The fascinating story has its roots at a sales conference in January, when Ecco unveiled its spikeless Golf Street shoes.
It was a hybrid product made to be different.
But knowing that golf shoe history had only bad things to say about these types of ideas, the company understandably played it conservatively.
Sales projections for the $140 shoe in 2010? 2,000 pairs.
As an endorser of Danish shoe company Ecco for the past four years, the 50-year-old Couples had his choice of what he wanted to put on his feet this year. He asked for a few pairs. With the shoes on his feet, he won three tournaments in a row on the Champions Tour leading up to the Masters.
Ecco started to get some calls. A few stories about the shoes dribbled out. Without the spikes, they were easy to spot. Even easier when Couples trotted out on the golf course when he wore them without socks.
Then came the first week in April, where Couples, playing his 26th Masters, fired a six-under par 66 — good for the best round on the day. As Couples continued to play well throughout the tournament, the shoes he was wearing continued to be the talk.
“We honestly didn’t expect him to wear them at Augusta because it’s an up and down course and if it gets wet, it could get slippery,” said David Hetler, Ecco’s US specialty sales director.
But the shoes traction bars obviously proved to be enough and Couples exposure has led to millions of dollars in sales that the company is just cashing in on.