The more astute amongst you may have spotted Hunter Mahan wearing a new FootJoy shoe at the 2014 Ryder Cup. In the weeks after the Glory At Gleneagles, I got to see a pair and now I can reveal that it was the FootJoy HyperFlex.
What made it so obvious on TV to equipment enthusiasts like me was the styling, as the thick white sole and large FJ logo on the side stood out and were a really different and somewhat edgy look for a brand like FootJoy.
The large white sole is the second generation of FTF or Fine Tuned Foam that debuted in the FootJoy DryJoys Casual. This foam not only provides comfort but also a degree of energy return to sooth your feet and put a spring in your step.
Unlike the previous version, the FTF 2.0 sole is much deeper and more visually in your face. The back of the heel is also a little higher and that gives a great deal of comfort.
The HyperFlex is quite a tall shoe and compared to the FootJoy DNA your feet are about 0.5cm higher from the ground. The HyperFlex also provides more comfort from the chunkier sole and it feels slightly narrower and longer through the forefoot and toe than the DNA.
The HyperFlex insole combines well with the sole and you could really feel the bounce and comfort from the pads under the balls of your feet as you walked.
Comfort also comes from the new upper design, which is best described as a waterproof running shoe material with a plastic mesh over the top of it to increase the lateral stability during the swing.
FootJoy call this combination a FlexGrid and it lives up to both parts of the name as it is light and flexible, but still provides a very good level of support, so you are not slopping all over place like you do when you try and swing in a running shoe.
The underlying material is also pretty breathable and as a result a cold windy Scottish links keeps them 'fresh', so I can see this being an excellent warm weather shoe. FootJoy say they are waterproof, or as waterproof as shoes get these days.
In Scotland I did not have to wait long to test this out and wearing them on a soggy day, walking through wet rough and standing puddles revealed that they do keep the water out very well. If the material gets damp then you may feel that, but for the type of material it is then it was impressive, even if I would classify it as shower-proof rather than Goretex-like rainproof.
One of the other benefits of the FlexGrid is that the material is so flexible that the shoes require very little, if any, breaking in time, which for delicate plates like mine is a godsend. If you play muddy courses then the FlexGrid could take some effort to keep clean as there are numerous crevices for mud to get into, so maybe go for one of the darker of the four initial colours if you regularly play Ryder Cups in Wales.
What adds to the stability is the sole design, which reminds me a little of the stability bars of the FootJoy XPS-1 as they extend beyond the edge of the shoe and I like the lateral support that they give to stop your foot rolling over through impact.
The spikes on the sole are arranged in the almost traditional FootJoy 'pods' that remind you of their more classic shoes such as the DryJoys Tour, with their Flex Zones to provide comfort as you walk.
There are plenty of quite sharp moulded plastic spikes around the SoftSpike Tornado spikes which not only provide excellent grip, but also more support on firmer surfaces, so you don't feel that you are walking on nine stilts. The Tornado spikes use the Fast Twist locking system and with their angled feet seem a little more flexible then previous versions and that adds to the comfort on firm surfaces.
One small touch that I like is the tongue which has longer 'ears', for want of a better phrase, that extend around the front of the foot when you tie the laces to improve the fit and the comfort.
The weight is 428g per shoe, which is surprisingly 38g lighter than the DNA and most of that is probably the upper, but this is still a mid-weight shoe and heavier than most types of spikeless shoes.
The heel of the shoe is very robust thanks to a stronger green FlexGrid system and the 'Optimum Performance Stabiliser' (OPS) and a blue ridge of spikes between the back two spikes. These are both here to add stability to your heel and they combine well to achieve this.
Overall I really like the FootJoy HyperFlex as it seems to bring elements of FootJoys past and future together. Like the DNA, the HyperFlex styling is another step forward, but the sole pattern reminds you that this is still a serious FootJoy shoe.
The looks are definitely different and when I first saw them I wasn't sure about the large FJ logo under the FlexGrid, but it is growing on me. The deep sole is quite 'in your face' and could be hard to keep white, but I get that this is part of the athletic styling and maybe we will see some calmer colour options in the future.
There is a wide choice of colour combinations and the FlexGrid acts a little like a prism and changes the tone of the front of the shoe depending on which angle you view it, which I think adds to its appeal.
Styling is a personal thing though, but like flamboyant golfers, you have to be able to back up style with performance. The FootJoy HyperFlex certainly does that with a great combination of comfort and stability and I can see this being just as successful for FootJoy as the DNA with those who prefer a sportier look.