Evolution of Ecco hybrids

    Ecco has extended its offering of hybrid golf shoes for 2015 with the introduction of its new Casual Hybrid range, while it has celebrated the partnership that triggered the hybrid shoe phenomenon in the first place by introducing a Fred Couples Signature Edition. Robin Barwick reports.

    It was five years ago that the hybrid golf shoe revolution was launched, and Ecco has issued a striking reminder of how it all began with the addition of its Fred Couples Signature Edition to the Casual Hybrid range for 2015.

    Couples caused a stir in the 2010 Masters. The 1992 Masters champion not only shot 66, six under par, to take the first-round lead at the age of 50, but he did so wearing hybrid golf shoes – Ecco’s original Golf Street model – and he didn’t even wear socks. Until that day it was unheard of for tour golfers to wear golf shoes without conventional spikes or cleats, but those Golf Street shoes featured molded TPU traction bars and an upper design that was much more casual than traditional golf shoes. In the subsequent  twelve month period, sales of Ecco’s Golf Street shoes increased by 300 percent worldwide.

    “Golf Street literally created the hybrid category,” states Michael Waack, head of Global Golf at Ecco. “We thought it would take more time to bring Golf Street into all our markets, but then nobody at all could ever have expected what would happen when Fred Couples wore Golf Street at the Masters. It not only lifted Ecco’s profile as a golf brand, but it lifted the whole Ecco brand.

    “You know, for 100 years all golfers played with cleats or spikes, and then in 2009 a company in Denmark came out saying that golfers don’t need to play with cleats anymore. It was a paradigm shift.”

    As a tribute to Couples’ Masters victory in 1992, Ecco has produced only 1992 pairs of its Fred Couples Signature Edition – designed in collaboration with the golfer – which comes with a white sole, green upper and laser-engraving of Couples’ autograph.

    “The Masters is a really special tournament for me and I always appreciate the support Ecco provides,” says Couples. “I thought we could do something really fun with the Casual Hybrid this year and am thrilled by the design we created.”

    Ecco’s new Casual Hybrid range for 2015 comes in a broad variety of colour options for men and women, with contemporary brogue options for men and women, in addition to a ‘sleek sneaker’ version for men, with UK RRPs ranging between £100 to £110 per pair. All models are promised to be highly water repellent thanks to a proprietary ‘Ecco Hydromax’ treatment.

    “The pioneering spirit that led us to introduce the first hybrid footwear in golf continues to drive our innovations season after season,” adds Waack. “These exciting new shoes pair tour-proven technologies with the most attractive designs and richest materials.”

    The Casual Hybrid is built upon the patented E-DTS outsole, which has approximately 100 moulded traction bars and which Ecco says delivers nearly 800 traction angles and superb grip. Like all Ecco golf shoes, Casual Hybrid models are manufactured at company-owned factories using a direct-injection process. This should bond the upper and outsole units, creating a one-piece shoe construction without the use of glue or stitching. Benefits are promised to include a firm, watertight seal, lightweight flexibility and out-of-the-box comfort.

    Joining Couples, the Ecco Golf collection is endorsed by tour stars including Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Thomas Bjørn, Marcel Siem and Thongchai Jaidee.

    More at: www.ecco.com/golf