Advances in lightweight materials, strap systems and stand mechanisms, among other attributes, have raised the intrinsic value of bags. If designers make it easier to get to a pocket or lessen the load on your shoulders, back or legs, you're likely to play better. From smaller single-strap offerings to lightweight carry bags to cart bags that could double as a piece of luggage, the adage about golf bags being equipment has never been more true.
Whether you walk, ride or want to be styling on the course, golf bags are an opportunity to match the mechanism housing your clubs to your game and personality. It is why seven bags earned an Editors' Choice designation, instead of just one.
The Ping Moonlite and Jones Original each provide a lightweight bag still capable of handling 14 clubs while using materials that are durable and water-resistant—a necessity for a bag designed to be placed directly on the turf. Our choice for Specialty bag, the Ogio Special Ops, pays homage to the troops in its look and is part of a program in which a portion of the proceeds are donated to a group that trains and employs recent veterans transitioning from the military to civilian life. Callaway's HyperLite 5 hybrid bag can be carried or used on a cart, and has some of the best attributes of both types of bag, including a redesigned stand mechanism and non-slip foot pads that prevent slippage when on turf.
The biggest share of the bag market, however, resides in cart and stand bags. Sun Mountain's C-130 cart bag has three handles to make getting the bag on and off a cart a breeze, and the reverse-orientation top makes accessing clubs easy. All pockets are forward-facing, and the cart strap pass-through allows the bag to be secured to the cart without the strap covering any pockets. The Sun Mountain 2Five is, as its name suggests, just 2½ pounds, although the bag remains highly functional, making it our top choice in the Lightweight/Ultra-lightweight division. The top bag in the Carry category is Ping's iconic Hoofer model. The Hoofer has more pockets (12) than a pool table, and the adjustable dual strap features a technology designed to wick moisture away. Equipment? You bet.
Classic: Original Jones, $140
Specialty: Ogio Special Ops, $180