Best Links Footwear – 2021

It’s time again for another edition of our Best Links Footwear – 2021 style. Eight brands in the house with the industry trend clearly moving in the direction of spikeless offerings. From the casual walking and lifestyle ethos of TRUE Linkswear to the more formal vibe of Footjoy’s Premier Series – there’s something for everyone. As we’ve said before, there is no best golf shoe, these days the competition is too fierce for an inferior product line to survive in the marketplace. It all boils down what’s best for you, your budget, where and how you play your game and perhaps most importantly – your feet. So with that, we start with the spikeless models . . .

Spikeless:

Adidas Code Chaos 21

Adidas introduced the second iteration of their Code Chaos (21), furthering the mission of ending plastic waste thru environmental sustainability with their PRIMEBLUE – a high-performance recycled material made in part with Parley Ocean Plastic. 50% of the upper is textile, 75% of the textile is Primeblue yarn. No virgin polyester.

CC21 features a waterproof knit mesh upper with supportive overlays. Boost from heel to toe gives you all-day energy return.

Adiwear Traxion outsole with twist grip returns for tour-level traction and stability.

Pictured in grey w/screaming orange accents, Adi designed the CC21 with an enhanced ankle/heel section for those who prefer a bit more support in a spikeless offering.

Aesthetically: The speckled knit fabric may be a bit too edgy for some, but we found them to be a fresh vibe.

Testing: Didn’t take long for these to become a personal on-course favorite. They had me at BOOST, but also the new reinforced (and waterproof) knit upper is a big upgrade from the last year’s ribbed synthetic upper. A roomy fit that may be a smidge over standard, so try these on to get the proper sizing. Comfort- CC21 provides a cushy walk and plenty of foot support for any type of on-course play. Versatile.

Overall: High marks in virtually every category. The fact that these are made from sustainable recycled waste plastics, makes CC21 a “save the earth” feel-good purchase. If you loved the original Code Chaos, these are a notch above. Available in four colorways. A respectable value at an MSRP of $150.

https://www.adidas.com/us/men-golf-shoes

ASICS GEL COURSE ACE

Fairly new to the golf footwear scene, last year was Asics maiden voyage into our footwear review, and they made a big impression with their Gel-Course Duo BOA, this year they return to the fray sending over their spikeless, GEL-COURSE ACE, offering a low-profile sporty design.

According to Asics: The sock liner features a solution dye that uses less water and inks for a more sustainable manufacturing approach. This technology is complemented with GEL technology in the heel and a FLYTEFOAM technology application in the midsole to supply lightweight comfort and ample cushioning. Excellent for increasing stability, this shoe incorporates a supportive midfoot paneling and an internal molded heel counter. ORTHOLITE insole that provides additional cushioning and ventilation.

The FG traction outsole pattern places spikes exactly where they need to be for stability during the golf swing and traction while walking the course.

Aesthetics: Gel-Course Ace features a cheery bright vibe and sporty styled mesh upper, available in three colorways.

Testing: (Resident footwear tester Jack Barrett provided his thoughts) Fit is standard and comfort is superb with plenty of cush provided by the insole, even after all-day wear (10k+ steps) on and off the course – even wore them after golf to the gym! On-course traction was reasonably good (no slippage).

Happy feet after a full day of wear, a worthy spikeless for those interested in an athletic/casual style.

Overall: A solid sidekick to the flagship – spiked Gel Course Duo Boa. A casual golf shoe for the masses that boasts an athletic ethos, can be worn anywhere. MSRP $150

https://www.srixon.com/us/shoes/

ECCO – Biom H4

Ecco’s latest in ’21, the Biom H4 is another premium quality offering from a company known for its high-quality leather uppers and for being a pioneer in the spikeless realm. H4 Features 100% GORE-TEX® waterproof protection and top-shelf stability and traction.

The Biom H4 continues in the direction that ECCO set forth with last year’s S Three golf shoes, a beefy-sturdy spikeless that holds up to the rigors of the fastest swings on tour – definitely not a casual lifestyle offering. These are golf-specific and equipped for those who demand max foot support during play.

ECCO’s FLUIDFORM™ technology creates lightweight, ergonomically advanced midsoles that offer cutting edge comfort and flexibility and lateral support.

BIOM® X-Tense technology links the midsole to the upper via internal enforcement for enhanced stability.

Motion Grip outsole provides support through 3 different zones, The heel section is specifically engineered to provide supreme anti-slip traction, while the middle section is designed for max stability, the front foot section provides rotational support for the most aggressive swings of the day.

Aesthetics: A clean Euro tour look. Youthful and yet appealing to the MidAm and “Silver Fox” demographic as well. Available in four colorways.

Testing: Fits to size, but consumers needing a slightly wider fit can simply remove the extra insole to achieve more room (genius idea). Solid comfort, but wouldn’t call it a cushy ride. More like a firm sportscar feel, than a floating luxury car ride . The midsole is a bit chunky, but the extra support and wider base feel powerful. The traction of a spiked shoe. Full Gore-Tex waterproof protection provides top-of-the-line dryness.

Overall: All Golf, for those wanting a no compromise golf shoe with all the bells and whistles – not a casual lifestyle shoe. Might be ECCO’s best yet, this one will be a tour staffer favorite. High-end premium quality leather, clean look, and solid traction. Outstanding foot support. A better value than last year’s S-Three ( at 15% less cost) – MSRP $200

https://us.ecco.com/golf/men/

New Balance FreshFoam Pase SL Boa

Our last entry to arrive for the review is a worthy one. The New Balance Fresh Foam Pace SL Boa Golf Shoes feature New Balance’s innovative Fresh Foam midsole, which provides ultra-soft cushioning, cloud-like feel, and perimeter stability, resulting in cool new NB shoe for walking golfers. NB’s outsole utilizes pressure-mapped zones on the sole to improve grip and stability.

Equipped with a waterproof performance mesh upper, a 2-year waterproof warranty, and a 45-day comfort warranty, easily makes the FreshFoal PaceSL the value steal of this review ($120). Fresh Foam midsole combines ultra cush, cloud-like feel to provide medial stability. Super Lightweight at 12.2 oz

Welded forefoot water-guard for extra protection.

Boa Fit system quickly delivers a precise, dialed-in fit while alleviating pressure points on top of the foot.

Aesthetics: Looks more like a running shoe than a links walker, sporty. The flash NB logo on the rear section of the upper is a fresh look – two colorways available.

Testing: The FF PaceSL Boa runs slightly smaller in sizing than standard. BOA is the real deal for a perfect fit. FF PaceSL features a lower to the ground profile than most, but still manages to provide a cushy heel to midfoot feel for a comfortable walk. Traction

Overall: While the FreshFoam PaceSL won’t be mistaken for a premium leather tour shoe, it’s a worthy athletic-themed golf shoe. Recreational players will appreciate the BOA closure system and waterproof warranty in a mesh upper, as well it’s light weight, solid traction, and a 45-day comfort warranty is worth taking these for a spin around the links. A value winner at an MSRP – $120

https://www.newbalance.com/men/shoes/golf/

PAYNTR – X001F

A new player in the game, PAYNTR has emerged as a serious player in the future of golf footwear. Seizing on the popularity of the spikeless market, PAYNTR introduced their 001F model in 2021. Two models are available: Mesh and Microfiber (shown above).

 

Lightweight, flexible, & a breathable upper, includes vented tongue to move perspiration away from the foot to create an optimal in-shoe environment.  

According to PAYNTR – Their 3-dimensional traction provides golfers the ability to better control linear motion, resist rotational movement, and more effectively harness vertical ground forces.

Available in gray/charcoal and white/gray in microfiber, and black/gray in mesh model. Soft & responsive cushioning with PMX Foam delivers on-course comfort and support on the coourse. TPU outsole & dual durometer EVA midsole house a lightweight responsive graphite power plate – providing max energy return to generate ground reaction force. 

A flexible textile base with Clarino microfiber skin upper provides superb waterproofing.

Aesthetics: PAYNTR definitely leans towards the sporty side of the style meter, a fresh look that doesn’t resemble any other brand. A good start for a new brand.

Testing: Great out-of-the-box comfort and standard size fit. Outstanding traction and an extremely cushy walking experience. Love at first swing. The microfiber upper repels water like a windshield coated with Rain-ex. Looks good, feels good, plays good.

Overall: PAYNTR has been a pleasant surprise in this review, a complete unknown going in. “Rookie of the Year” if you will . . .

If you’re a fan of spikeless golf footwear, check out the PAYNTR 001F. MSRP $160

https://www.payntrgolf.com/

TRUE LinkswearKNIT II

TRUE Linkswear has created a groundswell of loyal links walkers and have become a perennial mainstay in our review each year – they round out our collection of spikeless models with a duo of mega versatile kicks – Lux Pro and Knit II.

TRUE’s Knit II quickly became the brand’s all-time best seller and for good reason, super casual, slip em on and go. The addition of WANDERLUX super foam midsole is a certain upgrade over the original. Yes, they’re golf-ready, but you’ll wanna wear them EVERYWHERE. And we do . . .

Knit II’s sock-fit feel, lightweight, and breathable nature make these your go to kicks for summer walks or strolls on the links. When I was a BMXer in the ’80s, the Cali vibe of Vans “Off the Wall” ruled the scene – TRUE has captured a similar style and spirit of linksters worldwide.

TRUE Linkswear’s aggressive outsole treads hug the ground during the golf swing and move with you for a smooth walk along the fairways.

Aesthetics: TRUE nails the links walker category perhaps better than anybody. Everything they produce looks badass and the Knit II is the type of shoe where you want a pair in every color. The limited-edition Maui Black looks insane.

Testing: If you’re familiar with TRUE Linkswear then you know what they’re about – walking golf, casual lifestyle, cool vibes, and comfort. The Knit II is the epitome of TRUE’s ethos – think WP9, Goathill Park, Charleston Muni, Palm Beach Par3, etc. Lightweight, gummy sole treads that grip the earth, just slip em on and get after it. Low-profile, lightweight golf shoes on the other end of the spectrum from the beefier max support models.

Overall: The undisputed king of the casual golf/lifestyle shoes. Perhaps the most versatile shoes in the review. MSRP – $140

TRUE Linkswear – Lux Pro

The Lux Pro is TRUE’s “No holds barred” premium Tour model. Sexy, and sophisticated in appearance and loaded with top-shelf features.

Features:

→ Waterproof Full Grain Leather Upper (Premium Napa White, Outdoor Grade Nubuck Black)
→ New WANDERLUX interior featuring a snug, padded heel cup and all new super foam insert
→ Reusable LUX shoe/shag bag in lieu of the traditional box
→ Premium leather accents and welting
→ Transitional (minimal) drop – (~6mm)
→ Light-weight (11.5 oz) with a premium/rugged durability
→ Tour-tested spikeless rubber tread for aggressive grip
→ Generous natural fit comfortably conforms up to 2E width

Lux Pro sole features TRUE’s tour-tested aggressive rubber tread for max traction.

Aesthetics: Lux Pro has classic lines, a departure from the edgy stretch fit sibling (Knit II pictured above). Hard to imagine a more timeless-looking spikeless. Comes in 4 colorways including a limited edition – Pebble Grey.

Testing: Standard sizing and fit, with a very roomy toe box. TRUE’s tour-proven aggressive outsole handles the heavy lifting quite well. A slightly lower profile than most in the review, but that’s consistent with the brand. Uber comfortable, the new WANDERLUX interior features a padded heel cup and all-new super foam insole for a very cushy walk. While many of the brand’s models offer a lightweight minimalist platform, this is the model that offers big foot support features on par with other major brands. We’ve tested a ton of TRUE kicks, and these are by far our personal pick as their finest on-course treads.

Overall: TRUE’s flagship model screams quality, a premium leather instant classic that’s sure to energize its loyalists. A tour shoe that merges the finest materials with the company’s ethos to “Enjoy the Walk”. Quality comes at a higher pricepoint, MSRP $210.

https://truelinkswear.com/

Spiked Footwear

Adidas – ZG21

After a decade+ of the flagship Tour360 dominating the fairways of Adidas staffers on tour, their new ZG21 took over worldwide golf tours in 2021. ZG21 is made with recycled content as part of Adi’s ambition to end plastic waste. 20% of pieces used to make the upper are made with a minimum of 50% recycled content.

ZG21 features a new 6 cleat Thin-tech outsole

ZG21 is a lightweight low profile golf shoe featuring a hybrid Lightstrike/Boost midsole for high energy return.

  • Regular Fit
  • Lace closure
  • Waterproof Sprintskin synthetic upper
  • INSITE® sockliner
  • Lightstrike cushioning
  • Boost midsole
  • Six-cleat Thintech TPU outsole

The waterproof Sprintskin synthetic upper keeps feet dry through wet conditions.

Aesthetics: ZG21 is a big departure from the premium leather vibe of the Tour360, but this new look from the Three Stripes is fresh. Available in 8 color choices.

Testing: Sizing and fit are spot on, plenty of room in the toe box. Out of the box comfort. No longer does BOOST go heel to toe – in ZG21 it’s only in the heel pad section, not sure if we’re happy about that – less BOOST can’t be a good thing. The textured synthetic upper is light in weight but big on waterproof protection. Mega comfortable kicks with plenty of arch/midfoot support for the fastest swings. A worthy tour-level offering.

Overall: A lightweight tour-level shoe that’s part of the company’s environmentally ambitious initiative that we applaud. Adi staffers DJ, Xander and Morikawa that were longtime Tour360 loyalists have all made the switch. ZG21 passed all of our exams with flying colors at a lower MSRP than their past tour models. $180. Save the environment and at a lower cost for consumers – we’re in.

https://www.adidas.com/us/men-golf

FootJoy – Hyperflex

The all-new FJ Hyperflex is a spiked shoe that features a lightweight engineered performance mesh upper with hot melt yarns that deliver incredible all-day comfort with exceptional breathability, and enhanced structure and support.

Rear positioned BOA provides a precision fit. StratoFoam cushioning system uses a proprietary blend of materials to provide optimal support and comfort for on-course conditions. designed for max walking comfort and also high energy return to reduce foot fatigue.

The OptiFlex outsole is equipped with 7 cleats and provides a natural flex with each step and additional torsion control even on your most aggressive swings.

Breathable mesh lined with a waterproof membrane barrier for complete protection and breathability in any weather condition. FootJoy warrants Hyperflex 100% waterproof in normal use for two years (U.S. Warranty).

Aesthetics: Such a cool outside-the-box look. The casual knit upper with BOA looks space age, and we dig it. The Midnight Blue colorway is a colorway that isn’t seen every day in golf footwear, but is a nice alternative to black. BOA model available in 3 colorways.

Testing: About 1/2 size larger than standard size. Instant love, BOA closure system rules. Knit upper and Stratofoam midsole makes these the cushiest ride in the entire review. The feel of a spikeless shoe with a casual look, but they have top-notch traction with a full seven cleats per shoe outsole. If these weren’t spiked, I’d wear them everywhere.

Overall: Zero detractors. If you like the slip-on knit feel and look, these are an ideal hybrid shoe. Hyperflex BOA are priced with an MSRP of $180 (laced $150).

https://www.footjoy.com/golf-shoes/

Footjoy – Premier Series

A classic infused with new technology. The new Premier Series from Footjoy comes in three models – Packard (above), Tarlow and Flint. A timeless classic style worn on tour for decades gets a full upgrade. Premium, hand-selected, soft full-grain leather and luxurious calfskin details. Refinements only exceeded by the soft, supple sheepskin linings and lightweight performance materials.

Advanced materials and custom technology provide a high-performance golf shoe in a timeless classic. A firmer density cup around the heel provides perimeter heel support and stability through the swing. An OrthoLite EcoPlush FitBed is designed to limit foot fatigue for all-day comfort.

  • Premium Pittards® Leather
  • Full Leather Linings
  • Pulsar® Low Profile Cleats by Softspikes®
  • FastTwist 3.0™
  • 100% Waterproof – 2 year warranty

According to Footjoy – The new VersaTrax+ technology provides unparalleled traction and stability in every playing condition and on every playing surface. 360 degrees of traction.

Aesthetics: A classic that suits those who prefer a formal dressy look. Worn on Tour by Adam Scott, Justin Thomas and countless others. Snazzy . . .

Testing: Standard sizing and excellent fit. Comfort, but in a firmer feeling platform. No break-in period is required. Pittards leather is a sweet upper. The New VersaTrax outsole is slip-proof. Outstanding performance, but if you’re looking for a soft cushy ride in a FJ shoe, go Hyperflex.

Overall: An undisputed tour staple and an icon in the golf footwear industry. A formal country club vibe. A modern twist on a classic. The purist’s shoe. MSRP – $200

https://www.footjoy.com/golf-shoes/

PUMA – Pro Adapt Delta

Puma’s Pro Adapt Delta is another gem from Grant Knudson and the footwear creation team at Puma. An uncompromising cleated tour golf shoe. Featuring Puma’s Adapt Fit System with premium, full-grain leather materials, and a molded comfort collar provide an exacting fit with the comfort of a running shoe, but the look of a high-end leather shoe.

  • FULL-GRAIN ATLANTIS LEATHER
  • ADAPTIVE FIT SYSTEM
  • ADAPT-WRAP Tongue
  • PRO-FIT INSOLE
  • MOLDED COMFORT COLLAR
  • ADAPT FOAM
  • Topline Chassis
  • PROADAPT OUTSOLE
  • PWRADAPT
  • DUAL-DUROMETER TORNADO CLEAT
  • PROADAPT LAST *NEW*
  • 1-YEAR WATERPROOF

The PROADAPT DELTA features ADAPT Foam, developed with the golfer in mind and designed to perform with comfort and stability.

The outsole features Dual Density Tornado cleats with PWRADAPT PODs that allow each cleat to interact with the ADAPT Foam independently, a Puma mainstay. Flex grooves allow natural movements and enhance the walking experience.

Aesthetics: Not sure there’s a better-looking shoe in this year’s crop of newbie tour premium. Clean. They give off a classic and sporty vibe which is not always easy to pull off. That was evident when both Gen-X ers and Millenials asked me numerous times about these while I wore them during a recent outing at Streamsong. That says a lot, available in four colorways.

Testing: True to size. Those with medium-width feet will find these to their liking (don’t see wide widths offered, check with Puma for more info). Instant gamers for me, outstanding traction and the new Adapt Foam gives Adi’s BOOST a run for its money in the energy return department – a cushy ride paired with superior mid-foot support. Best golf shoe Puma has produced since we’ve been doing reviews – period.

Overall: Puma crushed it. A slam dunk bonafide premium tour quality shoe that appeals to any demographic and is mega comfortable. MSRP – $200

https://www.cobragolf.com/pumagolf/

BEST BY CATEGORY:

Precison Fit

  • FJ Hyperflex BOA
  • New Balance FresfFoam Pace SL BOA
  • Puma Pro Adapt Delta
  • Adidas Code Chaos 21
  • ECCO Biom H4

Value/Budget:

  • New Balance FresfFoam Pace SL BOA
  • Asics Gel Course Ace
  • PAYNTR X001F
  • TRUE KNIT II
  • Adidas Code Chaos 21

Comfort/Feel:

  • Puma Pro Adapt Delta
  • Adidas Code Chaos 21
  • FJ Hyperflex BOA
  • PAYNTR X001F
  • TRUE Knit II
  • Asics Gel Course Ace

Foot Support

  • ECCO Biom H4
  • Puma Pro adapt Delta
  • Adidas ZG21
  • FJ Hyperflex BOA
  • New Balance FresfFoam Pace SL BOA

Lightweight

  • New Balance FreshFoam Pace SL BOA
  • TRUE Linkswear Knit II
  • FJ Hyperflex BOA
  • Adidas ZG21
  • Asics Gel Course Ace

Aesthetics:

  • TRUE Linkswear Pro Lux
  • Puma Pro Adapt Delta
  • TRUE Knit II
  • ECCO Biom H4
  • FJ Premier Series (Tarlow)

Premium Quality / Tour Grade

  • FJ Premier Series
  • Puma Pro Adapt Delta
  • ECCO Biom H4
  • Adidas ZG21
  • TRUE Pro Lux

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