Wearing spikeless Ecco Street shoes at Augusta, Fred Couples changed golf style

By | April 10, 2020 8:00 am

Back in 1980, a 20-year-old Fred Couples was in Tucson, Arizona, playing in one of his first PGA Tour events as a pro, when he spotted Johnny Miller on the range.

“I literally flipped out,” Couples said. “He was such a cool guy.”

Couples, the winner of the 1992 Masters, is now 60. For a generation of golfers, Couples played a role similar to Miller as that cool guy. The effortlessly powerful swing, the walk, the casual mannerisms, the hair. Boom Boom is the complete package when it comes to cool, and a decade ago, he unwittingly became a style icon when he wore a pair of Ecco Street golf shoes while playing the 2010 Masters.

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary, Ecco is re-releasing the Golf Street Premiere ($150) and the limited-edition Golf Street 10 ($230).

The story really begins in November 2009, when Couples was living and playing golf in Palm Desert, California. A friend who ran a pro shop that sold a lot of Ecco shoes called Couples and asked if he’d seen the new Street shoes. The former University of Houston star had not, so he got in his car and drove to the shop.

“He showed me the shoes and in a roundabout way, I paid for them,” Couples said. “He wasn’t allowed to give them to me because he didn’t have many pairs and they were so new.”

Ecco Golf Street (Ecco)


Couples started playing golf in them, sockless, which in Palm Springs was easy because the weather was perfect. However, when he brought three pairs of Street shoes (and no cleated footwear) to the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in Hawaii, “all hell broke loose.”

Sure, Couples shot 65-66-64 to finish second that week on the Champions Tour, but all anyone wanted to ask him about were his shoes.

“People started calling them deck shoes, boat shoes, walking shoes,” Couples recalled. “I said, ‘Yeah, basically you can do all that in these shoes.’”

Aside from the casual style, what made the Ecco Street unique back in 2010 was the sole. At that time, golf shoes were cleated. Everyone wore golf shoes with plastic, replaceable spikes except a few pros who continued to wear steel spikes. Spikeless, hybrid-style golf shoes with traction-enhancing elements were more scarce than double eagles at Augusta National. Until a few months later when Couples, still sockless, wore Ecco Street shoes at the 2010 Masters, played in the final group on Sunday alongside Phil Mickelson and finished sixth.

Fred Couples

Fred Couples at the 2010 Masters. (Don Emmert/ Getty Images)

At that point, demand skyrocketed. The shoes looked comfortable to wear and Couples had proved that you could compete and play serious golf in the spikeless Street shoes.

The 2020 version of the Street has a leather upper that has been given a water-resistant Hydromax treatment to help repel water. The rubber outsole is covered with small nobs that create over 800 traction angles to enhance traction while you swing.

“It was kind of comical,” Couples said, thinking back to the 2010 Masters. “I was playing pretty well and was in the golf tournament, and all anyone worried about is the shoes that I’m wearing!”

Hey Fred, no one said being cool was easy.