By Jeffrey A. Rendall
The game of golf has come a long way. So have golf bags.
I remember my first golf bag; it was made of so much canvas you could've sailed it. It was a Christmas present when I was about 10, and I used it to drag around my Dad's clubs that I borrowed and anything else I could scrounge up. It didn't have any pockets--so whatever I'd need, I'd have to haul. If there was anything good about it at all--it was light! It looked dirty after about three rounds--but it didn't matter, I was a kid.
My second golf bag I got when I was in college, along with a sparkling new set of clubs. Matching head covers to boot. It was sharp. It even had a couple pockets--a large one along the side for just about everything except balls--and a smaller pocket near the handle for balls and tees. A decent cheap bag--served its initial purposes well. But the diameter was about seven inches--it was made in the pre-graphite shaft days when it didn't matter how much your clubs clanked together. But things have changed. The game's changed--so have I.
I've entered the world of modern golf. Modern golf is made up of beautiful new layouts that take advantage of natural topographical features to present a visually pleasing yet challenging layout. In the process, the old days of having tees and greens near each other are quickly waning. Classic architects designed courses for practicality as well as great golf. One of the dictates of the game was that you had to walk it. Course designers took that into consideration, and gave a break to duffers who couldn't schlep their bags for a mile from one hole to the next.
These days, it's not uncommon to have a couple city blocks to walk from one green to the next tee--and that's not good for pace of play or a club's bottom line. As a result, we're seeing many more 'mandatory' cart rules. Most upscale clubs don't even bother differentiating a walking rate from a 'with cart' rate--it's just assumed that you'll take a cart--and if you don't, you still pay for it.
As a result, I needed a bag that could keep pace with the game. I needed a bag with more room than Rodney Dangerfield's bag in Caddyshack. I needed a bag that is durable, nice to look at, and practical. One that can stand up to the elements and be easy to clean. And one that will be 'modern' enough to keep me from needing another bag for a long time--if ever.
I found the answer with the Burton Millennium.
Burton claims that the Millennium model is its "#1" cart bag. That sounded good enough for me! Actually, I compared the Millennium to other bags in several different ways-- practicality, appearance, price, and yes, size. In modern golf, size does matter--no getting around it.
First, practicality. As noted above, we golfers these days like to haul around more stuff -- and we want quick access to it when we want it. As a result, I looked for a bag that not only has a lot of pockets, but has them readily accessible for quick use. The Burton Millennium design came out on top -- simply because all its nine pockets are easy to reach when strapped into a cart. I've had some trouble with cart attendants putting the bag facing the wrong way -- but once the bag's correctly positioned, it's basic simplicity to reach whatever you need.
In addition, the sizes of the pockets varies, so it'll have a pouch to match just about anything--from a cell phone or a sleeve of balls to a sweater and extra pair of shoes. All of the pockets are positioned on the sides or the front of the bag -- so there's no need to struggle with pulling something out of a pocket that's snug against the cart. The convenience the bag offers scores some high marks here.
Second, appearance. Although a minor consideration, I wanted a bag that offered different color schemes to select between and one that looks solidly constructed. Again, the Millennium was a good choice. I can't honestly say how many colors or patterns it comes in--but there were enough to choose from. Some people probably would go for more of a flashy modern scheme--and some offbeat colors are available on other Burton models. For me, I chose Navy. It's unpretentious and won't look dirty after a month.
The Millennium is also put together well. You can probably save some money by choosing a less expensive bag, but some of the non-name brand models looked cheap. The last thing you need is to buy a bag that will fall apart after a season. Not only does the Burton line look like it could withstand a hurricane, most of the bags come with lifetime warranties. Looks aren't always deceiving.
Third, price. The old saying goes that you get what you pay for. When it comes to golf bags, that's only partially true. Most of the top-notch golf equipment manufacturers also make bags--and there's no question that they're exceptional in quality. But you also pay more for them--and with their logos on the side, you're paying them to help advertise their products.
With the Burton line, I avoided the double pay. I got all the quality that I'd get from some of the other top of the line manufacturers without having to pad their ad budget. Paying more wouldn't make much sense here, because performance wouldn't be any different--so you don't always get what you pay for. The Millennium retails for $159, and this price is more than competitive when compared with comparable bags.
Finally, size. Bags come in all different sizes, and to some degree, shapes. I wanted the bag to be large enough to hold all my gear, yet small enough to fit in my airline travel bag. The Millennium was the perfect fit. Not only did it have six different compartments on the top and a 9" diameter, it also has a separate tube for the putter and a loop for an umbrella. PGA rules say you can only carry fourteen clubs, but this bag could easily carry more. And I don't have to buy a special case to travel with it.
The Burton folks are also proud of their products, and it showed when I asked them why I should try their bag over their competitors. Katy Salter, Burton Sales Representative, adds "Using the best materials, while paying the utmost attention to workmanship, Burton Golf has continued to grow and innovate, never losing sight of our commitment to quality."
She also emphasized the diversity of Burton products. "With a product line ranging from lightweight, ergonomic stand bags to traditional leather bags, Burton is a one-stop shopping source for all your golf bag needs."
I'd have a hard time summing it up any better. Burton's Millennium bag meets the demands of the modern golfer. So if you're looking for a golf bag that will provide for your needs now and in the future, consider trying a Burton--I'm glad I did.
Burton Golf Inc.
Millennium Model (note, since writing this review, this item has been redesigned): www.burtongolf.com/millenniumII.htm
Retail Price for the Millennium bag: $159
Available at Fine Pro Shops and Golf Retailers
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