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Golf shoes are now almost indistinguishable from street shoes so we test the Cotswold Fiji
It started a few years ago when Tour pros started to jettison those lace flaps (called hickeys) that, after a few months wear, always looked like a stale sandwich with the edges curled up. We then saw the introduction of a whole raft of summer, lightweight shoes that were trainers in everything but name - made from the same materials to the same sort of style - and this process accelerated with the growth in popularity of soft spikes.

In fact, summer golf shoes and trainers are now so virtually identical that how someone's supposed to enforce a 'no trainers' dress code at a golf club becomes a mystery.

But the same process is also happening with winter golf shoes - especially those in plain black or brown. Some look like a pair of brogues that a city gent will wear to the office, others like a pair of every day street shoes, and so it is with the Cotswold Fiji. The first thing you notice is that, from any angle that doesn't include looking at the sole, they're simple, lace up shoes and if you took out the soft spikes and wore them to work, no-one would notice a thing.

The second thing you notice is that they're broad - or rather, more foot-friendly than many other shoes. It seems astonishing that most of us grew up trying, or being obliged to, squeeze our feet into items that were anything but foot-shaped and a belated recognition on the part of shoe manufacturers that this is not a good thing is very welcome.

The attributes of the Cotswold Fiji are described, by the company that makes them, as:
Light flexible phylon soles-to absorb impact
Added depth and width in toe area
Soft leather uppers
Porelle waterproof breathable membrane.

ScottishGolf had no difficulty accepting that the Fiji has soft leather uppers and added width and depth - they helped make the shoe easy to break in and allowed us to wear them for a full round of golf after only 20 minutes or so of breaking them in. And just about every manufacturer now has some sort of breathable membrane - as pioneered by Gore-Tex - to allow moisture out but not in. But phylon had us baffled so we asked for clarification.

Phylon, it transpires, is a spongy material, reinforced with nylon, which springs back to its previous shape. It does not become compressed and rigid with wear, the company says, so is able to absorb impact better, as well as being lightweight and flexible. The real test of this material will come with repeated wear and time but certainly in the short-term it seems to live up to all the claims made on its behalf.

In summary, these are, first and foremost, comfortable, largely due to the extra width but they are also functional - keeping your feet dry and firmly anchored.
What more do you want?
Oh, okay then, you also get a free shoe bag when you buy a pair.

RRP of the Cotswold Fiji is £59.99.

©    6 - JANUARY 2004

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