The first time I pulled out my new pair of True Linkswear Game Changer Hybrids out of their signature red shoe box I thought to myself, these are impossibly white. How the hell am I going to keep them this way? This was back in March in New York, where an ungodly stretch of storms dumped snow on us week after miserable week. For me, product testing of the shoe involved trudging through snow, ice and salt to the pro shop to hit balls in an indoor bay. I’m happy to say that the Game Changer Hybrids live up to their waterproof guarantee and have surprisingly good traction in blizzard conditions. Plus, the leather uppers are easy to wipe down. Of course, you don’t care about how a golf shoe performs off the course (in the snow).
As the temperature warmed up allowing courses to re-open, I was finally able to audition the Game Changers where they properly belong. The shoes were comfortable and performed amicably – and I’ll have more to say on the matter shortly. But the reason I began writing this review with a quirky anecdote about wearing them in the snow, besides the fact that it seemed like a fun way to open a story about a golf shoe, is that it feels exactly like one of the many candid, and occasionally strange, customer testimonials True Linkswear posts on their website.
This is the perfect golf shoe for players who may want to play 36 holes from sunrise to sunset
Although the company has been around since 2011, True Linkswear continues to fly under the radar, making the most of their underdog status in the golf footwear marketplace. The company’s marketing budget is modest and the player endorsement deals are limited to that of PGA tour pro Ryan Moore (a co-owner in the company) and Inbee Park on the LPGA tour. True Linkswear relies primarily upon word-of-mouth from a dedicated fan base – the kind of passionate tribe you’d find in a sport like running, which shouldn’t be the least bit surprising.
It seems like more than just mere coincidence that True Linkswear made its debut right about the time the barefoot running era began to take off in the United States. Every single shoe introduced by True Linkswear, including the Game Changer Hybrid, epitomizes a back-to-basics approach. That means a typical True Linkswear golf shoe supports the natural motion of the foot using a biomechanically correct design.
All shoes from True Linkswear meet the following criteria:
- Zero Drop – by eliminating the forced heal found in many other golf shoes, the foot rests lower to the ground to improve stability and posture.
- Wide Toe Box – let’s the toes spread out increasing stability, balance and feel.
- Light Weight – True Linkswear shoes range from 10 to 14 ounces.
- Thin Sole – less material means having a closer proximity to the turf allowing a golfer to be more stable and generate power from the ground up.
- Flexible – having a less rigid outsole allows the foot to flex naturally as you walk and swing.
I was really surprised how much I enjoyed wearing the Game Changer Hybrids out on the golf course. Like many golfers who took up the game wearing traditional shoes, I harbored concerns that a hybrid shoe with spikeless treads wouldn’t let my feet stay connected to the ground. To a lesser extent, I was worried that a thinner outsole wouldn’t provide enough cushion to endure the five-mile hike a typical round of golf requires.
I went through a similar eye-opening experience when I took up running a few years ago. Like many other novice runners, I chose my first pair of shoes based on conventional thinking. Back then my running shoes had thick soles, even thicker padding in the heal and other over-engineered elements designed to separate my foot from the pavement. After battling shin splints for a couple of years, I finally convinced myself to roll the dice on a pair of lightweight, zero-drop shoes made by an independent company in Oregon called Skora. Within a few of weeks my shin splints went away and my enjoyment of running returned.
I’m willing to bet you’ll have a similar experience wearing a pair of Game Changer Hybrids, especially if your current golf shoes are causing you discomfort when walking. These lightweight shoes are a blast to play in. They’re fitted with a thin, durable rubber mesh liner that resides in the midsole. True Linkswear calls it P-Motion. It’s a proprietary EVA foam that absorbs shock and cushions your step. The P-Motion liner has almost a memory-foam like quality to it which allows your pair of True’s to feel brand new every time you put them on.
“This is the perfect golf shoe for players who may want to play 36 holes from sunrise to sunset or for the golf teacher who’s on his or her feet all day. That’s how comfortable these are,” says Jason Moore, True Linkswear’s Vice President of Product Development. “The combination of P-Motion rubber mesh and foam midsole along with the rubber tread outsole, in combination with the sock fit mid-foot and wide toe box – you’ll have to find a good reason to take these shoes off your feet.”
If you’ve never worn a pair of True’s, the initial experience might feel a little foreign at first. I certainly wasn’t used to slipping on a golf shoe with so much room in the toe box. I was also surprised by sensation of feeling my feet sink ever so slightly towards the ground. While what I’m describing might sound jarring, maybe even off-putting, it really doesn’t take long to adjust to it. And after about a hole or two, I forgot about wearing the shoes and just played golf.
In terms of performance, the Game Changer Hybrids have pretty good traction. I never felt uncertain making a full swing. Compared to playing in spikes, the Game Changers don’t have nearly the same cement- like stability that most of us are used to. But given what we know philosophically about True Linkswear, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The company wants golfers to feel unrestricted wearing their shoes. For me, that meant my feet rolled when they needed to and pivoted freely.
Honestly, I’m sure there will be times (probably when the course is wet) when I’ll miss the superior gripping power of spikes. But a small loss in traction is a reasonable price to pay for comfort, if you ask me. All I know is that my feet were blister-free at the end of my round and were ready for an emergency nine.
As for the shoes, they did look a little game-worn. The leather uppers were no longer sparkling white and some light creases were beginning to form on the front of the shoe where I push off on my downswing. I also noticed that the bottom of the shoes took a mild beating. There was superficial discoloration of the tread near the ball of my foot which I’ve been told is simply a peeling of the paint layer on top of the rubber tread. Moore says, “this is a problem we found in the first sample batch of shoes which we’ve now addressed and have improved the molding process. Harsh chemicals (found on most courses), heat and standard wear and tear were wearing down the paint layer quicker than anticipated. However this is merely a cosmetic issue and should have no effect on the durability of the outsole.”
Exactly how long a pair of Game Changer Hybrids are expected to last is a question I can’t answer based on my brief experience wearing them. Plus, the durability of the shoe will vary from person to person depending how often they lace them up. That being said, True Linkswear likes to think of their shoes as being capable of handling anything you throw at them. Apparently someone took them up on that offer a few years back and ran in a pair of True Linkswear Sensei golf shoes in the Portland Marathon. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I’m not sure what is.
Personally, I’m looking forward to playing many more rounds wearing the Game Changer Hybrids ($169.99 MSRP) and seeing how long they can keep going. Eventually, even the best running shoes give out. If a pair of golf shoes from True Linkswear lasts even half as long, I’ll consider it a good investment for my game, as well as my feet.
Originally published on AmateurGolf.com