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Wearables Business

Golf bags tops for design features and promotional value

Golf bags tops for design features and promotional value

Jeff Rundles

From cart bags to carry bags, today’s manufacturers tune in on the features golfers want

Everybody carries bags these days. Brief cases, backpacks, totes, and, of course, luggage, have become necessities in these busy times of working on the fly. And all of these have turned up as excellent promotional vehicles, for as their ubiquity becomes apparent, their value as a message location becomes paramount.

When it comes to a bag with a promotional history, however, there is no better example than the golf bag.

So it’s not surprising that as the influence of golf on the promotional industry has created a boom in golf shirt sales, every indication is that promotional products distributors are finding golf bags another profitable method of meeting their customers’ promotional needs.

First-class golf bags

Just because a golf bag may be selected from a promotional supplier doesn’t mean that it isn’t a first-class bag.

Proof of that are bags from Oxnard, Calif.-based Belding Sports Inc. Vice President Dennis Perrin (Perrin’s parents launched the golf-bag firm in 1977), tells Wearables Business that the company has bags “from $99 (retail) to how much money do you have?”

Belding features a line of bags in its promotional industry catalog, but it’s really looked at as a starting point. “Every golf bag we make is custom made,” says Perrin. “We stock only materials. We determine the color, who the (ultimate) customer is, what the purpose is, what price point are you looking at, what corporate colors might be involved. We do a lot of ASI work.”

Having said that, the heart and soul of the Belding golf-bag offerings are three bags under the Balance banner, the Max, the Pro and the Sport. These bags have slight variations directed at a range of price points — $139 (retail) for the Max, $119 (retail) for the Pro and $99 (retail) for the Sport — and each was “engineered to be the best carry bag ever.”

The top feature of such a bag is Belding’s patent-pending Quad Shock backpack strap that makes carrying the bag easy. The dual strap balances the golf bag evenly between both shoulders, and elastic inserts act as shock absorbers to minimize back strain and fatigue.

All three models of the Balance bag also feature an ultra-light, wide-stance pop-out stand that stands the bag up when a golfer is addressing the ball, and each has a “Traction Foot” bottom which gives the bags an anti-slip stance on even rugged terrain.

The Balance Max is 35 inches tall, has an 8.5-inch Flattened Oval opening at the top, and four dividers with separators all the way down for the clubs, a combination that makes it easy to get at the clubs while at the same time limiting club collision. The Max weighs just five pounds, has a fur-lined valuables pouch, an insulated water-bottle pocket that keeps drinks cold or hot, and six other pouches for the accoutrements of golf.

The Pro, also at 35 inches tall, weighs a little more — 5.5 lbs. — and has a total of five pockets. The Sport, again 35 inches tall, weighs in at 4.5 lbs. and features a slightly different configuration of eight pockets.

All three bags are made of water-repellent, diamond rip-stop nylon that is lightweight and highly durable.

Covering the PGA show last January in Orlando, Sports Illustrated magazine, in reviewing some of the products, said of the Belting Balance bag: “In a nutshell: This is the best carry bag ever, by a mile.”

Belting, however, can and does make any kind of bag anyone would want, including one time an $18,000 golf bag made of alligator. The company has made custom bags for presidents and sultans, does a good business in green grass and retail, and holds several major sports and entertainment licenses.

And the great thing is that, while there is a minimum order, it’s not too tough. “A minimum? Definitely,” says Perrin. “It’s one.”

Far forward

Taking inspiration from the overall bag market is what brought Salt Lake City, Utah-based Ogio International into the golf-bag business just two years ago. But the firm — well noted at both retail and in the promotional products industry for a full line of sport bags and backpacks — has made quite a splash in the golf bag field.

The bag that launched Ogio’s interest in the golf arena is a spectacular, hard-sided bag called The Rig (pictured on the cover of the Bags, Packs & Totes special focus). The Rig was specifically designed to be an all-in-one travel and cart bag that can go from the airport to the golf course. It features a hard, lockable cover on the top, and inside there are cradles for all of the clubs that protects them from collision while traveling. And the slots for the clubs are designed around the perimeter of the bag, leaving the center open for 2,130 cubic inches of cargo space for such things as shoes, jackets and, of course, all the golf balls a hacker would ever need. The bag — which carries the Ogio name, as all Ogio bags do — has ample room for decoration.

New this year for Ogio is a lightweight carry bag that was a hit at its unveiling at various trade shows beginning in January.

“We brought the Ozone out this year and it has been an absolute wonderful seller for us,” says Melanie Giron, Ogio account representative. “We had no idea. It pretty much sells itself.”

In many respects, the Ozone is a standard lightweight (5.75 lbs.) carry bag: it features a Triple Triangle double shoulder strap, five club bays with full-length dividers, and a 3-point, low-profile stand. But it goes beyond standard in a unique design that features UV resistant, see-through tarpaulin on the bottom of the bag and separating sections of the panels, and also high-tech “performance” graphics on the stand shafts. It is simply a striking-looking bag.

“With our research, we saw a need in the marketplace for new styles; (the marketplace) was stagnant,” says Joe Novak, the head designer at Ogio. “We took ideas from our other styles of bags, and we all play golf. But with the Ozone we wanted to be more far-forward and looking at a younger market.”

Full range

Another new entry in the marketplace is All American Golf of Joliet, Ill., a 25-year-old firm that entered the promotional market just this year, showing at The ASI Show in Las Vegas. The company carries 10 styles of bags, ranging from The Viking — a large bag designed specifically for cart riders with plenty of storage and individual club slots — to a range of carry and carry-and-stand bags covering most needs and price requirements.

The most popular bags in the line are sold under the brand name Hunter, and have two models: The CarryLite and Softrack. Both bags feature 600 denier polyester fabric with PVC backing, a nine-inch opening, four club pockets with full-length dividers, eight zippered pockets, dual and padded shoulder straps and a molded hip pad. The Softrack also has a lightweight three-point stand. Depending on confuguration, the bags weigh between 4.5 and 5.5 lbs.

“We’re constantly fiddling around,” says Paul Kissel, sales manager of the firm. “Because we make all the bags here in Joliet, it gives us the opportunity to change things and try things out. We run them by our largest accounts for feedback.

“We feel we can offer a golf bag to ASI at a price point they haven’t been familiar with,” he adds.

DECORATING TIPS

THE PRESS

Golf bags are difficult to print as a finished bag. Check with your supplier to see if printing can be done prior to the bog assembly. Golf travel bags, on the other hand, will normally open up and allow easy access to printing any type of design.

STITCHES

Although the individual personalization of bags — popular with golf bags — requires no more work than embellishing it with a logo, it does require that each bag be run individually. This means that they either need to be run on a single-head machine or if they are run on a multi-head machine only one head at a time will be utilized. This causes the personalization charge to be dramatically more expensive than the application of a logo.

MAGAZINE

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