Welcome to Devil Ball's Proving Ground, where we put the latest golf equipment through its paces. Today, we take a run at adidas' everything-old-is-new-again Samba golf shoes ... each with a bonus connection to one of golf's majors.
Tester: Jay Busbee
Handicap: Old enough to drive but not drink
Target Golf Audience: All players
We're long past the day when a golf shoe is merely a tricked-up patent-leather shoe, as uncomfortable as your prom-night rentals. No, golf shoes now can and should be as comfortable as sneakers ... and there's no reason they can't look good, either.
adidas is in the midst of rolling out its Limited Edition Samba Golf majors collection shoes, each shoe commemorating one of golf's majors. From left to right above, there's the Masters (green and yellow, fairly obvious), the American flag-inspired U.S. Open, the Union Jack-inspired British Open, and the Kiawah Island beach-and-surf-inspired PGA Championship. Only 1950 pairs of each model were created; the number honors the original three-stripe Samba shoe.
Initial thoughts: If you've spent any time around athletics in the last 60 years, you've seen, and possibly worn, adidas' Samba shoes. This marks the first time the style has reached the golf course, unless of course you were wearing some as you played a muni or leaped a wall at a country club at night.
Whether you like golf shoes this bright depends on your personality; you WILL get stares in the clubhouse. But they've got a fine little backstory and individual numbering on the heels, so you can indulge in that most precious of golf passions: showing off something you have that others don't.
On the course: So sure, they look good, but how do they feel? In a word: heavenly. So good that you may well walk right off the course without even taking them off. (Is it legal to drive in golf shoes? Probably not.) They fit like sneakers, with comfortable lining and light weight. While adidas bills them as durable, we haven't been able to test them long enough to test long-term stability, but all appears fine after several rounds.
But again, look and feel don't mean much if you can't hit a golf ball without corkscrewing around. The shoes have a range of cleats both permanent and replaceable to keep you stable both on the tee and on hillsides. If you swing hard enough to come out of these shoes, you're probably going to need hiking boots to find your ball.
Bottom line: If you look at those shoes and want 'em immediately, buy 'em. If you look at those shoes and think that maybe, just maybe, you could rock 'em, give 'em a go. If you look at those shoes and think they're the province of kids who need to get off your fairway, well, they're not for you. And that's OK. The Sambas are fine shoes, comfortable and good-looking, and they're well worth a look. Though if you wear 'em, that's one less element to blame your wayward drives on.
The first three majors are already available, with the PGA Championship model streeting on July 15. MSRP is $100 per pair.
Disclosure: Product samples were provided to Devil Ball Golf for review. 323 days
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