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  1. Got this in the Inbox this morning. I'm a big fan of ECCO shoes, and the ECCO Cool 18 GTX is a great walking shoe, even with cleats. At first I wasn't sure what to make of the new offerings, though -- initial thought was ECCO just had its Jump The Shark moment. But the new S-Drives are growing on me -- just a little. I could see wearing the white or grey model - the blue is just a bit too much for me. The S-Drive Perfs, however, are a little more my speed - very much like the white/blue model. You've probably seen Smylie Kaufman sporting the blue and orange S-Drives on line (perfect shoe for the Bronco fan!) What do you guys think of these? ECCO makes shoes that are comfortable and that perform - we know that. And they make different styles that'll fit most tastes. I'm thinking these are, ummmm, targeted? Their tagline is "Step Out of the Ordinary." These things definitely do that. Like I said - the white and grey are growing on me, and I'd wear the Perf's anytime. What do you think? Have a look...
  2. The 2010 Masters is memorable for several reasons. There was Phil's shot from the pine straw and his 3rd Green Jacket. There was Tiger's return from marital/golf purgatory. And then there was old favorite Freddy Couples making an almost Jack-like run before fading on Sunday. What caused the longest-lasting buzz? Those shoes Freddy was wearing! They looked casual, almost sneaker-like. And they had - wait for it - no freaking spikes!!! For many golfers, that was their first glimpse of "spikeless" golf shoes and of ECCO Golf. 5 years later, ECCO is arguably the name in casual, spikeless shoes. MyGolfSpy's "5 Questions" had the chance recently to talk with David Helter, ECCO Sport's head of sales, to find out what's going on in the Londonderry, NH-based US headquarters of one of Europe's leading shoemakers. #1 MGS 5 Q's: So the first many of us ever heard of ECCO was when Fred Couples made his run at the Masters a few years ago. We all like to watch Freddy swing, but all I can remember thinking was “what's with the shoes?” How important was that performance to ECCO breaking into the US market? David Helter, ECCO Sport: In 2010, when Fred Couples first sported his ECCO Street Premiere hybrid or spikeless golf shoe, ECCO Golf had been designing and producing golf footwear for about 20 years. At that time, ECCO Golf was a relatively small player in the global and US golf market, and spikeless golf shoes really didn't exist. Immediately following that 2010 Masters, a story was published in the Wall Street Journal about the “advertising value” two of the brands (ECCO and Bridgestone), which Fred Couples represented, received in the tournament coverage. The phones at our ECCO Londonderry HQ began to ring off the hook, and the demand for the “Freddie sneaker,” as the consumer called it, went through the roof. As a result, our golf business doubled that year. Fast forward to 2015 and the hybrid category now represents approximately 50 percent of all golf footwear sold in the US (source Golf Datatech). ECCO has a dominant share of the premium hybrid business and is now the No. 4 largest golf footwear brand in the US and globally. So there was a dual importance of Fred wearing Street Premiere at the 2010 Masters. Not only did ECCO break into the market, but we also pioneered the fastest growing trend in the golf industry. #2 MGS 5 Q's: According to a recent article in SI GOLF+, the locker room attendant at the US Open lamented that only 4 players, Phil Mickelson, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell (sporting ECCO New World Class shoes), were wearing what he considered “proper” golf shoes. Is there growing trend toward “athletic shoe” type golf shoes, and away from what we would consider the traditional golf shoe? Why is the style shifting and how is ECCO adapting to shoe changes? DH: The hybrid category has swept the industry and accounts for half of all golf footwear sold in the US. The athletic influence is definitely a major trend not only with hybrid footwear but also cleated footwear. The traditional golf shoe styles (saddle shoes, wing-tips and oxfords), which were popular in the days of Nicklaus, Palmer and Player, took their inspiration from the men's dress footwear industry. Today's players want styles that are more comfortable and less traditional. The industry is taking inspiration from athletic footwear. The shift to spikeless or hybrid footwear has happened for several reasons. Today's player wants more casual and sporty shoe. They want footwear that is versatile. Hybrid shoes fit this mold since they can be worn on the course to play golf and off the course as casual shoes. Most importantly they want footwear that is comfortable. While cleated shoes, with an average of 7-9 cleats, create pressure points, hybrid footwear distributes a player's weight over the entire bottom of the foot. We believe the market for hybrid golf footwear will continue to grow over the next 3 – 5 years. But, there will always be room for cleated footwear depending on the playing conditions of a given course. More and more tour players are discovering the styling, comfort and performance of hybrid footwear. The 2013 and 2014 US Open winners, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer, were wearing spikeless shoes. The more Tour players who convert to spikeless, the more the amateur golfers will do the same. #3 MGS 5 Q's: What does a golfer need to look for in a spikeless shoe beyond comfort? DH: Comfort should be the first thing any golfer looks for in any type of footwear, spikeless or cleated. Other factors that are equally important are high quality waterproof leather, the sole pattern or traction of the outsole and the type of shoe construction. #4 MGS 5 Q's: So ECCO began making women's shoes in 1962. Hiking boots, running shoes, “active lifestyle” footwear, casual shoes, leather accessories – ECCO has more going on than just golf shoes. How much of ECCO's overall business is golf? What majority of that is sold in the US? DH: ECCO started in 1963 as a women's footwear company called Venus. They laterdecided to add men's footwear and changed the name of the company to ECCO. In the 90's, ECCO decided to add three new divisions- Golf, Performance and Kid's footwear. For the first 10 years or more, ECCO did a large percentage of their total golf footwear sales in the women's category. Once Fred Couples was signed as an ECCO Staff Player, he immediately began to help drive the men's and overall golf business at ECCO. Globally, ECCO is very much a “shoe maker.” They own the entire production process from the tanneries to their own factories. ECCO Golf represents about 6 percent of the ECCO footwear business. The US is the largest golf market in the world and 50 percent of all ECCO Golf business is done in the US. #5 MGS 5 Q's: Will we be seeing anything groundbreaking from ECCO in the near future? What do you think will be the “next big thing” in golf footwear? DH: ECCO has launched a very diverse collection of hybrid golf footwear, including our No.1 selling style, BIOM Hybrid 2, and a new collection called Casual Hybrid. Both of these collections are available in men's and women's options. The ECCO consumer is fiercely loyal to the brand. The growing number of consumers who have been purchasing ECCO hybrid footwear are looking for this same type of quality and comfort from ECCO in cleated footwear. Be on the lookout for something completely new from ECCO in 2016! Visit ECCO's US website here
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