It’s now been eight years since FootJoy introduced the first Pro/SL golf shoe to the market. Since then, the brand has sold millions of pairs across the world since and has been sure to keep tinkering and tweaking with one of its best golf shoes to keep it moving with the times. The Pro/SLX Carbon arrives with a new look for the franchise as well as a bold new take on the spikeless outsole. After meeting with some of the product development team at FootJoy – and getting fitting for my pair on the brand’s FitLab foot scanning system – I was excited to take them out onto the course at Royal Norwich and my home course for some testing.
Looks wise, Pro/SLX is still recognizably part of the Pro/SL family tree, but with some new flashes of tech and color that give it the fresh, modern and premium look we expect from a brand like FootJoy. I quite like the visible heel stabilizer that’s now been placed on the outside of the shoe, while the hero colourway I tested them in is eye-catching in all the right ways. Like most of the best FootJoy shoes, it really looks the part on your feet.
One of the biggest changes on Pro/SLX Carbon is the outsole. I’ll admit that on my first viewing of the new Pwr Trax system I was immediately conscious of the seeming lack of visible traction on the outsole. We’ve become so used to seeing outsoles of spikeless shoes covered in traction nubs of some kind, but the school of thought around this has clearly been changing as of late, with the best spikeless golf shoes now boasting something of a less-is-more strategy without sacrificing any actual grip.
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FootJoy’s new system is one of the best examples of this new school of thought with spikeless outsoles. It features a moulded 3D X-Wing that you can see is a prominent force on the outsole. Made of carbon fiber, it is engaged by swing forces to redistribute energy to the perimeter of the golf shoe to engage grip where golfers need it most. Imagine it sort of like an F1 car, where all of the mass is pushed to the perimeter of the car’s four wheels. To continue the racing analogy, FootJoy has christened this the Race Trak Outsole, as the traction points run around the perimeter of the shoe sort of like an oval race track.
There are multiple traction elements across this outsole, and I’m a particular fan of the long thin traction points you can see running down the side/middle parts. These offer much more lateral traction than I’ve ever experienced on a FootJoy shoe while the more traditional pointy nubs you can see on the toe and heel of the shoe are there primarily to support the foot while walking. It’s certainly unique to see a spikeless shoe with almost no nubbed traction going down the middle of the shoe, but FootJoy’s new system works flawlessly and after 27 holes on top of some particularly wet winter ground the shoe help up perfectly. An added benefit for those wearing the Pro/SLX Carbon in muddier conditions is that debris is much easier to clean from this new outsole, a nice benefit that’ll stop you having to clear you shoes mid-round.
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Some of FootJoy’s more familiar technologies are present in the new shoe too. A FTF+ midsole with a StratoFoam top layer offer a nice amount of energy return through the swing while the ChromoSkin leather upper is soft and offers that premium look at feel. Away from the outsole, FootJoy has thought carefully about mixing support through the swing and comfort while walking in this shoe. It’s all well and good having a shoe that supports you well through the swing, but its no use if you feet are aching because they aren’t comfortable to walk in. With that in mind, the Pro/SLX Carbon utilises the superb Ortholite Impressions FitBed that we saw on the HyperFlex Carbon from last year. Quite simply, it’s one of the most comfortable sensations you could ask for in a golf shoe. The Impressions FitBed you get in the Carbon version will mould to your foot over time, giving you that ‘worn-in’ feeling the most comfortable golf shoes offer.
My only issue with the Pro/SLX Carbon was the slight lack of arch support. As someone who is a touch flat footed, the comfortable FitBed allowed my feet to sink in a touch which lead to some aching in the middle of my foot after 18 holes. Those who aren’t flat footed shouldn’t worry about this, but some shoes will offer more arch support than this.
The differences between Pro/SLX Carbon and the standard Pro/SLX come from the 3D X-Wing which is made from carbon fiber in the Pro/SLX Carbon and TPU in the standard. The carbon fiber makes the shoes ever shoe slightly stiffer than the standard TPU, so will benefit the very fast swing speeds even more. The difference is negligible to the untrained foot however, so I expect most golfers will end up in the standard version.
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However, it is worth noting the Pro/SLX Carbon also benefits from the moulded Ortholite Impression FitBed while the standard uses the still excellent X25 Ortholite FitBed. This alone is worth the investment for me as the comfort is off the scale. While Under Armour’s Drive Pro SL just pips the Pro/SLX Carbon from an out and out performance perspective, there’s no denying the FootJoy beats it out from a comfort and looks perspective. Very few spikeless shoes from 2024 will stand up to these two shoes this year, so it’s worth going to try both on to feel for yourself which you’d prefer.
I’ll be honest in saying I’ve never been much of a Pro/SL wearer in the past – they simply didn’t suit my feet. However, after a proper shoe fitting and couple of rounds in the Pro/SLX Carbon, I feel like something of a convert to the franchise. The outsole is truly unique and superb in all conditions, making this a true all year round shoe, while the improvements on comfort but the Pro/SLX Carbon right up there in the comfort category. I love it when brand’s support and update its best franchises, and FootJoy has given the Pro/SL franchise the due care and attention it deserves with the new Pro/SLX. The new Pro/SLX Carbon will be available from Thursday, February 15th for £189.99.