I noticed yesterday that Fred Couples wasn’t wearing Ecco’s sneaker-style shoes — you know, the ones he wore without socks that became a storyline at this year’s Masters, turning them into the most talked-about golf shoe in the history of the industry. They’re the same ones you probably paid $140 for and you just received in the mail because they’ve been on back-order for the past three months.
So, at his press conference, after he posted a fantastic, bogey-free five-under 65 to jump into a tie for the lead with Bernhard Langer at the US Senior Open, I asked him why he ditched the sneaker shoe. (I really wish I had the video of his delivery, but try to improvise because it was pretty funny/great.)
“You know, I’m not wearing them because it’s been,” Freddie started to say before he envisioned his Ecco endorsement dollars flushing down the toilet and paused to choose his words delicately. “I hate to say this, because it makes them sound like they’re not good, but it’s been foggy and wet and they’re not…”
(Another pause. I presume he was about to finish the sentence saying, “…made for wet weather conditions because the traction isn’t the greatest.” Mind you, it’s not exactly “wet” at Sahalee. There’s been zero precipitation. In fact, the players have said the course has been too firm. But thanks to the mist and fog in the mornings, it’s been a little damp.)
“[T]he truth of it is I’m not swinging good enough to play in those shoes when it’s not perfectly dry,” Freddie continued. “So if it’s really dry tomorrow I will probably wear them but that’s the real answer ‑‑ my swing is good but I’m not on that kind of balance to be wearing those shoes.”
But good enough to shoot the low round of the tournament!
“I’m not saying if there is a U.S. Open today with the young guys we would be leading but we would be very good right now and that makes me feel good because this course is brutal, it’s not very easy at all,” Freddie said a minute earlier.
Freddie and co-leader Langer, both five-under after 54 holes, are the only players in the field under par.
Meanwhile, I was staring into Freddie’s dreamy eyes and restraining myself from interrupting and telling him that I had read this report from CNBC’s Darren Rovell just a few days ago:
“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.
Freddie won’t be receiving any calls from seething Ecco representatives. And good on him for holding his tongue and not letting down the 26,000 guys (not to mention the 55,000 anticipating their shoes to arrive in the fall) that believe the golf sneakers won’t hurt their balance because their swings are better than one of the smoothest in the game. Oh, wait.
Well, at least those proudly sporting the shoes might still believe they’re slightly cooler and more handsome.
[Photo by John Mummert/USGA]