Time to let you in on a little secret. Making golf equipment is a specialised, exacting art, and there's a lot of golf equipment to be made. So what a number of big name companies do is farm out or sub-contract the manufacture of certain bits of kit - and bags is a good example.
You may carry or pull around something that says Callaway or Titleist or whatever but that doesn't mean that they made it. Chances are that the company uses a specialist bag-maker, one that supplies several other companies and simply puts the appropriate name or logo on at the end stage of the manufacturing process. And that's absolutely fine, but it does explain why so many of the major names in the golf business produce bags that are remarkably similar to each other.
In addition, bags are a comparatively unprofitable bit of equipment, so several companies include the minimum number in their range that they can get away with - a couple of carry and a couple of cart bags, for example - and leave it at that.
As far as we are aware, Wilson has never been one of those companies. Let's be clear, ScottishGolf has no idea if Wilson makes its own bags or buys them in but whichever it is, they nevertheless treat them as something more than adjunct to their main business of selling clubs and balls, and in consequence Wilson bags are usually easy to distinguish from the herd.
We therefore latched onto the brand new Staff Cart Deluxe with enthusiasm because in our experience Wilson likes to go the extra mile in ensuring that bags bearing its name are stand-alone products (no pun intended) that can be compared to anything else in the marketplace on equal terms. They go for detail and those small but important touches that make the difference between a short but brief love affair with a new bit of equipment, and a long-term relationship that becomes a happy marriage.
First and foremost then, this is emphatically a cart bag, so if you're one of those macho golfers who insists on always carrying his own clubs (and it usually is men), read no further because this feature is not for you. The Staff Cart Deluxe is a capacious, load-swallowing, Godzilla of a bag that, should you ever become homeless, would make an ideal temporary shelter for both you and your family.
You want storage space? How about eight external pockets, of which four are large enough to take sizeable pieces of clothing. In addition, one of them has an extra internal pocket, presumably for a valuables pouch, and three have internal mesh pockets as well. Okay, we lied - there are, in fact, nine external pockets. One flat one at the front, on the outside of the ball pocket, has its zip hidden underneath, so we didn't discover it until we'd used the bag several times and the truth is, we're still not sure what it's for, being rectangular, opening all the way round and very flat. Oh, and there's also an external mesh pocket beneath the carry strap.
And in addition to all this, the rain-hood comes in own small pocket but can never be lost. When needed, you unzip the pouch, pull the rain-hood over your clubs and a piece of elasticated material means that it is permanently attached to the bag - one of those small but important Wilson touches. In addition, the rain-hood has two zips running north to south, so when the wind's blowing and the rain's lashing down, you can still find any club with the minimum of effort.
Club selection is also made easy by Wilson's own patented diamond-top arrangement, which on this model offers 10 dividers, four of which can take at least two clubs. In my case, 14 clubs and a ball retriever are accommodated with room to spare. The final good touch on a bag this size is that, as well as a comfortable air-filled carry strap, there are three grab handles - one on the expected place underneath the carry strap and an extra two at the sides. These make loading the car considerably easier that it might otherwise be.
The bag is not perfect. We tried it on two different types of pull cart and a Powacaddy motorised trolley but no matter how hard many times we swore at and thumped it, the bag would not sit 'square', with the back of the bag resting on the trolley - it always wanted to twist round to a slightly lop-sided position (an increasingly common problem with cart bags, we have found). This means that two of the external pockets become difficult to access but the bag is so big we simply re-ordered our gear in such a way that it the most commonly needed bits were in the easy-to-reach pockets.
If you're the kind of golfer who doesn't carry, and who likes to have everything to hand you might need on the course, and therefore demand a cart bag, this is an excellent buy.
|| 28 - OCTOBER 2004