Contrary to popular belief it does rain sometimes here in Phoenix, and when it does waterproof footwear comes in handy just like anywhere else. It can come down pretty good during one of our monsoon thunderstorm downpours, and a good waterproof shoe can prevent your socks from getting soaked all the way through for the rest of the round.
Nike Golf recently released its 2010 Zoom Bandon waterproof shoes and I recently tested them for this review. Below I’m reviewing the shoe in two parts — PART 1: STYLE speaks to the fit, feel and features of the shoes. PART 2: PERFORMANCE features the results of my field test of the shoes in wet weather on the course. I summarize my findings and opinions of the product in the last paragraph.
PART 1: STYLE
Taking these out of the box I couldn’t help but be impressed with the futuristic styling of these shoes. They are a ¾ style, like a basketball or football shoe, with a synthetic upper that not only feels great to the touch, but also screams “waterproof”. A full zipper on the front completes the clean look of these shoes. At first glance these shoes give the impression of being a serious (and stylish) foul weather golf shoe.
I’m typically somewhat conservative with my footwear choices — black for golf shoes and usually a traditional design. But the design of these shoes grew on me quickly. The upper has a stylized grid pattern enclosed by a silver border, the same that’s featured on their 2010 Storm-Fit Elite Outerwear, contrasted with plain black areas outside of the pattern area. The outside of the sole has a red bar that relates to their VR equipment line, and the red is repeated on the small logo below the zipper, on the tongue and on the insole. When the zipper is closed the sleek appearance of these shoes is striking indeed.
My shoe size is a 13M (the size of the shoes I tested), and when I tried these on the first time I was wondering if they might run a little narrow. But by loosening the laces a bit (smart, huh?), slipping them on and wearing them just for a minute or two, the shoes immediately conformed to my foot shape. It didn’t take long to realize how comfortable these shoes are (see “Comfort” below), and the fit is secure without being tight. When zipped all the way to the top (to ensure their waterproof nature), the top opening is just a bit tighter than a regular shoe (with just a tongue at the top opening) but this is by no means uncomfortable or restrictive.
Features and Details
Nike’s designers have loaded this shoe with features — the first is the overall design that incorporates a padded, waterproof, breathable liner (inner shoe) with laces, covered by the waterproof synthetic upper with full waterproof zipper at front. At the top of the zipper is a rubber tab that covers the zipper pull and keeps it in place. The sole features the Nike Power Channel and Traction At Contact (TAC) system, and the Nike Zoom Air unit in the heel of the shoe that is present in their other shoe designs. The sole pattern on the Zoom Bandon has been designed for ease of cleaning (see press release, and “Cleaning” below). The ¾ height of the shoe keeps water from coming in at the ankle, and the back of the shoe features a nylon loop for ease of pulling the shoe on. The Zoom Bandon has all the features you need to keep your feet dry during a soggy round of golf.
PART 2: PERFORMANCE (ON-COURSE FIELD TEST 12.7.09)
It finally rained here in Phoenix on December 7th, so I was able to field test the Nike Zoom Bandon shoes on the course. I headed to my local course Stonecreek Golf Club where GM Kevin Weber allowed me out on the course for the test, which was closed at the time due to the adverse. If you are ever in the Phoenix area, check out Stonecreek and play a round if you can – it’s a fun, interesting and challenging layout that’s guaranteed to please. And make sure to tell Kevin I sent you.
I had planned on walking the course to give the Zoom Bandon shoes the maximum test, so I headed to the first tee in a moderate, steady rain. A couple of practice swings and a smooth drive down the middle of the first fairway and I was on my way. Most of what I’ll write from here on about the on-course field test reiterates the results of the mock field test, so see Part 3 below for the specific details as I won’t repeat them here.
The first thing I noticed about the shoes is how I didn’t think about where I was stepping — I knew the shoes were waterproof so I didn’t even worry about stepping in puddles, or water coming through the laces like on regular golf shoes. The waterproof outer covering and zipper didn’t disappoint — after stepping in numerous puddles, including rushing water coming over one of the bridges from the flooded creek below, not a drop made its way inside. No leaks, my socks were completely dry.
These shoes are extremely comfortable, and the three-quarter height gives great ankle support. On Twitter I mentioned how I wish I had these shoes at the soggy U.S. Open at Bethpage — when I was in New York I actually looked for rubber “Totes” to put over my shoes, but couldn’t find any. These shoes remind me of that kind of protection, with a comfortable inner shoe layer (with laces for a secure fit) surrounded by a waterproof exterior with watertight zipper, all combined in one shoe.
After walking the course for several holes I really forgot that I was wearing a different kind of golf shoe. They feel as comfortable as normal golf shoes, with added ankle support and the added peace of mind of being 100% waterproof, so that I didn’t even give my footwear a second thought. At the end of the field test the shoes were as comfortable as when I started, just what I would expect from Nike footwear.
I’d go so far as to say these shoes were a pleasure to wear, and I look forward to our next rainy day so I can wear these on the course again. Although being Phoenix, that might be a while — so I may just wear them on a sunny day, they’re that comfortable.
PART 3: PERFORMANCE (MOCK FIELD TEST 10.20.09)*
* It hasn’t actually rained here in Phoenix since I’ve had the Zoom Bandon shoes, and there’s no rain in sight for the foreseeable future. So I got creative for the purposes of the field test portion of the review — I made my own “rain” (a.k.a. shower and sprinklers — strange I know, but effective for testing, see photos below) for an initial “mock” field test. I’ll be updating this review with an “official” field test when it actually does rain here in Phoenix and I can test these shoes during a round on the course.
Ease of Use
Putting the shoe on is as easy as putting on a regular pair of golf shoes, the only extra step is zipping up the full zipper on the front.
I have two other pairs of Nike Golf shoes — The SP5 and Air Max Revive (both in black) — and these shoes are just as comfortable as those (which means VERY comfortable). The padding of the insole combined with the Zoom Air technology in the heel mean comfort in every step. The padded inner shoe liner and the flexible waterproof outer layer moved with my foot and were comfortable and not restrictive at all. Nike mentions that “this shoe allows golfers to play with ‘zero distractions’” (see press release), and I found that to be true in the field test, both when walking and especially when swinging the club.
Not much to be said here — 100% waterproof, no leaks, even when subjected to my “puddle test”. Okay, that was actually me standing in my kids’ kiddie pool for about 5 minutes (see picture below), but that test yielded no leaks and my socks were completely dry afterwards. This was an important test for these shoes to me — I dislike nothing more than stepping in a puddle, having the water go over the top and through the laces, and I have a sopping wet sock for the rest of the round. This shoe will completely prevent that from happening (provide the puddle is no deeper than ankle deep).
Stability and Traction
I had no slipping when I took more than 50 practice swings in the wet grass (at the end of the test the grass was wet to the point that it puddled up to where the sole meets the upper). The spikes in combination with the sole pattern and secondary traction elements kept my front foot stable and in place, and my back foot from sliding laterally in my backswing and when I pushed off my back foot in the downswing. These shoes were completely stable and secure when swinging in the wet grass.
After my field test I gave the shoes a cleaning test two ways. The first was done when they were wet — the waterproof upper came clean quickly because the upper is smooth, and the design of the sole pattern made it easy to get grass and mud off the sole. For the second test I got them muddy again and then let them dry. The upper cleans easily with a wet towel, and with the aid of a little water the sole comes completely clean, or I was able to just bang the dirt off the sole. These shoes clean up more easily (especially the uppers) than traditional golf shoes.
The bottom line is that Nike’s designers have come up with a winning design for the Zoom Bandon. The style is very modern, clean and appealing, even to this traditionalist. They are so comfortable that I would wear them for a round of golf even if it wasn’t raining. The extensive features and 100% waterproof guarantee make these the perfect choice for a rainy round or a trip to your favorite destination where the weather is not always favorable — Scotland, or the shoe’s namesake Bandon Dunes anyone? Now we just need some rain here in Phoenix so I can put these shoes into play.
Editor’s note: The product reviewed above was supplied by the manufacturer to the reviewer/author free of charge for reviewing purposes only. The reviewer/author was not paid for this review, and the opinions expressed in the review are strictly those of the reviewer/author.