I can remember the moment I fell in love with golf: I was 14 years old, and Tiger Woods had just won the Masters. Summer was approaching, so I asked my dad to buy me a starter set of clubs. He did, and I’d go down to the driving range at our local municipal course — West Los Angeles’s Rancho Park, which happens to be the most highly trafficked golf course in the country — where I attempted to hit balls for hours, tirelessly chasing that first clean hit. When I finally got club face to correctly connect with golf ball, the high was unmistakable. Since then, a course has been my happy place.
Still, for most of the two decades I’ve been playing, I overlooked my relationship with my golf bag. I often just used something similar to the bulkier Nike or Titleist “stand bags” that I saw other golfers on the course using, which have lots of pockets and legs that allow them to stand in place. I also hauled around the even bigger Sun Mountain Tour Series bag carried by pro-tour caddies — a so-called “cart bag” that, as its name suggests, is so large you need the help of something on wheels to move it from hole to hole. This meant that I never actually walked a golf course (even when I used one of the stand bags), depriving myself of exercise and, more crucially, the true beauty of the game: connecting with other players, feeling the terrain beneath my feet, and working up the satisfying exhaustion that only four hours of swinging, mental grinding, and walking can provide.
About six months ago, though, a friend of mine introduced me to bags from the Portland, Oregon–based Jones Sports Company. The brand isn’t new, but was new to me even after 20 years of playing, so I did some research and liked what I read about its dedication to craftsmanship — which is something I place great value on in my own company, Garrett Leight California Optical. I wound up getting two of its bags: an olive-colored Utility Trouper stand bag and the white Original Stripeshow, a special style of the company’s Original Jones “carry bag,” which are generally lighter and more simply constructed with fewer bells and whistles. At first, I tried the Trouper; it was similar to the other bags I used, and I still thought I needed all of its pockets and compartments. But its craftsmanship didn’t really make the bag any less bulky. So I swapped it for the carry bag — and, for the first time in my 21 years of golfing, other players went out of their way to compliment me on my bag and ask where I got it. Better yet, I walked the entire course comfortably, with none of the shoulder discomfort that I’d get from trying to lug around my stand bags by their straps.
Editor’s note: The bag is not available for Prime shipping via Amazon.
My Jones carry bag has since been my go-to, but the attention it gets is just part of its appeal. I love how lightweight it is, and that it only has three pockets, which forces me to pack only what I need (a sleeve of balls, a range finder, tees, a glove, a divot-repair tool, a ball-marker, and, of course, my cell phone, wallet, and keys). Plus, its vintage aesthetic is super unique (golf-film buffs will recognize the carry bags as the ones used by Matt Damon in The Legend of Bagger Vance and Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore). I rarely see other golfers with this type of bag — only a like-minded few — and my Jones carry bag is particularly unique because the company will personalize them free of charge. (I had mine embroidered with a drawing I did of Harrison Ford’s 2015 plane crash on Venice’s Penmar Golf Course, which is two blocks from where I now live.) Aside from its embroidery, though, my personalized Stripeshow is really no different than the less-expensive Original Jones carry bags, which have the same basic features (unstructured, three pockets, one strap), but are made of a nylon-vinyl blend (instead of all vinyl like mine). And even though I’m willing to pay for a quality product, the fact that Jones bags cost less than half the price of bags from other design-oriented brands like Mackenzie and Links & Kings is a nice bonus.
The author’s golf bags from Jones
The larger stand bag that Leight also bought from Jones. [Editor’s note: The bag is not available for Prime shipping via Amazon.]