If you play authentic Scottish links golf, you’ll do a lot of walking. Buggies, the name folks on that side of the Atlantic use for golf carts, are few and far between. As such, proper footwear could well be the single most important piece of equipment you pack. Speaking from experience, there are few things more depressing than developing blisters on Day 3 of a 10-day pilgrimage to the home of golf.
To help you avoid that tragedy, I plan to post reviews from time to time of golf shoes that have what it takes to go the distance. First up on this little parade is the ECCO BIOM. All of that upper case business is the shoemaker’s preferred mode. It’s really not in my nature to shout, audibly or in print. For that matter, it doesn’t really fit with this company’s Danish roots either.
ECCO was founded by Karl Toosbuy in 1963. After making a name for itself in Europe, it gradually expanded its distribution worldwide. Today, ECCO shoes can be purchased in more than 90 countries, including America. Golf-wise, Fred Couples pretty much single handedly put them on the map in the States when he started wearing their spikeless models, a rather bold, ahem, step for a tour pro.
What’s so special about these shoes?
Unlike Freddie’s trainers, the BIOM’s have soft spikes. As such, they look more like a traditional golf shoe but with a decidedly athletic bent. Yet they also incorporate some of the comfort features of their spikeless brethren.
Take, for instance, the BIOM’s low-to-the-ground outsole that’s intended to keep your feet connected to terra firma. Another example is an anatomically-shaped inlay sole with lightweight cushioning foam. The sole is made from thermo polyurethane, which ECCO says is flexible yet 20 percent harder than more run-of-the-mill polyurethane. As such, they can make the sole thinner without sacrificing lightness, strength or flexibility.
Oh, and the uppers are made of yak leather. You read that right. ECCO claims yak hide is lighter, more breathable, more flexible and three times tougher than the stuff that comes off the back of a cow. Who knew?
How do they fit
Confident and assured right out of the box. I rolled the dice and didn’t strap them on until I was at the golf course, with no back-up plan if they didn’t work out. Fortunately, I’ve had some experience with European shoe sizes, so I knew that a 43 was a very close equivalent to my tried-and-true U.S. 9.5 medium.
But a good fit goes beyond simply choosing the right size. From the get-go, my feet felt snug and secure in the BIOMs without crossing the line to cramped. The experience was more akin to lacing up a quality pair of running shoes for the first time—you know, the kind that make you feel as if you can run faster and jump higher—than the all-show-and-no-go stress of a dress shoe.
Relieved, I strode confidently to the first tee. And my feet were still very much happy campers as I left the 18th green four hours later.
How do they work?
As Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, golf is a good walk spoiled. When it came to the latter half of that equation, the BIOMs more than delivered. I tend to play in the early morning when the turf is still dew soaked. Yet through three rounds, I yet to lose my footing or come remotely close to a spinout with these shoes’ Stinger III spikes under my feet. And the moisture on the outside has never worked its way into my sock-covered tootsies on the inside.
To be honest, I’m usually fine wearing spikeless golf shoes. After all, no one would ever mistake my motion for a high-torque tour-quality swing. But the BIOMs’ cleats do provide an extra measure of assurance that, should you hit a poor shot, it won’t be due to your shoes—even if you’re playing in the rain (which, like walking, is also part of the standard links golf package).
How do they look?
ECCO sent me a black pair that’s accented in a florescent green color that’s known officially as “lime punch.” It’s a bit on the aggressive side for my under-the-radar Baby Boomer tastes. But, I have to say, the more I press them into service, the more they grow on me. Hey, maybe I can fool people into thinking that I’m a member of Generation X? OK, maybe not.
Where can I buy them?
ECCO shoes are offered for sale at some 4,000 brick-and-mortar retailers worldwide, as well as via numerous online storefronts. You can even order them directly through the manufacturer.
Are they worth the price?
Suggested retail price is $240. A quick online scan suggests ECCO does a very good job of protecting that rather lofty price point. But if you’re going to spend thousands on the golf trip of your dreams, it might be worth it to invest a bit more in shoes that can go the distance to ensure it doesn’t quickly devolve into a painful nightmare.
Overall Rating (Ace high to Double Bogey low): Eagle