targeting downrange, and developed a par-3 routing. We partnered with Kurt Bowman Design, a longtime designer under Jack Nicklaus.

Our superintendent Mark Warren and his crew have done incredible work with our current maintenance equipment, and I can’t wait to see the conditions after we deliver a brand new fleet of brand new Toro equipment. We structured a long-term partnership with Toro and Turf Star Western.

JW: What is the simple function of The Kingdom? 

TK: We still have the robot bay and R&D does development work almost every day. We are mostly a resource for the entire company: Global Sports Marketing (Tour), developmental pros and ams, AJGA standouts, our Crusaders (club professionals), and commercial teams. We host pre-lines to introduce new product to our at-large teams and training events. We’re even a PR resource, hosting media, social influencers, celebrities, and professional athletes.

We also act as a hub for our Crusaders. They send their members to us, and we wholesale back to the staff account. I’ll do a significant amount of corporate events, charity events and have had “Flicks at The Kingdom” where we set up a giant projector and our employees bring their kids, beach chairs and blankets to watch a movie out on the range. Really a fun and cool event.

JW: Give me three awesome stories or experiences from your time there that you are cool sharing.

TK: It’s tough to only pick three! From Reggie Jackson stopping by to Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, President Bush. Those may be the most haughty name drops of all time! What can I say, it is beyond the coolest job I have ever had! It’s truly tough to pick, but here are my three…

Story 1: Tiger was preparing to make his first PGA Tour start after fusion surgery and he just spends the day grinding out here. He was testing an early proto of the TW irons and to see how much speed he still had. There’s a sound that only he and maybe two or three others make when they center it up. That sound is something that goes through your body, I can still hear it. It sticks with you.

He’s playing old school lofts, which are three degrees weaker than any other tour pro, but the carry distances were still there, the windows he hits it through, holding it against the wind, flighting a 6-iron even ripping a 5-wood 275 yards. His feedback and ability to discern the most minute details working with the advanced teams developing the irons was fantastic to witness.

To come full circle, I played with him in the Southern Cal Amateur when he was 16-years-old and had a front-row to his 62 at Hacienda, I was keeping his scorecard so he has my autograph. To again be standing three feet from him while he goes through the process is just special.

Story 2: I’m going to put two guys in the same bucket (because The Kingdom is so magical, I hope the golf gods are okay with it). Rory now spends a day out here the week of Farmers–he has for the last two years, and with the U.S. Open there 2021, I think he’s a lock for the next few. He went through two sets of irons in a wind quartering off the right at 20-25 mph. The consistency of launch, speed and spin were shockingly close! It was one of the greatest ball-striking exhibitions I’ve ever witnessed. We handpicked the range after his day, it took us 10 minutes He’s also the most gracious, down to earth person.

Jon Rahm stops by five or six times a year. To watch his sessions in the putting lab, to see Duane show him what’s changing and getting Jon back to baseline and see his confidence, to the 4-iron flop shots after we tell our Seve stories. Jon is part of the family. His brother and dad came out before Jon and Kelly’s wedding. He’s one of the two or three others where the sound goes through you.

Story 3: Has to be Operation Game On (OGO). We have partnered with  Tony Perez for over 15 years, we are the cherry on top of a 6-10 week program where wounded veterans take lessons and the graduation is a fitting at The Kingdom. I had a dear friend, Joe Horowitz, who’s a golfer and a musician, here late one day and I mentioned the OGO guys were coming the next day. It’s Veteran’s Day and the Marine Corps Birthday. Not to mention Jon Rahm would be here for a last tweak before he left for Dubai. Joe shows me a video of him singing the national anthem at the Jaguars game a few weeks before, and we both say let’s do that for the OGO guys. I get in early and send an email to all employees to be on the tee at 9 a.m. sharp. We have the OGO guys arrive and Jon is hanging in the locker room. I’m stalling to get all the employees onto the tee through the side gate, I walk the boys into the bay and hit the roll up door. Outside are 250 employees cheering these guys on! Joe sings the anthem (goose bumps every time), then happy birthday to Jon and the marine corps. There’s fittings, a pizza truck, Jon Rahm signed U.S. Open staff bags for the OGO boys. Then, get this, Jon goes on and wins that week in Dubai!

JW: If you could change anything about the property or the experience what would it be?

TK: At TaylorMade, the relentless pursuit of improving is in our DNA. The Kingdom is no different. We’re constantly innovating and reimagining the downrange experience. From targeting, to conditions and turf types, we’re always nuancing and squeaking out ways to be better. One example, we’re designing each of our targets with a specific purpose. When players are testing at The Kingdom, we want them to feel that every shot has a consequence. So, we want to deliver a real-world experience in every testing situation. We went through a massive redesign last fall and are currently still working with the advanced research team on new ways to enhance our testing and fitting experiences to meet the way that players perform in competition.

When it comes to the overall experience, The Kingdom has transformed from a predominantly R&D and fitting facility to the most capable environment to test, measure and understand how equipment performs and how golfers interact with their equipment. I call it the ultimate truth machine. We help golfers at every level uncover the insights they need to improve. After each session, we’re going to know everything about the club, the player and the ball flight.

So we came from a place where we were mainly focused on research, fitting, and selling. Our goals have changed. Now we obsess over how to help golfers get better.

What would I change? If you’re curious and passionate about making change, the answers are out there. The first thing we do is listen. We’re going to change everything that needs to be changed in order to meet our goals. I have an incredible focus group to bounce ideas off of. To ask our tour pros, club professionals, and teachers for feedback on the design ideas and what they like and prefer is fortunate. We’re constantly learning, we’re constantly improving, and if there’s a better way do something, then we’re going to figure it out and do it.

JW: What does the kingdom look like in 10 years?

TK: We have a lot of incredible plans for new targeting, bunker complexes, and refining the purposeful design of the range and short game area. Beyond that, we have designs for new teeing areas, a new short game complex, adding another GEARS system and Foresight Simulator, along with other new technologies. I can’t disclose all we do, since the R&D guys get a bit jumpy when I start going on about all the cool stuff and high science! I don’t know exactly what The Kingdom looks like in 10 years as technologies and our understanding continue to improve, but I do know give me six months, and we’ll have done something new. Always grinding to get better!

JW: Tell me a little bit about your career at TaylorMade.

TK: 31 years is hard to do in a “little bit” but I’ll try to give you the Clif Notes! Bob Vokey ran our Tour department and had me running his repair shop in Vista after George Willett took a job driving the Tour truck for TaylorMade. I was refinishing wooden clubs and repairing clubs for the local country clubs. I told Bob I was going broke making $4.50 an hour and driving all over San Diego. I asked if he could get me a job at TaylorMade and I started on the custom line with Wade Liles! Get to work at 2 p.m., off at 1 a.m. and golf in the morning. It was the life! Not to mention, I was lucky enough to meet my wife who worked for the company.

I started our player testing and worked for the great Dr. Benoit Vincent–the smartest man I know. I was a pretty good player, and I played a bunch of USGA and national amateur events. But when I did a TV commercial, I lost my amateur status and made the decision to turn pro. I quit my job and started that journey. Our CEO wanted me to take a leavem and I said: “I need to be all-in on this.” I had two children, a mortgage, car payments and had to buy health insurance while getting through all three stages of Q School. I realized I was a better amateur than a tour pro. We had our third child, and then I got the sales rep job in San Diego. After 10 years of sales, I moved inside the building and the ran innovations department before taking over our metalwoods category when we hit our highest market share in history. I spent a few years in product creation, ran global experiential for a few years and then got the best gig in all of golf here at The Kingdom. Been here for three years, and we’re just getting started!

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Puma Golf teams up with Ernie Els in support of Autism Awareness Month

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Puma X Els Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Puma Golf has teamed up with ambassador Ernie Els in support of the Els for Autism Foundation.

Throughout April, Puma will donate a portion of every individual sale of the brand’s Ignite Pwradapt Caged shoes with the proceeds going towards the Els for Autism Foundation.

Puma X Els Autism

Every pair of Caged shoes sold this month will include a blue Els for Autism shoe bag and puzzle piece ribbon lapel pin – with the color blue and the puzzle pieces representing Autism Awareness.

Puma X Els Autism

The Els for Autism Foundation helps deliver and facilitate programs designed to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder. You can purchase the shoes here.

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