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If the Shore Fits: Freddie's Footwear All the Buzz

   Almost as talked about as Phil Mickelson’s win in The Masters and nearly as discussed as Tiger Woods’ return to the game was the subject of Freddie Couples’ shoes at the year’s first major.

            That’s right, his shoes. And in the midst of one of the best Masters in memory, golfers could not stop gabbing about Freddie’s footwear. Their funky cactus green and Fanta orange color pops were eye grabbing, and so were the white mid-soles that gave them a retro-sneaker look. The fact that the 50-year-old Couples wore the shoes without socks and came whisker-close to winning only got people talking more. And that talk translated into actual business for Denmark-based Ecco, and company executives say they have been inundated with orders for the model called Golf Street Premier ever since.

            “We’ve had to charter planes to bring them in from our factories in Thailand,” avers C.B. Tuite, general sales manager for Ecco USA’s golf division, which is based in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

            The Golf Street Premier retails for $140. Introduced in January as part of Ecco’s new Hybrid Sports Casuals collection, it features full-grain leather uppers with synthetic blend, wide flat laces that run through holes ringed with metal accents. The shoe may be worn both on and off the course. But that versatility, Tuite says, should not confuse the fact that Golf Street Premier is a technical product with high levels of function and form.

            “Let’s start with the outsole, which is the bottom of the shoe,” says Tuite. “Your typical golf shoe has six to nine cleats, each of which has as many prongs for traction. Golf Street Premier, however, features almost 100 molded traction bars with roughly 800 traction angles. That gives it more traction than the traditional golf shoe, and those commentators who said Freddie was wearing boat shoes and wondered whether he might slip did not know what they were talking about.”

      “The shots on television made it look as if the shoes don’t have anything on the bottom, but we have given the outsole a semi-transparent profile, so the traction bars and angles are not so visible,” Tuite adds. “But they provide excellent traction and stability, and there was no way Freddie would have compromised either of those in The Masters.”

            According to Tuite, other technological attributes include an internal stabilizer in the back part of the shoe for added support during the golf swing. He also mentions the direct injection process that fuses the upper-, mid- and outsoles in a way that ensures comfort by evenly dispersing weight while walking, something critically important to Couples and his notoriously bad back. Internally, Golf Street Premier employs moisture absorbing, anti-bacterial materials to not only provide additional comfort but also allow golfers like Couples to wear them without socks … which he did throughout The Masters.

            That look only enhances the sense of the new Golf Street Premier shoes from Ecco as being casually cool as Couples, and so does the one-shoe-fits-all proposition that enables players to go right from their golf courses to their offices to their homes without ever having to take them off.

     “But it is important to remember this is first and foremost a performance golf footwear product,” Tuite adds.

    Just ask Freddie.


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