GOLF EQUIPMENT

Review: Belding
NXT Gold Carry Bag

By Kiel Christianson,
TravelGolf.com Senior Writer


For 25 years, Belding Sports has been a leader in the, until recently, under-appreciated golf bag industry. And now with the revolution in bag materials technology and the resurgence in walking, Belding is again taking the lead in developing the most comfortable carry bags on the market. Their newest entries into the suddenly crowded market, the Balance NXT series (consisting of the Max, Sport, Comp, and Gold models), serve as the industry standard in comfort and functionality.

In case the name Belding doesn't ring a bell, consider that Belding is one of only 13 golf and apparel manufacturers chosen by the PGA to make official 2002 PGA Championship gear. And Belding is only one of a handful of companies on either side of the pond licensed to make Ryder Cup logo-gear (and really keen gear at that).

After loading up my clubs in a spanking new NXT Gold bag, and using the "quick-release tri glide" strap adjustment system to set the straps as I walked, I began hoofing around my neighborhood to see if the heavily-touted Gellycombä inserts in the dual strap really succeed in softening the ride and distributing weight.

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It turns out, they do just that, and very well indeed. You will not find a softer strap in any carry bag. So if you really do walk courses (and not just strap your carry bag on your cart to make the cartgirls think you're in shape), the investment in a Belding ($169 for the top-of-the-line NXT Gold) will pay off in fewer tubes of Ben-Gay and visits to your chiropractor.

Other welcome features in the NXT Gold are 10 total pockets, with a plush-lined one for valuables and an insulated one, apparently for a water bottle, within easy reach while walking. This insulated pocket is pretty small, however, so it can be put to better use housing an icy-cold flask of Stoli. (Takes the sting off those miss-hits, don'tcha know!)

The stand is extremely rugged, with aluminum legs rather than graphite. And the aforementioned super-soft dual strap is a four-point, "Quad-shock" backpack-style number, which distributes the weight about as evenly as possible within the laws of physics.

Knocks on the NXT Gold are hard to come by. Although the bag comes in five colors - onyx, merlot, platinum, indigo, evergreen (a.k.a. black, red, gray, blue, and green, for you unwashed cretins who don't videotape the Martha Stewart show) - the styling is decidedly less eye-catching than that offered by some other carry bag makers. But those of us who know that driving is for show and putting is for dough also know that the staid exterior of a carry bag is nothing compared to superior functionality, quality, and, ultimately, the sticks that reside in it.

So how does this bag perform? I'm writing this literally minutes after walking 18 holes on the Michigan State University Forest Akers West course (over 7,000 yards from the tips) on a 90-degree day (80% humidity), and my shoulders and back feel absolutely no stress or fatigue. And if I'd had my flask of Stoli, my feet wouldn't hurt, either.

Simply put, if you want to walk in comfort, the NXT is as good as it gets.

Specifications

Belding NXT Gold Carry Bag
Materials: 400D Dobby Rip Stop material with water-repellant coating
Weight: 6 lbs.
Height: 35 in.
Top Diameter: 9 in., with 4-way, 3-tier full-length dividers
Pockets: 10 total
Price: $169

Belding Sports, Inc.
1621 Emerson Avenue
Oxnard, CA 93033
Tel: 800-521-6197
Fax: 805-487-0897
Web: www.beldingsports.com

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