10 years ago at The Masters premium Danish shoe manufacturer Ecco and Fred Couples unwittingly created the spikeless golf shoe as we know it today. This is how they did it.
April 8, 2010 is a pretty insignificant date for most people. But for Danish golf shoe manufacturer Ecco and the humble spikeless shoe, it was a landmark moment in its history. It was a Thursday and the first round of The Masters. At the close of play, 50-year-old Fred Couples had shot 66 and was leading the tournament.
Yet the questions Couples faced in his post-round press conference weren’t about his on-course performance. The only thing people wanted to know about was his new Ecco Street shoes. For the first time in history, a golfer was leading a major championship wearing a spikeless golf shoe.
Although Couples eventually finished 6th, the publicity his four days of fluttering around the top of the leaderboard created was nothing short of phenomenal. “The craziness of Couples leading The Masters was a big moment. He played fantastic, yet everyone was talking about what he had on his feet, asking if they were real golf shoes,” says Ecco’s Head of Global Golf Michael Waack. “People wanted to know if they were golf shoes, sneakers or slippers.”
By Ecco’s calculations, Couples’ TV air time that weekend generated some $55 million of unpaid publicity for the brand. When Ecco opened for business on the Monday morning after Phil Mickelson had slipped into his third Green Jacket, ‘Fred Couples and ‘Ecco’ was the 11th most Googled phrase around the world.
The company’s phone system imploded under the weight of thousands of enquiries and existing stock sold out almost instantly. Within days, pairs of the shoes were selling for $500 on eBay, four times the original RRP. “It was so crazy we couldn’t keep up with demand” says Waack. “For the next three years, our hybrid shoes sold out. It was a perfect situation, the perfect event, the perfect amabassador. The world was watching and saw that it possible to play top-level golf without spikes.”
Before Couples’ Augusta escapades, spikeless shoes accounted for a mere 1% of global golf shoe sales. Today, half of all models are spikeless and they are worn by some 80% of tour pros. But more than that, the spikeless shoe has changed the way we dress. Their versatility has made it possible to wear a spikeless golf shoe all day long in multiple environments.
So with the 10 year anniversary of the birth of the spikeless shoe upon us at The Masters in a few weeks’ time, Ecco feels the time is right to mark a decade of hybrid shoe revolution.
Its new Street10 model is limited to 700 pairs globally. Each comes with a Dynamic Traction System, which gives 800 traction angles for excellent grip in all playing conditions. There’s also a new midsole material, which softens impact and increases rebound. And in typical Ecco style there’s a premium nappa leather upper for a plush silky touch. As Couples put it a decade ago – “they’re like walking on air”.