I’ve done it – I recently started playing golf again after an almost decade long hiatus. I stopped for the same reason that I am starting again now – my daughter. 4 hours for a round (plus my cycling habit) didn’t jibe well with fatherly duties for a while. But now she’s 8 and showing some talent for the game. As my wife does not golf, the responsibility to shepherd her interest falls to me.
I’ve played a lot of golf in my day and had a lot of lessons. So much and so many that I did not feel the slightest bit of guilt investing in a new set of clubs before going out with her last week. My last sent is 1991 vintage and I know what I’m doing out there not to have to prove myself worthy of new gear anymore. (Actually, anyone who knows me knows that I never prove myself worthy – for any sport I go all in regardless of how much experience I have with it. Yet, it somehow feels nice to think I’m not being crazy on this one).
With a new set of clubs came a re-evaluation of the golf bag. I have a perfectly fine Daiwa bag (from the days when Daiwa made more than fishing gear) but it’s more suited to riding than walking. I’m planning on hoofing the courses with my daughter as it makes for an experience rather than just a game featuring cool transportation.
There were plenty of worthy bags in the store where I bought the clubs. However, none were serious and stylish. Remember the ginormous bag with stereo speakers that Rodney Dangerfield had in Caddyshack. Well, they pretty much all look like that now. Except, they’re bigger and with enough pockets and nooks and crannies in which to take a vacation. When left unchecked, the golf bag can quickly become a repository for all sorts of links detritus – worn out gloves, dog eared scorecards, candy bar wrappers, moldy ponchos. A bigger bag just feeds the fire. And any of the walking bags that are available now are either junior sized or look as if they should be transporting waterskis.
I wanted something simpler and classier – something that reminded me of my first golf bag from my high school days in the 80s when I routinely walked our practice course. I had a nondescript lightweight bag with only two small pockets for balls and tees and a longer one for my shoes, a towel, and wallet. And it did not have that dreaded “stand.” You set it down directly on the grass next to you and didn’t worry if it got a touch wet – it didn’t really make a difference. I can’t remember the bag’s make but a thorough investigation online and at several golf stores suggested nothing like it was available.
Fortunately, a link on Criquet, my new favorite golf threads site took me on over to MacKenzie. MacKenzie has produced classic walking style bags since 1985. It has a lot of models to choose from most of which come in luxurious leathers. MacKenzie offers a ballistic walking bag starting out at $275 but it’s a custom job and just seemed like too big a deal for what I wanted. I kept looking.
Searching “Classic golf bags” on Google yielded my next stop, Jones. In the hole. Although I never actually owned a Jones Bag, I recognized the logo immediately. The company offers several options but I quickly honed in on the “Original.” And then it hit me – this was the bag the really good players used at my high-school for golf tournaments. Our school bags came in the most 70s style of green and gold vinyl imaginable. Classic.
Conceived in the 1970s by George Jones from Portland, Oregon, the company owned the collegiate and high school golf bag market until the early 90s. The streamlined design lent itself to the artful display of school colors and logos. It was also light and meant for walking.
We all know what happened to golf in the 90s – it became much more mainstream, carts became ubiquitous, and everything was super sized and Tigerized. Jones languished. Consistent with the nostalgia boom of present times, however, a family from Portland bought the rights to the brand a few years ago. Using old bags as their guides, the company rebuilt the classic Jones Bag with modern materials but stayed true to the original design including the twisted handle and the “Jones” bottom mold.
I ordered mine in green and white (is there really a better color scheme for golf?) and opted for the custom embroidery. It has enough space for anything I might need. And if I can’t fit it, I shouldn’t be carrying it anyway. It’s lightweight and fits perfectly in the back of the car. The ballistic nylon is of superb quality. For $129, it’s money well spent.
Best of all, as it’s a walking bag, it seems ready to go on a moment’s notice. Carts be damned.