The year was 2010. Fred Couples strolled to the first tee at Augusta National in shoes that the world of golf had never seen before. Traditionalists laughed. “Did Freddie forget to change out of his sneaks? Where are the cleats? How many times is he going to slip and fall?”
As Couples climbed the leaderboard over the weekend, those laughs turned into sales. The polyurethane bars on the bottom of the rubber sole provided all the traction he needed, even in the wet conditions. Some called them hybrids. Others called them skateboarding shoes. ECCO called them Golf Street Shoes. Everyone called them game changers. According to CNBC, ECCO projected to sell 2,000 pairs that year. Before all was said and done, over 150,000 pairs were ordered.
ECCO revolutionized the outsole of the golf shoe in 2010, and the Danish brand is at it again. For 2017, ECCO has launched the Cage Pro with the innovative new SPYDR-GRIP outsole. Check out the bottom of this shoe! Much like those casual kicks Couples laced up seven years ago, the funky SPYDR-GRIP outsole is unlike anything we have seen on the fairways.
As random as the webbed pattern of the SPYDR-GRIP appears to be, it is anything but. The organic design uses the foot’s natural pivot points to provide top-shelf traction, balance, and stability throughout the swing—from backswing to follow through.
I have to admit I was as skeptical of the SPYDR-GRIP outsole as I was of Freddie’s skateboarding shoes in 2010. At first glance, it looked rigid and slick. How is this going to work?
By now I should know better than to doubt ECCO’s technology. After just a few holes, I realized the genius of the outsole. Looks can be deceiving and the SPYDR-GRIP is actually quite soft, flexible and lightweight. In fact, the Cage Pro is the best pure walking shoe I’ve worn this season. This is the time of the year when longer days turn 18 holes into 27, 36, or more, and this shoe has the comfort and performance to go the distance. If you are the type of player who likes to sling a carry bag over your shoulder and take a stroll down the fairways, then the Cage Pro should be on your must-try list this summer.
Of course, the only person who may be happier with your purchase of the Cage Pro will be your local greenskeeper. The unique outsole with small, raised nubs proves that top-shelf grip and a green friendly design do not have to be mutually exclusive. Seriously, your greenskeeper should be lobbying for your head pro to give you a discount on this shoe or you should get a few dollars off your green fees for wearing it.
A big part of the superior traction offered by the Cage Pro has to do with the fact that the SPYDR-GRIP outsole rejects dirt and grass like Dikembe Mutombo used to reject basketballs. Shoes with aggressive traction systems should provide the best grip, right? In theory, yes. In reality, many of these outsoles connect you to the ground so well that they quickly become clogged with grass and mud. The result? A loss of traction. Hmmm. That’s not how that’s supposed to work.
Thanks to its shallow webbed design and flexibility, the Cage Pro’s SPYDR-GRIP rids itself of debris with every step. Say goodbye to dirty trunks and forget about stopping at that old shoe cleaning brush from 1958 on your way to the parking lot.
With the exception of a few minor improvements, the upper of the Cage Pro possesses a similar look and many of the same features I loved about last year’s Cage model. Hey, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
The most noteworthy and visually striking feature is the one-piece, DiP stability cage, which wraps around the heel, through the midsole, and across the toe box for a complete loop of stability. This cage design combined with a narrow heel and a lightly padded, contoured tongue helps to keep the foot in place and provides that ‘locked in’ feeling that pros and top amateurs demand. Although the heel has a snug fit, the well thought out design of the forefoot allows the toes to spread out for greater balance, comfort, and stability.
The special inlay sole is another carry-over from the previous generation. It can be slipped into the shoe to create a narrower fit, or it can be removed to give players with wider feet or those who wear orthotics a little extra room. This is a brilliant idea and I’m surprised more shoe companies haven’t adopted this approach. For retailers and golf shops, it removes a variable from the purchasing process as it solves the question of how many regular and wide widths should be stocked in various sizes.
ECCO did make a change in the leather used on the upper of the Cage Pro from its predecessor. The brand traded the hardwearing Caldera leather on the Cage for a Dritton leather on the Cage Pro. The Dritton offers even more durability and breathability. It is also softer, more luxurious, and more flexible than the Caldera. Like the uppers on all ECCO golf shoes, Dritton leather is treated with the brand’s HYDROMAX technology to provide resistance against morning dew and those summer showers.
From a style standpoint, the Cage Pro possesses sporty looks and an athletic stance. The modern silhouette and toe-up design will work best with a pair of technical pants or shorts this summer, while the four colorways (white, black, concrete, and camel) with tonal heel cages offer clean aesthetics.
In addition to the laced model, ECCO is also offering a model with the BOA closure system. If you are looking for the biggest trend in golf footwear in 2017, forget about stylish colors or bouncy foams. These alternative lacing systems are all the rage this year. As goofy as I thought the concept was when BOA first appeared on the fairways, the fit and stability that it offers are amazing. Plus, ECCO has elegantly incorporated the BOA dial into the tongue of the shoe. If you haven’t given BOA a try, now is the time. Look for the Cage Pro BOA in black and shadow white.