By Mike Tanner, Images Courtesy of Titleist
FAIRHAVEN, MA -- In the beginning, every golfer walked the course. The more affluent hired caddies to carry their playing implements, while the less well-off either carried their sticks in the crooks of their arms or stashed their clubs in small, lightweight bags and slung them over their shoulders.
Fast-forward several centuries and, in America at least, it seems like every player loads up a motorized golf cart with clubs, beverages, food, cigars and cell phones before setting the GPS system and racing off to the first tee.
In a cart, it doesn’t matter if you have an old-fashioned canvas and leather club toter or the type of gargantuan bag, complete with TV, radio and telephone, owned by Rodney Dangerfield’s Al Czervik character in Caddyshack.
But when you’re a walker, you want a bag that’s comfortable, durable and built with all the features that make it possible to enjoy your day on the course. That’s just the kind of bag Titleist offers in the new x58 stand bag.
For all you equipment geeks out there, the “5” in the designation refers to model year 2005. The x58 succeeds 2004’s x48 and it arrives on the scene with several significant upgrades over last year’s bag.
According to Jane Casanta, Director of Marketing for Gloves and Accessories Worldwide for Titleist, the new x58 provides walking golfers with noticeable improvements to the stand mechanism, foot mechanism and the bag’s shoulder strap.
|Titleist BX58-36 Black-Gold|
In a departure from previous stand bag designs in which the legs were anchored to a block of plastic near the top cuff, Titleist’s new stand bags for 2005 feature a plastic ring that encircles the entire top of the bag.
“The plastic ring provides more rigidity when compared to the block design. With the integrated top cuff, there’s greater stability when the legs engage,” said Casanta in a recent telephone interview.
What triggers leg deployment is the foot mechanism, and Titleist’s bag designers have revamped that too. Not only is the foot larger, which makes activating the legs easier, it’s also made of a new material.
According to Casanta, “The new rubber material provides greater grip, similar to the traction of running shoes. She added, “We even designed the stoppers on the ends of the legs to create more grab by molding them with ridges like those on the bottom of crutches.”
After a several months-long trial, I can attest to the x58’s smooth deployment and retraction of its legs. The bag is very stable, even on severely sloped mounds and wet grass, without even a hint of the dreaded “Bambi” effect of legs spreading too wide.
The x58 also has a convenient feature for those times when cart use is mandatory. A strap with a Velcro closure is attached to the bag and can be wrapped around the legs, keeping them from retracting as the bag’s foot bounces around in the back of the cart.
Just remember to undo the strap when taking your bag off the cart, or you could watch it and your clubs crash to the ground while the legs remain pinned together. Not that it happened to me. OK, it did happen once and it was pretty embarrassing. Fortunately, no clubs were damaged.
|Titleist BX57-2 Navy|
The x58 weighs in at 5.3 pounds and features a 4-part adjustable harness strap assembly. The bag feels exceptionally comfortable because the newly designed shoulder straps are wider than those on the previous x48 model.
When asked about that, Casanta replied, “The broader span of the straps allows people of varying body types to use the bag. We also used horizontal stitching on the shoulder straps to create greater contour.”
The first couple of times I used the x58, the shoulder straps felt a bit stiff, but they soon molded to my shoulders. The x-shaped straps distributed the weight very evenly, and even with a full load of clubs, balls, tees, windshirt, water bottle and miscellaneous paraphernalia, the bag feels good.
The only drawback to the x58, in my humble opinion, is the inch-wide, non-slip strips running down the underside of the otherwise plush velour-lined, foam-padded contour straps.
|Titleist BX56-39 Black - Slate|
When I first started using the bag this summer, the non-slip strips (made of tiny rubber band-like grippers) were quite annoying as they pressed through my shirt and into my shoulder. Casanta explained the grippers were designed to keep the straps from slipping on windshirts and sweaters. They certainly do the job, maybe a little too well.
Several months later, the grippers have begun to break apart in the places where they have the most contact with my shoulders, so they don’t bother me as much. I don’t think they add much of a benefit. If you have adjusted the straps properly -- and with four attachment points, you have considerable flexibility to do so -- the bag will fit securely across your shoulders without slipping.
To finish the examination of the x58’s straps on a positive note, there is an unexpected bonus to Titleist’s design. Unlike some other bags with dual straps, the x58 can be carried with ease using just one strap over your shoulder. That’s particularly useful on short walks between shots or when moving from the green to the next tee.
In addition to the shoulder straps, the x58 features a contoured rubber handle for short-distance carries and a nylon handle near the bottom of the bag that helps when lifting it in and out of your car’s trunk. Like most stand bags on the market, the x58 provides a foam-padded hip guard that cushions the bag’s motion against your hip and lower back as you walk.
|Titleist BX58-24 Red - Navy|
Of course, the primary job of any golf bag is storage, both for your clubs and your gear. The x58 really shines in this important department. The 9-inch, padded top cuff features a four-way opening and three full-length dividers. Clubs are easy to take out and replace, and they stay well protected from jostling against each other.
On one side of the bag, three pockets offer easy access and plenty of room. The full, sidesaddle apparel pocket provides ample space for an extra sweater, a wind shirt or even a rainsuit. There’s a velour-lined pocket for your valuables and another zippered pocket for extra gloves and whatnot.
On the other side of the bag, there are two more zippered storage pockets. The ball pocket is exceptionally roomy with enough capacity for at least a dozen golf balls, plus tees, ball markers or snacks. A smaller zippered pocket offers additional space for accessories.
Located on the spine of the bag, a “coal chute” ball pocket opens wide for easy access when you need to reload. That’s also where you’ll find a large insulated beverage pocket with a Velcro strap to secure the container. While the bag is on your back, you can reach back and rehydrate without breaking stride.
What else do you get with the x58? A large brushed nickel towel ring is conveniently positioned for accessibility while you’re walking. The umbrella strap, a nylon loop at the bottom of the bag and Velcro closure near the top offers a fast release when you need cover from a sudden shower. A matching zippered rainhood is also provided.
|Titleist BX57-34 Black - Red|
Titleist offers three models of stand bags, with the x58 occupying the mid-level. The x57 is the top-of-the-line model and it offers all the bells and whistles. At the other end of the spectrum, the x56 is a full-featured stand bag weighing in at less than four pounds, but lacks some of the x58’s amenities, such as the insulated beverage pocket.
The x58 is available in a variety of colors ranging from basic black to red, white and blue, to navy and orange, and yellow and black. You can order online from Titleist at titleist.com or look for the bag at your pro shop and off-course golf retailers. With a MRSP of $165, the x58 stand bag isn’t the least expensive carry bag on the market, but it has a lot to recommend it.
First and foremost, the x58 provides all the storage a walking golfer needs. Access to clubs and extra golf balls is easy and there’s plenty of room for golf balls, gloves, tees and other equipment, as well as apparel. The insulated beverage pocket is an especially handy feature, especially on hot summer days.
The x58 operates like a dream too. The legs extend and retract smoothly and the bag is extremely stable. The wide-span harness and shoulder straps distribute the weight of the bag evenly and comfortably.
|Titleist BX58-25 Navy - Orange|
The next time you’re in the market for a new stand bag, Titleist’s x58 should definitely be on your short list of models to consider.
Note: Check the links below for more reviews of Titleist products.
P.O. Box 965
Fairhaven, MA 02719-0965
Titleist Golf Bags, available at your higher-end golf retailers and club pro shops.
Check out more information about Titleist’s products at: www.titleist.com
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