WALK THE LINE
My preference is to walk the course whenever possible. I like the exercise and it gives me a better feel for the course compared with riding in a cart. Walking, I can think about my next shot instead of worrying about making small talk with my cart buddy. Walking can also be faster than sharing a cart with another player whose ball may, or may not, be in the same direction as mine on any given shot. As a result, I need a bag that has a balanced combination of features, convenience, and comfort. That means it must be relatively light and carry comfortably, must have a strong stand system, and must allow for quick and easy access to clubs. On paper, the TaylorMade Monza Featherweight seems to have that balance.
DETAILED FEATURE ANALYSIS
Iâ€™m a Leg Man: The true measure of any stand bag is the effectiveness of the legs and the stand system. After all, if the legs donâ€™t function well, then you might as well buy a cart bag or an even lighter bag without legs. The Monza Featherweight utilizes a partially external stand system and base. Instead of standard round plastic caps on the ends of the legs, the bag uses triangular shaped foot pads.
Loaded with clubs, the Monzaâ€™s legs deploy quickly and firmly, and retract just as easily. The bag is stable with the legs deployed, and clubs sit at a convenient angle. The legâ€™s triangle foot pads grip the ground and prevent the legs from getting stuck in softer turf. The Monza also has a small Velcro strap designed to hold the legs in the retracted position when using a pull or push cart, or when riding in a powered golf cart.
Weight Watchers: TaylorMade uses 420 denier ripstop nylon for the shell of the Monza Featherweight, and the listed weight for the bag is a slight â€œsub 5-pounds.â€ A quick drop on the oft-neglected Longshanks bathroom scale (the grocery store frowns on me hooking golf bags onto the hanging produce scale) also registered an unloaded bag weight of approximately 4.5 pounds. The legitimate sub 5-pound weight makes the bag ideal for carrying while walking the course.
Stick It Where the Sun Donâ€™t Shine: The Monza Featherweight has six zippered pockets and an insulated water bottle sleeve. The extra-large apparel pocket spans the length of the bag on the right side, while a small fleece lined â€œvaluablesâ€ pocket sits on top of the apparel pocket near the top of the bag. Both are adequately sized for their intended purpose. A medium-size, rectangular pocket also sits on top of the apparel pocket near the bottom of the bag. It is approximately the width and height of the plastic case in which golf gloves are sold.
A standard sized clamshell ball-pocket is located in the traditional spot on the middle of the bag near the base. Above the ball-pocket is a smaller clamshell pocket suitable for tees, a GPS rangefinder, scorecards, and pencils.
Underneath the cushioned back-panel on the left side of the bag is a single, large pocket. This pocket is sized to hold a light windshirt and the included rainhood. On top of the large left-side pocket is a small sleeve designed for a water bottle. However, the sleeve is tight, and stuffing the pocket underneath it with anything makes storing and retrieving a water bottle difficult.
The zippers on all of the pockets slide quickly and easily. They do not catch, snag, or jump their tracks. The ball-pocket has double zippers for added convenience. The pockets are well laid-out and their cumulative capacity is sufficient to carry everything a golfer might need for 18 holes, but restricted enough to be comfortable and to discourage packing too much unnecessary weight.
Divide and Conquer: The Monza Featherweight has a traditional six-way divider top, with four full length dividers. There is no divider for the vertical, center divider; only for the horizontal dividers. The 10â€ top easily accommodates 14 clubs and, despite the absence of a center vertical full-length divider, there is surprisingly little club tangle when storing or retrieving clubs. With the advent in recent years of carry bags sporting unique divider tops dubbed â€œclub management systemsâ€ that are aimed at better club organization, some players may shy away from the Monzaâ€™s simple six-way top. However, traditionalist will appreciate the simplicity of the time-tested six-way design and the roominess of the large compartments.
Carry On My Wayward Son (or daughter): The Monza Featherweight has a dual carry strap system that TaylorMade describes as â€œAnatomically correct [with] ultra dense foam strap system and back panel.â€ In practical terms, this means that the dual carry straps are much thinner than straps on many other bags. Despite their lack of â€œfluffiness,â€ the straps are comfortable for a bag of this size when fully loaded. However, while the straps stayed snuggly in place when using them over both shoulders, I did notice a tendency for the strap to occasionally slide when carrying the bag in one shoulder mode.
The carry handle on the Monza Featherweight is sturdy, but minimal in nature. It is fine for brief lifting or short carries, but the lack of any padding makes it unsuitable for carrying a loaded bag any distances.
Extras: Like other minimalist bags in its class, the Monza Featherweight focuses on reducing weight instead of a providing a plethora of bells and whistles that are often found in heavier bags. However, the Monza includes the essentials such as an umbrella holder, a webbing strap loop and a small plastic carabiner for clipping a towel, and an external pen sleeve. All are simple and well-placed.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
The TaylorMade Monza Featherweight is a top-notch carry bag with an outstanding stand system. Its nominal weight and quality construction are sure to satisfy even the most finicky golfer who is looking for a comfortable and lightweight carry bag outfitted with a traditional six-way divider system.
JUST THE FACTS
WHO (is it for?): Golfers who want a lightweight stand bag with a traditional club divider system.
WHAT (can it do for you?): Lighten your load while still keeping your clubs easily at hand.
WHERE (should you use it?): The Monza Featherweight is a good choice as an all-purpose carry bag. It is light enough to carry all the time, sturdy enough for a cart when you push, pull, or ride, and convenient enough for shuttling your clubs to and from the practice range.
WHEN (can you use it?): Like all stand bags, it can easily be strapped to a cart. But the Monza Featherweight really shines when walking the course.
WHY (would you want to use it?): Because it is lightweight and comfortable. Walking instead of riding is not only great exercise, but also the best way to get a feel for the course. Plus, you can save on cart fees and you wonâ€™t ever get stuck sitting next to some guy who couldnâ€™t hit the broad side of a barn from the inside, but insists on giving you swing tips for five and a half hours.
HOW (does it work?): Insert clubs (grip end down) into the large open side of the bag. Once clubs are securely in the bag, place straps over shoulder and start walking. That is, unless you actually needed the above instructions, in which case you should probably give up playing golf . . . and dressing yourself . . . immediately.
LONGSHANKS RATING: Birdie +
Price (MSRP): $199.95
Price (Street): $149.99
Top Size: 10″ Top
Top Dividers: 6-Way
Full Length Dividers: 4-Way
Carry Straps: Dual Carry Shoulder Straps
Pockets: 6 Zippered, 1 Insulated Bottle Sleeve
Rain Hood: Snap on.
Misc.: Plastic Accessory Clip (carabiner); Umbrella Holder; Pen/Sharpie Sleeve
Material: 420 Denier Ripstop Nylon
Weight: Under 5 lbs.
3182 Lionshead Avenue
Carlsbad, California 92010