Shoe Month: Street-savvy Ecco aims to build on success

Fred Couples wears Ecco shoes as one of its product endorsers.

Shoe
Vault

FootJoy Contour Casual

Features same shoe last as in comfort-driven Contour Series with the benefit of spikeless outsole. Price: $115
Alternative Traction

Callaway Master Staff

Designed for all-day wear with all-rubber comfort traction outsole. Price: $159.99 (Available 10/15)
Alternative Traction

Callaway Comfort Trac

Features aggressive non-spiked traction control. Price: $99.99 (Available 10/15)
Alternative Traction

FootJoy Sport Spikeless

An extension of the FJ Sport family – lightweight, flexible with spikeless outsole. Price: $135
Alternative Traction

Adidas Crossflex

Built on a running shoe last with spikeless, geometric outsole; for flexibility and extreme comfort. Price: $100
Alternative Traction

Puma FAAS Grip

Decoupled heel construction for smooth first impact and roll off from heel to toe. Price: $100
Alternative Traction

Ecco Tour Hybrid Wingtip

Hybrid golf shoe featuring a classic leather upper. Price: $190 (Available November)
Alternative Traction

Callaway RAZR

Features lightweight TPU Pro Tour outsole and dense cleat coverage with 11 Callaway PINS performance spikes. Price: $189.99 (Available 10/15)
Performance

Callaway Tour Staff

Classically inspired shoe with premium leather upper, low-profile outsole and 9 Callaway PINS performance spikes. Price: $229.99 (Available 10/15)
Tour

Ecco World Class GTX

Leather-soled shoe with Gore-Tex water-proofing and second-skin lining to wick moisture and enhance interior feel. Price: $450
Tour

Ecco BIOM Golf Matte

Using technology originally intended for running shoes, BIOM is a "natural-motion" golf shoe – exceptionally lightweight, low-to-ground and providing a stable platform. Price: $235 (Available November)
Performance

Puma Neo Classic Pro

Tour-caliber shoe with sophisticated flair; designed for Ian Poulter. Price: $200
Tour

Nike Lunar Control

Features proprietary Flywire, high-tensile strength fibers, that wrap midfoot to heel for lightweight support and stability. Price: $200
Tour

Oakley Full-Auto Tour

Features Red Code foam, proprietary blend of EVA that functions like memory foam to contour foot with comfort. Price: $170
Tour

Adidas Tour360 ATV

The shoe's forefoot flexibility and zonal traction elements provide all-terrain versatility. Price: $190
Tour

Adidas ClimaCool Sport

Lightweight, durable shoes designed specifically to maintain comfort during warm-weather days. Price: $80
Weather

Adidas Powerband

The Powerband chassis is all about lateral stability, and it's emphasized even more with a stretch-resistant, synthetic overlay. Price: $100
Performance

FootJoy XPS-1

FootJoy's most-advanced technological shoe features unique outsole designed for extreme platform stability. Price: $250
Performance

Ecco Tour Hybrid GTX

Waterproof via Gore-Tex and features Ecco's Street outsole – including 100 molded traction bars – designed to maintain grip even in inclement weather. Price: $210 (Available January 2013)
Weather

Adidas adicross

Offers iconic Adidas styling and spikeless outsole for off-course versatility. Price: $90
Lifestyle

Oakley SuperDrive Tour

Features premium waterproof full-grain leather and moisture-transport insole. Price: $160
Weather

Puma HC Lux

Comfort is emphasized with EverFoam heel construction that adjusts to the heel's contour. Price: $140
Lifestyle

Oakley Ripcord

Synthetic leather, moisture-transport insole and an outsole with high-grip surface pods make for all-purpose model. Price: $80
Lifestyle

Puma Jigg

The performance last used in this design makes for easier use of orthotics. Features Puma's replaceable SmartQuill spikes. Price: $90
Sport

Nike Dunk

The iconic basketball shoe transformed for golf. It's waterproof and features contoured sockliner for all-day course comfort. Price: $160
Sport

Ecco Golf Street Life Luxe

Elegant leathers with patent and glitter highlights; features Street outsole with approximately 100 molded traction bars. Price: $160 (Available January 2013)
Womens

Puma FAAS Trac

Features Puma's signature outsole that combines directionally molded S2Quill spikes and replaceable S2Quill spikes for traction. Price: $110
Womens

Nike Lunar Links

Nike's top-of-the-line model with Flywire – high-tensile strength fibers – that provides lightweight support from midfoot to heel. Price: $155
Womens

Nike Lunar Duet Sport

Features protected canvas upper, Lunarlon sockliner and rubber-traction lugs. Price: $100
Womens

Adidas Signature Natalie

Tour-tested model worn and designed by LPGA player Natalie Gulbis. Price: $100
Womens

Adidas Signature Paula

LPGA player Paula Creamer's shoe, with her signature pink ribbon laces, features Powerband Chassis for stability and support through impact. Price: $120
Womens

True stealth

Enhanced aesthetics with premium waterproof leather and versatility of anti-slip rubber sole. True's Top-of-the-line model that transitions easily from on- to off-course. Price: $199
Tour

True phx

Sneaker-profile shoe features barefoot platform – including thin sole measuring 2.5 mm – to improve feel and movement. Price: $99
Sport

True tour

Shoe comes with 2-year waterproof guarantee and an improved outsole, featuring an outer rim that True says creates a "suction" effect to improve traction. Price: $149
Weather

True phx

True's sneaker-profile shoe will be available in 12 "team-themed" color combinations geared for college and professional sports fans. Price: $99
Lifestyle

FootJoy LoPro

This collection of shoes offers an array of fashion-forward options, including tailored fashion styles, contemporary color splashes and every-day casual looks. Price: $110
Womens

Oakley Cipher

Weighing 260 grams, Cipher is the lightest performance shoe in the market, according to Oakley. The unique outsole is covered with thousands of Nanospikes that replace cleats for traction. Price: $130
Performance

Adidas Samba Golf

Preserves the original Samba's classic silhouette and "3-stripes" design. The shoe has a suede toe-guard, and its distinctive tan gumsole features six cleats. Price: $100
Lifestyle

Oakley Flagstick

Vulcanized rubber with Coreflex technology and high-grip surface pods. Price: $90
Alternative Traction

Nike Lunar Ascend

Features an upper with hyperfuse technology, combining synthetic mesh and TPU, for breathability and support. Price: $130
Alternative Traction

Ecco Biom Hybrid

Combines Ecco's "natural-motion" technology and outsole of popular Ecco Street shoe. Price: $190 (Available October)
Alternative Traction

FootJoy FJ ICON

Luxury styling with latest technological advancements, the FJ ICON category has more wins on the PGA Tour than all top competitors combined. Price: $260
Tour

Puma FAAS Trac evoSPEED

Features outsole with directionally molded S2Quill spikes and replaceable S2Quill spikes for traction. Price: $130
Performance

Puma Spark Sport

Spark Sport emphasizes stability and power with its Swing Speed Chassis Pro. Price: $140
Performance

Nike TW '13

Designed for Tiger Woods, the shoe is based on Nike's popular running shoe, the Free, and features an outsole that mirrors the natural motion of the foot. Price: $220
Performance

Callaway C-Tech Summer

Ultra-lightweight shoe with a breathable, "breeze" mesh upper. Equipped with 7 Callaway Chevron spikes. Price: $79.99 (Available 10/15)
Weather

Ecco Golf Street Textile

Performance textile uppers combine with an aero lining to enhance breathability in hot weather. Price: $150 (Available October)
Weather

Nike Lunar Bandon

The shoe's higher silhouette practically meshes with rain pants to prevent water penetration. Speed-lace system is shielded with upper that closes with asymmetrical zipper. Price: $180
Weather

Ashworth Cardiff

Designed to provide golf functionality, but created for comfort and styling suitable to be worn anywhere. Price: $120
Lifestyle

Oakley SuperDrive

Waterproof model built on an anatomical last for an athletic stance, underscoring fit and comfort. Price: $130
Weather

Puma Ace 2

Like the Puma Jigg, built on a performance last that makes use of orthotics easier. Features replaceable SmartQuill spikes. Price: $100
Sport

Ecco Golf Street Sport

Bright uppers are color-matched to the Street Hybrid outsole that functions on- or off-course. Price: $160 (Available October)
Lifestyle

Nike Lunar Swingtip

Modern-design elements update the classic wingtip style; features rubber traction lugs. Price: $150
Lifestyle

Callaway Xtreme

The Xtreme's priority is delivering lightweight stability; equipped with 8 Callaway PINS performance spikes. Price: $129.99
Sport

Ecco Cool III Hydromax

Low-profile design provides torsional support; Ecco's Hydromax treatment makes the shoe water resistant. Price: $200 (Available March 2013)
Sport

FJ Sport BOA

Athletic-inspired shoe places premium on lightweight stability; available with BOA system that secures shoes quickly with consistent tightness. Price: $165
Sport

Nike Air Range WP

Built with a mesh and Flywire upper, yet has a 2-year limited waterproof warranty. Price: $140
Sport

Oakley Holdover

Lightweight-performance model with an asymmetrical TPU bottom and non-removable cleat design. Price: $100
Sport

Callaway XT Tour

Tour-caliber shoe styled specifically for women; equipped with 8 Callaway PINS performance spikes. Price: $139.99 (Available 10/15)
Womens

Callaway Koko

Low-profile silhouette features contemporary fashion elements, including three interchangeable color kilties. Rubber outsole has 6 Callaway PINS comfort spikes. Price: $119.99 (Available 10/15)
Womens

True tour

Saddle-style shoe with True's barefoot platform, including thin sole, wide toe box and "zero drop" – heel and forefoot are same distance off ground to promote better posture and alignment. Price: $149
Performance

FootJoy Contour Casual

Features same shoe last as in comfort-driven Contour Series with the benefit of spikeless outsole. Price: $115
Lifestyle

FootJoy FJ Sport

A popular choice among many LPGA players, the FJ Sport is engineered for better female golfers and features a full TPU outsole designed for stability. Price: $145
Womens

Puma Super Cell Fusion Ice

A fully loaded shoe, it features a performance last with an outsole that combines directionally molded spikes and replaceable S2Quill cleats. Price: $220
Tour

Adidas puremotion

With a web-shaped forefoot, ultra-low profile and spikeless outsole, it's designed to let the foot move freely for better balance and power transfer. Price: $120
Performance

DryJoys Tour BOA

Highly versatile mainstay in the FootJoy lineup features next-generation Stability PODS for flexibility and stability; 2-year limited waterproof warranty. Price: $200
Weather

Callaway Del Mar

Casual design with soft, full-grain leather upper and all-rubber Callaway Traction outsole. Price: $129.99 (Available 10/15)
Lifestyle

True isis

True's first model designed specifically for women; features company's signature barefoot platform. Price: $99
Womens

True stealth

Enhanced aesthetics with premium waterproof leather and versatility of anti-slip rubber sole. True's Top-of-the-line model that transitions easily from on- to off-course. Price: $199
Alternative Traction

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The golf division of Ecco, a premium-shoe manufacturer based in Denmark, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

But for many American golfers, at least, the brand wasn't necessarily a leader in "mindshare" – even though its among the top golf footwear companies in actual market share.

"We are not a marketing company," Jesper Thuen, Ecco's global manager for golf, says matter-of-factly. "We are first and foremost a shoe company. A multi-million dollar advertising campaign is not in our plans."

It may not have sought a higher profile, but Ecco got one anyway two years ago. That's when company endorser Fred Couples took a stroll along Augusta National's fairways in the 2010 Masters and rocketed the company's fortunes. Before a global TV audience, Couples, in his ever-so-cool saunter, showcased a most unconventional shoe: The casual-looking Ecco Street Premiere, featuring a rubber outsole with molded traction bars, but not a single, replaceable cleat.

Ecco doesn't disclose financial data for specific shoes, but Thuen recalls, in the week following the tournament, "We could have written orders for hundreds of thousands of pairs." But Ecco couldn't because its inventory had been depleted, wiped out by demand from around the world.

The Street was so popular even competitors credit it for creating an entire new category of footwear – the so-called hybrids, which have the versatility to be worn on- or off-course.

Hybrid shoes, in turn, have fueled broader interest in the development of other types of alternative-traction footwear, meaning durable rubber treads or nubs in lieu of replaceable cleats and receptacles. The reasons for the shift are many: Golfers often complain of discomfort because they can feel the receptacles against the bottoms of their feet. Many golfers frankly don't bother to replace cleats. And, it's becoming increasingly evident that they like the convenience of wearing a single pair of shoes to play golf and lounge in afterward.

In about five years, Thuen goes as far as predicting that more than 75 percent of all golf shoes sold will be models without replaceable cleats.

"We believe the same type of transition that took place from steel spikes to plastic ones will happen, especially when (golfers) find out they have more than enough traction (with molded rubber outsoles)," he says.

The issue of whether golfers can gain sufficient traction without spikes is a contentious one. Thuen emphasizes that all alternative-traction, rubber soles aren't the same – nor are they equally effective. But he insists the patented Street outsole "provides enough grip for any golfer, be it an elite tour player or beginner."

According to Ecco, the Street outsole is made from the same material, TPU, as replaceable cleats. It features dozens of molded traction bars on each shoe with hundreds of traction angles, designed to provide traction during the swing or when walking.

Thuen acknowledges that Couples initially worried about slipping, too. But he says the player's concerns have been allayed, citing Couples' decision to wear Ecco's Biom Hybrid – a new shoe that also features the Street outsole – during rough, wet conditions at this year's Senior Open Championship at Turnberry, which he won.

Though it'll be difficult to duplicate the success achieved by the Street shoe, Ecco is counting on the Biom Hybrid and the Tour Hybrid to deliver a strong encore.

The Biom Hybrid follows Ecco's first "natural-motion" golf shoe that was designed to let feet move and absorb impact as naturally as possible, in essence, letting them function as if they were barefoot. Recent studies emanating from the sport of running indicate such movement delivers better performance and fewer injuries. Now, several golf companies are applying the concept to their sport. The latest Biom model gains off-course versatility with its pairing with the Street outsole.

Likewise, The Tour Hybrid offers versatility, but sheds hybrids' typical casual look for classic, golf shoe styling, including a wingtip version. Ecco officials say the shoe's refined appearance allows a golfer to go from the office to the links to a night out on the town.

The Biom Hybrid and the Tour Hybrid, which become available at retail in October and November, respectively, each costs $190. Ecco's average retail price is among the highest in the industry, but Thuen offers an explanation predicated by the company's mission. He maintains Ecco isn't driven by an obsession to sell more units in a never-ending chase for greater market share.

Rather than design shoes to accommodate a more-affordable price point, Thuen says, "We like to go with our own ideas and keep surprising the market. Our shoes will cost, what they cost. We will be premium."

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