For all the time and attention we golfers give to clubs and balls, I’m beginning to think that for real innovation we should be looking at our feet. Has any piece of equipment—and trust me, it is equipment—gone through a more dramatic change over the last few years than the golf shoe?
The transformation in golf footwear started with spikes: Does anyone else remember the cataclysmic pronouncements made when we starting going from metal spikes to plastic and then—horrors!—spikeless? We seem to have survived: I haven’t heard about a spike-slip incident in years and courses are definitely in better shape, especially greens.
Once spikes were solved, the rest of the shoe went under the microscope. As a result, what we wear on our feet now is lighter and more comfortable than ever. I’ve tested a range of lighter, less structured shoes from a number of companies in the last year or so and not been disappointed, especially with those that can walk effortlessly from course to street and back again.
One of the leaders in the lightweight shoe category is ecco (the lower-case “e” is deliberate) from Denmark. I’ve been wearing a pair of their Biom Hybrid shoes the last few months and been very pleased with the performance and comfort (particularly around my extra-wide “pedal extremities,” as Fats Waller referred to clodhoppers like mine in the song “Your Feets Too Big”). The Biom Hybrids look casual and are at home off the course as well as on.
I’m not sure if ecco would call their newest shoe a big improvement on the last one, but there is a subtle yet substantial difference, especially for better players. Called the Street EVO One (shown in both photographs here), it’s another on-course/off-course “hybrid” and the next iteration of the company’s Street line. The sole employs the company’s Dynamic Traction System—an array of traction bars and traction “angles,” made of super-durable plastic, that grip the ground without slipping on the sidewalk—but on a slightly wider platform than before.
Also new—and here’s the difference—is a shank embedded in the midsole that limits twisting on really fast swings, the kind better players make. The EVO One is built to stand up to the demands of its Tour staff, which includes Fred Couples, one of the first big names to wear a spikeless shoe, and Ernie Els, who just signed on as the latest ecco enthusiast. Other notable ecco wearers include Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn, who is Danish.
The Street EVO One, which retails for $160, presently comes in cow or camel leather in a few different colors. Ecco is continually adding to its lines with colors and materials, which will probably happen to the Biom Hybrid pretty soon, too. And no doubt there will be other upgrades and options to come. Hey, I’m comfortable with that.