As a spikeless golf shoe aficionado, I get so many questions from folks on the course about whether I slip when wearing them (I don’t), if they’re comfortable (they are), and which spikeless golf shoe is the best (read below) that I decided it was high time for an article. Read on!
It’s been the rare instance over the last 20 years that I have purchased the same golf shoe twice. I grew up wearing old school FootJoy shoes with metal spikes (translation = incredibly uncomfortable). Over time I branched out into other brands (Nike, Adidas, Oakley, ECCO) and models (both traditional styled shoes and sneaker-style), but still never quite found the right shoe.
Having heard how well spikeless shoes worked for Fred Couples’ back (and his game, leading the 1st round of the 2010 Masters in his ECCOs), I bit the bullet with a pair of ECCO Golf Street Premieres. If Freddy didn’t need spikes to play in a major, I was pretty sure that I didn’t either. The side benefits would be that if I liked these shoes, I could finally throw out the multiple spike wrenches and the pile of cleats sitting in my garage next to old shoes that I probably will never wear again. Not that I mind a garage with a lot of junk in it, but for some reason my wife considers it as an extension of the house and, as such, believes that it should remain clean and orderly. This to me seems somewhat emasculating. “Honey, the power tools don’t need to be in labeled plastic bins from the Container Store…”
But enough about my garage. I recently purchased the ECCO Golf Street and TRUE tour spikeless golf shoes to do a side-by-side evaluation with my existing ECCO Golf Street Premieres. I will try to refrain from comments on the all-capital-letters naming convention.
The original ECCO Street Premiere was the first golf shoe I could legitimately wear to the bar after a round and not look (entirely) like I had just stepped off the course. Indeed, both ECCO shoes are described as “street inspired”. I chose the Licorice-Coffee-Fanta color scheme (for those who aren’t in ECCO marketing, this means brown with orange highlights). It has a distressed upper and looks much like any other street shoe, blending in quite nicely off the course. Detailing includes suede at the toe, center (with four Fanta dots) and heel tab. Would I try to wear it to the office and hope that my boss wouldn’t notice? Maybe, but only if he didn’t play – no reason to arouse suspicion that I might be prepping to leave work early to hit the golf course. There are six different color combinations, all of which have a white midsole with slight color accents, and soles ranging from yellow to a traditional brown. The Street Premiere (and for that matter, the Street) comes with two pairs of shoelaces in different colors…my Fanta-colored laces are still in the box.
The ECCO Street is a step up from the Street Premiere (confusing, yes), and considered a “luxury” golf sneaker. The main design difference between the Street and Street Premiere is the Street features a camel leather upper – think of the leather that will scuff if you run a fingernail lightly across it. The ECCO Street looks the least like a golf shoe in this group – if it had a dark colored midsole (all three color options come with a white midsole and orange sole), one would never think it was a golf shoe. It’s a stylish shoe, and my wife declared it the “best looking of the bunch.” Having formerly worked in the men’s shoes section of a department store, she’s a tough critic. Remind me to tell you about her meltdown at REI when we tried to find her a hiking shoe and everything was deemed “too ugly to purchase.”
The TRUE tour shoe, my latest spikeless golf shoe purchase, has a shape that makes it look like the golf shoe Bozo the clown might wear, due to the combination of large toe box and the roll/post toe, which reminds me of my Keen hiking shoes (which, by the way, I find the most comfortable hiking shoe around). Adding to the craziness are some of the color combinations in which the shoe is offered – blue/white/red (I’m all for patriotism, but you’re kidding, right?) and white/red (click on the image to the right to see additional photos of the different color options). I chose white with brown side detail for my pair of TRUE tour shoes. Additional color combinations are white with either black or white accents, black with white accents, or all black. With the exception of the clown shoes, the sole matches the center color accents of the shoe.
Even though the shoe looks a bit goofy to me, if you have the game to wear a tie and vest while playing you can probably pull of wearing this shoe as a fashion statement (Ryan Moore most often wears the TRUE stealth model). But I don’t. The looks don’t stop me from wearing this shoe on the course, but it’s fairly unlikely I’m going to keep my TRUEs on when I hit the local bar on my way home. My wife said this shoe “looks horrible.” Much to her dismay my decision-making process when selecting shoes isn’t based on looks, but rather what I find comfortable. She also asked, after seeing “TRUE” stamped on the left shoe, if the right shoe said “FALSE.” Which, strangely enough, seemed like a logical question. As with the ECCOs, the TRUEs come with two pairs of laces – mine came with white and brown laces.
CONSTRUCTION AND DURABILITY
I have played with the Street Premiere for over a season now, and haven’t experienced any issues with their construction or durability. The shoe unfortunately isn’t waterproof, and as I haven’t spent excessive time in the rain with them (most of my golf is played in Northern California) I can’t attest to how it would wear under wet conditions on a regular basis. From frequent play at Shoreline Golf Links, I can attest that this shoe is goose-crap-proof, however. The insole of the Street Premiere is one the most basic you will find in a golf shoe, with no support or cushioning to speak of. For those who want additional support, the insole is removable and could be replaced by a 3rd party insole (such as one from Superfeet).
Like the Street Premiere, the ECCO Street isn’t waterproof, and while the camel leather doesn’t wear as well as my Street Premieres in the rain, I haven’t spent time in downpours. One of the selling points of the shoe is the insole, so I expect most purchasers will keep the original as opposed to swapping out for a 3rd party insole. The Street insole provides additional cushion toward the back of the foot through the heel, is perforated at the front of the foot (and around the edges toward the heel) to provide additional breathability, and has a lining underneath that is moisture absorbing and anti-bacterial. My ECCO Street Premieres aren’t allowed in the house anymore due to their “aroma,” and I’m hopeful that the lining of the Streets will keep this in check. So far, so good.
Both ECCO models have a standard width throughout and feature the same rubber sole (including the same pattern with rows of circular “spikes” that have additional rubber extending from them at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock to provide additional traction). While I assume that wearing these shoes on pavement or other hard surfaces will result in faster wear, I have kept these on for a reasonable amount of time off the course (although I don’t go so far as to use these as a replacement street shoe or sneaker) and haven’t noticed any troublesome wear to the soles. Both models are well-made and pass ECCO and Critical Golf quality controls.
My pair of TRUEs aren’t up to par in construction, with the left shoe featuring some serious puckering of the leather uppers at the toe of the shoe due to very poor stitching. I actually found it somewhat surprising that they had made it through TRUE quality control. It doesn’t impact the feel of the shoe, and hasn’t seemed to affect wear, but aesthetically the shoe isn’t at the level it should be. I returned to the store to swap them for another pair, but unfortunately there weren’t any more in stock in my size – bummer.
As with the ECCOs, the rubber on the TRUE tour shoe soles will undoubtedly wear faster if you keep them on while off the course, but I don’t expect to see many players doing so. The rubber soles feel slightly softer than the ECCOs so I would think that they would wear faster, but I haven’t noticed this to date. As opposed to the ECCOs, the TRUE sole pattern isn’t a simple grid-like pattern, but rather features square “spikes” at the front of the sole, bars at the edges of the sole and running across the base of the boot, and smaller bars toward the heel of the shoe. On the course both the TRUEs and ECCOs seem to pick up the same quantity of cut grass and mud.
The TRUE tours, unlike the ECOOs, come with a 1-year waterproof guarantee. Nice! In addition, the shoe has “temperature control lining,” though I can say my feet didn’t feel any difference, temperature-wise, versus the ECCOs. The tongue is attached to the shoe underneath the insole of the shoe (okay, technically it’s attached to the insole, since what everybody calls an insole is technically called a sockliner…but what are we…shoe nerds?), so it in effect creates a sleeve that you slip your foot into. Comfy!
The TRUEs feel as if they are much more shaped to the foot through the heel and middle of the foot, but with a much wider (and also taller) toe box than the ECCOs, or likely any other shoe you will wear.
COMFORT AND ON-COURSE USE
I was initially hesitant about purchasing a pair of spikeless golf shoes, worrying that I would slip while playing (on both dry and wet days). I can honestly say that over the course of the entire season I can’t recall any shot where I slipped as a result of wearing my ECCOs. I’m going to throw in the caveat that I play primarily in Northern California and don’t venture out in the pouring rain. I do, however, play on mornings with dew or frost on the ground, and more than one of my local courses overwaters to the point of having extremely soggy sections of turf. I do try to be mindful of keeping the soles clean, just as I would spiked shoes.
Both ECCO models are “street inspired”, and having a standard width throughout results in a bit more pressure across the width in the toe box late in the day. While the overall shape of the shoe doesn’t fit my feet quite as well as the TRUEs, I’ve never regretted my purchase of the ECCO Street Premiere (I had owned a pair of spiked ECCO golf shoes previously that I found initially comfortable, but did not find them to be as comfortable over time as the Street Premieres). Both the Street and Street Premiere are very stable, and I never found myself missing spiked shoes. I find the ECCO Street to be a bit more comfortable than the Street Premieres, which I attribute mostly to the improved insole providing a softer and more comfortable fit, though perhaps the uppers do make a difference as well. The bottom of my feet slightly prefer the ECCOs to the TRUEs at the end of the round, which I think is the result of having the additional midsole support.
You can tell the TRUE tours are a completely different golf shoe from the get-go, and this holds true throughout the round. As the only golf shoe with no midsole, the TRUE tour puts the player’s feet just a bit closer to the ground. More importantly, the sole becomes extremely flexible – you can pick up a pair and easily twist and bend the shoe in half at the mid-point of the sole (as opposed to only near the toe, which is the case with other golf shoes). Without the midsole, you’ll feel the course like you never have before. It’s somewhat an unusual feeling initially…and one I really enjoy. I’m not going to go so far as to say it feels like you are playing barefoot, but it is clear that there is the least amount of material between your foot and the ground of any golf shoe on the market.
I don’t know if I was influenced by TRUE marketing propaganda, er, material, that claims that the TRUE tour is the lightest golf shoe worn on the PGA tour, but as soon as I put them on I could tell they were light. The scale backed that up…TRUE tour shoes weigh 8% less than the ECCO Street Premiere, and 5% less than the ECCO Street.
The TRUE tour curls slightly upwards at the toe. This creates a slightly different sensation from most shoes that have a flat insole at the front of the foot, but I found that I didn’t notice this once I started play. I find that the wider toe box keeps my feet more comfortable throughout the round than shoes with standard widths throughout. And while I expected my foot to be exhausted after the round without a midsole to provide support (I don’t spend much time barefoot or in flip-flops), my feet felt fine. They generally are a bit more tired than when I play in the ECCOs, but I haven’t played with the TRUEs for a full season yet, so perhaps over time my feet will adjust to playing without a midsole. There is a lot of me that is out of shape…and perhaps I need to add the bottom of my feet to the list as well.
The ECCO Golf Street Premiere retails for $150 and the Street retails for $170, with the extra $20 buying you an upgraded insole, camel leather uppers, and a more breathable lining. I couldn’t feel any difference in midsoles between the ECCO models, nor could I see a benefit of the lining, though I haven’t played in them in 90+ degree conditions. For my money, if you aren’t one to swap out standard golf insoles and play primarily in dry climates, the ECCO Golf Street is a great option. The insole and good looks alone make it work the extra $20. If your feet need a certain level of support, you will likely be happier with the ECCOs than the TRUE tour.
The retail price for the TRUE tour is the lowest of the bunch at $129 (down from $159). It’s a great buy, and unlike the ECCOs, is waterproof to boot. While I much prefer the street-inspired looks of the ECCO shoes, I found the TRUE tours to be more comfortable throughout, both due to the wider toe box and lack of midsole. In TRUE tour shoes, you’ll feel the course unlike in any other golf shoe.
Retail price: $129
Amazon.com: Check price now
TRUE tour 9.5 (white-brown)
ECCO Golf Street 43 (sepia-coffee)
ECCO Street Premiere 43 (licorice-coffee-fanta)
Tried other spikeless shoes? Be it other ECCO or TRUE models, Adidas or Nike? Let us know your impressions!