By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images Courtesy of OGIO Golf
BLUFFDALE, UT -- Golfers are a pretty self-assured lot – generally speaking, we know what we want, and there are more than enough smart people amongst us to design what we need.
But sometimes there’s a product us golfers pick up upon that’s really ‘smart’ and useful that was heavily influenced from outside the industry – and when that happens, we should be humble enough to accept it.
|The 'Mammoth' is appropriately named.|
Such is the story of OGIO’s latest golf bags, which were conceived of (to some degree) by people who don’t even play the game – but the folks at OGIO have enough experience with making high-quality totes of all types that some of it just rubbed off on us duffers. And we’re all better off for it.
I’m speaking specifically of OGIO’s latest travel bag, appropriately named ‘Mammoth.’ Whereas we were thrilled with ‘The Rig’ (OGIO’s all-in-one travel bag we tried in 2004), the ‘Mammoth’ bag is a throwback to traditional soft golf travel bags – but with some new innovations that leave others in the same category far behind.
We also tried OGIO’s sporty Exodus cart bag and Edge carry-bag as well, and found them a pleasant departure from your run-of-the-mill golf bag products.
|The Exodus cart bag.|
Tom Gocke is OGIO’s Global Vice President of Golf, and he says the company’s non-golf related experience helped immensely in developing their newest products: “We have deep ties to the action sports industry – ties that have a real impact on the styling and fashion that you find in the OGIO golf bag line.”
Gocke continues, “That industry is much more fashion-oriented in its styling than has been the norm with golf, and this allows us to combine technology with the styling to make a golfer’s day a little more enjoyable and also make them a little more ‘cool’ out on the links.”
For a sport that’s sometimes mentioned in the same breath as ‘geek,’ coolness is an important consideration.
|The Edge hybrid bag.|
Gocke says OGIO still serves the traditional market by building conservatively styled bags as well – but nonetheless, it’s the action sports influence that gives OGIO the flair for the young-at-heart golfer who wants to differentiate himself from the others (geeks) in his foursome.
Differentiation has always been the key for OGIO, as the company started out (in 1997) making Callaway’s golf bags, a relationship that continued through 2004. Gocke says OGIO retained the intellectual properties of the bags, so it soon made sense to establish a brand identity all their own – to compete with the same companies whose bags were originally OGIO products but bore a different name.
But OGIO didn’t completely go it alone. “Even after establishing our own brand, we decided to only build golf bags for partners that were not as alike in price points or features. For the past three years, we’ve partnered with other companies such as J. Lindeberg and Tommy Hilfiger with which we build golf bag collections, but with significantly different price points, looks and distribution channels than our own. This has worked quite well and the OGIO brand continues to grow its market share while capturing alternative market share through these other brands,” Gocke said.
But with OGIO, it’s more than style – quality is the essence of the brand, and it’s achieved through a vigorous testing process. Simply put, when you buy an OGIO, you don’t need to wonder if it can handle the toughest of assignments – it’s already been through the ringer.
“Everything we do is tested and will pass three times the industry standard,” Gocke explained. “Every strap and handle is tested on our ‘jerk test’ machine that jerks the bag 50,000 times with 30 pounds in it to make sure no straps will break. During this test, the stand is also deployed that same 50,000 times each time the bag is dropped, making sure we don’t have any failure over time.”
In addition, the materials are UV tested to protect against fading, and they’re heated up and ‘frozen’ to guard against temperature extremes that a bag might face – such as being left in a trunk in Arizona or a temperature-exposed garage in North Dakota during the winter (it’s possible, right?). The zippers are also tested to a similar rigor to ensure that they’ll hold up over prolonged use.
OGIO’s technological innovation doesn’t end with its testing process. It’s also got the Woode organizing top (a stadium-style profile for wood containment, and egg-crate-inspired cradles for irons, to facilitate easy access and protect gear in transit. OGIO's patented Putter Port - which elevates putters in plain sight amidst taller gear - is incorporated into the patented Woode top as well.).
Gocke says the Woode top has been hard to prevent other companies from knocking off. “We’ve already had settlements from, I think, 27 companies and many more in progress.”
Other OGIO original (invented and patented) innovations are the zipper-less ball pocket, and the Torq strap that connects its stand bags to an electric cart without the need for a strap. There’s also the Arc Lite stand system that simply arcs around your leg as you pick up your bag. And one feature that the company didn’t patent -- the putter pit in the front of the bag – is now a commonly seen feature in many golf bags.
The ‘Mammoth’ travel bag is perfect example of OGIO’s innovative capacity – a bag that does a lot more than just house your clubs from your front door all the way to your ultimate destination. Gocke describes some of the problems the Mammoth was meant to solve: “After twenty years of traveling with my golf clubs, I knew exactly what bothered me. I hated to lay my clubs down in line at the airport, I hated having to shove my hats in a duffel bag where they would get all tweaked, I despised having to roll my bag behind me while trying to pull a second luggage piece at the same time, and I didn’t like having to carry my shoes in coverless to the locker room.”
Simply put, the Mammoth bag makes traveling with your golf gear easier – and addresses all of Gocke’s concerns above. It rolls standing upright and can be pushed in front of you, includes a removable shoe bag that goes straight from the trunk into the locker room with you, has a crush-resistant place for six hats and stands straight up in line for easy maneuvering.
The days of dreading taking your golf clubs with you on a trip are over -- if only all pieces of luggage were this thoughtfully created. The only drawback I found with the Mammoth was its sheer size, and the fact you’ll need to take that into account when renting a car. The large bag base won’t fit well in a small car – so plan ahead – but that’s also a consideration for those with a hard-shelled travel container.
The Exodus cart bag and Edge hybrid (can easily be carried or hooked onto a golf cart) bags won’t necessarily make traveling better, but they’ll enhance your day at the golf course. “The Exodus is our ‘sporty’ cart bag that comes with a cigar caddie and pocket built right in for that guy who likes a Stogie during the round,” Gocke explained.
“It’s got all the bells and whistles that a golfer would want on the course, including easy access to golf balls through the ZBP (zipper-less ball pocket), a hydration pocket to keep your beverage cold, a wet dry apparel pocket in case it’s raining on and off and easy access (non zippered) rain hood that makes those ugly days just a little bit easier to manage,” Gocke added. The Edge includes all the same benefits of the Exodus but is smaller and lighter, and includes the Torq Strap to allow for hooking it directly onto a golf cart. Gocke’s favorite feature on the Edge is the full bag rain cover that is hidden in the bottom pocket – waiting to help out if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
The OGIO folks can’t account for the weather, of course, but they’ve certainly designed their golf bags to help out even in this regard. Golf accessories are rarely noticeable unless they’re a problem – and in that sense, the company’s products will draw little attention, indeed.
We’ll leave the last word to Gocke on what he wants the OGIO golf brand to be known for: “Quality! Style and fashion come later. Our most important goal is to make bags that never fail the user.”
In that sense OGIO has already succeeded greatly in manufacturing products that are useful, look good, and wear well – all you’ll want from a golf bag, and then some.
14926 Pony Express Road
Bluffdale, UT 84065
FAX: (801) 619-4111
Note: OGIO’s Website includes a dealer locator.
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