Have you ever wondered what’s going on inside your golf shoes?
The athletic equipment and apparel market is rife with “performance ” and “technology” claims, but what does that even mean? As far as most shoemakers are concerned — including all your major brands — it means diddly. We’ve all been duped.
There is one company’s claim of high performance, however, that’s more than just a marketing scheme. It’s that of Athalonz.
“There’s no denying the laws of physics — they apply to everyone and everything,” says Athalonz founder and CEO Tim Markison. That’s the basis of his shoe design. The company was founded on the idea of scientifically improving the ground-body connection, which affects all athletic movement. More specifically, Markison, a 30-year engineer and patent attorney, honed in on improving what initiates that athletic motion based on the laws of physics.
Sounds complicated, sure, but boil it down a bit and it makes perfect sense. All movement is governed by Newton’s laws of motion. For example, when you push on the ground the ground pushes back, always. This is called ground reaction force, and the starting point of the athletic motion of swinging a golf club. How that force is distributed, meaning the position and angles of your body while in motion, has a direct impact on the power you can generate in your golf swing. More ground force equals more power — it’s a scientific fact.
Given that your shoes are the only thing in between your feet and the ground, and thus have a direct impact on your ground reaction force, the idea of science-based athletic footwear came to Markison during a baseball clinic, when his coach placed a rosin bag under the outside of his foot to mimic a more physically sound base for hitting and throwing. “The problem with the drill was that you could feel the position but couldn’t recreate it without the bag,” he says. He later analyzed the footwork and alignment of top players’ athletic motions and realized their knees are always in a certain line from the inside ankle to the groin. The rosin bag his coach used forced players into this position, but Markison realized he could do the same thing with a specially designed shoe.
Most all standard golf shoes have a U-shaped inner design aligned perpendicular to the ground. When you swing a golf club, that U-shape causes your feet to slide away from you and push the force away from that inside line, dissipating your power and made all the worse depending on what material the shoe is made of. Athalonz’s angled inner design, on the other hand, shifts the ground reaction force from perpendicular to about four-degrees inside, while the sturdy material keeps your foot from pushing the forces outward. All of that leads to an increase in ground reaction force by almost 10%, according to Markison.
The Athalonz EnVe’s angled sole adjusts the ground reaction to the inside.
“We did the math and tested to verify we did the math correctly. With the design being based on physics and our design working according to the math, we didn’t need to perform a study to know people will have an improvement in ground reaction force,” Markison says.
With such a clearly defined relationship between ground reaction force and your golf swing, and the role your golf shoes play, you’d think more footwear companies would be gushing on designs similar to Athalonz. Unfortunately for them, they can’t, because Athalonz holds multiple patents ensuring its proprietary edge. Truth is, Markison says the idea has been around for awhile but failed to catch on after a “wedged” golf shoe debuted and was subsequently banned by the USGA back in the ’90s. Prior to that, the most groundbreaking technological advancement in athletic footwear similar to the idea were cleats and spikes, way back at the turn of the 20th century.
“Now, a lot of shoe companies want comfort over everything,” Markison says. “People just aren’t aware of the physics of what’s actually happening inside the shoe.”
U-shaped soles, found in almost all major brands, cause your feet to slide away from you.
That awareness and understanding of how it works is what’s setting Athalonz apart from all the major brands, not only in the realm of science, but on the course, too.
Fred Funk, Ken Duke and Bernhard Langer have all made the switch to Athalonz, the latter of whom ditched his shoe sponsor of 40-years for Athalonz. “Before he was with us, Langer said he’d go through 3 pairs of shoes in one tournament,” Markison says. “The shoes would compress on the lateral side really quickly, making his foot angle outward, and keeping his feet from getting set.”
Athalonz have become the go-to choice for men and women World Long Drive competitors, too, a trend credited to Ryan Steenberg and carried on by the likes of 2020 WLD Champions Kyle Bershire and Chloe Garner. If anyone knows the importance of harnessing power, it’s these kinds of athletes. Berkshire went viral in 2019 by setting a new world record for recorded ball speed (228 mph) wearing, you guessed it, Athalonz’s EnVe golf shoes.
While the majority of us aren’t banking on our athletic ability to pay the bills, that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t like to improve our ability any way we can on the course. Fortunately for us, science doesn’t play favorites.
“That’s the beauty of physics, it’s fundamental laws and facts. If you prove that there’s physics in play, it works 100% of the time,” Markison says.
All you have to do is make the switch to see the Athalonz difference.
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Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That’s essentially what the proposed Premier Golf League (PGL) needs to figure out if it hopes to make good on its lofty goals.
Plans for the PGL have been in the works for years, but after the World Golf Group recently announced it hopes to launch the league in January 2022, it’s back in the headlines. “Rivaling” the PGA and European Tours, the PGL aims to host 48 of the world’s best players at 18 tournaments over eight months around the globe. The purses would be huge — $10 million per event, according to reports — with no cuts. Along with individual scoring the PGL would integrate a team format as well, ending the season with a team playoff event.
Here’s a quick look at the why, according to the WGG statement:
“If you want the world to watch, you have to showcase your best product, week-in-week-out. Golf doesn’t do that currently. … We believe we’ll succeed because the league is what fans, sponsors and broadcasters want — and the best players deserve. It will revitalise [sic] the sport for this and future generations.”
Fair enough. But now for the bigger question: How?
Recruiting “48 of the world’s best players” is a lot easier to say than it will be to do. A $10 million dollar purse per event isn’t a bad start, but then things get a little more complicated. For the PGL to become truly successful in the long term it also has to court broadcasters and major sponsors. Hard to imagine doing that with a yet-to-be filled roster of players the fans will tune in to see, and it’s hard to imagine filling that roster without broadcast and sponsorship backing. It’s the classic chicken and the egg dilemma from your intro to philosophy class.
Considering the year-round broadcasting schedules we already enjoy thanks to the PGA, LPGA, Euro, Korn Ferry and other tours, air time for an additional 18 3-day events seems scarce to begin with. And who knows how much more broadcasters would be willing to shell out for the rights of a brand new tour when the aforementioned are only growing more popular, and expensive. Sponsors may be easier to come by — may be — but that still hinges on what, or rather who, they’re sponsoring. Don’t expect much buy in if those names don’t include the actual best players in the world.
So it seems it’s all about who’s playing in the PGL, and it’s been a priority for the would-be tour to figure it out.
At the Farmers Insurance Open, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson confirmed talks have been going on for years, though both were far from offering an endorsement.
“I’m still quite a traditionalist, so to have that much of an upheaval in the game I don’t think is the right step forward,” McIlroy said during a press conference at Torrey Pines. “But I think, as I said, it might be a catalyst for some changes on this tour that can help it grow and move forward — you know, reward the top players the way they should be, I guess.”
Mickelson told reporters he doesn’t know enough about the proposed tour to comment publicly, but McIlroy also noted the PGL is “exploiting a couple holes” in top-level golf as we know it, recognizing it’s become just as much about the entertainment as it is the competition. That bodes well for the no-cut and team formats that would give fans more reason to stay tuned in, again if we’re actually the best golfers in the world.
The PGL will have no help from its predecessors in courting top players to its ranks, either, try as it might. The PGA and European Tours won’t even acknowledge its existence let alone allow their players to double dip. That leads to the question of what top-50 ranked player would want to join the un-tested PGL at the sake of losing their other tour status.
The PGA is one looking forward to its largest broadcasting windfall yet, and golf as a whole is in the midst of an upswing in popularity thanks to, you guessed it, extremely talented and young players. Credit where it’s due, they’ve done a lot to reach this point and shouldn’t feel obligated to share it with the new kid on the block. What’s more, like McIlroy said, established tours could simply implement PGL-like changes themselves, thus making a new tour totally irrelevant from the get go (I added that last part).
So what comes first, the league or the players? The WGG told everyone to mark their calendars and the countdown to 2022 is on. We’ll have to wait a see who’s first on the tee, if there even is one.
*This post is written in soft whispers. Read accordingly.
I’ve always considered ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) to be some kind of weird fetish — like who’s out there getting turned on by the sound of folding towels? But now I totally get it, thanks to this video of Tiger’s practice session surfaced.
Apologies for the pixelated screenshot, but, you know, photo rights and all…
As far as golf social media was concerned, last weekend wasn’t about the passing of legendary course architect Pete Dye, or Cameron Smith’s emotional win at the Sony Open, Inbee Park’s Player of the Decade Award or, for that matter, any thing of substance. All eyes were focused on 10 year-old Charlie Woods’ golf swing.
Amateur video of Woods warming up on the range before a junior event in Florida was posted on Saturday and instantly went viral. From a less-than-ideal angle you can see young Woods’ absolutely roping a shot down range — thanks to a swing motion many can only dream of — with his daddy/caddy, Tiger Woods, looking on dutifully.
Doing what social media does best, unsolicited swing analysis, major predictions and comparisons to his father flooded the comment threads, mostly heralding the kid’s talent — rightfully so.
But of course, again doing what social media does best, there were plenty of those pointing out everything wrong with the video. Not what was wrong with Charlie’s swing — it’s hard to find anything wrong with that — but how wrong it was that the video was made public in the first place.
Depending on which comments rabbit hole you went down, the naysaying ranged from merely disappointed to downright accusatory, including claims that putting Woods in the spotlight will put undue pressure on him and even accusations that whomever shot the video was akin to something of a predator.
Really? I wasn’t going to take a side when I started this post — simply because it’s a stupid argument to be having. But now I’m leaning more towards the side telling the naysayers to pump the brakes.
The video wasn’t shot by some child golf pornographer ‘hiding in the bushes,’ it was shared from the venue at which Woods was competing. Claiming it’s not meant for public eyes is all but total bullshit too, considering the juniors’ score are all posted online for anyone to see (Woods finished ninth in the event, by the way). Saying ‘he’s just a kid’ or ‘undue pressure’ and blah, blah, blah doesn’t really fly, either — he’s an extension of his dad’s celebrity status, he was born into the limelight, none of us are putting him anywhere. And if Charlie ends up not paying golf professionally, whether because he hates it or not, it’s no one’s business but his own.
Charlie’s swing video wasn’t posted for any reason other than he’s the son of the greatest golfer to ever play the game, and he has a badass golf swing, just like his dad. Hell, we’ve been watching Tiger since before his preteens, and it’s nothing but speculation to say his career-derailing antics in the past stemmed from living under constant public scrutiny (though it very well may have). All in all, Tiger turned out pretty alright in the grand scheme of things, and I expect Charlie will end up the same playing golf or not.
We’re already talking about Michelle Wei’s unborn baby and Serena Williams’ before hers. We’ve been watching Lebron James’, Kobe Bryant’s, Steph Curry’s and others’ kids on fucking SportsCenter for years. And careers have been made by following celebrities and their families ever since being famous was a thing — all because the public actually does want to see and talk about it, period. It’s how we lowly fans can “relate” to the people living lives we will never experience — no matter how asinine that sounds.
At a time when we all know someone(s) who’s created social media accounts for their babies, their pets, their hobbies — and anything thing else they can think of — I really didn’t expect to see such ire over a video of a 10 year-old’s golf swing.
Anyways, rest in peace, Pete.
It’s the start of a new decade: out with old USGA handicap system, in with the new, supposedly simplified, World Handicap System.
Effective in the US January 2020, the WHS puts an end to the half dozen systems used around the globe in favor of one standard calculation. In an effort to make it easier for anyone to get an official index, the new system only requires 56 holes to be recorded (down from 90), and only the top eight of 20 rounds count (down from 10) — meaning a couple blow up rounds won’t hurt as much. The WHS is updated daily, too, which is certainly a nightmare for tournament committees but convenient for players keeping a close eye on their index.
Among the other changes, the old Equitable Stroke System is no more, replaced with the “net double bogey” standard (Double Bogey + any handicap strokes received on a hole). And the WHS even takes weather into account with the “playing conditions calculation.” The PCC determines the impact of your score based on the average of all scores posted at that course on that day (emphasizing the importance of daily updates and other player data). Lastly, soft and hard caps are now in place to safeguard your index should the wheels start to come off — as they so often do. Explained by Golf.com and Steve Edmondson, the USGA’s managing director of handicapping and course rating, if your index worsens by three points in a year, further decreases will only be calculated at 50%. That’s the soft cap. The hard cap comes into play when your index worsens by five in a year.
By all accounts, American golfers won’t see a dramatic change to their existing indexes under the new WHS — one or two stokes if anything, according to the USGA — but the new system could change how many strokes you’re getting or giving out on the tee box by a lot.
Here’s the old USGA formula to determine strokes: Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113)
And here’s the new WHS formula: Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113) + (Course Rating – par)
The biggest change to the formula is, obviously, the addition of course rating and par. This change is an ode to regions predominately playing Stableford, where points are counted as opposed to strokes. According to Dean Knuth, the USGA’s former Director of Handicapping — who has the badass nickname “The Pope of Slope” — the new formula creates a problem for American players, mostly because par is hardly indicative of how difficult, or easy, a course plays.
From his op-ed in Golf Digest:
“Where this issue becomes noticeable is how the new formula changes course handicap values from tee to tee … For example, where once a course handicap was a 12 from the back and middle tees, and an 11 from the front, under the new WHS calculations there will be much larger variations — as many as 18 shots in some instances — between tees. Part of the reason for this is that during the calculation, an approximation is being approximated again by adding Course Rating minus Par, creating an imperfect “over-spreading” of the course handicaps. Golfers moving to longer tees will think this is a logical change (they’ll be getting more strokes). Golfers playing shorter tees won’t be so happy.”
Knuth’s column, The flaw in the new World Handicap System, is definitely worth a read whether you’re excited about the changes or not. He touches on several issues he sees with the new system and offers and incredibly informed perspective on the new system as a whole. If you’re looking for a crash course, read GD’s rundown of the the new system, and the USGA’s WHS FAQ, too.
Finally ready to make the jump and get an official handicap? Check with your home club or the Allied Golf Association in your state to get started.