There are dozens of golf apparel brands in the market these days, but few have captured the spirit, essence, and history of the game quite like Linksoul. Founded by golf apparel icon John Ashworth, Linksoul is more than a clothing brand; it is a philosophy that helps to connect players to the soul of the game.
A few months ago, Linksoul opened its first brick and mortar retail shop called Linksoul Lab. Just as the great links courses in Scotland sit on sand dunes that connect the land to the sea, the Linksoul Lab finds itself a block from the Pacific Ocean on the sand dunes of Huntington Beach. Fitting, to say the least.
In true Linksoul fashion, the Lab possesses a clean aesthetic and a laid back SoCal vibe. In addition to showcasing the depth and breadth of Linksoul’s products, it also offers a curated selection of brands that share the same passion and spirit (e.g. Seamus Golf, Hand Forged, Edel, Kronos, Bettinardi, Shinola). Sure, you will roll into the Lab looking for that polo shirt Ryan Moore was wearing last week, but you may walk out with a surfboard, a bike, or a set of vintage persimmon woods.
Recently, I sat down with Linksoul’s Director of Retail, Patrick Keegan, for an inside look at the Linksoul Lab. Check it out, and if you are ever in the Huntington Beach area, make sure a visit to the Lab is on your itinerary.
GolfThreads: Linksoul is sold at the top country clubs, resorts, and online retailers. Why is it important for the brand to have its own brick and mortar presence, too?
Patrick Keegan: We created the store to try to make a real connection with our customer. In golf, life and in business, at the end of the day, it’s about the people. So much of what we do is behind closed doors, so it’s an exciting opportunity to be able to open those doors and share what’s different about who we are and how we do things.
GT: Linksoul Lab is located just off the Pacific Coast Highway in the Pacific City shopping mall in Huntington Beach. This is a sick location just a block from the pier. Talk a little bit about the location and how it fits in with the Linksoul philosophy.
PK: If you look up “links” in the dictionary it will read: the sandy dunes that connect the land to the sea. This is where the game of golf began—on the links and coastlines. We feel we are connecting with the roots of our game, and catering to the locals who live and breathe surf culture. There is some pretty darn good golf in South LA too!
Our brand and our team have deep roots in Southern California. The small team at Linksoul has always been around surf and embraced the coastal culture. It’s not uncommon for our staff to surf in the morning before work, and walk 9 when we clock out.
Pacific City is an eclectic, outdoor shopping center right across the street from the beach. We think it caters to the customer who is coming to have a different experience than going to your average shopping mall. With homegrown brands and creative new restaurants, we feel we fit right in.
GT: From the artwork to the handmade furniture, the aesthetics of the Lab are amazing. How would you best describe the look and feel of the Lab and the overall shopping experience?
PK: We are trying to create something at Linksoul Lab that feels interactive, feels comfortable, and above all else is memorable for the customer. It’s a no pressure shopping experience with plenty to do that is outside of the shopping norm. From a high end putting lounge with 1 of 1 putters from Kronos, Edel, and Bettinardi, to custom shuffleboard and ping pong tables made exclusively for our shop, it’s a place to spend time and connect with the Linksoul culture. Come sit down and get comfortable…
GT: The holidays are quickly approaching. For people heading to the Linksoul Lab looking for gifts, what are a few of your favorite pieces from the latest collection that they should check out?
PK: Linksoul is an incredibly transitional brand; the apparel is appropriate for the golf course, but not specific to it.
I LOVE our LS208 Stretch Drytec buttondown. Designed to play hard in, it also works under a sports coat for whatever holiday function you have up your sleeve this season. I think this embodies everything we are as a brand. Do anything in this shirt.
I’m in our NEW stretch denim just about every day. They have a tapered fit but are far from skinny jeans. They have such a buttery feel; you’ll think you’re wearing sweatpants.
I could do this all day, but I will finish here: Our tees will change your life. With a ridiculously soft hand and even cooler graphics, this is the perfect gift for any golfer on your list. The best seller at Linksoul Lab is definitely our “Make Par / Not War” tee.
GT: Speaking of Linksoul t-shirts, I have a drawer full of them. What makes them so great and what are a few of your favorites?
PK: There is a subtle sophistication and attention to detail that goes into a Linksoul t-shirt. All of our tees are designed with a vintage-inspired silk screen that feels worn in like your favorites from college. Our Art Director, Geoff Cunningham, creates the graphics. He buries himself in our vintage golf archive at Linksoul to inject rich history in every piece of artwork that we release. The result is something truly special that easily resonates with golfers of all levels.
GT: Beyond Linksoul apparel, the Lab stocks a curated selection of top shelf lifestyle products, and even high-end putters from boutique manufacturers. What are a few of your favorite products from third-party brands that we can find at the Lab?
PK: Our partnerships are one of the things that is most fun about my job. I get to curate a handful of our favorite brands and work with some really creative people on making sure the shop is stocked with product that fits the Linksoul way of life.
Seamus Golf has been a great partner. We’ve helped them design some limited run headcovers, Hand Forged ball marks with Linksoul branding, and have worked with them on some great events.
Phillip Lapuz founder of Kronos Golf has been great since the brand’s inception, designing a putter from Linksoul aesthetic and involving us in many things he does. He is a true craftsman.
Shinola is one of my favorite brands, as well. This is my pick for a great holiday gift item. Handbuilt in Detroit; it’s tough to find a better-looking timepiece for the price point. This is such a cool brand and item.
GT: What are the plans for adding more retail locations? Specifically, when can we get a Linksoul Lab in the San Francisco area? (Hint, hint)
PK: What is special about Linksoul Lab is that the apparel can really fit anywhere. It is a brand inspired by coastal living, but we don’t necessarily need to sell surfboards when we open a Chicago location, for example. The men working on Madison Avenue can wear our polos and woven shirts to work without feeling like a golfer.
We think that as we open them, each retail space can be unique and feel indigenous to each location we select. For example, I think when we open a San Francisco shop; bikes may be heavier in the assortment. If we open a store in Charleston, SC, we may carry windsurfing equipment. For us, it’s all about being active and connecting with one another, so whatever the people of that area do recreationally, we want to be a part of that landscape.
GT: Besides the insane location, Linksoul also has something called ‘Mandatory Golf Friday.’ How do you juggle directing the Linksoul Lab and sneaking in a quick nine or trip to the practice range?
PK: We have to stay connected with why we decided to work in this industry. This is our effort to make sure we get out, walk nine, hit a basket of balls, or even roll a few putts in the living room at home. I for one owe a lot to my dad, a PGA Professional in Chicago, for sharing this beautiful game with me. It has shaped me as a person, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without golf. If you don’t get to play this great game, what’s the point?