Nike Air Max 97 Golf Shoes
Here’s my Nike Air Max 97 golf shoes review. They are limited edition Nike golf shoes, that were released on 16th January 2020 for £145, and are a replica of the original silver bullet version released back in 1997. They are spikeless Nike golf shoes, using the same integrated traction system as the Nike Air Max 1 G.
Style and looks
The recent push from manufactures to create golf shoes that appeal to a more casual golfer looks very much set to continue. Last year Nike launched the Air Max 1 G golf shoes, which have provided very popular, and now have now decided to give the classic Air Max 97 the golf make over. These shoes, much like most other attempts to make a sneaker style golf shoe, will very much divide opinion. Many will love the fact that a classic trainer can now be used as a legitimate golf shoe, while others will disregard these shoes as a gimmick and having no place in the game.
Personally I’m somewhere in the middle. Objectively I can appreciate that the Air Max 97 trainers are a modern classic, and represent a huge landmark in the trainer world. Their look was (and remains) very eye catching, and the use of the full length Air Bubble was revolutionary at the time. As a result, this model of trainer has sold in it’s millions and is much loved all over the world. From a personal view, I was never the biggest fan of the 97s, and much prefer the cleaner lines of the Air Max 90…but that’s just my personal preference.
The Air Max 97 G golf shoes have launched in the ‘Silver Bullet’ colourway, which was the same as the original back in 1997. While many have commented that the trainer was based on the Japanese Bullet Train, the original designer in fact commented that he was influenced by ripples of water, and you can definitely see that inspiration in the shoe. The multiple layers of material ‘ripple’ out from the laces, and two of the layers include 3M reflective material helping to mimic light shimmering off water. However, while on the subject of water, these shoes are not waterproof, which is a real shame, given the changeable nature of the weather here in the UK.
As a work of imitation, the Air Max 97 G does a fantastic job of mimicking the original. The replication isn’t quite 100%, but that’s understandable as the differences reflect the need for these shoes to function on the golf course. But personally I think they look pretty damn close!
There’s no denying these are a casual golf shoe, and you can easily wear them on and off the course. In fact, I would go as far as to say the Air Max 97 G and Air Max 1 G golf shoes are some of the best examples of trainer golf shoes you can find. There are too many examples of manufactures aiming for a golf shoe that can be worn off the course, but ultimately end up looking just down right ugly. Whether you’re a fan of these style trainers is up to you, but you have to admit, these are incredibly popular trainers, and these golf shoe versions look incredibly similar.
Stability and Grip
Usually my question when trying trainer style golf shoes is ‘how stable are they’? With the Air Max 97 G I’m pleased to say they’re actually quite stable. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure whether this was by design, or just a happy accident, but I’m sure Nike will take the result either way! It doesn’t appear that Nike have put any specific technology to help with the stability, an area several other manufacturers pride themselves on. Nike have included a traditional padded tongue and ankle area, and some pretty chunky laces as per their original design. However, the synthetic layered upper has helped provide a decent amount of stability. Don’t get me wrong, these are by far the most stable golf shoe on the market, but if you want a fashionable golf shoe you can wear on and off the course, compromises have to be made.
I also had concerns that the full length air bubble would reduce the stability of the shoe, but I’m pleased to say it didn’t. The shoes, while comfortable, don’t feel too squishy underfoot. The Air Pocket doesn’t actually move and mould around your foot as I initially thought it did. Midsole foam technology has come such a long way in recent years (see Nike React, Adidas Boost, Puma Ignite, New Balance Fresh Foam etc) that actually the air pocket technology, cobined with the Phylon midsole foam, no longer feels as soft in comparison.
In terms of grip, Nike have reused their Integrated Traction System, which is a spikeless rubber sole. The sole has ridges pointed in two different directions, and are designed to give traction while walking on the course and during the swing. They grip from the shoes feels good, but as per the vast majority of spikeless golf shoes, I wouldn’t want to rely on them in very wet conditions, which is quite a common requirement here in the UK. There is still very much a place for a spiked golf shoe in the world, and I’ll continue to use both. One other point to make on the traction; given the need to grip on the course, the material used won’t provide the greatest amount of grip out in the real world. Just to be clear, I wouldn’t have an issue using the shoes for everyday life, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend running in them!
Feel on feet
Trying on the trainers, I was half expecting them to be quite stiff and uncomfortable. However I was very pleasantly surprised. I found the Nike Air Max 97 G to be a comfortable fit. They fit me true to size, gripped nicely at the heel, and had a decent amount of room in the toe box. Given the upper is made of multiple layers of synthetic material, I don’t think they’ll be the most breathable come summertime, which is a shame given that’s the ideal time these shoes will be used. But, if they turn out to be nice and breathable, I’ll update this review accordingly.
With the shoes on, you don’t have a particularly connected feeling to the floor. The combination of the midsole foam, air pocket and thicker than the original rubber sole results in quite a ‘stacked’ feeling. For a lot of golfers, this won’t matter, but if you’re the type of golfer who likes to feel connected to the ground, these might not be the shoes for you.