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Archive for May, 2010

Callaway uPro

With the release of the “Scoring Plus” module and the latest reduction in MSRP, the Callaway uPro has surged back to the top spot in our rankings, claiming the title of “best golf GPS device.” We loved the intuitive interface, the ability to see satellite maps of the entire hole and determine the distance to any point on a hole, the vibrant color screen and how light and slim the device is. Adding a scorecard and statistics while reducing the price only makes it that much sweeter!
The device does have its flaws – the Callaway uPro wasn’t quite up to the level of some of its competitors in our test of golf courses available. But oh, it is so shiny and sparkly. It’s first in our book. And in the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, if you ain’t first, you’re last.

SCORE
94
GRADE
A
Setup
91
Course Availability
84
Ease of Use
90
Course Details
97
Features
94
Accuracy
94
Cost/Value
92

Pros:

  • New low price is extremely competitive
  • The smallest, and also second lightest, device tested
  • Exceptional color screen
  • Satellite maps of each hole that are both cool-looking and useful
  • Provides distance to any point on the hole along with pre-mapped targets

Cons:

  • Per course fee for ProMode golf courses
  • Shorter battery life, lasting approximately 2 rounds before needing a recharge
  • Satellite images can be challenging to see in bright sunlight

Retail price: $199.00 plus $20 for Scoring Plus module
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the Callaway upro mx


91 / A-

Setup
The Good: The attractive and efficient packaging in which the Callaway uPro arrives is the first sign that there has been a significant amount of thought put into everything about this device. The device syncs directly with a web interface, eliminating the need to install any desktop manager software on a computer. Hey, maybe this whole Internet thing is going to catch on after all!
The Bad: Not much to speak of. In the case when the uPro website would not establish a connection to allow us to load courses, we just needed to relaunch the Sync application on the uPro. Be sure to confirm that the Sync application has quit before removing the uPro after updating your course list.
Details:

  • Required Steps. The Callaway uPro makes life easier for users by not requiring the installation of any desktop software on a computer, significantly reducing the amount of time (and in the case of many other devices, trouble) necessary to get up and running. All it takes is:
    • registering to create an account;
    • searching for desired golf courses on the web interface; and
    • plugging the device into the computer through the USB cable, and then launch the Sync program to launch the uPro site and transfer the selected golf courses to the device.
    • updating the software to the latest version and adding the Scoring Plus module was a simple matter of following the instructions (in a manner not dissimilar to the general sync process).

What’s in the Box: The Callaway uPro comes with the accessories listed below. One free download of a ProMode course is also included.


84 / B

Course Availability
Critical Golf Test: The Callaway uPro falls into the lower third of the group in our test of the
availability of golf courses, with 84% coverage. Coverage by type of course was evenly dispersed, with the exception of weakness in “Best New” courses (only 12 of the 20 tested). For whatever reason, uPro also had comparatively weaker coverage among courses in the Midwest and Northeast (15 out of 20 in each). You can easily request courses to be added via the uPro website, but you can also see how many times a course has been requested but is still not available (we have seen into the hundreds!).
Manufacturer’s Claims: Callaway claims to have 25,000 courses in its database, which stands up against the competition.


90 / A-

Ease of Use
The Good: The Callaway uPro impressed us with its intuitive interface. And if you can’t figure out how to use it yourself, the uPro comes with introductory videos pre-loaded on the device (the manufacturer even includes a set of headphones so you can listen to the accompanying audio track). Again, we are impressed with the thoughtfulness that went into the device and its presentation.
The Bad: The device relies on a side button as the primary method of accessing the Pro Mode view of the hole – this is easy enough to use once you know it’s there, but it’s not particularly intuitive. Rechargeable battery life is slightly shorter than other devices.
Details:

Callaway uPro Golf GPS Device

Click image for details
  • Buttons. Like most devices, the device utilizes 5-way navigation buttons, with 2 soft key buttons on the front face and additional buttons on the side. Navigating through the various features is simple and we were comfortable using the device within a couple of holes. We should note that our testers felt that the soft keys were underutilized, and that the reliance on a side button as the only method of accessing the ProMode view of the hole may be misguided.
  • Screen. The color screen of the device is bright and clear, making text easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. On extremely sunny days we found the satellite images could look washed-out, and were not as crisp as images on devices that use graphics instead of satellite images, but a tradeoff we are willing to accept. Satellite images generally lack the contrast of graphic hole views, which we find much easier to view across all lighting conditions.
  • Form Factor. Light and slim, the Callaway uPro is perfectly sized for tucking into a pocket during a round.
  • Starting a Round. The uPro does not automatically locate what course you are on, so the round is initiated by selecting the desired course from a list (the device will list the courses in order of proximity once it locks on to the user’s position).
  • Battery Life. Battery life on the uPro is on the short side – the bright screen and video flyover views are the likely culprits. Our reviewers found that the device would last approximately 2 rounds before it needed recharging. The device does allow adjusting its settings to save power, such as reducing the brightness of the screen and the amount of time before it enters “sleep mode”.

Check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.


97 / A+

Course Detail and Mapping
The Good: The uPro is absolutely unmatched with respect to course detail, providing a veritable cornucopia of information about each hole for ProMode courses.
The Bad: Users cannot customize existing course maps with additional targets.
Details:

Callaway uPro Golf GPS  Views

Click image for views
  • Views. The Callaway uPro provides courses in two modes: Basic and Pro – Basic Mode maps are free, while ProMode maps come at a cost ranging from $1.20 to $10 per course (there are discounts for buying courses in bulk). The features in the Basic Mode maps are limited to those available for run-of-the-mill golf GPS devices (identifying certain hazards and providing distances to the front, middle and back of the green). The Pro Mode maps are what make the Callaway uPro exceptional, featuring a video flyover of each hole, a satellite map of each hole, and the ability to measure distances to any point on the golf course. In our view, the significant functionality from the Pro Mode maps easily justify the additional cost.
    • Basic Mode/Green view – A simple reading of distances to the front, middle and back of the green.
    • Basic Mode/Target view – Provides a list of hazards, along with a picture to indicate the type of target (bunker, tree, etc.), and distances both to reach the target and to clear the target. Our reviewers were pleased that the Callway uPro always provides both of the distances. The targets are listed in order of proximity to the user’s location.
    • ProMode/SmartView – The Callaway uPro’s ProMode provides the user with practically unlimited flexibility of views based on an astounding overhead satellite map of the hole. The device will zoom in to the section of the map it believes is most relevant to the user based on the user’s location (what the manufacturer calls its “SmartView”), and provides distances to reach and to clear various targets on the map. White, red and yellow dots indicate distances to points on the green, hazards, and those where distance would be displayed if not limited by screen space. Even better, the user can override the SmartView and pan and zoom anywhere on the entire hole. Even if a desired point isn’t mapped as a target, users can highlight the point using a cursor on the map and simply click to determine the distance from their current position (the uPro’s “AnyPoint” feature). Even better, users can also perform layup measurements so you can plan successive shot distances.
    • Rotation of targets – The borders of all greens and most targets are mapped – which means that wherever you are on the course, the device will rotate the map to show you the yardage to the edges of the green (or target) closest to and farthest from you, not just the yardages to the edge closest to and farthest from the tee box.
    • ProMode/Video flyover – Courses mapped in ProMode also have an introductory helicopter-type flyover of an aerial map of the hole, similar to the ones shown on TV during professional tournaments. The flyovers show the shape of the hole, the relevant hazards and the shape of the green, with lines drawn across the fairway at 200, 150 and 100 yards (in blue, white and red). This is extremely helpful on a course that the user has never played, but is admittedly less useful on a course with which the user is already familiar.
  • Hole Information. The hole number and par are available on both of the Basic Mode views (ProMode only shows the hole number, so users need to toggle back to Basic Mode to see the par for the hole). Hole handicap is not available.
  • Custom Mapping. The Callaway uPro does not allow users to add new hazards to the course map, but this isn’t a problem with this device because of the aforementioned ability to calculate the distance to any point on the map (or for that matter, the distance between any two points on the map). The vast majority of devices don’t provide a map of the entire hole, listing only specific hazards on each hole – for those devices, the ability to add a hazard that might be relevant to a particular user is far more important.

Suggestion Box: It would be nice if the Callaway uPro prompted the user on whether to skip all of the video flyovers for that round (it does provides a prompt before each hole, but that can lead to pressing the “skip” button 18 times per round if you know the course pretty well). The device has a setting that will shut down all video flyovers, but we would like the flexibility to make that decision just once at the beginning of each round, instead of having to go deep into the preferences menu to change the setting back and forth. And yes, we realize that we’re REALLY nitpicking at this point.


94 / A

Features
The Good: The Callaway uPro is packed with unique features that we fell in love with. There are lots of “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” when you show the device to your friends.
The Bad: A couple of a minor quibbles – it would be nice to have more detailed statistics available, such as sand saves and which direction the fairway was missed, and we would like to see aggregate statistics across all of our rounds (the uPro only shows statistics for each separate round).
Details:

  • Shot Tracking. The Callaway uPro provides a simple interface to mark the distance of shots. Purchasing the Scoring Plus module adds the ability to indicate which club you used on the shot, and aggregates data on the minimum, maximum and average distances for each club. Nifty if you are a data junkie, but it requires a bit of diligence on your part to measure each shot.
  • Score and Statistics. The new Scoring Plus module (available for an additional $20) enables users to track scoring for up to 4 players and statistics for one player. The statistics tracked are fairways hit (but not which direction it was missed, if applicable), GIR (the user clicks a check box to indicate if the green was reached in regulation or not, as opposed to the device backing into the answer based on overall score and number of putts), and number of putts. A summary of score and statistics is available at all times by selecting the “Summary” tab at the top of the page. The device will advance to the scorecard when it thinks you have left the previous green, but we found it frequently hadn’t advanced by the time we had arrived at the next tee box, and usually just wound up manually selecting the scorecard from the menu screen in order to enter scores and statistics.
  • Clock. The time is handily displayed on both Basic Mode screens, so you can quickly calculate how many precious minutes of sunlight are remaining when you are playing in the late afternoon. “Seriously, what is the group in front of us thinking? The sun is about to set! It’s your 4th putt, so JUST PICK UP THE FREAKING BALL!”
  • Auto-Advance. The device provides the option of automatically advancing the user to the next hole, with preference settings to either automatically advance without a prompt, prompt the user to advance, or leave the user to advance holes manually.
  • ProMode SmartView. We know we already mentioned the ability to pan and zoom anywhere on a satellite view of the hole under “Course Detail and Mapping” above, but it’s so important that we wanted to mention it again.
  • Preferences. The Callaway uPro allows users to change backlight settings, power conservation functions, and even the size of the font used to display distances. Additional preferences enabled in the version 4.0 software update are the ability to select which mode is first displayed as you advance to a new hole (Basic Mode, Pro Mode, or Virtual Green Mode), whether or not the green is outlined on the overhead views, whether the hole number is indicated in Pro Mode, and which green views are available (Basic Green, Virtual Green, or both). Nice!

Check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.


94 / A

Accuracy
Device Accuracy: Our test of device accuracy found the uPro to be on par with its competitors, with readings to known points coming well within the acceptable margin of error of three to four yards.
Mapping Accuracy: We played quite a few rounds on a variety of different golf courses with the uPro (we told you we really like the device!) and found no problems with mapping accuracy.
The uPro always shows a distance to a reference point no matter how close the user is to that reference point, which enabled us to test distances at short range (and shows that the manufacturer has extreme confidence in the device’s accuracy). Some manufacturers elect to intentionally stop displaying yardage distances when the user is within a short distance (30 or 50 yards) from a reference point.


94 / A
Cost/Value
Retail Price: At a new low price of $199.00, the Callaway uPro is one of the least expensive devices in our cost comparison (and it only drops one notch in the comparison rankings if you add the $20 additional surcharge for the Scoring Plus module).
Fees for Access to Course Database: Users pay a per-download fee for each Pro Mode course. The base price per Pro Mode course is $10, but Callaway provides bulk discounts ranging from $8/course if the user buys a pack of 5 courses down to $1.20/course if the user buys a pack of 150 courses. Basic Mode course downloads are available for free, and provide course detail on par with some of the competition. The features available only on the ProMode courses are what make the Callaway uPro stand out from the crowd, however, and we think the additional functionality is well worth the cost.
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: At a projected three-year total cost of ownership of $269.00 (which incorporates our assumptions on the number of new courses a typical user will want to add each year and assumes purchase of the $20 Scoring Plus Module), the uPro fell into the bottom third of devices tested in our cost comparison. A user’s actual three-year cost of ownership will vary based on how many courses are desired and whether they are purchased in bulk.
Value: The Callaway uPro provides an amazing combination of top-notch performance and exceptional features. With a new aggressive price point, we think that users will be more than pleased with the value that they receive.


Leica Pinmaster

We never had a chance to test the Leica Pinmaster (the $799 price point was beyond our means), but here is a quick overview:

From one of the top optical companies in the world comes the Leica Pinmaster. The Pinmaster sports a lightweight carbon-reinforced body and is watertight (to a depth of a meter, so don’t throw it into the pond in a fit of rage). The device offers an exceptional 7x magnification (matching the Bushnell 1600 series and the Callaway LR1200), with an adjustable eyepiece that is suitable for glasses wearers and an LED display that adjusts its brightness based on the lighting conditions during play.

The Pinmaster is one of the smallest laser rangefinders in our tests at a mere 4.5″ x 2.25″ x 1.25″ and 7.8 oz. The whopping $799 price tag is tops the in our tests, but rest assured you will likely to be the only one in your foursome playing this beauty.

Retail price: $799.95


Ping 4 Under

The 4 Under is Ping’s latest entry in the lightweight carry bag category, and is not only the lightest stand bag offered by Ping, but also the lightest bag we’ve tested to date. It features the internal Ping bag frame that we love, along with all the basic pockets. The primary differences from the Ping Hoofer C-1, aside from saving you about $60, are the slightly simpler club storage dividers, lightweight nylon material, a bit less padding for your back, and both fewer and smaller pockets for storage. If you’re looking for an Al Czervik-style bag that has provides a television, radio, beer tap, and club launcher, this isn’t the product for you. But if you’re interested in a lightweight, extremely capable bag that provides all the basic features at a very attractive price, the Ping 4 Under may be right in your wheelhouse.

SCORE
91
GRADE
A-
Club Storage
94
Legs
87
Straps
86
Pockets/Storage
84
Rain Hood
94
Carrying Impressions
89
Style
87
Innovation
84
Cost/Value
96

Retail price: $135.00
Amazon.com: Check price now
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the Ping 4 Series.

Editor’s note: this review is for the 2011 version of the Ping 4 Under. Manufacturers generally make minor changes to bag models each 1-2 years. We have provided links to check prices for the latest version of the bag, which now goes by the Ping 4 Series name.


94 / A

CLUB STORAGE

The 4 Under features a 4-way top to separate clubs into different groups, and two full-length dividers running the length of the bag that divide club storage space into three sections. This is a much more basic set-up than the either the 6-way top with 6 dividers of the Ping Latitude V2 or the 5-way top with 2 dividers of the Ping Hoofer C-1, and a far cry from the 14-way tops available on some bags. So you have to ask yourself whether you’re more of a free-form person, or if everything has to be in its exact place…


87 / B+

LEGS

The Ping 4 Under, like other stand bags in the Ping family, is designed to collapse at the bottom of the bag with pressure, which in turn engages the legs. We like this design as there is no pesky protruding lever from the base of the bag that gets in the way of using either a push cart or motorized cart. The legs follow the same design as other Ping bags and are rubber tipped. As before, we wish that the Ping bags had the wider triangular feet found on some competitive products to provide a bit more stability.


86 / B

STRAPS

Although the Ping 4 Under is the lightest of the Ping stand bags, it has the same two separate shoulder strap design of the Hoofer C-1 model. The right strap retracts when not in use, while the left shoulder strap is a standard non-retracting version. This bag also has a new sliding strap system that allows you to easily adjust the straps while walking. The padding on the straps makes for a comfortable stroll.


84 / B

POCKETS/STORAGE

The Ping 4 Under has 5 total pockets.

  • 1 medium-sized apparel pocket runs along the right side of the bag.
  • 1 small valuables/accessories pocket sits above the large pocket.
  • 1 medium pocket on the spine of the bag for tees, balls and other items that require quick access.
  • 1 water bottle pouch, with an elastic band and drainage hole, runs along the spine of the bag above the medium pocket. The pouch is reasonably sized, and should accommodate all but the largest beverage bottles.
  • 1 medium pocket on the left of the bag for other accessories .

The Ping 4 Under includes a slot on the right side of the bag for holding an umbrella and a nylon loop for attaching a towel or GPS device in its carrying case. There is also a velcro pad by the towel loop to attach your glove.


94 / A

RAIN HOOD

The rain hood of the 4 Under attaches to the bag using 5 buttons. These all attach easily, and we much prefer the use of these buttons to other designs that require wrapping velcro straps around the top of the bag.


89 / B+

CARRYING IMPRESSIONS

Ping has shed pounds throughout its line this year, and the 4 Under stands as the paradigm of that new philosophy. We’re definitely fans of that trend…

  • Weight. Like the name says, the Ping 4 Under weighs in at under 4 pounds. It’s the lightest Ping stand bag and the lightest bag in our tests.
  • Balance. We liked the balance of the bag, as well as the ability to easily adjust the shoulder straps while on the course.
  • Padding. As a lightweight bag, there is less padding for the player’s lower back, but we still found it to be enough to keep us comfortable.

87/ B

STYLE

The Ping 4 Under has a reasonable range of colors from which you can choose, with 6 different combinations available:

  • Black and grey
  • Black and yellow
  • White and royal blue
  • White and red
  • White and lavender
  • Navy and grey

All have two primary colors, with some having slightly different trim around the zippers.


84 / B

INNOVATION

The 4 Under features the new retractable right shoulder strap from Ping, and both strap pads are “dual sliding” to allow for easy adjustment. The Ping 4 Under also has a zippered opening near the base of the interior of the medium apparel pocket, making it easy to retrieve objects that have fallen into your bag.
We are going to count the lightweight nylon material as an innovation as well (we aren’t scientists but we will drink the Ping Kool-Aid on this one), helping the bag drop to under 4 pounds.


96 / A

COST/VALUE

At a suggested retail price of only $135, the Ping 4 Under is the lowest priced bag in our tests. Providing all the basics at a great price point, the 4 Under is a bag we like a lot, and we think you will too.


Ping Hoofer C-1

The new Ping Hoofer C-1 falls into the middle band of the bags tested in terms of weight, features and cost. It doesn’t particularly stand out among the competition, but is reliable and versatile enough to appeal to a wide range of players. There are a number of improvements for the Hoofer this year, including sliding shoulder strap adjustments, a magnetic enclosure for the water bottle pocket, a pocket for scorecard and pencil, and a buttons for the rain hood. Players who have used Hoofer bags in the past will be happy with the latest iteration, and those looking at the Hoofer for the first time would be hard pressed to find fault with any particular element. It’s not the lightest, cheapest, or most full featured entry in the market, but it’s a solid bag that we can’t help but like.

SCORE
88
GRADE
B+
Club Storage
94
Legs
87
Straps
86
Pockets/Storage
86
Rain Hood
94
Carrying Impressions
89
Style
89
Innovation
84
Cost/Value
84

Retail price: $189.99
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the 2014 Ping Hoofer.

Editor’s note: this review is for the 2011 version of the Ping Hoofer C-1. Manufacturers generally make minor changes to bag models each 1-2 years. We have provided links to check prices for the latest version of the bag, which has now reverted to the original Ping Hoofer name.


94 / A

CLUB STORAGE

Following the look and feel of the Hoofer Vantage of years past, the Hoofer C-1 has a 5-way top to separate clubs into different groups. Two full-length dividers running the length of the bag divide club storage space into three major sectors. This is a reasonably simple setup, which, on the Ping spectrum of products, falls in between the 6-way top with 6 dividers of the Ping Latitude V2 and the 4-way top of the 4 Under.


87 / B+

LEGS

The Ping Hoofer C-1 is designed to collapse at the bottom of the bag with pressure, which in turn engages the legs. While it sometimes may require a little encouragement to get the legs to extend (just get used to sitting it down at the correct angle), we like this design as there is no protruding lever from the base of the bag (which is used by other manufacturers to engage the legs) that will get in the way when using either a push cart or motorized cart.

The legs are rubber tipped, but are not the wider triangular feet found on some competitors. In theory this design may be slightly less stable, and the legs could more easily sink into wet ground or mud (nothing wrong with playing golf in bad weather, right?).


86 / B

STRAPS

The Ping Hoofer C-1 retains the same two separate shoulder strap design of the previous Hoofer Vantage model. As before, the right strap has a system which allows the strap to retract when not in use, and the left shoulder strap is a standard non-retracting version, most likely to keep the left side more easily accessible when throwing the bag over your shoulder. This year’s bag also has a new sliding strap system to that allows you to easily adjust while walking (see ‘Innovation’, below). The padding on the straps for the shoulders is comfortable.


86 / B

POCKETS/STORAGE

The Ping Hoofer C-1 has 7 total pockets (Ping markets the bag as having 6, but we count one more. Call it generous!).

  • 1 large apparel pocket runs along the right side of the bag.
  • 1 smaller sized apparel pocket sits on the right side of the bag on top of the large pocket.
  • 1 small velour-lined valuables pocket (waterproof!) sits above the large pocket.
  • 1 medium-sized pocket and 1 small pocket sit on the spine of the bag , handy for storing tees, balls and other items that you need to access most often.
  • 1 beverage pocket, lined with insulation and with a drain, runs along the left side of the bag. The pocket is smaller than the beverage pockets of the competition, so the largest size bottles may not fit. We liked the magnetic closure of the pocket to keep the beverage secure.
  • 1 small/medium pocket is under the beverage pocket. Still easy to access and hold a number of smaller sized items, from gloves to sunscreen.
  • Additionally, there is a small pouch to hold a scorecard with a pen/pencil holder that is not included in this pocket count.

The Hoofer C-1 includes a slot on the right side of the bag for holding an umbrella and a plastic loop for attaching a towel or GPS device in its carrying case. There is also a velcro pad by the towel loop to attach your glove.


94 / A

RAIN HOOD

The rain hood of the Hoofer C-1 is an evolution from earlier Ping bags, and now features 5 buttons to attach the hood to the bag. These buttons all snap in easily, and we prefer the new design to the prior Ping models that required wrapping velcro straps around the top of the bag.


89 / B+

CARRYING IMPRESSIONS

Though the Hoofer has never been the lightest bag on the market, the new Hoofer C-1 sheds nearly a full pound from the previous generation Hoofer Vantage.

  • Weight. The Ping Hoofer C-1 is one of the lighter carry bags that we have tested, coming in at under 5 pounds. Quite a diet from the Hoofer Vantage it replaces.
  • Balance. We liked the balance of the bag, as well as the ability to easily adjust the shoulder straps while on the course (see ‘Innovation’, below).
  • Padding. There is reasonable amount of padding where the bag rests against the user’s lower back. This straddles the line between the lightweight bags that offer less padding to conserve weight, and those bags where the padding extends over a slightly wider area.

89 / B+

STYLE

The Ping Hoofer C-1 has a relatively wide range of colors to select from, and designs that include different colors for trim as well as secondary colors. 7 different combinations are available:

  • Navy with black trim
  • Dark green with black trim
  • Black with silver highlights and black trim
  • Plum, lavender and white
  • Red, white and black
  • White with black trim
  • Yellow, black and silver

None of them are loud, and depending on where you fired your tee shot, it just might be nice not to bring attention to your location.


84 / B

INNOVATION

The Ping Hoofer C-1 features an integrated handle which extends from where the straps attach the top of the bag. Combined with the bottom strap, this makes the bag reasonably easy to grab and lift into a vehicle or while traveling.

In addition to a retractable right shoulder strap, both strap pads are “dual sliding” and allow for easier adjustment than the common straps of the past.

Lastly, the Ping Hoofer C-1 also has a zippered opening at the bottom of the largest apparel pocket, making it easy to retrieve the car keys, food, wallet, golf balls and GPS units that have fallen into your bag without having to turn the bag upside-down.


84 / B

COST/VALUE

The Ping Hoofer C-1 retails for $189.99, which puts it at about average among bags tested. It’s a solid, dependable bag, but at this price point users will probably start to consider bags that have more features and carrying capacity, as well as less expensive lightweight bags.


Clicgear 2.0

SCORE
91
GRADE
A-
Size/Weight
84
Ease of Set-Up
85
On Course Impressions
90
Storage/Accessories
89
Style
94
Value
91

We definitely liked the sporty looks of the Clicgear 2.0 and its solid and stable feel on the course. And we highly recommend that you spend the $10 to get the nifty shoe cleaning brush accessory! Less appealing is the fact that when it’s folded up, it isn’t exactly small, which could be a problem if storage space is at a premium in your vehicle.

Retail price: $199

Availability: Discontinued; replaced by the Clicgear 3.0


84 / B

Size/Weight
The Clicgear 2.0 weighs a hefty 18.5 lbs. (as tested), which makes it one of the heavier push carts we tested (compare this to the lightest cart, the Sun Mountain Micro Cart, at 13.5 lbs.). It also folds into a bit of an unwieldy block. What does that mean? It means you’re probably putting it in the back seat, because it’s tough to fit it in the trunk if you already have a set of clubs in there (assuming you keep the usual amount of miscellaneous junk in your trunk). What’s that you say? You own a 2-seater? And your wife is coming too? Ruh roh…


85 / B

Ease of Set-Up
Unfolding the Clicgear 2.0 is not the most intuitive process, which explains why they include an instructional DVD for you. Clicgear tries to make the 5-step process easier by making the critical knobs and levers bright red, but unless you have a Ph.D in origami, you may do a little bit of head-scratching each time you have to fold or unfold it.


90 / A-

On Course Impressions

  • We liked tooling around with the Clicgear 2.0 on the course – it felt sturdy and stable, and the tires seemed like they could handle any kind of terrain.
  • We were less impressed with the brake mechanism – you have to both pull and rotate the brake handle to set or disengage the brake. Of course one could argue that this design helps make sure that the brake doesn’t accidentally disengage, but since we never experienced that problem on any cart we tested, it seems to be a bit of overkill.
  • The brake is also different from what we usually see on push carts – instead of a friction-based bicycle brake, the Cligear 2.0 has gear notches around the front wheel and the brake is a block that inserts into the notches to stop the wheel from rolling. What this means is that you sometimes have to roll the cart a few inches forward or backward so that the block will slip into the appropriate notch and engage the brake. It’s not the end of the world, but after you’ve just polished a ball into the pond, it’s certainly not something that makes you happier.
  • The tires are made of solid foam, so there is no danger of winding up with a flat.
  • The handle can be adjusted within about a 45 degree range, providing flexibility for users of different heights.

89 / B+

Storage/Accessories

The storage and accessories available on the Clicgear 2.0 include:

  • a valuables tray with a magnetic lid, which was a bit shallower than that found on some of the competing products. We were unable to get the lid to click shut (no matter how many times we re-arranged the contents) when we tried to stuff the box with 2 golf balls, a GPS device, an iPhone, a set of keys, and a wallet. Note that the storage box has a ridge that is designed to hold 3 golf balls (there are no other doohickeys on the Clicgear 2.0 to hold golf balls)
  • an elastic band attached to the lid of the valuables tray that is designed to hold down a scorecard – we actually found this to be quite handy for securing an iPhone that was running a golf GPS application
  • another elastic band attached to the lid of the valuables tray that is designed to hold a pencil – which we found to be a bit clunky because the elastic was too tight for easy access to or stowing of the pencil
  • 3 holes for storing tees
  • hooks for hanging a towel
  • an umbrella mount that holds an umbrella upright to provide you with shelter when it’s raining
  • 2 straps to hold a folded umbrella when it’s not in use (similar to those found on most golf carry bags today)
  • a cup/bottle holder

We also tested the optional shoe brush that clips on to the frame of the cart (available for an additional $9.99) – this was AWESOME for getting rid of the crud that accumulates between your spikes, and we would highly recommend it. It can occasionally come unclipped if you’re a bit too aggressive in your scrubbing, but is generally extremely useful.


94 / A

Style
No doubt about it, the Clicgear 2.0 is the coolest looking push cart on the market. The profile of the wheels and the two-toned color scheme create an aggressive style reminiscent of the brightly colored brake calipers showing through the wheels of a Ferrari or Maserati. The Clicgear 2.0 is available in black, blue, orange, red, silver and yellow. No matter which color you select, the trim color for the wheels, knobs and handles is always red.


91 / A-

Value
With a retail price of $199.99, the Clicgear 2.0 was tied with two other carts for low price honors among the units we tested (granted, we were only testing high-end carts). Also note that the introduction of the new Clicgear 3.0 means that you should be able to pick up the Clicgear 2.0 at a closeout price, so check out different retailers such as Amazon.com and Golfsmith, below.


Sun Mountain Micro Cart

SCORE
94
GRADE
A
Size/Weight
97
Ease of Set-Up
94
On Course Impressions
89
Storage/Accessories
90
Style
82
Value
93

The Sun Mountain Micro Cart’s nifty combination of a lightweight compact form and quick set-up made it the favorite of our testers. Sure, it doesn’t have an aggressive masculine design, but let’s be honest, you’re already using a push cart – it’s not like you’re screaming “men, men, men, men, manly men, men, men” with every step you take.

So while your buddy herniates a disc wedging his massive push cart out of the back seat of his car (smearing dirt, grass, and who knows what else all over the fancy leather seats) and then spends 20 minutes trying to remember how to unfold the thing, you can easily lift the Sun Mountain Micro Cart out of your trunk and be up and rolling in no time. Which gives you plenty of time to get acquainted with the attractive cart girl.

The Sun Mountain Micro Cart delivers easy set-up, nice performance on the course, and a reasonable price point – what’s not to like?

Retail price: $199
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the Sun Mountain MC3 Micro-Cart

Pros:

  • One of the lightest carts we’ve tested
  • Compact shape when it’s folded up
  • Easy to unfold

Cons:

  • Ho hum styling
  • Not an overwhelming amount of storage space (although it’s generally adequate)

97 / A+

SIZE/WEIGHT

The Micro Cart lives up to its name – at 13.5 lbs. (as tested), it’s not only one of the lightest push carts we tested, but it also folds into a nice FLAT compact package. We can’t tell you enough how much of a difference it makes to have the cart fold up flat – fitting both a set of clubs and the cart into the trunk of a smaller car is impossible with some of the competitive products, but is generally not a problem with the Micro Cart. And if you happen to have a lady friend with you (or a buddy who is always bumming a ride) and need to fit both two sets of clubs AND two carts in the trunk of your car, pretty much your only chance is if both carts are Sun Mountain Micro Carts.


94 / A

EASE OF SET-UP

Our reviewers loved how quickly they could unfold the Sun Mountain Micro Cart – in essentially four quick steps, it’s up and ready to go. An added bonus is that Sun Mountain has designed the cart so that you simply plop your bag on it. The built-in brackets and the angle at which the bag sits on the cart keeps it from falling off, so you don’t have to spend any time attaching straps or bungee cords to secure the bag. Which gives you more time to carefully hone your short game at the chipping green…ah, who are we kidding – you’re just going to head to the range with your driver and let the big dog eat!


89 / B+

ON COURSE IMPRESSIONS

  • The wheelbase of the Micro Cart is a bit narrower than the other carts that we tested. That being said, we didn’t have any issues worrying about whether the Micro Cart would tip over on a hill – perhaps because there are four wheels instead of three. Another advantage of having four wheels is that if you play on a course with lots of geese or other water fowl, you can easily aim your cart to avoid the “presents” that birds leave behind – with a three wheeled cart, you’re left guessing as to whether the stuff you just dodged with the front wheel is going to be run over by one of the two back wheels.
  • The brakes featured on the Sun Mountain Micro Cart were our favorite among the carts we tested – they easily engage and disengage through lightly flicking a lever.
  • The width of the front axle is adjustable if your golf bag is particularly wide.
  • Like most carts offered today, the tires are made of foam, so you never have to worry about getting a flat.
  • The handle can be adjusted to one of two heights for the user’s comfort. Note that the handles on some competing carts are adjustable to a wide variety of heights (you loosen a knob, rotate the handle to where you want it, then tighten the knob), but the user must manually adjust the height to the optimal spot each time. Two different heights seemed sufficient to our reviewers, but extremely tall or short users might feel otherwise.

90 / A-

STORAGE/ACCESSORIES

The storage and accessories provided by the Sun Mountain Micro Cart include:

  • a padded valuables tray (with a see-through lid) that was big enough to hold 2 golf balls, a GPS device, an iPhone, a set of keys, and a wallet (unless your name happens to be George Costanza)
  • A very cool magnet attached to the lid of the valuables tray that is designed to hold your scorecard – this was a nifty way to keep the scorecard handy and accessible
  • 3 holes for storing pencils
  • 6 holes for storing tees
  • 1 hole for storing an extra ball
  • an umbrella mount that holds an umbrella upright to provide you with shelter when it’s raining
  • a cup/bottle holder

82 / B-

STYLE

This is pretty much the only real failing of the Micro Cart. The Micro Cart, with its smaller wheels and shiny hubcaps, looks like a souped up Nissan Sentra compared to the Hummer-esque ClicGear 2.0. The Sun Mountain Micro Cart is available in silver, blue, red and black.


93 / A-

VALUE

The Sun Mountain is right in the sweet spot of golf cart pricing at $199. At this price it’s a value that is tough to beat.


Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1

SCORE
83
GRADE
B
Size/Weight
79
Ease of Set-Up
88
On Course Impressions
86
Storage/Accessories
86
Style
80
Value
83

The Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1 is based on the original Speed Cart design from 1999, which revolutionized (if you believe Sun Mountain’s marketing materials) golf push carts as we know them.

Unfortunately, 1999 was a long time ago in push cart years, and there are newer and better designs than the Speed Cart V1. Sun Mountain has updated the cart to some degree, adding a mesh net storage area and solid foam tires to replace the old tube tires (no more flats!), but the cart’s styling is dated, and it’s still really big when it’s folded up. At a retail price of $199, it isn’t outrageously expensive. But there are better options at the same price point, so it’s tough for us to recommend the cart with any real conviction.

But the Speed Cart V1 shouldn’t feel bad – it’s probably holding up better than anything else from 1999…(see, e.g., Jessica Simpson’s career, the value of an investment in Pets.com, or the amount that I can bench press)

Retail price: $199

Pros:

  • Intuitive process to unfold
  • Wide wheelbase makes for stable performance
  • Mesh netting storage area holds lots of assorted stuff

Cons:

  • Massive, even when it’s folded
  • Dated styling

79 / C+

SIZE/WEIGHT

The biggest problem with the Speed Cart V1 isn’t its weight, although at 17 pounds (as tested), it isn’t exactly skinny. The real issue is the length of the cart (over three feet) even when it’s folded up. If you have a standard-sized car trunk, it will be a real challenge to fit both the Speed Cart V1 and a set of clubs at the same time. Instead, it’s going to take up pretty much most of the back seat. The length also makes it a little awkward to handle when it’s folded up. Forget about hauling two of these and two sets of clubs unless you have a pick-up truck or an SUV with the back seat folded down…


88 / B+

EASE OF SET-UP

The Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1 unfolds in 7 intuitive steps – loosen a knob, unfold the cart, then tighten the knob, then loosen a second knob, unfold the front wheel, tighten the second knob, then unfold the brackets. Done! The cart’s brackets wrap around the golf bag, and holds it secure without any need to attach any straps or bungee cords.


86 / B

ON COURSE IMPRESSIONS

  • The Speed Cart V1 has a wide rear wheelbase, so it stays stable across different terrain. One problem we experienced was that there isn’t much clearance under the front wheel, so when we were hopping over curbs, we often found ourselves scraping some plastic located behind the front wheel. We tried adjusting the clearance by locking the front wheel in a different position, but that seriously undermined the stability of the cart.
  • The brake easily engages and disengages through lightly flicking a lever.
  • The tires on the 2010 version of the Speed Cart V1 are made of foam, so you never have to worry that they’ll go flat.
  • The handle can be adjusted to a wide variety of heights, but because of the way that the Speed Cart V1 is designed, raising the handle has the corresponding effect of narrowing the wheelbase of the rear axle, which can make the cart less stable.
  • One minor annoyance with respect to the handle – because of the positioning of the umbrella holder, it bulges out awkwardly right in the center, which makes it uncomfortable to push with one hand.

86 / B

STORAGE/ACCESSORIES

The storage and accessories available on the Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1 include:

  • a padded valuables tray (with a see-through lid) that was one of the smallest we saw – it flunked our test of fitting 2 golf balls, a GPS device, an iPhone, a set of keys and a wallet
  • additional storage in the form of a mesh tray – Sun Mountain labels this as a tray for holding head-covers, but we found it more useful for holding all of the stuff that didn’t fit in the valuables tray
  • an elastic band attached to the lid of the valuables tray designed to hold down a scorecard, which is also handy for holding down a GPS device
  • 2 holes for storing pencils
  • 4 holes for storing tees
  • 2 holes for storing extra balls
  • an umbrella mount that holds an umbrella upright to provide you with shelter when it’s raining
  • 2 straps to hold a folded umbrella when it’s not in use (similar to those found on most golf carry bags today)
  • a cup/bottle holder

80 / B-

STYLE

The Speed Cart V1 doesn’t deliver much of a “wow” factor – the wire spokes on the wheels look a bit dated, and the colors and lines of the cart don’t provide much panache. It is, however, available in a wide range of colors: yellow, white, silver, red, orange, blue and black.


83 / B

VALUE

At $199.95, the Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1 is priced reasonably among the high-end carts, but it suffers a bit in terms of innovation. We think that there are more interesting options at comparable price points, including the Sun Mountain Micro Cart at the same price.


Sun Mountain Speed Cart V2

The Sun Mountain Speed Cart V2 is the “deluxe” version of the original Speed Cart V1, claiming a more durable frame along with a larger handle and accessories panel and a mesh basket for carrying additional belongings.

We like the upgrades – the mesh basket is particularly great in providing a place to toss all kinds of stuff – and like its predecessor, the Speed Cart V2 is simple to unfold and get rolling on the course. The Speed Cart V2 is, however, the heaviest golf push cart that we’ve tested. Part of this may result from what Sun Mountain describes as a “heavy-duty frame with steel stampings and glass-filled joints for increased durability.” All we know is that it’s really heavy.

SCORE
86
GRADE
B
Size/Weight
79
Ease of Set-Up
90
On Course Impressions
86
Storage/Accessories
92
Style
78
Value
79

The Speed Cart V2 is also the most expensive golf push cart that we’ve tested and its styling feels dated (does anyone still think that wire spoke wheels are cool?). If (a) price is no object, (b) you have a Cadillac Escalade that will easily fit the massive cart, and (c) you have a manservant who will lift the cart in and out of your Escalade, then the V2 may be your cup of tea. Otherwise, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

Retail price: $269
Availability: Discontinued. Replaced by the Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1 line

Pros:

  • All kinds of storage space
  • Quick unfolding

Cons:

  • Highest retail price of the carts we tested
  • Heaviest among the carts we tested

79 / C+

SIZE/WEIGHT

The heaviest golf cart in our tests, the Speed Cart V2 tips the scales at 20 pounds (as tested). But it’s the size of the V2 that might hold you back from its purchase. Sun Mountain claims the V2 is slightly larger when folded than its predecessor, the Speed Cart V1, but we found it to actually be a hair smaller, with the handle of the V1 protruding just a bit farther. Either way, the two versions are roughly the same size, and as with the V1, you will have a difficult time fitting the V2 into a standard-sized car trunk along with your set of clubs, never mind carrying a buddy and his clubs (and cart?) as well. Of course if you are rockin’ a Suburban or Escalade these pedestrian issues don’t apply to you.


90 / A-

EASE OF SET-UP

The Sun Mountain Speed Cart V2 unfolds in 6 intuitive steps (technically one less than the V1 which includes the need to unfold the bottom stand where the bag rests). The Speed Cart V2 also features smart brackets that allow you to secure your bag without having to pull straps around the bag to hold it down. As a nice touch, these brackets are adjustable to allow for bags of different sizes.


86 / B

ON COURSE IMPRESSIONS

  • The Speed Cart V2 has a wide rear wheelbase, so it stays stable across a variety of terrain. With the bag stand more closely attached to the front wheel, there is good clearance while heading over curbs or rocks or whatever obstacles you have driven your ball into.
  • The brake easily engages and disengages through lightly flicking a lever, although we found that over time the brake (which actually pushes onto the bottom of the tire) isn’t as secure as the standard bike-style brakes found on the Speed Cart V1.
  • Unlike previous versions, the tires on the 2010 Speed Cart V2 are made of foam, so you never have to worry that you’ve forgotten to pump the tires before heading to the course.
  • The handle can be adjusted to a wide variety of heights through releasing the top knob, adjusting as desired, and tightening. The down side is that due to the design of the V2, raising the handle has the corresponding effect of narrowing the wheelbase of the rear axle, which can make the cart less stable.

92 / A-

STORAGE/ACCESSORIES

The storage and accessories available on the Sun Mountain Speed Cart V2 include:

  • a padded valuables tray with a transparent lid and a magnetic latch that is a generous size, easily passing our test of fitting 2 golf balls, a GPS device, an iPhone (with corresponding iPhone golf GPS applications, of course), a set of keys and a wallet
  • a small mesh basket next to the valuable tray for holding head-covers or whatever additional items you want to have easily accessible
  • a larger mesh basket that is slightly underneath the bag, big enough for holding golf sweaters, food, or other miscellaneous stuff.
  • two elastic bands attached to the lid of the valuables tray designed to hold down a scorecard or course guide
  • 1 holder with elastic band for holding a pencil or pen
  • 5 holes for storing tees
  • 1 hole for storing an extra ball, and one tool designed for marking a straight line on your ball with a Sharpie
  • a mount on the handle to hold an umbrella while pushing your cart
  • 2 straps to hold a folded umbrella when it’s not in use (similar to those found on most golf carry bags today)
  • a cup/bottle holder

78 / C+

STYLE

The old-school spoke wheels, heavy-duty frame, and extremely limited color selection won’t win any beauty pageants. Not that your friends will judge you on the style of your golf cart. Then again… At least it comes in more colors than the Model T – you can get it in both black AND silver.


79 / C+

VALUE

At $269.95, the Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1 is the highest priced of the carts tested. While it adds a few extra features not included with the Speed Cart V1, the additional $70 is tough to swallow. The value doesn’t seem quite there, and at this price we would point users in other directions.