New golf shoes were the catalyst that enabled Padraig to take his whole game to a new level.
By Dominic O’Bryne
The Open Champion Padraig Harrington five years ago asked, “Why do I play golf in a pair of dress shoes with spikes? A hundred-metre runner wouldn‘t run his race in the same pair of shoes as a marathon runner…”
The shoe that The Open champion wore (to win The Irish Open as well, by the way) was developed as a direct result of this interrogation by Harrington, the golf world’s undisputed man of the moment.
The launch coincided with the time when golfers were looking into new ways of improving their game within the rules of the R&A and USGA. Hi-Tec was one of the first shoe manufacturers to do extensive biomechanics research into hardware development, but according to Hi-Tec’s Fredrik Sundstrom, the really unique part of the whole undertaking was that they did it in collaboration with one of the best players in the world.
“After our success with CDT Power most of the major brands have jumped on the bandwagon and tried to create game improvement golf shoes,” says Sundstrom. “I am not sure if all of them do biomechanics research, but I know the company that works with Harrington does so.”
While Hi-Tec contributed the commercial clout and business acumen, it was towards biomechanist Dr Paul Hurrion and his Quintic Consultancy that they turned for direction on where one needed grip, extra stability, where extra movement in the swing was wanted and how to apply it to the shoes.
Hi-Tec now has a patented technology with its outsole that helps them stay ahead of the competition. It is a combination of parts, says the manufacturer, that make their shoes perform better than any other. Essentially, the concept gives better stability and grip for better balance. The balance gives greater consistency and – consequently – the ability to hit the ball further when desired.
It is the biomechanical perspective that proves the overriding importance of balance in this area of golf.
Hurrion falls short of becoming too ‘high-falutin’ about the biomechanical angle to this, but the contribution of the ‘strictly scientific’ cannot be underplayed. His strength is an innate understanding of the behavioural dynamics and implications of athletes and their environments – and that includes their shoes.
“Our focus is not exclusively on the sort of performance that can be quick-fix addressed,” explains Hurrion.
“The strategy has to be a more all-encompassing approach that combines performance, comfort, ergonomics, injury-prevention and musculoskeletal optimization. And that informs our product development across all sports and hardware provision from toe to body, hand, shoulder, neck and head.”
Hurrion uses a perspective that is as broad as it is far-reaching. Specifically, as a committed sports fan himself, he sees his mission as ensuring athletic excellence as part and parcel of – and not averse to – physiological well-being and longevity.
Whether he’s involved with a Dubliner golfer in his 30s like Harrington or a javelin-thrower like Goldie Sayers in her late teens, or a cricketing colossus like Graeme Hick, he’s the man with X-ray eyes. You do this, you risk that. You push here, you pull there.
Fredrik Sundstrom concludes, “I don‘t think the golf shoe industry would be where it is today if it wasn‘t for Padraig Harington and Paul Hurrion. They pushed Hi-Tec to come up with something that helped Padraig swing the club even better… a shoe that gave him better grip and a very stable platform that enabled him to hit the ball with more consistency and power. I think the new shoes were a catalyst that enabled Padraig to take his whole game to a new level. According to Padraig, he now has the best clubs, ball, caddie, putting coach, swing coach, management team and now the best shoes. He’s at the top of his game, and we aim to help keep him there, as part of the team behind him.”
Quintic Consultancy www.quintic.com