Ecco shoes have … shhh … a secret.
They are one notch shy of indestructible.
Jesper Thuen, general manager for Ecco Golf USA, recalled a PGA Tour player (who shall remain nameless) who wore the same pair of Eccos for four straight years.
“I kept asking him, ‘Do you need a new pair of shoes?” Thuen said. “He said, ‘No, these are fine, they only get better the more you wear them.’ You can imagine how many hours a tour player had those shoes on. Every day for four years.”
I’m no tour player but I still have two pair of worn-but-still-comfy Ecco spikeless golf shoes from the early 2010s. They’re great for yardwork or for hitting balls off golf mats, where spikes are problematic. I own a pair of black dress shoes and a pair of trail shoes, both Ecco, and they’re nearly 10 years old and looking good, too.
Why do I wear these antiques? Because they’re so comfortable. Sure, every shoe manufacturer makes that claim about its shoes but the Ecco insole features a proprietary material and a process so it doesn’t break down memory foam.
That unnamed tour player had it right. The more you wear an Ecco, the more it shapes to your foot, the more comfortable it gets. No new shoe can match that feel.
So Ecco wearers are loathe to give up their shoes, which are as comfy as your favorite old sofa, and the shoes’ durability allows customers — like me — to get away with that. I have owned assorted other golf-shoe brands and really liked some. But none of them were still around after five years of heavy usage like my Eccos are and I expect my latest pair, Ecco’s new Golf Core hybrids, to follow in their — uh, my? — footsteps.
“We know we have good products,” Thuen said. “If we can get people to put an Ecco on one foot and another brand on the other foot, we think they’re going to choose Ecco the majority of time and not look so much at the price point.”
You don’t find Eccos on the bargain shelf. Based on their quality and potential longevity of use, though, Eccos don’t seem overpriced in today’s market.
Still, perception is reality. So the company, which is based in Denmark and sells golf shoes in 55 markets around the world, just launched Golf Core ($150 suggested retail), a line of value-priced models. They look and feel like luxury $250-plus shoes, however.
“They are athletic-looking sneakers, very much in time with the trends,” Thuen said. “We brought out a new version of our well-known yak leather, the softest and nicest leather we have. Yak leather is thin, the soles are very breathable and lightweight.”
The Golf Core shoes have Ecco’s traditional unique nubs, which are squarish with a knob on each corner. “That’s so there are eight angles on each nub,” Thuen said. “So no matter which way you’re transferring your weight while swinging a club or walking, there’s always plenty of grip with the ground.”
That sole pattern is the same as what was on the Ecco Golf Street shoes that launched in 2010 and gained notoriety when Fred Couples wore them in the Masters. Those shoes were classic white with Masters-green trim and caused a small sensation because a tour player teed it up at Augusta National Golf Club wearing … spikeless shoes.
“In 2009, golfers were 98 percent spikes, 2 percent spikeless hybrid shoes,” Thuen said. “Today, it’s slightly in favor of hybrids. We pretty much invented the category. We weren’t first but we were first to really make it work and, of course, Freddie helped us with that.”
The Golf Core line is only available as hybrids (without spikes) and comes in three options: white and gray (each with dark trim) and black (with orange trim). The latter is my new go-to golf pair.
Ecco has two other new hybrid lineups, its top-of-the-line golf models.
The Ecco Biom H4 ($200) is anatomy-based. The company scanned 2,500 feet to make sure the shoe’s sole is an anatomical fit for the masses. The Biom H4 has a little more weight and stability than Golf Core, and is a little firmer.
The Ecco S-Three ($200) features different technology in its midsole. It feels firmest in the mid-foot, for stability with the golf swing; slightly softer in the heel for cushioning each downstep; and softer in front for the toes where the shoe has to flex. That unique flex differentiation makes it a complicated shoe to manufacture.
The Golf Core, Biom H4 and S-Three come in spikeless only. Ecco’s lone golf shoe with spikes is its G3 model ($250). Thuen said a new spiked shoe is expected to launch in 2022.
“Hybrids are the way forward, we believe,” he said. “They’re more comfortable and you can wear them in more places. Of course, you need enough traction and stability during the swing but comfort will always come first for us.”
Thuen was the first tour player signed by Ecco in 1996. “I played in a pro-am with the founder of Ecco,” Thuen said. “He had high hopes for me. I was lucky to be the first. I haven’t worn a pair of non-Eccos since.”
Thuen’s father was a golf pro at several clubs in Denmark — and is still active at 70 — so Thuen grew up with the game. He had a modest professional playing career with a best finish of fourth at the 1994 Volvo Finnish Open.
He also was a frequent roommate of future Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, a member of the Ecco playing staff, on Denmark’s junior national team. “We were foursomes partners back in the day,” Thuen said. “It was interesting at times. Thomas is a unique guy and was a great roommate. We’ve known each other since we were 10.”
The two recently appeared on a European TV show to talk about Bjorn’s captaincy that resulted in a resounding victory for Europe at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France.
Their friendship has been just like the Ecco shoes they both wear — comfortable and long-lasting.