TRUE Linkswear Tour Golf Shoes - 2013 Update/Review
TRUE linkswear is releasing new styles for 2014, but I wanted to share some thoughts on last year's update to the TRUE shoe that started it all. In 2011, the original tour was TRUE's debut entry into the minimal golf shoe world, and while it was extremely comfortable it had the quirks of being a first generation shoe design. In 2013, they released an updated version of the TRUE tour, which was a great improvement in the look and quality of the shoe while maintaining the barefoot feel and comfort. New designs continue to come along, but the tour model is still in the core lineup, and now at a lower price, it is definitely worth considering if you spend any time swinging a golf club. You can read the original tour review here and read on for my thoughts on the updated TRUE tour.
I went back and looked at my overview of the original tours and much of it holds true today. The updated tour has simply improved every aspect of the shoe I had an issue with.
The TRUE tour is a zero drop golf shoe with a very thin 2.5 mm sole and good ground feel even with 4 mm lugs.
The foam insert, some toe spring, and a stiff leather toe cap detract a little from a "barefoot" experience, butthe wide toe box, sole flexibility, and lack of arch support really do create a very comfortable minimal shoe. Other minimal options may provide better barefoot feel, but lack some of the features that make the TRUEs a great golf shoe. Overall they have a great balance of traction, flexibility, and barefoot feel, combined with complete waterproofing in a minimal design specifically built to hold up to round after round of golf. As far as golf shoes go, the TRUE linkswear shoes are the closest "barefoot experience" you can get from a golf shoe.
The last line doesn't quite hold true anymore simply because they aren't the only barefoot golf option anymore. However, they are still a great "barefoot" experience, and aren't so extremely minimal that they'd be too hard for the average golfer to wear them. I would even argue these are the perfect transition shoe for golfers looking to make the switch to the comfort of minimal shoes both on and off the course.
One of the best features of the new tour is the improved aesthetics. The new TRUE tour keeps the overall saddle style of the original, but several other small tweaks add up to much better presentation. The premium leather upgrade for the upper feels a bit sturdier, more comfortable, and definitely gives the shoe a more polished look while maintaining the waterproof qualities necessary in a golf shoe. This is the same leather that originally came with the much more expensive TRUE stealth model.
Another small change is the lacing setup. The original tour laced through large folded leather loops, but these have been replaced with smaller and cleaner looking nylon loops. Overall the tongue area of the shoe just looks much nicer. The tongue itself is improved and is thicker and slightly padded. And on the inside of the tongue the shoe keeps the elastic "sock-fit liner" which wraps your snugly around your midfoot. I remember liking this feature in the original and the approach has been improved slightly and it still maintains the comfortable slipper like feel around my foot.
The biggest change to the TRUE tour is the updated sole, which has a new shape as well as lug design (called the TRUE ninja outsole). The original tour was described by some as looking like "clown shoes" given the wide oblong shape of the sole and upper. The intent was perfect in that they were wide to accommodate many foot sizes. The updated sole clearly cuts in more sharply to create more of a "point", but not at the expense of width. Its new shape has the perfect balance of maintaining a wide toebox but looking like a "normal" shoe.
The other major change to the sole was the layout of the lug design. Supposedly the new layout enhances traction performance for golf, but I honestly haven't noticed a difference and have never had problems in either sole design. The thing I did notice about the sole was the look. While they eluded to the idea that their shoes could be worn on or off the golf course, the original tour sole was clearly a cleated look and could not work well in a casual off the golf course setting. The new updated sole removed all signs of cleats from the profile view, and they can actually pass pretty well in a casual setting (although there are still lugs on the bottom, they're more hidden). Given that I don't really have any waterproof barefoot options, I've definitely worn my new tours to work whenever it rains. I wouldn't get them just for this purpose, but if you're a golfer, it's a really nice bonus to be able to use your golf shoes off the course.
One of my complaints with the original tour was the narrow depth of the toe box. The updated tour has fixed that issue with a reshaping of the sole and last giving plenty of wiggle room for my toes. The barefoot feel of the shoe is the same or even potentially enhanced with the flexibility of the ninja sole. These certainly aren't the most barefoot feeling shoe I own (or the most barefoot golf shoe for that matter), but I actually prefer the thicker foam insole for long walks on the golf course. And that said, at about 6 mm, they certainly aren't very thick and blow away traditional golf shoes in flexibility and comfort. The function of the tour hasn't changed, so you still get a great golf shoe with plenty of traction and waterproofing.
I ended my review of the original tour by saying they were the most comfortable and most barefoot feeling golf shoe. Now a few years later, the updated tour still remains one of my most comfortable shoes, but it isn't the most barefoot golf shoe I own. However, I still go to my TRUEs because I don't need extreme barefoot feel when I'm golfing and these provide the best of flexibility and feel with the perfect amount of cushion. I definitely prefer the tours over the newer TRUE models sensei and proto, because that sole structure hurts my semi-wide foot (we'll save that discussion for a different day). I have yet to try any of the upcoming 2014 releases, but I can definitely recommend the new TRUE tour for anyone looking for a comfortable, good looking, and waterproof golf shoe that you can use on and off the golf course.