This PGA Tour pro may have the coolest side hustle in pro golf

Jason and Ryan Moore

Jason (left) and Ryan Moore give the feel test to fabric samples in their TRUE workshop.

Courtesy of True Linkswear

Ryan Moore has always done things his way.

Consider his quirky full swing, a mash-up of Jim Furyk’s and Fred Couples’. It became familiar to golf fans back in 2004 when Moore became the fourth player to win the NCAA Individual Championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year, following Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Also in ’04, he won the U.S. Amateur Public Links for the second time, as well as the prestigious Western Amateur and the Sahalee Players Championship, underlining perhaps the greatest season for an amateur since Bobby Jones’ 1930 Grand Slam.

Five PGA Tour wins and $33 million in earnings since turning professional in 2005 have established Moore, now 40 and a resident of Las Vegas, as a pro’s pro. But what marks him as distinct these days is no longer his swing or his ability to make cuts, cash checks and keep his card. It’s his side hustle.

He runs a golf shoe company.

For some Americans, a side hustle is a necessity. For others, it’s a hobby, something to scratch the entrepreneurial itch, to keep in touch with a hardscrabble upbringing, to be creative, to meet people, what have you. Mini-tour golfers generally fall in the former category, top-tier pros like Moore in the latter.

Tour pros have a long history of side hustles. In the early days, when prize money was rarely sufficient to live on, the Tour itself was essentially a side hustle — many players had day jobs or seasonal gigs as head professionals or insurance salesmen. That changed with the advent of the modern PGA Tour, thanks largely to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

The King and the Golden Bear (along with the agent they shared for a time, Mark McCormack of IMG, before Nicklaus ventured out on his own) also pioneered the role of golfer-businessman. Golf clubs, golf courses, iced tea and lemonade — their names were on lots of stuff and still are today. Their impact remains strong, too, as players famous and semi-famous swim in their wake.

These side hustles likewise fall broadly into two buckets: endorsements and entrepreneurial endeavors. Putting one’s name on a bottle of wine is one thing; owning vineyards, working with a vintner to pick the grape varietals, setting up employee health-care plans and so on is quite another. Given the demands on their time, it’s no surprise that many Tour pros lean heavily on endorsements — but not all.

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The business portfolio of Bubba Watson, for example, is as varied as his shotmaking arsenal. It includes a candy shop (Bubba’s Sweet Spot), a car dealership (Sandy & Bubba’s Milton Chevrolet), part ownership of a double-A minor league baseball club (the Pensacola Blue Wahoos), an apartment complex and a driving range — all set in and around his home base in the Florida Panhandle.

Two of golf’s biggest names, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, bring an altruistic element to at least some of their business ventures, as their investments in what some call “the alt-golf space” show. This includes their partnering on the forthcoming TGL Golf League, where teams will play virtual golf in front of live crowds, and their dueling high-end mini golf/entertainment/dining concepts: Popstroke and Puttery.

“Regarding TGL, it’s just another way for people to consume golf — a little more dynamic, very much technology-infused, trying to appeal to that younger demographic that doesn’t have five hours to watch a round of golf,” McIlroy says. “What we’re trying to do with Puttery, what Tiger’s trying to do with Popstroke as well, it’s all about trying to give people a less intimidating introduction to golf.

“At the end of the day that’s what we’re trying to do, to get more people into the game of golf,” he says. “It’s great to have Puttery make business sense, but if it gets more people to play golf that’s the end goal.”

Ryan Moore is scratching a different itch. In 2009, Ryan and his younger brother, Jason, helped cofound TRUE, a golf footwear company emphasizing walking players and modern designs, in their native Tacoma, Wash. (They secured full ownership in 2017.) Jason was always the business-minded one. Take, for example, the driving range that their father owned back when they were boys.

“I would spend most of my day out on the range pounding balls,” Ryan recalls, “and my little brother would set up a stand in front of the range where he sold refurbished golf balls.”

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Jason and Ryan have always been more ham-and-egg than Cain and Abel; the younger brother eventually became caddie to the older brother on Tour and never had to worry about getting his fair share for the week. And when Jason decided it was time to pursue his TRUE calling, Ryan was right there with him, at least to the extent possible as a full- time player.

“As of right now, I don’t have any daily responsibilities with the business,” says Ryan. “I have a few phone calls per week to go over new product and business development ideas. I sit on our board and enjoy our quarterly meetings where we review progress and go over next steps and strategy. I like to think I’m a good sounding board for the company.”

In golf terms, the business has been driving long and straight recently. An $11.25 million capital infusion from private equity firm KarpReilly in 2021 helped expand TRUE’s reach and product line. Bottoms, including pants and joggers, were launched last year; outerwear and polos debuted this year, with apparel expected soon to comprise 20 percent of sales if the strong early reception continues.

While Ryan underscores that president and CEO Jason is the one calling the shots — “My brother is the real driving force; he’s the reason TRUE has become the great brand that it is” — Ryan’s attitude toward golf and business clearly underpins the TRUE spirit. Talking about the brand, he could easily be talking about his unique swing.

“I’m never satisfied to just do what has always been done,” says Ryan. “I like to ask why and think through if it could possibly be better another way. Not being afraid to try new things and to keep exploring and learning overlaps nicely between golf and business.”

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A former executive editor of GOLF Maga­zine, Rothman is now a remote contract freelancer. His primary role centers around custom publishing, which en­tails writing, editing and procuring client approval on travel advertorial sections. Since 2016, he has also written, pseudonymously, the popular “Rules Guy” monthly column, and often pens the recurring “How It Works” page. Rothman’s freelance work for both GOLF and runs the gamut from equipment, instruc­tion, travel and feature-writing, to editing major-championship previews and service packages.