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Callaway GPSync Watch

The Callaway GPSync Watch is actually produced by IZZO and marketed under the Callaway brand pursuant to a license agreement. IZZO has apparently discontinued its own line of Swami watches in order to avoid cannibalizing sales of the GPSync.

The availability of hazard information is nice, although it’s often difficult to determine which hazards are actually being presented. The GPSync will tell you that there’s a hazard that is 194 yards to reach and 210 yards to carry, but it doesn’t indicate which side of the fairway the hazard is on, and if there are multiple hazards on the same side, good luck guessing which one the GPSync is identifying. Scoring on the watch is nice, but the statistics that can be tracked are a bit limited, and there’s no aggregation of data (either on the mobile app or on a web site) to show how you’re progressing over time.

After the demise of the Callaway uPro line of devices (which we liked a lot), we were hoping that this new release would represent a resurgence of the chevron brand, but the GPSync, while a functional device, never really excites in any way, and is pricy relative to what you get.

SCORE
86
GRADE
B
Setup/Syncing
89
Course Availability
98
Ease of Use
84
Course Details
80
Features
86
Accuracy
86
Cost/Value
83

Pros:

  • Strong course coverage
  • Hazard distances
  • Some statistics tracking (although still limited)

Cons:

  • Fickle charging clip
  • No course update support for Macs
  • Relatively expensive for what you get

Retail price: $299.99
Three year total cost: $299.99
Amazon.com: Check price now


89 / B+

SETUP/SYNCING

  • The charging clip does not fit particularly snugly, and early on, we frequently thought we had it loosely attached to the GPSync and it was not (and thus was not charging). If you find the sweet spot, you can snap the watch firmly into place, but it takes some practice.
  • No wall charger is provided, so unless you already have one, the only way to charge the Callaway GPSync is by plugging the USB cable into your computer. (This is not unique to the GPSync – it is the case with almost every watch we test)
  • The Callaway GPSync comes with the entire course library pre-loaded on the device. We’re not entirely sure how to obtain course updates on the GPSync – there is a link for an “Update Tool” on the Callaway support web site, but after downloading the file, it wouldn’t open for us, providing an error message informing us that it was a Windows file. That is decidedly suboptimal for those of us who are Mac users.
  • The GPSync mobile app is available as a free download, and enables you to pair the watch via Bluetooth to your mobile device. The pairing process was pretty simple, and once paired, the watch and the mobile app will share completed scorecards and you will receive notifications of incoming text messages (the watch will display the entire message, not just the name of the sender), telephone calls and calendar invitations. Note that you have to manually enable the watch’s Bluetooth function (by pushing one of the watch buttons) every time you power the watch back on.
  • Once you’ve gone through the setup process, just charge up the battery and you’re good to go.


98 / A+

COURSE AVAILABILITY

  • Critical Golf Test: Through the relationship with IZZO, the Callaway GPSync utilizes IZZO’s course database. The GPSync scored a strong 98% in our golf course coverage test, where we select a random cross-section of courses across the country and evaluate whether those courses are available within a manufacturer’s database.
  • Manufacturer’s Claims: Callaway claims that more than 30,000 worldwide courses are available on the GPSync, which places it near the bottom our course coverage comparison test. As always, we recommend a greater focus on the Critical Golf Test, as the Manufacturer’s Claims are based solely on what is listed on their web sites and in their marketing materials.


84 / B

EASE OF USE

Callaway GPSync Watch

Click for more images
  • Callaway lists the screen size for the GPSync as 1.28”, which is the diagonal measurement. The screen is a square about .875” x .875”, giving it about 0.77 square inches in viewing area – a hair smaller than the 0.8 square inches available on the Garmin watches.
  • The Callaway GPSync weighed in at a surprising 2.35 ounces (as tested), which made it the heaviest golf GPS watches we have tested. The watch body is black and the accompanying rubber band is black as well. Two “keeper” loops hold the excess length of the band in place and adjusting them to the correct position is somewhat critical in preventing the band from rubbing against you during your putting stroke.
  • Navigating through the functions of the GPSync relies upon four buttons on the sides of the watch, as well as learning the difference between a “press” and a “hold” of a button. There were some elements of the interface that didn’t really click with us (primarily surrounding the press/hold distinction), but nothing that you don’t eventually learn through repetition.
  • Callaway claims 10-12 hours of battery life while using GPS. At least that’s what it says on their web site. The manual itself says 9 hours, which is not far from the 8 hours and 45 minutes that our device provided before its battery died on the 15th hole of the second testing round. The battery meter is not to be trusted – after the first round, it showed 75% remaining power…clearly an overstatement since it didn’t make it through a second round on a course in the same resort (i.e. it wasn’t suddenly faced with drawing more power to hang on to satellites in a trickier location).

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device ease of use.


80 / B-

COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING

  • The Callaway GPSync provides hazard distances, but it can be a devil determining exactly which hazard is being depicted. All that is presented is an icon identifying the type of hazard (bunkers, water and doglegs) and then two numbers indicating the distances to reach and carry the hazard. If you’re playing a familiar course, this is less of an issue since you can probably figure out which hazard is being called out, but on a new course it can render the hazard data largely useless.

    • Hole View – shows the hole number, the par for the hole, the distance to the front, middle and back of the green, a battery meter, and the time. Don’t be fooled by the “picture” of the green that is depicted – the GPSync shows the same “picture” for every hole, and it is not indicative of the actual shape of the green.
    • Hazard View – displays up to 3 hazards on the screen at once (if there are more plotted for that particular hole, you can scroll down). An icon is displayed identifying the type of hazard, as well as the distances to reach and carry the hazard (in the case of doglegs, the distances are to the front and back of the dogleg). Once you have walked past a hazard, the GPSync will no longer display the distances for that hazard. The Hazard View also shows the time, hole number and the par for the hole
    • Scoring View – enables you to enter your score, number of putts and whether you hit the green in regulation. Your total score and your score relative to par (+3, etc.) for the round is displayed, as well as the current hole number and the par for that hole.
    • Shot Measurement View – displays the distance of your shot if you have activated shot measuring. While tracking the shot distance, you can toggle to other views and the watch will continue to measure that shot.
  • Hole handicap information is not available on the Callaway GPSync.


86 / B

FEATURES

  • Auto-Advance. The Callaway GPSync will automatically advance to the next hole during play. Manually changing holes is easily done through the up/down buttons. There is no way to disable the auto-advance feature.
  • Scoring. You can track your own score throughout the round, but not for any of your playing partners.
  • Statistics. The Callaway GPSync enables you to track your number of putts and whether you hit the green in regulation (GIR). The latter was an odd choice in our view – why not let users enter whether they hit the fairway or not? If it’s a question of not wanting to force users to scroll to another screen on the Scoring View, why not replace GIR entry with fairways hit, and calculate whether or not the green was hit in regulation based on the par of the hole and the number of putts (which is what a number of other devices do)? A calculated GIR can sometimes be wrong (you could hit the green in regulation, putt it off the green, and then chip back on and two-putt, and the device would think you had not hit the green based on the number of putts), but it seems better than excluding fairway data entirely.
  • Scoring and Statistics Evaluation. You can save your rounds to the GPSync, but cannot view previous scorecards and statistics on the watch itself – you must sync the device to the GPSync mobile app. The scorecards (including the saved statistics) are then viewable on the mobile app. There is no aggregation of the data for you to view patterns over multiple rounds – you can only see what you did in a given round. You can delete old scorecards from the mobile app.
  • Shot Tracking. You can measure shot distances on the Callaway GPSync. We’re not sure if it’s where the feature is placed within the user interface or not (it’s pretty easily accessible), but for whatever reason we found ourselves using this feature more on the GPSync than we have on other devices.
  • Miscellaneous. The GPSync has a basic odometer that displays the distance you’ve traveled. Oddly enough, it does so in yards, rather than miles. This function cannot be activated while you’re in the middle of a round, so it is only useful if you wear the watch day-to-day and want to use it to track your fitness activity while you’re not playing golf.
  • Watch Features. You can select whether you want the watch to display time digitally or with a representation of an analog face. Remember the big hand and the little hand? There is also an alarm function that enables you to set up to three different alarm times on the watch.
  • Preferences. The Callaway GPSync enables you to adjust: whether the time is determined manually or automatically via GPS; the format in which the date is displayed; the format in which the time is displayed (12 or 24 hour); the unit of measurement (yards or meters) the language for the device (English, German, French or Spanish); how long the backlight remains on; whether the watch emits sounds; whether the time reflects Daylight Savings; and whether the scorecard, shot distance and notification features are on or off.

For more details, check out the Critical Golf comparison of golf GPS device features.


86 / B

ACCURACY

The Callaway GPSync generally returned distances within our standard expected range of variance for GPS devices, usually plus or minus up to 4 yards from actual distances (based on marked sprinkler heads). It was, however, usually somewhat slow in stabilizing on a distance compared to other devices we were testing concurrently, which doesn’t exactly instill confidence that you have the right yardage.

We did encounter one instance of an outdated course map, as a course that has been re-routed for almost two years had not been updated. IZZO (the source of the course database for the GPSync) has to catch up to iGolf and other course database providers!


84 / B

COST/VALUE

Retail Price: The Callaway GPSync golf GPS watch retails for $299.99, which puts it a bit above average among the golf GPS watches in our tests.

Fees for Access to Course Database: There are no additional fees for course map updates to the Callaway GPSync (but if you’re a Mac owner, you can’t get them on to the watch).

Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With no additional yearly fees to download the latest course information, the three-year total cost for the Callaway GPSync remains $299.99. At this price point, it is right at the average among the golf GPS watches in our tests.

Value: The pricing of the Callaway GPSync seems out of sync (no pun intended) with its feature set. We would lean toward paying slightly more in order to get a better product.

Retail price: $299.99
Three year total cost: $299.99
Amazon.com: Check price now


Read it? Watch it:


SkyCaddie AIRE II

The SkyCaddie AIRE II is the most basic of the SkyCaddie handheld rangefinders, ready-to-play with over 35,000 courses worldwide. The device features the most basic golf GPS device features: auto-course select, auto-hole advance and shot measurement. There is a scorecard included that saves up to 20 rounds, Distances provided are only front, center and back of green on the black-and-white screen. Other odds and ends include a stopwatch and odometer, and a pace-of-play timer. A rechargeable, lithium-ion battery is included.

As with any SkyCaddie product, there are annual fees for key features. If you weren’t going to purchase these, you are probably better off with a competing device that doesn’t have annual fees either. Heck, if you are going to purchase the additional features through the annual fees, we think you are better off with a competing device that doesn’t have annual fees!

For example, our test plan is the SkyCaddie AIRE II Pro Plan (there are a slew of different plans depending on device). This provides green shape, pin targeting (if pins are mapped, which they often aren’t), and a list of up to 40 hazards, carries and layups per hole. Maybe the $19.95/year plan will sway you (unlimited access to course maps with distances to front, center and back of green), or the free activation, which only provides front, center and back of green distances. But with the AIRE II, you are better off looking elsewhere.

Retail price: $169.95
Three year total cost: $319.80
Amazon.com: Check price now


Clicgear Model 8

Clicgear is trying something new with their Model 8, which is the first four-wheeled cart from the company and expands the line of carts that includes the Clicgear 3.5+ (setting aside the Rovic “sub-brand”, though we can’t tell what separates the two companies).

At nearly 22 pounds, the Model 8 is the new heavyweight in our push cart category. While the cart is well-made and extremely stable, the additional weight is noticeable, and is likely compounded by the relatively wide solid tires. The Model 8 collapses to 27″ x 17″ x 15″ in size, which won’t work for everyone given that the frame collapses into a bulky cube as opposed to a flatter design. If have a car with a smaller trunk and already have a couple of sets of clubs back there, the Model 8 will likely have to go into the back seat.

The cart features a hand lever that activates the dual front brakes, a number of accessory tabs and holders, solid tires, and a large storage tray. As we have seen in the past from Clicgear, there are a slew of accessories available, including a cooler bag, travel covers, shoe brush, and even an attachable seat to take a load off. If you’re looking to trick out your cart, Clicgear definitely offers a host of options.

While we like the looks and build of the Model 8, there were a number of disappointing design elements that we couldn’t quite get over, including the plastic bracket that poorly cradles the bag and the lack of a lower strap at the base of the bag, both which combine to cause the bag to twist when the cart is being pushed, and the odd position of the brake lever.

SCORE
87
GRADE
B+
Size/Weight
81
Ease of Set-Up
93
On Course Impressions
87
Storage/Accessories
94
Style
95
Value
80

Clicgear has historically made the highest-priced carts in our test, and the Model 8 is the latest champ in this category. It’s tough to say who the target customer is for the Clicgear Model 8, but we find it to be a push cart that is best suited for players who demand extreme stability, have a cart/staff bag (versus a carry bag), and will customize their cart through additional bags and other accessories. Most players who desire the basic features offered on the Model 8 may find a better fit in the less expensive Rovic RV1S or Clicgear 3.5+.

Retail price: $279.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

Pros:

  • Sturdy design
  • Accessories galore

Cons:

  • Extremely high price tag
  • Design doesn’t play friendly with carry bags (which twist and turn)
  • Heavier than the competition, and still bulky when folded

80 / B

SIZE/WEIGHT

Hefty, hefty, hefty!

The Clicgear Model 8 weighs in at 22 pounds, up significantly from its 19.5 pound brethren, the Clicgear 3.5+. This makes the Model 8 one of the heaviest push carts tested, and one that folds up into a relatively large block, usually necessitating it riding shotgun in a smaller-sized vehicle. The additional size relative to existing Clicgear carts is created by the fourth wheel, though we will hold out hope that future Clicgear four-wheelers will come in a smaller footprint, such as that found in the four-wheeled Sun Mountain MC3.


93 / A-

EASE OF SET-UP

The unfolding process for the Model 8 is, thankfully, much simpler than that of the Clicgear 3.5+. Unfolding the Clicgear Model 8 is quite straightforward, involving unlock the handlebar lock lever, stepping on the plastic piece that says “STEP” (to keep the cart from rolling) to hold one of the front wheels in place, and then lifting the main handle up and back while slightly lifting up the rear of the cart so the back wheels can extend into position. The frame will click into place and you need only adjust the handlebar to the appropriate height and strap in the top of the bag before you’re off to the races. The Model 8 features flexible new straps that hold the bag in place on the cart and are easily adjustable.

Clicgear Model 8

Click for images

There is, unfortunately, no lower strap to assist in securing the bag at its base. That, combined with an, ahem, “unique” plastic section where the cart cradles the bag at the top, resulted in the bag twisting and turning as we moved between shots. Every time. Which is a pain. There is a separate Clicgear Bag Cozy that is designed to help eliminate bag roll with stand bags, but really…how about simply designing the cart so all bags don’t twist instead of relying on the purchase of additional $25 accessory? Some folks will probably point out that the Model 8 is designed for a cart bag, but in our highly unscientific research, we found that the vast majority of players use carry bags with their push carts.

Folding the cart is just as easy, requiring you to merely lift on a center handle, unlatch the handle used to adjust the handlebar, and then, while stepping down again on the front wheel, push down to collapse the cart. After that you need only clip the handlebar handle in place. If you work in the marketing department, you’ll call this 4XFOLD. The only hitch is, depending on what accessories are attached, you may need to twist them a bit into the proper position so they don’t pop off while folding the cart.


85 / B

ON COURSE IMPRESSIONS

Clicgear Model 8

Click for images
  • Clicgear carts have historically been extremely stable, and the frame of the Model 8 continues this same high level of construction. Add in the 4th wheel with the Model 8, and the design is as sturdy as ever.
  • The Model 8 utilizes a hand brake centered under the main cart handle. When pulling up on the lever to lock the dual front brakes, the system moves a pin into one of 10 holes (up from the six holes on the Clicgear 3.5+) on the rim of the wheels to engage the brakes. The brake system works smoothly, and firmly holds the position of the cart. The one negative of a design where the brake lever is centered is if you have the cart handle at certain heights, and if you want to push the cart for any amount of time with your waistline (while using a phone or writing in a score on a card), the brake lever will poke right into your gut. It’s not a huge deal, but we would slide the position of the level lower and toward the bottom of the console to alleviate this.
  • The handle can be adjusted within a wide range, providing flexibility for users of different heights. The handle locks into specific notches, but there are enough of them (and the edges of each notch are tapered enough) to give the feeling of having unlimited angles from which to choose.
  • No need to tote a pump, the tires are made of solid foam. In keeping with the Clicgear design, they are nice and wide. Good sometimes, a bit of a drag (literally) others.
  • The front wheels are easily adjusted to allow them to be aligned. And while few people likely make the effort to do this, it makes it that much easier to push to the cart and is worth the minimal effort.

There is lots of thoughtful design in the Model 8, and the cart has the rugged good looks of earlier models.


94 / A

STORAGE/ACCESSORIES

Clicgear Model 8

Click to enlarge

The storage and accessories available on the Model 8 include:

  • a very roomy console with a magnetic lid. The console tray passed our “stuff capacity test” of 2 golf balls, a GPS device, an iPhone, a set of keys, and a wallet with no issues. The console has an interior bracket designed to hold 3 golf balls (though there is room for more to be held loose within the console if you are planning on sending some into the woods).
  • a long elastic band on the lid of the console that is primarily designed to hold a scorecard, but we would often use to hold our iPhone.
  • a small elastic band attached to the lid of the valuables tray that is designed to hold a pencil or pen for scoring
  • a good sized storage net that extends from under the console toward the top of the bag, most useful for storing head covers in between shots, snacks, or other random stuff that you bring to the course. You might be able to cram a thin vest or light jacket into the net, but if you are looking to carry more you’ll want to consider one of the bag accessories, available separately.
  • Velcro wrapped around the frame at the right side on the console, with a plastic clip at the end. The Velcro can be used to attach a glove, and the clip at the end for a GPS device or laser rangefinder.
  • Hidden under the console and next to the Velcro is an elastic strap, which also could be used to either clip an accessory, or hold something tight to the cart, such as a towel.
  • 3 holes for storing tees located between the console lid and cart handle.
  • an umbrella holder and mount at the center of the handle just over the brake lever. There is an umbrella mount holder on the main frame that can stay there even when the cart is folded. We can’t comment on the umbrella holder as it hasn’t rained in California since….well…ever since we purchased this cart.
  • 2 nylon loops, the top adjustable with a Velcro strap, to secure a folded umbrella when it’s not in use, similar to the design found on many carry bags.
  • holders for cupS (yes – 2 cup holders in two different sizes, nice!) and the umbrella mount.
  • Four accessory tabs surrounding the console that enable you to customize your cart with a number of additional options. The most useful accessories specific to the Model 8 are bags (cooler or a simple pack bag) and a shoe brush. And if you like to take a break, there is a seat that attaches to the frame. Clicgear also has a number of accessories that are compatible with most of its models, including a ball clip, sand bottle, rangefinder bag, and GPS and rangefinder holders.

95 / A

STYLE
The Clicgear is certainly one of the better looking push carts available. It puts to shame those carts that look like…well, crap. You know who you are, push cart manufacturers. The ones that look like the pieces will snap in half when you take the cart over a curb, or are chunky or cheap, or give the impression that nobody made an effort to design something even halfway decent looking (which really is all too often the case).

Aside from the good looking design, the Model 8 has a total of seven different color combinations available, with choices for the frame and, in some cases, the wheels. Tires, accessory holes, tray, and pivot points are black on all of the color combinations.

There are three subdued color combinations: charcoal frame with black wheels, silver frame with black wheels, and white frame with white wheels. If you want to spice things up a bit, there is a fairly bright blue/blue combo. And if you are worried about search parties not being able to find you when you venture off into the woods, consider the lime or orange color options, both with matching wheels. We’re just waiting for Clicgear to offer some spinners.


80 / B-

VALUE
Just…wow. Clicgear takes pricing to another level (and not in a good way), jumping over $50 in list price from the Clicgear 3.5+. Clicgear carts have historically been among the most expensive golf push carts that we have tested, and the Model 8 keeps it that way. The Model 8 combines very solid construction with a well-rounded feature set and a good looking design. But given some of the complaints we’ve noted above, we are confident that players can find a better deal with one of the competing push carts, or be just as happy within the wider Clicgear (Rovic) family.


How it all works:


Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2

If you can get over the brand “Caddy Daddy” and “Constrictor 2” model name (then again, that does sound pretty manly), you’ll find your bag surrounded by 1800d nylon fabric, with additional padding at the top of the case to protect your clubheads, compression straps to keep your clubs secure, and rubber and padded nylon handles at the top, center and bottom of the bag. Lockable main zippers provide a little more security as well. The Constrictor 2 is designed like most soft travel bags, with a pair of in-line skate wheels for pulling the bag through airports and rental car lots. We have come to realize that we much prefer 4 and 6-wheeled soft and hardside bags that have the ability to move the bag upright or supported at an angle while traveling. We’ve found that holding up and pulling a 50-pound bag through the airport is getting less and less fun with each trip we take – this effectively requires one to lift between 20 and 25 pounds of weight while pulling the bag. Not fun for long walks through the parking lot or terminal!

Caddy Daddy markets reinforced stress points, heavy duty curb rails, and riveted handles for extra strength, but if you stack the Caddy Daddy up side-by-side to higher-end soft travel bags such as the Club Glove Last Bag, you will quickly see the differences. With the less expensive Constrictor 2, you won’t get the level of reinforcement throughout the bag as you will see in others, and in addition you’ll be limited to a 1-year warranty, versus a “lifetime” limited warranty in the case of the Club Glove Last Bag. While we had high hopes for finding a reasonably priced travel bag to recommend, the Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2 wound up with a three inch tear straight through the nylon at the base of the bag from its first trip, which was a new low among travel bags tested. The bonus? We had the chance to test out their limited warranty.

SCORE
79
GRADE
C+
Design/Construction
75
Travel Impressions
84
Value
81

With the Constrictor 2 there is a straightforward tradeoff: dollars for durability. Don’t get us wrong, the Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2 offers a very attractive price point for a much better bag than the least expensive throwaway travel bags you’ll find online. But given the durability issues we had from the start, we would recommend more heavy-duty alternatives that just might save you more dollars in the long run.

Retail price: $109.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

Note we didn’t review the Caddy Daddy Cooler to store your cold ones during the round, so we will leave that up to our readers.


75/ C

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2

Click for more images

Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2 features include:

  • an 1800d nylon exterior (which is the same you’ll find in some of the competing soft travel bags, such as the PING Folding Travel Cover)
  • two restraining straps with buckles on the outside to provide support, including one around the clubheads and one around the center of the bag (which had a disappointingly short strap for buckling up once you have added extra gear)
  • two inline skate wheels at the base of the bag
  • four total handles: one at the top of the bag, two located in the middle of the bag that velcro together, and one at the base of the bag
  • reasonably thick 3/4″ padding around the top 18″ of the bag to provide clubhead protection
  • two rails on the bottom of the bag that unfortunately don’t offer the same level of protection for your clubs as the bags that have a full “sled” at the bottom. Instead the Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2 tries to supplement the rails with lightweight plastic that is slipped into a sleeve on the bottom inside of the bag.
  • 50″ x 13″ x 15″ size that can accommodate normal club lengths
  • an address slot/window stitched to the bag, and a removable luggage tag
  • color schemes of black with navy highlight color scheme, our choice, with a second option of black with grey

Many readers will wonder what the Caddy Daddy doesn’t have that more expensive bags do. Features lacking in the Constrictor 2 include interior straps to further secure the bag, a third external strap toward the base of the bag, heavier-duty buckles, zippers and rivets, and reinforced stress points.

Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2

Click to enlarge

In terms of durability, as mentioned, the Caddy Daddy failed on its first flight, leaving us with a three inch tear at the front edge at the base of the bag (see picture at right) and wear at the base corners. We also found two areas on the main zipper already starting to separate, and the interior of the bag also showed some wear, which may have been due to the lack of interior straps to secure the bag. Maybe it was bad luck, maybe it was Southwest Airlines, but either way, we haven’t experienced issues this quickly with other bags. Even with all the “standard” travel bag features, the lack of durability alone is enough to drag down our scoring.

As an accessory for the Caddy Daddy we do recommend (as we do with all soft travel bags) springing for a bit of extra support from the Club Glove Stiff Arm, which will add vertical strength to the bag. The Stiff Arm isn’t perfect, as it is designed only to assist with direct blows to the top or bottom of the bag. If someone runs over your bag on your driveway or the tarmac, you’re still going to be SOL.


84/ B

TRAVEL IMPRESSIONS

As a softsided bag with no structure to it, the Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2 falls victim to the same main travel issue as its closest competitors, which is that you have to lift the top of the bag while pulling it through the airport. As we get older (and perhaps wiser?), we find that our shoulders and arms take more of a beating from this than they need to, and we prefer bags with either four or six wheels that can stand upright (soft or hardsided), or those with extendable legs to take the weight off your arms and shoulders.

The Caddy Daddy did, however, weigh in at only 8.2 pounds as tested (it’s marketed at 9 pounds), making it lighter than most of the competitive golf travel bags in our tests and allowing you to slip in a bit more gear and still stay under the 50 pound airline-imposed bag weight limit. The main zipper can be locked, and the Constrictor 2 also provides two oversized lockable pockets (20″ x 8″ and a maximum of 4″ depth) on either side of the exterior of the bag for storing extra gear. These pockets both easily handle a pair of shoes, plus extra belongings, and are some of the largest pockets we have seen on travel bags, which is great for all of the extra clothes we pack up. The only negative is that these pockets are only accessible from the outside of the bag.

There is also a 12″ x 6″ pocket, which has much less depth and cannot be locked, thus perhaps more suited for your smelly socks. This smaller outer pocket has little depth and zips on top of the larger pocket on the right side of the bag. The main purpose seems to be that it can zip off to allow for personalized stitching for your bag.


81/ B-

COST/VALUE

A retail price of just over $100 makes the Constrictor 2 one of the most attractively priced travel bags we have tested, and for those considering one of the “cheap” travel bags on Amazon (some of which are priced under $50, but with awful construction, limited padding, and poor storage), we beg you to at least consider stepping up to the Constrictor 2. However, it’s tough to give the bag high marks for value when we experienced durability issues from the get-go. The 1-year limited warranty allowed us to exchange the bag and start all over again.

While the Caddy Daddy offers a relatively low entry point to the world of golf travel bags, the gripes we have with 2-wheeled bags in general, combined with the durability issues and desire for a couple of additional security straps, lead us to recommend considering other alternatives. Sure the Caddy Daddy is cheap, but if you have to replace it after just a few years, or deal with replacements under warranty, it will be more trouble than it is worth.

Retail price: $109.99
Amazon.com: Check price now

If you are looking for other Caddy Daddy bag options, all which have relatively attractive pricing in their respective markets, you may with to consider the Caddy Daddy Phoenix, which is a slightly larger softwided travel bag that has additional padding, internal straps, and a self-standing design. It does, however, have the same 1800d nylon construction.


PING Folding Travel Cover

Hey, a softsided travel case that can stand upright? Intriguing… It’s true – with most standard softsided bags tipping over on fellow travelers in line to check-in at the airport, the PING stands on its own. We would love to say you can push/pull it like a hardsided case, but having only 2 urethane wheels means that you’ll still effectively lifting nearly 25 pounds while pulling the bag through a parking lot (which has turned us toward both hardsided bags, as well as soft travel covers that have four or six inline skate wheels to make transporting the bags just that much easier). Two large zipped interior pockets and three external compression straps keep things in order,. And though a reinforced base can keep the bag upright, as a soft bag it still folds relatively flat when not in use (see image).

PING Folding Travel Cover

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The 11½-pound cover measures 52″x17″x12″ fits all carry and most cart bags, while protecting with a combination of 1200-denier polyester (a bit less dense than some tested), a high-impact polypropylene twin shell, heavy duty YKK zippers, and thick upper padding.

Retail price: $225
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Tour Trek GTS Hardcase

The GTS Hardcase from Tour Trek (Golfsmith’s house brand) is one of the few available hardsided golf travel bags. Like the Samsonite Hardside, it has a lightweight ABS shell and comes with four 360-degree spinner wheels on the bottom of the case that enable you to roll it standing up, along with two in-line skate wheels when you need to pull it over rougher terrain.

An interior pocket or two would have been nice, but now we’re really splitting hairs. The GTS Hardcase and Samsonite Hardside are very similar products (thus the similar scoring), and it ultimately may come down to which one is better priced on a given day (we’ve seen both at discounts to the listed MSRPs), and whether or not you get antsy about the fact that we couldn’t find any warranty information about the product. We presume that Golsmith would stand behind its products, but you may not be as trusting as we are.

SCORE
94
GRADE
A-
Design/Construction
95
Travel Impressions
92
Value
90

If you fill up your golf travel bag to the airline baggage weight limit, you’ll be at 50 pounds. It’s much easier to roll 50 pounds that is standing up on four wheels than it is to lift one edge of a 50 pound bag and drag it behind you on two wheels. Your arms, shoulders and back will all thank you if you make the move.

Retail price: $199.99
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95 / A

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

As mentioned above, the Tour Trek GTS Hardcase golf travel case is made of ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, if you must know what it stands for), a lightweight plastic that has a bit of flexibility. Interestingly, both the Tour Trek GTS Hardcase and the Samsonite Hardside had a number of scuffs and scratches after their maiden voyages – we presume it’s just a propensity of ABS to show wear and tear. There was, however, no damage to the structural integrity of the case, and more importantly, the precious cargo was untouched.

A two-way zipper runs the length of the bag with a ring that enables the zippers to be locked together, and the bag comes with a TSA approved padlock. The dimensions of the GTS Hardcase are approximately 52” x 15” x 14”, compared to the Samsonite Hardside’s 54″ x 16″ x 12″, and thus the GTS Hardcase has a tad more interior capacity. Note that even though it’s a hair shorter than the Samsonite, it had no problems accommodating a golf carry bag with an oversize driver in it.

The design of the Tour Trek GTS Hardcase also includes:

  • four 360-degree “spinner” wheels on the bottom of the case that pivot in any direction, making for a smooth rolling experience and the ability to pivot quickly and easily,
  • two additional in-line skate wheels positioned on one side that can be used to pull the case over curbs or uneven surfaces,
  • a thin layer of padding throughout the bag, with thicker foam padding at the top to protect the heads of your clubs as they extend out of your regular golf carry bag,
  • two internal adjustable straps to secure your golf bag – one that fits around the top of the bag and one toward the bottom,
  • two plastic-gripped handles – one at the top of the case, and one on the side – with springs that cause the handles to fold tight with the case when they aren’t being used, and
  • only one color option – grey.

We tested the Tour Trek GTS Hardcase with a standard sized carry bag, and were comfortably able to fit a pair of golf shoes, a pair of flip flops, and clothes for a long weekend. On the trip home, we had all of the dirty clothes in a plastic hotel laundry bag, and were easily able to shove the plastic bag into the GTS Hardcase and zip it shut. The ABS exterior has some give to it, so there was actually additional room to cram in additional stuff, but as always, you have to be aware of exceeding airline restrictions on weight.


92 / A-

TRAVEL IMPRESSIONS

Like the Samsonite Hardside, the Tour Trek GTS Hardcase is designed to stand on its base and let you wheel it along on the four “spinner” wheels. If you’re going over a curb or uneven surface, you can easily grab the top handle and drag it behind you on the two in-line skate wheels.

The Tour Trek GTS Hardcase weighed 16 pounds (as tested), making it the second heaviest travel case we tested (topped only by the OGIO Mammoth), but because it is fully wheeled, the additional weight doesn’t impact the ease of hauling it around. The primary impact of the heavier weight is that it means you’re a bit closer to the airlines’ “overweight” baggage fee for bags over 50 pounds before you’ve even started packing.

While the GTS Hardcase is two inches shorter than the Samsonite Hardside, it’s still difficult to fit in the trunk of a typical import car, so you’ll need to either use a pass through between the trunk and back seat, or you can just lay it across the entire back seat (which worked fine in our rental Toyota Camry).


90 / A-

COST/VALUE

The Tour Trek GTS Hardcase golf travel bag retails for $199.99, placing it among the least expensive third of bags in our tests. We’ve hammered home the convenience of four-wheeling in this review, but will emphasize it one more time – until you’ve tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing. The hard shell provides great confidence in the protection afforded for your clubs, while staying relatively light.

We couldn’t find any warranty information about the Tour Trek GTS Hardcase either on the packaging or on the retailer’s web site, so it may just be caveat emptor. This is a minor concern, although Golfsmith is a large retailer and presumably would stand behind its house products.

Retail price: $199.99
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