Golf is a very traditional sport when it comes to clothing, but it has had to change with the times with respect to footwear. Metal spikes, which can damage a golf course, have been largely replaced by shoes with rubber spikes. Indeed, most courses now ban players from wearing metal spikes. Typical golf shoes still retain a traditional look, but Fred Couples created headlines in 2010 when he wore what appeared to be sneakers at the Masters.
Born in Seattle, Washington, Couples developed his game at a local public course, then played golf at the University of Houston. He reached the PGA Tour in 1982 and played his first Champions Tour event in 2010. As of May 2012, he had won 30 professional tournaments worldwide, including 15 PGA Tour and seven Champions Tour events. He has finished in the top three of all four major championships at least once and won the 1992 Masters. Couples was PGA Tour Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992.
Couples signed an endorsement deal with Danish footwear company Ecco in 2006. As of 2012, he continues to wear Ecco golf shoes on tour. Ecco was founded in 1963 and sells approximately 17 million pairs of shoes -- including athletic and non-athletic footwear – worldwide each year.
The 2010 Masters
Couples wore what looked like casual gym shoes at the 2010 Masters. A “Bloomberg” article said Couples’ shoes “look like those worn by skateboarders.” The shoes featured a rubber sole with polyurethane bars on the bottom to provide traction. Couples said he wore them to relieve his long-term back pain. His strong sixth-place performance in the 2010 Masters kept the shoes in the public eye all weekend and may have helped trigger an unexpected run on the footwear for the rest of the year. A company spokesman reported that the shoe’s sales were 24 times greater than expected in 2010.
Casual Golf Shoes Catching On?
Couples, who told “Bloomberg” he had seen Jack Nicklaus wear a pair of Ecco’s street-style golf shoes, wore a different type of casual-looking, spikeless Ecco shoes at the 2012 Masters. A 2011 “Bloomberg” article reported that of the 3.9 million golf shoes sold yearly in the United States, less than 10 percent belong to the street-style category.