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January 28, 2011

Ecco golf shoe? It's a natural

Ecco ORLANDO, Fla.--It's not about the yak leather, although yak leather is pretty sweet. It's extremely durable--three times stronger than cow leather, I'm told--and very soft. Also, I just like saying the word "yak."

Ecco's new Biom golf shoes are made from yak leather, but the real story behind them is the science it's based on. Biom is short for biomechanical. The big trend in athletic shoes is a race back toward biomechanics. It turns out all the padding and cushion companies have been putting into shoes, especially running shoes, have been counterproductive. The more padding in a running shoe, an Ecco rep told me, the worse it is for your feet and the more injuries you have.

So the trend is to recreate the national motion of the foot. Running shoes are now designed to feel like you're running barefoot on a beach. Ecco is heavily into that in its other shoes--running shoes, cross trainers, walking shoes and street shoes--and has brought that sensibility to golf shoes with Biom. Along with the yaks.

There are a few other tweaks that make the Biom stand out. The cleats are exceptionally stable because they're bridged--attached to each other. There are three cleats on the heel (which is wider than normal, by the way, for even better balance), and the shoe sits closer to the ground, another trend that most golf shoemakers are following to improve stability.

That's the science. The reality is good news for the rest of us. I got a pair of Bioms in December and wore them for several rounds in Arizona in early January. Ecco folks will tell you the biomechanical, natural design of the shoes means the first few times you wear the shoes, especially if you walk 18 holes, your calves may feel a little tighter than usual because our feet have gotten used to being over-padded. I played in a cart and didn't notice any problem. The Bioms needed no breaking in, however. They were so soft, there was no threat of blisters.

What this means is that Ecco now offers two of my most favorite shoes. Their Street model, the spikeless shoes that Fred Couples notably plays golf in, are remarkably comfortable and get my highest recommendation. There's a new Street model made from camel leather, which is also soft but which develops a trendy distressed look, almost like a bomber jacket.

The Bioms are also very comfortable. The fact that they're good for my feet is a huge plus, and means I'll be checking out Ecco's line of Biom athletic shoes, too. The suggested price of the Ecco Biom golf shoes is $225 (eccousa.com.)

The Bioms are getting a limited distribution and will be introduced in limited color combos. Mine are white with lime green trim around the soles, and I added the optional lime green shoelaces instead of the white ones so I could catch additional grief from my friends and trust me, I did. They also come in brown with orange trim and black with silver trim, so far.

(Photo: David Walberg/SI)

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