There is a lot of cool gear in the golf equipment world that doesn’t always fit neatly into Most Wanted Tests or Buyer’s Guides. You still want to know how it performs. In our We Tried It series, we put gear to the test and let you know if it works as advertised.
What We Tried
Today we’re reviewing the NIKE Air Max 90 G — the golf variant of the popular casual runner, the NIKE Air Max 90. This is one of NIKE’s “hybrid” golf shoes that blurs the lines between casual and course performance.
Your NIKE Air Max 90 G Tester
Connor Lindeman — Resident sneakerhead and recreational golfer.
History of the NIKE Air Max 90
As the name suggests, the NIKE Air Max 90 made its debut in 1990. Its predecessor, the Air Max 1, was the first NIKE shoe to feature a visible Air unit which can still be found on a plethora of NIKE’s designs. At launch, the Air Max 90 was initially named the Air Max 3. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the shoe took on its new identity.
Now that same timeless design and Air Max cushion you can both feel and see is available in a shoe that’s been slightly retooled for the golf course.
NIKE Air Max 90 G Design Features
- Nostalgic Design — The Air Max 90 G maintains the classic, clean look of the OG Air Max 90.
- Air Max Cushion — A visible Max Air unit in the heel provides cushion and impact protection.
- Spikeless Traction — The spikeless traction draws inspiration from the Waffle pattern of the Air Max 90.
The Air Max 90 G comes with a standard one-year waterproof warranty and retails for $130.
Spot the Difference
At first glance, the NIKE Air Max 90 G looks nearly identical to its casual counterpart. Rather than create an entirely new design, NIKE flexed their creative muscles to make subtle changes to the OG silhouette.
Can you spot the difference?
The biggest difference between the two shoes is the sole: the spikeless traction is noticeable but not outlandish. One other noticeable difference is the materials. You won’t find the Air Max 90 G dressed in suede, leather or canvas. It’s made primarily of mesh with TPU overlays whereas its casual counterpart may feature more premium materials, depending on the colorway.
Style Over Substance
It’s clear that NIKE chose to focus on style rather than substance (or in this case, performance). As a self-proclaimed sneakerhead and proud owner of a few pairs of the OG Air Max 90, I can’t help but drool over the timeless design.
Something about the visible Air has me feeling some type of way …
Putting performance aside (we’ll get to that later), I can’t deny that this shoe looks darned good. As blasphemous as it sounds, I wore the Air Max 90 G to my day job so I could head straight to the course after. I know it’s not a great look but the shoe looks so unassuming that I was able to easily pull it off. My secret’s safe with you. Right?
Can a golf shoe look good and feel good? If you’ve seen some of our other reviews, you’d probably say yes. And while I wholeheartedly agree that the two aren’t mutually exclusive, the Air Max 90 G is not comfortable in the slightest.
You and I both understand that comfort is rather subjective—similar to a mattress (get your mind out of the gutter, we’re talking about golf). Some people prefer firm cushion, others prefer plush. I generally fall into the latter category which is why I love what adidas is doing with the CodeChaos 22.
Even if you’re a fan of firm cushion, I reckon you’ll still find the Air Max 90 G to feel stiff and lifeless. The Air unit does little in the way of step-in comfort and the rest of the midsole is made from lightweight foam that’s less forgiving than the Rickie Fowler Forged MB blades.
If you’re a rider, the shoe is tolerable in the cushion department. Walkers should look elsewhere, lest your feet meet the same fate as your ego after a front-nine 60—pain.
The traction is better than expected—if you temper your expectations. Spikeless shoes, especially those that try to remain somewhat casual looking, aren’t going to offer the same performance as a traditional spiked shoe. Even still, the Air Max 90 G provided more than adequate traction for the dry conditions of Arizona in which I play.
I’m not a particularly fast swinger by any definition but I can see how some of you who produce a lot more torque than I would slip or spin out a bit in anything less than stellar conditions. Even still, it does just enough in the traction department to make it suitable for a recreational round.
A Golf Shoe in a Casual Shoe’s Clothing
Is the Air Max 90 G a serviceable golf shoe? Sure. But it’s nothing more than serviceable. I’ve found that when a company crosses over from casual, they tend to box themselves into a corner. Too often, companies like NIKE spend time trying to maintain their heritage rather than creating a golf shoe for the masses. Are those efforts wasted? Certainly not. There is a niche for this type of golf shoe. But if the brand wants any chance at reaching the discerning golfer, they need to nail the basics first.