The beginning of the 2021 season in regards to equipment has focused on big driver launches and the USGA and R&A's advancements on their distance insights project.
Meanwhile, no golfer will be lobbying for any rollback in footwear. Advancements in recent years have made the game underfoot as comfortable and as versatile as ever. Among this season's shoe launches in early 2021, Adidas has dropped its new ultralight ZG21 golf shoe ($180).
The last decade or so in golf footwear has been dominated by a surge in the casual or lifestyle golf sneaker void of soft spikes and ready to wear to dinner after 18 holes. Many of these brands have prided themselves on such stylish lifestyle models that you can wear them to the trendiest restaurant in town after 18 holes. These brands deliver comfort and style with performance third. Not so at Adidas. This is an athletic brand from head-to-toe and their golf shoes are built for performance first. But who says things like traction, stability and waterproof-ness can't come in a shoe that rivals the light weight of the golf lifestyle models? That appears to goal of the ZG21.
The Adidas ZG21: What's new
From afar the ZG21 has the kind of athletic appearance and Adidas three-stripe design that makes it look like a running shoe. It's only until you touch it that you see and feel the firm support and waterproof materials. The texture of the ZG21 upper is not smooth but a "Sprintskin" material. It comes laced up with white laces but you can swap it out for neon yellow if you're feeling sprightly (there is also a "BOA-Fit" version of the shoe).
Adidas reduced the shoe weight to 13 ounces, down by 20% compared to previous performance models. Where did they eliminate the excess? For one, they used their "Lightstrike" material that when combined with their Boost cushioning they say is 40 percent lighter and promises stability and shock absorption. The shoe is also built with a thin, TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) construction. On the bottom, the ZG21 only has six spikes, two of which are on the heel. Your current shoe probably has 9-10 spikes. Adidas examined heat maps to find where the most weight is going on the shoe and placed the spikes accordingly.
Adidas ZG21: The Verdict
It can be difficult to render a final verdict on a shoe until frankly you've worn them out years later. But after an initial driving range and short game session followed by hoofing 18 holes (my first golf activities of 2021), the early indication is that the ZG21's have held up well in both a performance and comfort. I'd mentioned in reviewing a recent Truelinks model that zero-drop model was supremely light but walking 18 holes actually left my foot a little fatigued due to lack of sole support. With the ZG21 I felt no foot fatigue or sore spots after an initial 18. Blisters are something I half-expect whenever I break out a new shoe for its first round and I was pleased they felt solid right out of the box.
When it's dry and warm out on a relatively flat course for a casual knock, I typically gravitate to the lifestyle brands like Ecco or TrueLinks. But I've slipped on swings while wearing those on sloping lies or in mushy conditions. But for rounds on wet turf or I just really want to score well and not leave any shots to chance, I'd go with the ZG21's.
The ZG21 is available in both men's and women's sizes and also has a "BOA-Fit" lacing system model.