Welcome to GOLF.com’s ClubTest Proving Ground, where Managing Equipment Editor Jonathan Wall and Senior Equipment Editor Ryan Barath put the latest designs and breakthrough technology in equipment to the test on the range and golf course.
The tools: VKTRY Gold VK carbon fiber performance insoles
The test: To determine whether a carbon fiber insole can provide a measurable performance advantage on the track.
The results: I try not to play favorites when it comes to golf, but Padraig Harrington’s tractor beam is hard to resist. Let’s start with his fascinating (and sometimes hilarious) quest for more ball speed at age 52. And the backyard hours that led to this relatable moment. And the measured opinions about the future of sport. And don’t forget it the sweet puppies.
When Harrington speaks, I’m usually attentive – even when he’s playing the role of pitchman for VKTRY Performance Insoles. The aerospace-grade carbon fiber insoles were originally touted as a great option for athletes who wanted to jump higher, run faster and reduce injuries.
In recent years they have also become more important in the golf sector.
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VKTRY Gold VK insoles
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Harrington, always looking for an edge on the court, heard about insoles and decided to try them out to see what all the fuss was about.
“I heard that some PGA players were wearing VKTRY insoles, so I went online and bought a pair,” Harrington said. “Using VKs, I immediately achieved my all-time personal best in ball speed: 196 miles per hour. These insoles give me more stability and improve the ground force I can generate. I learned a long time ago that you can’t launch a rocket from a canoe. For me, using VKs is a given.”
It’s important to note that Harrington is compensated by VKTRY, so I took his findings with a grain of salt, particularly the claim that a pair of insoles could help you achieve ball speeds in excess of 2 mph through improved ground power. Simply put, it is a clearly claim.
On the other hand, carbon fiber has helped take golf equipment to new levels since its introduction to the industry, so it piqued my interest – to the point where I decided to give the inserts a try.
The Gold VK insoles I received are an upgrade to the Silver VK with a full aerospace-grade carbon fiber baseplate – the VK Silver is made of carbon fiber composite – and custom flexibility of the baseplate based on my age, gender, Body weight and sport. That’s not to say you won’t see an improvement with the silver option, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
The first thing I noticed after slipping them into my golf shoes was the pronounced arch that didn’t allow the entire insole to sit snugly on the shoe bed. Almost immediately, my foot was brought forward into a more active toe position – a completely different feeling for someone who struggles with overpronation.
Something else I noticed: Depending on the material of the shoe bed – in my case it was a soft rubber material after removing the standard insole – the carbon fiber base plate can make a squeaking noise when walking. Part of this is due to the slanted design, the other is, I suspect, simply due to the carbon fiber interacting with the shoe bed as you walk. Over time the noise became quieter, but I definitely felt like Selina Meyer Veep the first few times I walked around the area.
When it comes to performance, I noticed that the insoles helped increase the ball speed of the driver. On average, I saw about 1.5-2 mph more speed, which matched VKTRY’s claim. The speed improvements were minimal with the other clubs in my setup, but I generally don’t attack the ball with an iron or wedge.
While the extra speed was nice, it fell far short of a far more important benefit.
As someone who prefers walking to riding a cart, I’m used to my legs feeling tired after 18 holes. And if I feel like playing 36 holes, I can be sure that my shins and calves will hurt the next day. Ibuprofen is an integral part of my round.
However, it didn’t take more than nine holes for me to notice a difference in my fitness level. The insoles seemed to absorb all the shock as I walked and my feet snapped forward again so I still had something left in the tank at the end of the lap. The usual aches and pains in the joints that I usually suffer from have also been significantly reduced. The carbon fiber undoubtedly gives you a performance advantage, but I think for many golfers the most important advantage of all is the shock absorption of the insole.
Insoles won’t make you a single-digit handicap or help you bomb it like Padraig Harrington, but there’s no doubt that there are real benefits to replacing the standard foam insole with a carbon fiber offering.
Looking to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a suitable location near you at True Spec Golf.
https://golf.com/gear/golf-accessories/carbon-fiber-insole-vktry-proving-ground/ Can a carbon fiber insole improve your golf game? We put it to the test