The allure of scale can be a strong incentive for any small business. For TRUE linkswear, a boutique west coast golf shoe and apparel outfit, going too big too quickly proved to be a setback.
The Tacoma, Washington-based company was founded in 2009 with its co-owner, PGA Tour player Ryan Moore, emerging onto TV screens showing off a comfortable, casual-looking golf shoe and cranking big drives with low heels. That spurred curiosity in this new fit and gained a following amongst the golfing converts to a spikeless, lifestyle shoe coast-to-coast.
Fast forward to 2016 and TRUE had grown in reach and name recognition with the aid of major retail partners, but back in the Pacific Northwest offices, ownership had also determined the demands of supplying the Big-Box beast had caused a loss of control of their brand. It was around this time ownership huddled up and decided to go back to a focus on direct-to-consumer marketing and smaller, simpler deals with retail partners.
"We want to make really awesome shoes, dictate price and what goes into them," said Brandon Wallach, VP of Marketing at TRUE.
"We can make limited edition models with 500 pairs, try it out and see what happens."
For the consumer, one major benefit now that they've gone back to calling their own shots is the company has its own customer care team and sets its return policy. In their case, it's a 30-day guarantee on all their shoes. You can play in them as much as you want in 30 days and send them back, worn and all if you're not satisfied. TRUE typically donates the returned shoes locally.
Today's TRUE has an efficient lineup of shoes with both the 'zero drop' heel they're known for and also models that have a 6-8mm drop from heel to toe. All their models come with a wide toebox to support front-of-foot comfort. The OG Feel ($139) model is a super lightweight (8.7 oz) and flexible shoe. It's the closest thing out there in a golf shoe to playing barefoot. You'll feel everything under your feet - good for feeling the soft turf on your swings, though noticeable when trekking through stone-riddled waste areas in search of misbehaving balls.
The TRUE Lux Pro ($199), meanwhile, features a 6mm drop from the heel, stiffer premium upper leathers and two-year waterproof guarantee. It's a performance shoe with more support for walking and has a solid grip under your feet on big swings for a lifestyle shoe void of removable spikes. A blend of the TRUE Lux Pro and OG Feel is the TRUE OG Premium, combining the TRUE Original with premium leathers.
Personal verdict on the latest TRUE footwear
TRUE Linkswear, like other lifestyle golf shoes in the space, wins over golfers first with comfort and also because they don't really look like golf shoes at all and can be worn during a variety of activities. My first trip out of the house in the low-heel, super-light OG Feel wasn't to the golf course but to the gym for deadlifting. If you like cruising around the neighborhood in the closest thing to bare feet, the OG Feel is a treat. On the golf course, compared to my Ecco Biom Hybrid 3 GTX, the OG Feel is lighter and the grip performs well on big swings, but initially fatigued my heel more when hoofing 18 holes. The foot needs to grow accustomed to this fit if your other shoes aren't as such. The TrueLux Pro, however, has much more cushion underfoot and the 6mm drop. It's sturdier and grippier on swings than the Eccos.
I still keep a pair of Under Armour and Adidas golf shoes in the closet with removable soft spikes for wet and rainy days. Let the shoes that look like golf shoes get muddy.