50 Words or Less
With athletic looks and great traction, the New Balance Fresh Foam LinksSL offers golfers a comfortable shoe at a reasonable price.
World renowned for their running shoes, New Balance isn’t the first shoe brand that comes to mind in the golf space – but their presence is growing. For 2020 New Balance introduces Fresh Foam – the “science of soft” – to their golf shoe lineup. Turns out Fresh Foam features in all the categories of this review, so let’s dive right in.
The New Balance Fresh Foam LinksSL could certainly pass for a running shoe from the topside. The uppers feature a big enough variety of materials and finishes that the shoe would look busy if not for the unifying gray and white colors. The shoes also come in black, white/navy, white/green and blue/white/red.
I thought the geometric patterns of the white midsole were cosmetic in nature, but learning about Fresh Foam, I now know they’re integral to the design. I’ll cover that in the next section, but I must say I really like the look. I’ll elaborate more in Performance, but I also love the cellular look of the outsole, where the different colors map performance zones.
Slipping on the Fresh Foam LinksSL shoes barefoot I immediately noted the smooth, soft interiors that New Balance attributes to bootie construction. Although comfortable, tightening up the laces left the fit a bit lacking around my instep. Overall the sizing was borderline small and you may want to consider the thickness of your preferred socks – my assessment used Stance golf socks, which are on the thin side.
Walking and swinging, the shoes are very comfortable. The thin insole, called CUSH+, is cushiony and yields to the more supportive Fresh Foam midsole. Those visible geometric shapes on the midsole actually continue throughout the layer. That structure provides both compression and resistance that adapted to the motions of my feet for a seamless and consistent feel.
The size and locations of the lugs on the New Balance Fresh Foam LinksSL offer very good traction. Examining the patterns of the colors, the designers seemed to have a solid understanding of foot movements throughout the golf swing.
The uppers are also very supportive of the demands the golf swing puts on feet. Lateral stability is strong without the shoe feeling stiff. Although I didn’t have a way to test the 2 year waterproof warranty, I can report that neither typical morning dew nor a 5 minute sink test revealed any water intrusion.
New Balance advertises Fresh Foam as offering a “cloud-like feel” but that conjures up a fluffy softness in my mind. To me the foam is more of a supportive cushioning, very conducive to athletic endeavors and the rigors of a golf swing. The New Balance Fresh Foam LinksSL provides great traction and although the bootie construction didn’t provide a good fit for me, I appreciate the inherent construction benefits. These are certainly worth consideration at $100.