As soon as we opened the box containing this bag in the office, someone said: 'Nike still going for the youth market then?' and it's easy to see why. This is bright, colourful and, with the familiar Nike tick, or 'whoosh' as the company insists on calling it, picked out in reflective silver, distinctive.
And there is no doubt that Nike is making heavy inroads into the golf equipment market in just about every area - so far this year at ScottishGolf we have received more press releases about Nike new releases than from all the other manufacturers combined. That shows a heavy commitment and in some areas they have hit the ground running (and no pun intended but shoes spring to mind, along with the Ignite driver and golf balls) while in others it has been less successful.
So let us consider the good points about the bag first. It is extremely light and does look distinctive. If you want a bag that can be carried with little strain over 18 holes or more there is a clear self-limiting amount of room you can have but this bag finds imaginative ways of presenting the maximum available. One of those self-limiting factors is the need to have a rigid spine on a bag but Nike has cleverly overcome some of the design restraints this imposes by making this tubular metal frame a double-curve. The top half serves as a carry handle while the bottom half allows considerably bigger pockets to fit underneath the arch. It's a neat idea that works well and a pound to a pinch of salt is one we will see other manufactures using before too long.
The other thing it does is mould the pockets to the curves and lines of the bag, again for maximum space but, unlike many other bags, the pockets don't seem to be 'bolt-on' extras added as an afterthought but an integral part of the whole. The result is an excellent amount of storage space on a bag this small. There are three main pockets, the largest also having an internal compartment, an outer mesh pocket and small, fur-lined valuables pouch. The central storage area for clubs has a four-way divider, one of which has a high collar to prevent your putter and wedges from damaging graphite shafts.
That's the good news - unfortunately, there's some bad as well. The Xtreme Lite has the ubiquitous double strap system that allows it to sit across your back but here is designed so that the bag can only be carried by first putting it over the right shoulder. Although I am right-handed, I invariably put a bag over my left shoulder first, but this Nike simply doesn't allow it. It shouldn't matter, perhaps, but I have found that whichever shoulder you first use tends to carry a little more of the bag's weight so during a round I like to alternate when I begin to feel the pressure but with this strap system that is not possible.
Second, the bag has short legs, so that it sits quite low to the ground, making club selection a little more awkward than it need be. In addition, the feet do not have footpads, so all the weight of the bag lean on the thin legs, meaning that they can sink into heavy or wet ground.
Verdict: Extremely light and spacious but not perfect in a competitive market.
More information: www.nikegolfeurope.com
|| 24 - MARCH 2005