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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Sun Mountain Four 5

The Sun Mountain Four 5 lets users sort their clubs into 14 individual slots. It also sports many of the excellent features of its sister bags, including the stellar legs. Unfortunately, it comes at a premium price point, and we had trouble with the straps, both of which drove down its overall rating. Still, in honor of the incredible legs, we’ve thematically begun each of the following sections with a relevant (well, maybe only semi-relevant) line from a ZZ Top song. Maybe we’re getting a little insane, but you show us what kind of Pulitzer Prize winning prose you can come up with after you write reviews of 8 other bags…

SCORE
84
GRADE
B
Club Storage
85
Legs
95
Straps
81
Pockets/Storage
89
Rain Hood
83
Carrying Impressions
90
Style
90
Innovation
84
Cost/Value
81

Retail price: $199.99
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Editor’s note: this review is for the 2011 version of the Sun Mountain Four 5. 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.


85 / B

CLUB STORAGE

“Well I hear it’s fine…If you’ve got the time…” – La Grange.

The Four 5 has full-length dividers that divide the club area into 14 sectors, one for each club you can carry (and if you’re cheating by carrying more than 14 clubs, it will become patently obvious to your playing partners). As we stated in our review of the Nike SasQuatch Tour Carry Bag, we’re not 100% convinced of the utility of a slot for each club. While pulling clubs OUT for use is easier (since you know exactly where to reach for the club), we found ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time trying to shove clubs back IN to the right slot – which was all the more maddening if we had just yanked the ball into a creek. But reasonable minds can differ on this – if you sort all of your CDs alphabetically, arrange the photographs on your desk chronologically and hang the shirts in your closet according to color, then this may be the set-up for you.


95 / A

LEGS

“She’s got legs…and she knows how to use them.” – Legs.

The Sun Mountain Four 5 has the same great legs found on the other Sun Mountain bags and the Titleist bags (which seem to be made by the same manufacturer of the Sun Mountain bags). Engaging the legs is as simple as setting the bag down – there’s no need for the forceful downward shove that is required by some of the competitors. There is an element of independent suspension in the legs, in that they don’t both automatically pop out the same amount, which is helpful when dealing with uneven lies. Wide rubber feet enhance the stability.


81 / B-

STRAPS

“I been up, I been down. Take my word…my way ‘round. I ain’t askin’ for much…” – Tush.

Like most of its competitors, the Sun Mountain Four 5 features 4 adjustment points for the straps. The padding on the straps is sufficient – where we encountered difficulty was with the left strap. No amount of sliding buckles and straps up, down or around could eliminate the problem we had with the strap twisting up every time we slid our left arm and shoulder under the strap. Every time. We’re not asking for much – there must be some way to fix this, since the design of the straps seems to be the same as that of other Sun Mountain products. But whether it’s operator error, how the Four 5 is weighted, or otherwise, after 4 rounds of fidgeting with each adjustment point, we just gave up.


89 / B+

POCKETS/STORAGE

“You got to pack it up, work it like a new boy should.” – Gimme All Your Lovin’.

The Sun Mountain Four 5 features 7 real pockets, but claims that it has 8.

  • 1 large garment pocket runs along the right side of the bag, with 1 medium sized pocket and 1 small velour-lined valuables pocket (non waterproof) along the outside of this large pocket. The medium sized pocket contains a mesh “pocket” for holding a scorecard, but truthfully, this doesn’t seem worthy of counting as a pocket in and of itself.
  • One medium-sized and one small pocket rest on the spine of the bag.
  • A medium sized ball pocket is on the left side of the bag, with an additional beverage pouch (no “cooler” lining) along the outside of this ball pocket. The Four 5 gets bonus points because its beverage pouch is big enough to fit the largest energy drink bottles. You need all of the electrolytes you can get!
  • If Sun Mountain wants to boost the pocket count, it could bump it by one more if it wants to include the small pen holder along the spine of the bag.

The Sun Mountain Superlight 3.5 includes traditional straps on the right side of the bag for holding an umbrella and a plastic ring for attaching a towel, which fortunately is labeled “TOWEL” lest you embarrassingly clip the wrong item to the ring.

All in all, a traditional layout that works for packing up a fair amount of stuff.


83 / B-

RAIN HOOD

“It’s got me under pressure, it’s got me under pressure.” – Got Me Under Pressure.

The bag stumbles a bit with its rain hood. Securing the hood is a somewhat convoluted process of threading two Velcro straps through anchors on the front of the bag (instead of around the legs, which was our first guess), then snapping two buttons around the straps, and finally threading a final Velcro strap around the handle. Trying to accomplish all of this under pressure would not be a good idea. We would be willing to sacrifice some of the security in return for simplicity.


90 / A-

CARRYING IMPRESSIONS

“Go for a pelt that’s so nice and thin.” – Sleeping Bag.

The Sun Mountain Four 5 made a favorable impression in our test over several rounds on different golf courses.

  • Weight. The Four 5 weighed in at, um, not 4.5 but rather 5.2 pounds as tested (including the rain hood), coming in on the lighter side of bags tested. Over the course of 27 holes, we were glad to have something that was nice and thin.
  • Balance. We didn’t have any problems getting the bag to rest evenly across our shoulders.
  • Padding. We very much liked the two kidney shaped pads where the bag met the user’s lower back. The shape allowed a bit of air to circulate, keeping us a tiny bit cooler.
  • Handles/Straps. We love the handle that is integrated into the rim of the bag. The user simply grasps this handle with the right hand to place the bag securely on the ground (and activate the legs) and slide the strap off of the right shoulder in one simple motion. We wish all bags had something similar.

90 / A-

STYLE

There isn’t much dramatic about the way the Sun Mountain Four 5 looks, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It comes in 6 colors:

  • Light grey, with black and red piping
  • Black, with white piping
  • Yellow, with black trim
  • Red, with black trim and white piping
  • Green, with black trim and white piping
  • Blue, with black trim and red piping

84 / B

INNOVATION

Aside from the integrated handle at the top of the bag (which we love), there wasn’t much different about the Sun Mountain Four 5. We do note that attached to one of the zippers of the Sun Mountain Four 5 is a plastic half-sphere with cutaways that allow the users to insert the tip of a Sharpie and draw a straight line as an alignment aid.


81 / B-

COST/VALUE

“I don’t worry ‘cause my wallet’s fat…” – Sharp Dressed Man.

One of our biggest issues with the Sun Mountain Four 5 was the value for the money. At a retail price of $199.99, it’s one of the priciest of the bags tested. Its real differentiator over the other less expensive Sun Mountain and Titleist products is the 14-way club storage area, but as we’ve noted that we don’t find that to be a real draw. But hey, if you’ve got a fat wallet, maybe it doesn’t matter…