There is a lot of cool gear in the golf equipment world that doesn’t always fit neatly into Most Wanted Tests or Buyer’s Guides. You still want to know how it performs. In our We Tried It series, we put gear to the test and let you know if it works as advertised.
What We Tried
Your Bag Tester
Dave Wolfe – The ever-curious MyGolfSpy writer and putter fanatic. When it comes to golf products, I believe that impulse control is something to be controlled.
Are Any Golf Bags Built for Push Carts?
Have you ever found yourself between pant sizes? The pair of size 36s were a bit baggy but the 34s created an awkward muffin top. Obviously, a pair of 35s would be ideal. Sadly, in a land of even-sized pants, that Goldilocks size option is not usually available.
Those of us who push our clubs are presented with a similar situation every time we shop for a new golf bag. Do we go cart bag and lose the walking flexibility of a stand bag? Do we go stand bag and lose the storage and stability of a cart bag?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a bag that came in a figurative size 35?
Thankfully, companies have started making these more push-friendly bags. Typically, you’ll find these marketed as hybrid golf bags. Hybrid bags are a step in the right direction for the pushing player but many just feel like cart bags with legs bolted on.
It’s still a rarity to find a bag where the designers were specifically thinking “push cart” when ink hit the blueprint.
Callaway Fairway 14: Designed For The Push Cart
Last January, this tweet from @CallawayGolf caught my eye. Though rarely actively shopping for a golf bag, I do peruse new offerings now and then to see if something push-friendly has hit the marketplace. This tweet made me sit up a little straighter.
Could it be? Did Callaway really design a bag with the pushing golfer in mind? Digging a little deeper, I came across this video about the new Fairway 14 golf bag.
Some of the features of the Fairway 14 golf bag listed in that video are definitely on my “don’t care” list. Seriously, who is going to say “I was on the fence about the Fairway 14 but, by gum, that alloy towel ring sealed the deal”?
On the other hand, the 14-way top, full-length dividers and cart strap pass-through sounded promising. Deeper into the Fairway 14 I needed to dive.
Lowrider Top Design
Of all the elements, it was the Lowrider top that intrigued me the most. Callaway has mounted the legs lower on the bag, providing a rubber point of contact where the bag will interface with the cart. Those of you who push with carry bags know that the legs resting on the cart’s bag holders can be a recipe for twisting during play. Plastic on plastic is not a secure situation.
Most cart bags fit better into push carts because they lack the interfering legs. That said, they also lack the legs. Range rats know cart bags can be annoying to take to the range. They are heavy and the lack of legs makes them prone to toppling.
On paper, the Lowrider top seems to align the cart and carry spheres, offering a solid interface between bag and cart and supportive legs to rest on when not in the push cart. Obviously, I had to check this out.
Assessing Fairway 14 Fit
The first objective was to see how the Fairway 14 golf bag fit on the push carts. Yes, “carts” plural. There are four in my pushing pavilion so naturally I had to see how the bag fit on all four. Without delay, I unfolded the Clicgear 3.5+, the Bag Boy Nitron, the Sun Mountain PX3 and the Motocaddy M7, prepared to assess the union of bag and cart. By the way, you’ll find even more push-cart choices in our Best Push Carts of 2022 Buyer’s Guide.
So how was the fit? It was a bit inconsistent. I should have expected this since the carts do feature different geometries. Perhaps unfairly, I expected the Callaway Fairway 14 bag to perfectly fit whatever cart I put it on.
The best fit came with the Sun Mountain PX3. The bag slid right into the top holder and the strap passed easily through the slot designed for it. Of the four, the Sun Mountain cart was the only one where the strap aligned correctly with the pass-though slot. For the other three, the strap sat higher on the bag. This did not affect pocket access as the pockets are lower. The fit at the top was still snug when bypassing the pass-through.
The Clicgear 3.5+ was a bit tricky. Initially, I thought the Fairway 14 bag didn’t fit at all. It ended up fitting quite well but required a bit of an odd angle of approach to get the legs under the top bracket.
Once in place, the bag stayed in place on all four carts. Even at speed through the hairpins, I couldn’t get the bag to twist on the Motocaddy M7. All in all, the new top system works. In my time of testing bags on carts, only Bag Boy’s interlocking TOP-LOK® Technology provides a tighter fit between cart and bag.
On the push cart, the Lowrider top does its job.
Fairway 14 on the Course
Riding securely on the cart is part of the bag’s job but it also needs to fit your play needs. Some of the other features matched the Lowrider performance so the Fairway 14 had some real strengths out on the grass but it also started to show some areas for improvement.
Detachable straps are a must for any bag to be considered a push-cart contender. The Fairway 14’s straps go on and off with ease and, so far, have proved secure enough when the bag is on my back. The straps are not exceptionally comfortable but work fine for my typical car-to-range transport. Not sure I’d want to carry this for 18 holes, though.
The Fairway 14 golf bag has a bunch of pockets, including some interesting ones like the rangefinder holder. Great idea but perhaps not necessary as you will probably have your rangefinder in the push-cart console. One consistent complaint I had about the pockets: they are too deep.
Why are large pockets a bad thing? Let’s head back to the pants analogy. How functional would the front pockets of your pants be if they extended to your knees? Sure you can fit dachshunds in those pockets but how efficient and ergonomic are those thigh-length chasms when you are searching for a quarter?
The large side garment pocket on the Callaway Fairway 14 is perfectly large, allowing you to store lots of clothing layers. The lined valuables pocket is too deep. A pocket should not require you to dig in to your elbow to find your keys. Look at how tiny the golf ball in the lower front pocket seems. Dividing the volume into additional pockets would increase the functionality.
The water bottle pocket is large, easily accommodating a larger water bottle (or king can). It is insulated too. This seems like a miss to me. How many of us carry water in insulated water bottles? Do we need an insulated pocket for the insulated bottle? I would much rather see the water-bottle slot uninsulated and instead have that insulation show up in another can-friendly pocket somewhere else.
14-Way Top Design
I think the top looks great. The edges are in the right places to minimize interference with the clubs. It’s a handsome top but unfortunately falls a bit short when you start adding clubs. Attractive but not a workhorse. Think Jason Mendoza from The Good Place.
As large as the top diameter is, there is no reason the clubs should bang together when you walk. Try as I might, I could not come up with a placement pattern that gave the irons clank-free space. Separation is the whole point of the 14-way top. We accept the extra weight in the bag to achieve that separation. In my opinion, this top is a flop.
I’d probably be more forgiving if Callaway did not also own Ogio. This bag with the Ogio Woode 15 or even a Woode 8 top would be amazing. Not only would the clubs have more secure slots with a Woode 8 but the overall top diameter could likely shrink a bit to better fit into push carts. Most of the retaining straps on the carts needed to be near their max lengths to get around the bag’s significant girth.
The Lowrider Legs
While dropping the legs was great for allowing the bag to sit on the push cart, it was not so great for the legs to function like legs. It’s a simple story of geometry. If the legs sit lower, the angle to the ground will change when extended as will the center of gravity. Short story—it is not as stable as a traditional stand bag. Look at the placement of the legs compared to the perennial favorite PING Hoofer and you can see the difference.
Without question, the Fairway 14 bag sits better on the push cart than the Hoofer although the lack of a protruding extension lever on the base of the Hoofer makes the fight closer than you would think. Off the cart, the plop-on-the-grass champion is truly the PING. It’s a tradeoff that will carry different weights to different individuals. If your bag is always on your cart, the legs are nearly inconsequential. If you frequently head to the range cart-free or occasionally want to carry when you play, the Fairway 14’s legs could be an issue.
One more thing. The photo above shows the Fairway 14 bag in a riding cart. The legs hit the bag holder instead of the bag. While the Lowrider design delivered a snug fit on the push cart, such was not the case on the riding cart. It is plastic on plastic again. Over time, I could see this situation causing issues with the attachment point for the legs. Keep this in mind if you alternate between pushing and riding.
Dave’s Take on the Callaway Fairway 14 Golf Bag
I think Callaway is off to a great start with the Fairway 14 golf bag. The Lowrider top shows real promise as a push cart-friendly design. The bag sits very snugly on the push cart. Other aspects of the bag need some improvement, thoug
Both the pocket and the top design should be revisited through a lens of playability. Increase the number of pockets and make them smaller. Put them in places that the pushing golfer expects to find them. Add a cooler pocket, getting rid of the insulation for the pocket that holds insulated bottles. Reimagine the 14-way top. There is a great deal of real estate there and no reason the clubs should clank. The woods tend to loom a little large over the irons, obstructing access a bit.
While it may seem I am being overly critical of the Fairway 14 bag, it is only because I see real potential here. This bag could be exactly what a pushing golfer is looking for. It shows real promise but for a bag that retails for $279.99, golfers should get everything they want.
Find out more about the Fairway 14 bag at callawaygolf.com
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