New Balance entered the golf shoe arena in October 2013, following years of research. Sixteen months later, the brand continues to grow.
The company, noted for its classic, comfortable running shoes, recently added a non-cleat version of its 574 model. The shoe is designed to be worn on and off the golf course, with the feel and look of the original running shoe model.
“We noticed people were wearing our shoes to the golf course, then changing them at the car and putting on golf shoes,” said Carey Langely, director of product at New Balance. “We thought, ‘Why should a golfer have to change out of our shoes?’”
New Balance offers a soft-spike version of the 574, which also includes microfiber leather with a two-year water-proof warranty. It’s most popular model is the 2002, which features the microfiber leather, REVlite cushioning and performance traction. Sizes can reach 4E in width, which is a New Balance staple.
The company also offers a Minimus Sport Golf model, based on its barefoot running shoe and a saddle-back 2001 model , for the more traditional golfer.
Tradition, however, is not the New Balance buzz word. “We are trying to be athletic, trying to be sporty,” Langely said. “We are not trying to be saddle-back.”
The company’s first year in the golf business was one of trial and error – and one that was very successful as it exceeded expectations with a 60-percent increase over initial sales forecast. The saddle-back model, which is still available, was not a consumer favorite. One that was, and continues to be, is the 1701 model. It looks and feels much like the wide-soled walking shoes the Baby Boomer crowd prefers.
As Langely mentioned, it’s the type of shoe the older set will never change out of. Just as Millennials prefer the sportier versions, on and off the course.
“We want to stay true to who we are,” Langely said. “We want the most comfortable golf shoe in the industry. It should feel just like our running shoes, along with having the athletic, sporty look.”