By Tim McDonald,
An affordable, solid golf bag, the Burton Syncro is one of three offers in Burton's new line for '08.
First of all, let me say right up front that the single biggest advancement in golf bags in the last 100 years is the insulated cooler pocket.
For those of you who like to take a few cold ones with you out on the golf course - and I count myself among you, when I'm not working, of course - built-in coolers are a great way to sneak a few past the starter.
Most new bags have them, including the Burton Syncro bag, which I am reviewing for the purposes of this story. (Drinking tip: they'll hold four Old Milwaukees if you jam them in tight, or a liter of Jack Black).
The Syncro is one of three golf bags Burton is introducing for its 2008 line. It's the smaller of the two cart bags, the Apex being the largest. The company also has the Pulse, designed for push or pull carts.
Burton, which is owned by a company called Forefront Holdings, isn't a household name when it comes to golf bags. The up side to that is its bags are cheaper than many of the other brand names, like Callaway, Nike, Titleist or Ping.
I opted for the cart bag for two reasons. First, most U.S. golf courses either encourage you to ride or downright insist you ride. Also, I tend to carry extra equipment, like notebooks, camera and other work-related junk.
The Syncro has a nine-inch organizer top, a half-inch smaller than the Apex, and 13 full-length dividers, one less than the Apex. I'm a little spoiled; I wouldn't buy a bag these days without individual dividers, as I hate the sound of all those clubs clinking together.
It has a very convenient, external putter tube the same as the Apex, and eight pockets compared to the Apex's 14. It has a full-length umbrella sleeve, structured lift handles and a zippered hood with hook and loop attachments, all the same as the larger model. They come in black, silver, red, woodsmoke, navy and orange. The MSRP is $149 for the Syncro and $199 for the Apex.
I've put the bag through some fairly rigorous action, yanking it in and out of the trunk, flinging it on the bag rack, etc. It has structured, sturdy lift handles that make it convenient to grab from almost any angle.
When I try to stay sober on the course, I either leave the alcohol for the 19th hole or for when I'm writing, and use the insulated pocket for golf ball storage. I tend to go through a lot of balls, since I'm short and erratic off the tee, and the front pocket makes them easily accessible. The ball storage on my old bag was on the side, and since bags have a way of twisting after a few holes, extricating new balls from their awkward, zippered position was often more frustrating than the bad shot I had just hit.
The Syncro has more than enough pockets for my needs, although it could use an external cell phone holder so I could annoy other golfers. It does have clips, however, to hang a cell phone holder. The construction is quality; thus far, no zippers have broken, a big problem with my last bag. It isn't overly big, a problem with a lot of cart bags; in fact, it's lighter than many other cart bags on the market.
It doesn't have some of the extras like more expensive bags do, like weather-proof, fleece-lined pockets, ball silos and top-mounted scorecard and pencil holders, but I rarely use those extras anyway.
This is a good, sturdy bag that fits most of my needs - neither too big nor too small - and I'd recommend it for the price. If you go too much less than this, you start to get into the four- and five-divider realm, and those are no good.
Other good options in this price range might include the Nike Slingshot OSS, Callaway Camo Cart and the Wilson Staff Performance.
February 22, 2008
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.