Barefoot Shoes

True Linkswear Phx (Minimalist) Golf Shoes Review

In early 2011, TRUE linkswear brought barefoot shoes to the attention of golfers everywhere with the first golf shoe designed to be “the closest thing to a barefoot golfing experience as possible.” The shoes received rave reviews from golfers as they w…

In early 2011, TRUE linkswear brought barefoot shoes to the attention of golfers everywhere with the first golf shoe designed to be “the closest thing to a barefoot golfing experience as possible.” The shoes received rave reviews from golfers as they were the most comfortable shoe they’d ever worn both on and off the course (not much of a surprise coming from traditional shoes). I reviewed the Tour model primarily from a barefoot perspective, and while they weren’t the most barefoot feeling shoe I’ve golfed in, they were definitely the best barefoot shoe built for golfing. You can read my original review of the TRUE linkswear Tour here. Earlier this year TRUE linkswear released their entire 2012 line with a brand new sole and two new models (the Phx for men and Isis for women). I was able to compare the old and new Tour models, and have been testing out the new Phx for the past couple months. Overall, the new sole greatly improved the look of the shoes without altering the comfortable barefoot feel. The new Phx sports a more casual look at an extremely tempting price. Read on for my comparison of the old and new Tour minimalist golf shoes and a review of the new TRUE Linkswear Phx.

The New Sole Design (and TRUE Tour vs. Tour comparison)

A side-by-side look at the old TRUE Linkswear sole vs. the new soles for 2012.
A side-by-side look at the old TRUE Linkswear sole vs. the new soles for 2012.
The old sole — The most notable change to the TRUE Linkswear shoes in 2012 vs. 2011 comes with the updated sole, which has replaced the original sole. The original sole had visible cleats when viewed from the side and had 4mm square lugs as well as “stability bars” which spanned the width of the sole and the outer edge. As I pointed out in my original TRUE Tour review, the edge bars made flexing difficult except at the hinge points between them. The cleated look also made them difficult to wear casually off the course. The new sole has removed these bars and feels more flexible throughout the length of the sole. Overall, it feels pretty similar to the old design when walking, and has a stack height of about 10mm. The new sole — There is a ridge running around the rim of the sole, which they claim “creates a suction effect” to improve traction. I didn’t notice any difference in traction, but the rim really improves the aesthetics by removing/hiding the cleat look. The lugs have also been spread out with the introduction of some randomly spaced round lugs. I can’t see any added benefits here other than for aesthetics. The look and style of the previous sole made wearing the shoes casually off the course an issue, but with the new sole, I could see people potentially using these as an everyday shoe. The new sole looks awesome and viewing from the sides doesn’t give any indication that it’s a cleated shoe. Another big difference in the sole is the shape of the forefoot. Just eyeballing it, the width of the forefoot is maybe 1 cm less in the new sole. My feet measure halfway between D and EE, so I was worried this would affect the fit, but I didn’t notice any difference in the feel of this new sole (up to EE shouldn’t have any trouble). A major benefit of the slightly narrower forefoot width is an updated “look” to the whole shoe. Previously, the Tours had been referred to as “clown-like” from other reviewers as they looked long and wide. The new sole gives the shoes a more tapered-toe look without compromising the width, comfort, and barefoot feel. The 2012 TRUE Tour model also saw some other changes which helped improve the look of the shoe. The rubber outsole is two-toned color, which makes the sole look thinner or less noticeable. The lace loops were also updated to narrow nylon loops rather than the wide loops made from the leather upper. Lastly, the way the sock liner is stitched to the tongue of the shoe was updated and appears to hold in place better when putting on the shoe. All in all, the majority of the updates vastly improve the look of the shoe without compromising the barefoot feel. Here are a few photos of the old 2011 TRUE Linkswear Tour vs. the 2012 Tour:

The TRUE Linkswear Phx

The TRUE Linkswear Phx (for men) is a new more affordable minimalist golf shoe for men.
The TRUE Linkswear Phx (for men) is a new more affordable minimalist golf shoe for men.
The Phx is a brand new model this year to go along with the new soles. The sole of the Phx is identical to the new soles on the Tour/Stealth and looks and feels great. In my opinion, the Phx has a much more casual “tennis shoe” style look. It has a red stripe up the side and laces through eyeholes. There is no sockliner inside so it doesn’t have the slipper-like comfort of the Tour. That being said, it is still extremely comfortable. The thin sole and 5mm foam insert feel the same as the Tour model. Coming from wearing VIVOBAREFOOT and FiveFingers every day, the insert does provide noticeable cushion. While it slightly takes away from the barefoot feel, the cushion is nice after walking 3-5 miles on the course. If you read my previous review of the Tours, I only had a few nitpicky things to say about them from a barefoot standpoint (mainly toespring/toebox depth and the hard toe cap). The construction of the Phx (and new sole) seems to solve these issues for me. They lessened the toe spring on all the 2012 models, which gives more vertical wiggle room for my toes. Also, the design of the Phx puts the hard toe cap in a “U” shape that doesn’t cover my toes like the Tour did. My toes just feel a bit more free in them. However, the “U” shape toe cap does create a flexibility issue in exchange for the protection and durability of the roll/post toe. The sole doesn’t roll up or flex as well as other barefoot shoes, and the “U” toe cap creates one hinge point at the ball of the foot (end of toe cap). Luckily, it flexes in just the right spot so this isn’t a problem when walking. The sole also doesn’t seem to be very flexible along its length. Again, this is comparing to other barefoot shoes, as the TRUE’s are way more flexible than traditional golf styles.
A look at how the TRUE Linkswear Phx flexes when rolled up
A look at how the TRUE Linkswear Phx flexes when “rolled up.”
A look at how the new sole flexes when squeezed.
A look at how the new sole flexes when squeezed.
After wearing them for awhile, I really had a hard time finding anything negative about them. The only potential problem I’ve found is with the leather folds that connect the tongue to the shoe upper. The flaps are thick leather and when folded under and laced up, I immediately noticed the thick folds pushing into the top of my foot. I thought it would loosen up over time, but I don’t think the thickness will really change. I did not have this issue with either of the Tour models (perhaps due to the way the sockliner is stitched in). This may not even be an issue for everyone, and I definitely forgot about it as I played in them. Unlike the Tour and Stealth models, which are guaranteed waterproof for 2 years, the Phx are only water resistant. I didn’t notice any issues at all, but never got the chance to really test them in soaking wet situations. Here are some product photos of the Phx:


For reference, I wear a 10.5 in most shoes, Vibram 43, and Vivo Barefoot 44. I have bunions and my feet are fairly flat and exactly between a D and EE. TRUE linkswear recommends ordering a half size smaller than usual in the Phx (no sockliner makes them fit a bit larger/wider). I previously wore a 10.5 Tour perfectly and was worried going down to a 10 in the Phx would affect the fit lengthwise. However, the Phx 10 feels identical to the Tour 10.5 (and looks the same length on a side by side comparison). I would definitely recommend going down a half-size. If you’re not sure what size, they offer free shipping both ways so you can get it right.


The first thing you should notice about the Phx is the price. At $100, this shoe brings the TRUE linkswear brand into what I would call a “no excuse” price range. For the many average weekend warriors out there, spending $130-$200 on a golf shoe just sounds insane. Now those golfers can truly afford to go “barefoot” on the course. That being said, I still think the cost of the Tour ($150) and Stealth ($200) models is justified for the features, looks, and comfort you get. While I prefer the look of the Phx over the Tour, I think the Tour is more comfortable than Phx and may hold up better over the long run. I haven’t had a chance to test out the Stealth, and I’m curious how they feel compared to the Tour and Phx (I like the look of them best!). Either way, the Phx is still extremely comfortable and affordable.


There’s alot of debate out there about what it really takes for a shoe to deserve the barefoot label. As I mentioned in my previous review, the Tours (and now the Phx), are not the most “barefoot” shoe I’ve ever golfed in, but my FiveFingers’s and Vivobarefoot’s lack the features that make the True’s great golf shoes. The TRUE linkswear brand is certainly one of the most barefoot feeling golf shoes on the market. They have just the right amount of cushion to ease new people into the barefoot world of shoes, while still satisfying the extreme barefooters out there. And, although other companies are starting to enter the barefoot golf market, most golfers are probably unwilling to go to the barefoot extreme. TrueLinkswear has found a perfect balance for everyone, and with the new Phx, they now have a variety of comfortable styles and price ranges to get everyone golfing “barefoot.” Finally, here are some comparative photos between the original Tour and the new Phx. Questions or comments, let’s hear it!

By Philip

In 2009, I switched to "barefoot" shoes after years of bunion and arch pain from my "normal" shoes. I wanted shoes that let my feet feel and move as they do barefoot. I have a master's degree in exercise physiology and love discussing the benefits of minimal footwear. I have also run tech clinics teaching retail associates and customers about Vibram FiveFingers shoes and transitioning to minimal footwear.

11 replies on “True Linkswear Phx (Minimalist) Golf Shoes Review”

I picked up a pair of these earlier in the spring. They are great golf shoes. I find they are more substantial and have less ground feel than my treks, but are better by a mile from other golf shoes. The upper is fairly thick, so I find my feet get pretty hot when it is warm outside. On those really hot days, I will still golf in my treks. Early mornings and cool, rainy days are perfect for these shoes. It’s so nice to have some ground feel and not have cold, wet feet.

I agree completely. As a ‘barefoot shoe’ they are a little thick/heavy. As a golf shoe, these offer about as good of a balance as you’ll get. The grip is awesome, and I like the look of them. If you are a minimalist shoe wearer and are looking for golf shoes, these will fit the bill perfectly!

What are more barefoot golf shoes that you have tried? I currently play mostly in my NB MT10 but they have seen better days.

The Yeti: I agree, minimalist shoe wearers will love them. Even better though, is that non-minimalist golfers are loving them. I like that True linkswear is taking barefoot shoes to people that might never have considered the idea of minimal/barefoot footwear.

Kris King: There aren’t too many barefoot shoes designed specifically for golf. The closest to barefoot (and most comfortable) I’ve felt while golfing has been in FiveFinger Treks, due to the way they fit my foot with the thin sole and great flexibility. I only wear minimal shoes, so I used to just golf in my everyday barefoot shoes: various FiveFingers (Trek, Trek Sport, KSO) and Vivobarefoots (EvoII, Neo).

I haven’t golfed in NB MT10/00 or Merrell barefoots (both are too narrow for me). I have heard some people like the Merrells for golf. While these other shoes do feel more barefoot, I would emphasize that the TRUE’s have features better suited for golfing (roll/post toe cap, water resistance, etc.). Now I primarily wear the TRUE’s but will definitely mix in my Treks on dry days. Recently I’ve also been testing out the new hybrid golf shoe from Vivobarefoot (review coming soon).

Thanks Justin,

These shoes are amazing for the avarage golfer i see in my medical clinic who usually has at least one knee or hip replacement and needs to walk to stay well. These older and more conservative golfers will not wear VFF into the club or walking around town. My 75 yo father (hip and knee replacement) is likely the most skeptical and conservative person you will meet with anything “new”. He tried them on and has been playing in them all spring. Loves them and has several friends wanting a pair. Fred Couples is the proof that golfers need to be flat and grounded, like Sam Snead practicing barefoot.

Mark Cucuzzella MD

I am not a golfer by any means, but play an occasional round when a brother from out of state visits. I do not have any of the VFF Treks, as I am not a fan of the Trek sole. I do have a pair of Vivo Barefoot Hydrophobic trails. They have a fairly aggressive lug on them. Have you ever golfed in these? I think they would suffice, but have not had a chance to try them out yet.

I got a pair of the black Phx TRUE shoes recently. I had not worn them before playing 54 holes in two days in the Palm Springs heat, and they held up very well. I didn’t have a problem with the shoes being too hot, and that was in near 100 degree temps.

Very good ground feel for a true golf shoe (as opposed to a trail shoe or VFFs), although it is not quite like wearing VFFs or VivoBarefoots with no liner. However, the wide toe box, minimal sole and no drop was much closer to a true barefoot shoe than any other golf shoe I’ve seen. These are much closer to barefoot shoes than the Ecco street shoes or the new Adidas line. I give the Phx a thumbs up.

As a competitive collegiate golfer I can say these are great shoes. I put a lot of time in my golf shoes and have worn everything from adidas to footjoy to nike to ecco and other brands in between. I was a little worried that the spikeless sole on True’s would not be as stable and that I might lose traction on some of my harder swings but this is not the case at all. They feel like slippers when you put them on and the ground feel is great. In fact I think this is one of the best benefits of the shoe that you can easily judge the firmness of whatever you are standing on whether it be in the rough, fairway, and especially in bunkers and to feel the break in the greens. Whats also great is that I can wear these to class all morning and not get weird looks about my golf shoes. I haven’t had these for very long but my best round in them so far is a 70.

A general about me is that I just finished up my sophomore year in college. I have won one collegiate golf tournament and hope to add many more to that in the next couple years. I am very into fitness, and I started running about a year ago. The first race I ever ran was a half marathon earlier this spring and finished in 1:48:40 and have since transitioned to barefoot running, ditching my nikes for VFF Bikilas. I have been following birthday shoes for a few months now and love all the reviews and posts. Thanks! and keep it up!


Mr Leigh: I have not golfed in the Neo Trails specifically, but Vivobarefoot also released a golf shoe called the “Hybrid” with that same sole. I’m currently testing them out and will have a review here soon, but based on the similar soles, you could definitely try out the Neo Trails on the course.

Vitor: Yes, these are zero-drop.

Scott and Fred: Thanks for sharing your experiences with the Phx! I agree that although not quite as barefoot as some shoes, they are extremely barefoot for a golf shoe. And, the new 2012 versions work really well as everyday shoes off the course.

A month ago I purchased a pair of True Stealth. These look like any other shoes I might wear to the office. I do not golf but I do live in a snowy mountain town with a long winter. With the waterproofing and cleats these are looking like the best winter street shoe I have seen. Walking a couple of miles into town on pavement the cleats are hardly noticeable and completely comfortable.

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