October 17, 2003
One of the advantages of writing a golf column is that people in golf-related businesses frequently want to give me stuff.
I have no problem with this arrangement, for one simple reason–I give an honest assessment of whatever I’m offered to review.
After all, there’s no point to being a mere shill, with no credibility. The fact is that the marketing people for these golf businesses understand and expect that a fair appraisal of their products or services is better for them in the long run than an unthinking, uncritical endorsement.
A few weeks ago, for example, a Santa Ana, California golf bag manufacturer named X-Sports Inc. sent an e-mail to me and other members of the Golf Writers Association of America. The company makes a full range of golf bags for other companies, who sell the bags with their brand names on them.
Now X-Sports is branching out, to sell their bags under their own name. Their newest product is called the Sport Utility Golf (S.U.G.) bag.
According to the press release, golfers should “Think of it as the perfect solution for the golfer whose ego won’t let him get a full-time, full-featured cart bag but his shoulders won’t sustain a stand bag for 18 holes.”
Now there’s a market niche. Most golfers I know have no interest in using a golf bag that looks like the behemoth used by Rodney Dangerfield in the all-time golf movie classic, “Caddyshack.”
On the other hand, some stand bags don’t look like they would last an entire season. Other carry bags have barely enough room in them for a full-size golf towel, much less a rain suit or umbrella.
X-Sports asked if they could send an S.U.G. bag for a product review. I was happy to oblige. When UPS delivered it to the Cape Gazette offices, the box caused a bit of teasing about selling out from Dennis Forney, the newspaper’s publisher.
I pressed on, however, and gave the bag a real workout.
I took everything out of my regular golf bag and put all my irons, woods, balls, gloves, towels, and other golf paraphenalia into the new 9-inch wide, 1200 Denier Nylon S.U.G. bag, brightly colored in Black, Champagne, and Burgundy.
I ran out of stuff to put in it long before I figured out what could go in each of its 13 pockets.
For example, two full-length clothing pockets can easily hold several towels in one and a two-piece rain suit in the other. One small, microfiber-lined pocket is great for a cell phone or other sensitive items. The umbrella holder uses two loops of fabric and an adjustable slider at the top for a secure fit. Two netted beverage holders next to the golf ball pocket will handle water bottles or similar drinks.
There are 7 full-length dividers on top, with the front section’s lip lowered a bit for the putter. The two legs for the stand unfold easily. In addition, the bag includes a small Velcro®-equipped belt that holds the stand legs in place while strapped to a golf cart or pull cart.
A padded double-shoulder sling is easily adjustable before and during the round, with a padded backing on the bag to make carrying even easier. The rain shield snaps into place quickly, with its own zipper access for easy use.
I carried the bag for one round, and used it on a pull cart in another round a few days later. On both occasions, the S.U.G. model worked fine.
It’s bigger than the stand bag I’ve been using, but it’s light and easily carried. The bag also sits nicely on a pull cart, and the leg strap did its job.
The S.U.G. is offered in three other color schemes in addition to the version they sent me: Black/Burgundy/Silver, Black/Burnt Orange/Silver, and Black/Sonic Blue/Silver. The suggested retail price is $149, and the list of retailers carrying the X-Sports brands is growing. The company’s website is www.xsportsinc.com.