Earlier this year, I was left with a somewhat disappointed taste in my mouth after reviewing the Under Armour Spieth 3 golf shoes. A couple of months down the line and Under Armour golf shoes were under the Golfalot microscope again, however this time I was feeling optimistic. I was hoping that the HOVR Drive would be much more up my street. Or should I say fairway? (Probably rough actually... yes, let’s go with rough.)
The Under Armour HOVR Drive promised to deliver a serious level of comfort for 18 holes, without the loss of turf interaction and ability to generate power during the golf swing. Lovely stuff.
What’s It All About?
With the Under Armour Spieth 3 being the headline shoe of its 2019 collection, the HOVR Drive sits slightly below it in the pecking order, whilst still knocking on the door of what you would expect from a premium golf shoe.
The HOVR Drive focuses on three different aspects of golf shoe performance: total comfort, energy return and traction. The initial design and name itself, HOVR, originates as one of UA’s running shoe offerings claiming to provide ‘zero-gravity feel’ to maintain energy return that helps eliminate impact step after step. From what I could see, the HOVR Drive seemed to be a ‘firmed-up’ adaptation of this for the golf course.
Comfort comes in the form of full length HOVR cushioning which runs from the heel to the forefoot. Paired with a lightweight midsole and outsole and an eye-catching integrated lacing system, which Under Armour say “will leave your feet feeling as good on the 18th as they did on the first tee” when wrapped under your foot.
As well as comfort, Under Armour are focusing on golfers getting the most out of their swings through what they call ‘Energy Return’, similar to that seen in the Adidas Tour360 XT and Tour 360 XT SL golf shoes with their ‘Boost technology’. Based upon golf swing mechanics proving that the swing starts from the ground up (nothing new here), Under Armour claim to harness ground reaction forces during the swing to then produce responsive power.
Looks and design-wise, as you’d expect from a boundary-pushing, leading sports brand like Under Armour, these are modern looking, contemporary golf shoes. The aesthetics are clean and sharp with a fairly no-nonsense approach, especially when compared to the busy looks of the Spieth 3.
Under Armour Say…
Mike Forsey, Director of Global Golf Footwear at Under Armour, said:
‘Get outstanding energy return on every swing with these men’s golf shoes. The spikeless outsole flexes with your foot and is durable enough for everyday play while a lightweight and water-repellent textile upper keeps your feet dry for all 18 holes.’
For this test, I returned to my home golf club – Bingley St Ives GC in the heart of Yorkshire. A half-heathland, half-parkland golf course with undulating fairways and plenty of variants in golf terrain.
The weather was dry, sunny and the wind was up, but playing in the evening meant that as soon as the sun dropped it was cold - hence the back 9 nine bobble hat making a welcome appearance. British Summer time eyyyy…
Given the fact that the course was dry, firm and fast, this was the perfect time to test out a shoe claiming ultimate 18 hole comfort. If they weren’t comfortable, the firm fairways would find them out!
Under Armour HOVR Drive Golf Shoe Review
Wow, these shoes are light - 337g to be precise. They felt it at first when unboxing the shoes at Golfalot HQ, but somehow managed to feel even lighter once they were on my feet. I’m not quite sure how the boffins at UA managed to achieve this, but they were off to a good start.
The outsole of the shoe impressed me too. On the surface, the design seemed very comprehensive in its traction offering, and the contrast of navy blue and red colourways worked well against the all-white upper - eye-catching without being too 'out there'.
The build quality looked solid, and you’d have to go far to find a golfer that wouldn't like the design. There wasn’t much to dislike about the sleek looks of the HOVR Drive.
One drawback I still can’t get out of my head even when typing up this review is the finish of the Clarino microfibre upper however. I couldn’t help but think the material just aired on the side of cheap. When bending and manipulating the shoe, small wrinkles appeared under the surface and there was just a slight shine from the shoe that didn’t suit my eye. A fussy point I admit, but one worth mentioning given the £140 price tag of the HOVR Drive.
On The Course
As I mentioned in my first impressions, these shoes are seriously light and there is no doubt that has its benefits. I did this test during an evening round of 18 holes and putting them on after a day at work, where normally your legs may feel fatigue or a little heavy – the HOVR Drives really helped to put that spring in my step. On the first tee, I can genuinely say I felt good standing over the ball because of these shoes. Shame I walked off with a tidy opening bogey…
The same has to be said by the end of my round. 18 holes of walking later, the weight of the shoes meant I didn’t tire at all and still felt like I had that priceless spring in my step.
I’ll hand it to Under Armour here, unlike the Spieth 3 where out of the box comfort was an issue, in the HOVR Drive it really wasn’t. Straight out of the box, on to the course, no bother whatsoever. The strategically placed cushioning and support from the ground up with integrated footbed, insole, and midsole really seemed to do the job.
I was particularly impressed also by the fit of these shoes. They feature what Under Armour call 'E Sizing' built to better fit athletes with wide feet. As a golfer with relatively wide feet, this was a welcome benefit. They got the balance right too - although the fit was wide, thanks to the integrated lacing system, my feet felt nicely locked into place for the full test.
I find sometimes also with wide fit shoes, they can look a little bulky when stood over the ball, especially when it comes to putting. With the HOVR Drive, this wasn't a problem. If there was something that did distract my eye when standing over the ball however, it was the bright red strip that features on the inside of the HOVR sole.
The red strip in question leads me on to the overall comfort of the shoe. When speaking to Under Armour earlier this year about why this shoe should outperform most shoes in the market in the comfort department, I was told that it would be down to these sections of the sole which are 'HOVR Injected' with a new wax based liquid. This waxy liquid is opposed to rubber, throughout the rest of the sole.
Comfort-wise, this technology really worked. Whether it really worked to help me generate more power through 'responsive power' is hard to tell to be honest. Personally, to feel like I'm getting the most out of my golf swing I like to feel as close to the ground as possible, and with the HOVR Drive, because the cushioning was so big below my foot - this wasn't really the case.
Having said that, I wouldn't go anywhere near as far to say that I lost any power because of this, it may however put some golfers off.
In terms of traction, similarly to the Spieth 3 - I was very impressed over 18 holes. Again, when meeting Under Armour earlier this year the confidence that they have in this current traction plate is shown by the fact they use pretty much the same design across all of their 2019 shoe collection.
They have a formula that has been tried and tested by one of the best in the world in Jordan Speith and they are now adapting it ever so slightly across each of their shoe models. The usual technological suspects are on show: RST 2.0 rotational resistance spikes sit in the sole of the HOVR Drive and offer great traction during the swing, especially when the foot pivots and turns.
They combine with Softspike Silver Tornado spikes, designed to be kind to greens (and greenkeepers!) and provide horizontal traction so you can walk a full 18 holes without any aches or pains. I really can vouch for this. There isn't much more I can say than the fact I played 18 holes encountering fairways, greens, rough, thick rough, heather and last but not least, paying a couple of unwanted visits to the sand. Not once did I feel as if the TPU plate wouldn't perform as I wanted.
Moving on to the breathability of the HOVR Drive shoes however, I encountered a major problem. Amazingly during the 18 holes of testing, I didn't realise this problem however. It wasn't until I took the shoes off following the round that I realised how bad the breathability of the HOVR Drive shoes were.
I do in-fact have photograph evidence of the my feet post-round but in the interest of people reading this review, I thought it would be best to leave it out. For those of you reading this on your work lunch break - trust me, I'm doing you a favour.
The lack of breathability offered by the HOVR Drive amazed me to be honest. Given the fact that they are made from such lightweight, modern materials, none of them being leather - I really expected much better. Also, taking into account that it wasn't the warmest early-summer evening by any stretch of the imagination, I couldn't believe how poorly they performed in this department - god knows what my feet would have looked like if I'd played in 25 degrees of heat, or god forbid 36 holes as opposed to 18.
Would I Use It?
Yes, 9/10 times I would wear this shoe. Breathability issues aside, which I will admit may be a blip considering I only played in the shoes on one occasion, these shoes lend themselves to all-year-round golfing really quite well.
They are almost as comfortable as any shoes I have tested this year, and traction-wise they reinforce the success story of the Spieth 3 (in that department).
These shoes will be a good option for a lot of golfers.
Under Armour HOVR Drive Shoe Review Verdict?
All things considered, the HOVR Drive are a great golf shoe - no doubt. They will tick a lot of boxes for a lot of golfers. After testing the shoes thoroughly however, I couldn't get past the fact that they fell at the final hurdle, which was a shame.
They offered good looks, comfort, great traction and a really simple design but golf shoes need to be breathable if you're going to play a lot of golf in them, during this test - the HOVR Drive were not.
I would go as far to say that this is one of the best shoes that Under Armour have produced to date, and in my opinion streets ahead of the Spieth 3 - especially when considering the amount of appeal the HOVR Drive has at a slightly lower price point whilst offering simpler aesthetics.
- Superb out of the box comfort
- Impressive, tried and tested traction on all terrains
- Sleek, yet classic looks that will appeal to a number of age groups
- E sizing offers golfers with wide feet a good option
- Lightweight, waterproof membrane will keep feet dry in wet conditions
- Clarino Microfibre finish in the upper will be not be to everyone's taste
- Breathability was an issue, I would have expected much better from a shoe of this price tag
- Limited colourways - only black and white