A few months ago, after much anticipation, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the folks involved with PING’s soft goods development, including their much acclaimed series of bags. Like everyone we met in Phoenix, he was an awesome guy and extremely personable. And like everyone else at PING, he’s passionate about what he does.
For this year’s update, PING overhauled their entire line, making changes based upon TONS of feedback they receive from customers, employee input, and tons of research. PING examines complaints, product returns, and from what I’ve gathered, board-based feedback to effect changes to make their product even better. It was obvious that they were as proud of these new bags as their other teams were with the G20 line of clubs and the iPing app for the iPhone.
More importantly, at least for me, is that yours truly, along with a couple other mods had the opportunity to demo these new bags for the last month. And the best part about testing bags is that aside from the initial searches for where you placed tees, bandaids, and extra gloves…there’s no learning curve.
Anyway, this part of the post is an overview of the new lineup, followed by individual writeups. Hope y’all enjoy. :hi:
In re-engineering their bag lineup, PING focused on 1) durability, 2) function, and 3) comfort. While doing this, they also incorporated a new “wing” design to their bags that is subtle enough to be classic (unlike the “ribs” and neon highlights on previous iterations!), and distinctive enough to be recognized as a PING bag across the lines. Color options were made to provide customers with choices between dark and light, solids or patterns, and classic offerings balanced with modern styles.
To address durability, PING started off by greatly improving the quality of the materials used. Throughout the series, they utilized a high denier nylon fabric that is relatively bullet proof. It’s got a heavier texture that is reminiscent of the Hoofer 3, and while it’s not quite as thick and heavy it’s a higher quality of a more modern construct, and therefore stronger. The 4 Series and Mascot (custom/team option) also incorporates a higher quality polyester fabric along with the nylon. There are also stitching and webbing reinforcements throughout the bags for added strength. And the tops, bottoms, and brackets of the bag have been beefed up with thicker, more rigid polypropylene (plastic, for those of us not in the biz ;)).
All of these features make for a heavier bag (by ounces), but given the tradeoff, and that you load your bag with roughly thirty pounds of steel and rubber, PING felt the benefits warranted the beefing-up of their products. One caveat to the bag weights is that unlike most other companies, PING provides the weight of the entire unit, not omitting parts like the carry straps, rain hood, and others.
In their assessment of bag function, PING made three significant changes; an addition, a subtraction, and a reallocation. To address the feedback regarding leg droop in the stand bags, PING engineered a new Leg Retention System Basically, it’s a strap that engages a leg retention strap when you lift your bag with the straps, pulling the legs up when the bag comes off the ground. From what I can tell, it doesn’t exert too much force on the stand mechanism, otherwise it would probably fail in time. However, it is enough to prevent leg droop.
Now, regardless on which side of the fence you fall, the most notable absence is the retractable strap. While lots of people love it, more people didn’t–myself included. Additionally, when trying the bag out in the store (empty), the strap doesn’t function as designed so many would-be customers would simply move on. Also, my guess is that the retractable strap could somehow interfere, overcomplicate, or otherwise compromise the utility of the system. Maybe. Either way, it’s gone.
The reallocation comes in the morphing of the top piece to provide more space in the default wood section as more golfers have come to incorporate more hybrids. Whether this comes by taking away from the middle or lower sections or an elongation, I’m not sure. The result is that clubs don’t feel cluttered or crammed as they might have felt in the past.
One omission that bears mentioning is the lack of 14-way divider in their stand bags lineup. PING is aware of the demand for this type of bag and considered this inclusion for the Latitude. However, this is still being evaluated for now. My guess is that more testing is needed to come up with something uniquely “PING.”
To increase the comfort of the bag for the golfer, PING focused primarily on the strap system in their stand bags. They utilized what they coined as “Enhanced Ergonomics.” This basically boils down to a strap system that is about the same as their tried-and-true setup, but also has more of a back-pack functionality. This is accomplished primarily through their strap slider, which can be removed if you prefer the dual strap system. I actually intended to do this immediately, but I was surprised at how well it worked.
Another improvement that GREATLY affects comfort for the golfer are the strap pads. PING utilizes some kind of high-density, low-weight, somewhat breathable foam…or something. It’s nowhere near as plush as what they used to use on the old school hoofers, but it’s comfy enough to give me pause and is MUCH better when carrying on particularly hot days!
Finally, many thanks to PING for the opportunity to chat them up as well as for providing these bags to review. It is always great to see great companies working to interact with their customers–ESPECIALLY when said companies respond to feedback. If anybody has any questions or comments, have at it. :hi:
Ping 4 Series Bag Review by bjackson
Pros: The 4 Series is a great lightweight, fully functional carry bag that has been engineered to address the shortcomings of Ping bags from previous generations. It is a high performance bag that doesn’t rely on frills, but rather high performance standards that are sure to be appreciated by the experienced golfer.
Cons: Due to a market shift towards lightweight bags, thus lighter materials, I feelthat the 4 Series isn’t as sturdy as older models. The plastic handle, while incredibly useful, seems cheap. There isn’t a pen slot on the spine of the bag, which was a greatfeature I’m sad to see go. Also colors are somewhat limited.
Overall: A great bag that anyone who prefers walking to riding should consider. Though there are a few small things I wish were different, the pros outweigh, by far, the cons. There is a reason Ping bags are most popular amongst top-level amateurs and the 4 Series reaffirms why. It does its job very well.
Look: At first glance the 4 Series seems to be a fairly simple carry bag – but don’t be fooled – what it does best is hide from view all the genius engineered features that make it phenomenal. Weighing in at about 4 pounds, the 4 Series is composed of both Nylon and Polyester. It has a 4 way top, 5 zippered pockets, and a water bottle pouch. It is available in 6 different colorways, navy/charcoal, black/inferno red, black/white, white/inferno red, white/royal, and black.
Performance/Playability: There are several points of interest when it comes to the performance of the 4 Series. Foremost is that due to a new design and construction of the dividers,there is less tangling of the clubs at the bottom of the bag. Then there are the leg stops, which help keep the bag from sliding out on slick surfaces, suchas concrete. Also with their introduction of Enhanced Ergonomics (E2) Ping was able to stop the notorious leg-droop people have complained about by means of a strap that connects the legs to the shoulder straps. The addition of a handle to the top of the bag is a nice touch as well for taking the bag in and out ofa car trunk.
Feel: Ping shied away from the retractable shoulder straps they have used in the pastand have gone to a more typical backpack style. Though at first they didn’t fit me great, a quick adjustment of the straps put them in a position that I foundto be comfortable. There is plenty of back support and cushioning. I have used the bag just about daily for the month or so that I’ve had it and have no complaints.
Bottom Line: Ping’s 4 Under is a winner all the way around. It’s a solid, no-nonsense type of carry bag that gives me exactly what I want in a bag. It’s lightweight, has enough pockets, is stable on non-level surfaces, is comfortable to carry, and looks good. The features have been integrated in such a way that while I know they are there, useful and all, it doesn’t scream out look at me. That is what I try to demand out of all my equipment – something that allows the performance to speak for itself. If you are in the market for a bag, do yourself a favor and keep the 4 Series in mind when shopping around.
Hoofer Bag Review by beruo
Pros: Refined looks and beefier construction make this one of best bags available. PING has addressed most golfers’ concerns in this latest iteration, adding features that increase utility without being gimicky.
Cons: The internal dividers on this bag are more “middle of the pack” than what I hoped would be industry leading. It’s no worse than previous generations, which, for me, is the problem. Also, while not an issue for most, the lack of a lefty option leaves me wanting.
Bottom Line: Fans of the old Hoofers should find themselves happy with the new bag, and newcomers who’ve stayed away will find more reasons to swtich. The Hoofer is probably not the perfect bag for every golfer, but it remains the golden standard for stand bags.
A few years ago, I discovered that I loves me my ClicGear push cart. It allows me to carry everything I could possibly need for 18 holes in the sun. However, for a quick nine after work or for hitting the range or par 3 course with the daughter, it was overkill. My latest stand bag has been the SunMountain 3.5, and this will be the basis for my generalizations regarding other stand bags.
Looks: As noted in the Overview, ping has embraced the concept of a “Unified Design Language” to create a distinctive look across their lines. While the 4 Series went with a 3 dark/3 light theme to appeal to younger players, the Hoofer series sees 4 solid and 2 multicolored options that splits between classic offerings (black, blue, and green), and flashier stylings (white, white/red, black/charcoal/red). Other additions that enhance the look are the textured ballistic nylon and the raining PING graphics on the legs. Also, the redesigned top to allow for more space at the top makes for a much less cluttered look while on the course or at the range. And a less cluttered appearance makes it far easier to find and replace clubs.
One thing that was less awesome, at least on this specific bag, is that the material surrounding and inside the pencil opening is white. While it’s relatively easy to clean, ESPECIALLY if you apply Scotch Guard before, it is noticeable if you don’t look when replacing your pencil on the move.
Performance/playability: While this section is geared toward club reviews, it is still very applicable to bags. The engineers at PING have payed attention to the trends and adjusted their bags accordingly. Pocket layout is slightly different so that it can take a bit to find a place for everything, but once you do, everything has its place. Along with the usual suspects, you’ll find a new tee pouch, and an additional valuables pouch designed to hold a gps or range finder, bringing the pocket count to a total of 8.
The pencil holder has been relocated closer to the ball pouch, which initially gave me pause as I was used to one on the spine. However, real world usage proves this to be a more opportune location as it’s more readily available while walking. Upside is: NO MORE PENCIL POKING THROUGH MY POCKET! :good: On the flip side of this, I don’t see the purpose for the pen slot–most golfers don’t use a pen on the course, at least with any regularity to warrant a dedicated spot. If I had my druthers, I’d like to see them enlarge it a bit to accommodate a sharpie instead.
However, this bag is not without it’s drawbacks. The one that stands out from the others is the “full length” dividers. So far, they’ve held, but they seem to be the weak link as there is a lot more give than I’d like–especially given that your pushing down on them with a rubber-tipped shaft. Additionally, here’s a space on each side where the club grips can “leak” into adjacent sections. Club tangle isn’t really a problem (aside from the occasional “leaking” mentioned before), as most people who own Hoofers have learned to lift their bags vertical before replacing a club–a function made MUCH easier with the addition of the top handle.
LASTLY–I would absolutely LOVE to see PING rerelease a lefty Hoofer. Regular stand bags put more weight on the right shoulder, which is the lead shoulder for lefties. By the end of 18 holes, if this wear and tear hasn’t made you reach for an Advil, wait until you hit 30. Also, when you take your bag off and set it down, you have to walk around your bag to get to your ball. These are two of the primary reasons why I started using a push cart. That and the crazy sale they had on ClicGears a while back!
Feel: This is a comfy bag, with comfy straps and a comfy setup. As mentioned in the overview, the strap pads are some kind of lightweight, high-density foam-type stuff that remains somewhat breathable. The strap slider actually works–especially if you’re coming from a SunMountain bag where it operates as more of a catch that holds the straps together rather than allowing for free movement. There’s no pinching and an even distribution of weight when both straps are used. The overall weight is right at 5lbs. which is the happy medium between comparable SunMountain and Ogio bags. And the improvement in the leg retention system makes it so you don’t have legs banging against your legs!
Overall Bottom Line: Not much I can add that I haven’t already said or otherwise implied. If you’re in the market for a bag, you can do much worse than the Hoofer. While there are a couple things that could be improved, the improvements over earlier generations make this PING’s best Hoofer, in my opinion (granted, i don’t have experience with the first generation, but i do with the second and third). Anyone in the market should definitely check this out, even if they opt for something else.
Before my actual testing–I now put my putter in the top section where there’s plenty of room.
Latitude Bag Review by pitbull808
Pros: Super looking bag with all the features one would want in a carry bag. Features that continually help to make Ping one of the top carry/stand bags on the market.
Cons: There seem to be a few shortcuts Ping took that don’t quite match the price point. I’m guessing these may have also been done to keep the weight down but a few inches of fabric in the dividers and a sturdier handle to me don’t seem to equate.
Overall: A great bag that I’m extremely happy to use. The great features of it easily outweigh the minor shortcomings.
BACKGROUND: I rarely walk. If I do it’s just for a quick 9 holes. Bag weight is never a major priority for me because it’s just a relaxing and short two-hour break for me to enjoy a nice twilight round after a long day of work.
Although I don’t walk often there still are a few priorities I enjoy in my carry/stand bags. Pockets, ease of use, comfortable straps and a stand that actually works well are some of my priorities. These all need to be present because even when I have it loaded on a golf cart, I want everything I need to be in the bag and the ability of it to work just as well as a full sized staff bag.
Looks: The looks of the Latitude stand bag immediately stuck out to me. When given the opportunity to test and review a bag from the 2012 collection, as soon as I saw the catalog, I knew I wanted the Latitude and the blue/white colored version. Although I haven’t followed Ping bags in the past years for me the 2012 Latitudes flashy yet classy looks of it was a great departure from what I’d usually think of a Ping bag. I actually haven’t used a Ping bag since my old GolfWRX Black Ping Hoofer I purchased years ago. The Latitude is miles ahead in the looks and function department. Pockets placed everywhere on it. Love it! There are ten pockets on this bag. As I initially examined it and opened the zippers thoughts kept popping in my head.”GPS here”, “wallet & watch”, “tee/ball marker bag”, Everything I usually have in my bag has its own place. Although it can get confusing about where I put everything, it’s nice to have things separated where I’m not digging into one large side pocket to find my items.
Performance/Playability: The six way top is super. I love the putter well right on top of the bag. It works well walking and when I have the bag in a golf cart. Even if I always have my putter in a cover, the well helps to keep the putter head out of range from getting knocked around by any of my other clubs. I do wish there was a divider that ran down from the well to the bottom of the bag. Either a tube or cloth divider would be nice. I found the when I pulled my driver or fairways out, the putter would end up coming out a few times as well. Not too big of a deal but when the bag is on it’s legs, the putter shaft leans downwards and being shorter then the rest of the clubs it does get caught.
The grab handle on the bag seemed like a short cut Ping took. It’s just a skinny piece of nylon with some rudimentary padding. Comparing it to a number of other stand bags, it seems pretty cheap. I know you’ll probably be only using it to lift the bag out of your trunk or into a golf cart but it seems like the trend on other stand bags is to attach a much more sturdier handle. I have to admit I felt like I’d rip it off the bag…but then again, I doubt most people would have so many clubs stuffed in their bag when heading to the range like me.
A neat feature was the small zipper in the side pocket that enabled me to get “inside” the bag and reach in the bottom. A friend who used to be on the Ping Staff told me it’s not a really new feature but it’s something I didn’t know about. I know there’s been times at the range and course where I’d inadvertently drop something down the bag and I’d be turning the whole bag upside down to get it out. The zipper will really help to avoid those messes.
I also love the new leg stop’s they’ve added to the bag. Such a simple bit of engineering that keeps the bag steady on any surface. I tinker a lot with my clubs (surprise! :tongue:) and there have been numerous times that I’ve brought my bag to my club makers shop only to have the legs slide out from under it. It didn’t happen with the Latitude even if I had it stuffed with three drivers, six wedges and three putters!
The material of the bag is also top notch. My old Ping Hoofer is still looking pretty good after all these years. I expect this Latitude to hold up just as well. Compared to some other bags I’ve owned that some people have touted as great bags, I’ve always felt that the material they used was rather cheap and thin. The Latitude material is very sturdy and seems to be of a thicker gauge then other bags I’ve seen and used. I did spray the whole bag down with Scotch Guard to help make it more water and stain resistant though. It’s something I do with all my bags stand bags. Hawaii’s red dirt always seems to stain them. After my rounds, I’ve wiped the Latitude down with a damp cloth and it looks as good as new.
Feel: Shoulder straps fit very well. I can understand why they call it a “back pack” style. I’m a pretty big guy and most bags seem to fit me like I’m carrying a “junior” bag no matter how much I let out the straps. The adjustability of the straps and the effortless movement of the strap sliders make this Latitude bag fit me extremely well. One of the shortcomings I found in the straps was that I found the cushioning in to be a bit minimal. It wasn’t a major problem though as the straps on the whole felt better fitting but when I just carried the bag on one shoulder, I felt there should have been a bit more padding in it.
The one thing I missed that I know many Ping bag users didn’t like and probably are glad that they’ve gone away from this feature is the retractable strap. I’m probably in the small group that liked the feature. The old retractable strap always “presented” itself to me right away when I went to pick up my bag and also helped to stay out of the way when I had the bag strapped up to a golf cart.
Overall Bottom Line: There’s a reason why you see Ping stand bags all over the driving ranges and golf courses. Ping has probably been making them the longest and they’ve got the features golfers want in their bags. If you’re in the market for a new stand bag, definitely check out the Latitude. I think it’s a super fit for those who’d like the function of a full size staff bag yet don’t want to be lugging around such a big bag. The Latitude fits all my needs.