Packin' For The Future Of Golf ... Which Is Now
I'll say this up front - I'm a big fan of the gang over at #MyGolfSpy. I love their stuff and how they look at things with a bit more critical eye than some other golf media that put lists out of the best and coolest things in golf.
Their 'Most Wanted' lists are usually a good read, so when I got an email back in February about the best stand bags for 2023 ... I was more than a little surprised how big of a swing and miss they had.
Honestly, how could you have a list that doesn't include the gang over at MNMLGolf on it? They might not be as well known as other bag brands, but that should be changing -- soon. I love the look and style of the bags, and the functionality seems to be out of this world. So, I did what any good golf nut would - I reached out to MNMLGolf to see if they wanted to chat.
Lucky for me, they did!
I fired off an email full of questions and was lucky enough to get a response from the CEO & Founder of the company, Sam Goulden. I didn't pull any punches, diving in right away with him about the company's mission statement: MNMLGolf wants to create the best looking, most innovative and most fun golf bag for the modern golfer. I asked Goulden to give me the run-down on their thinking.
"The modern golfer is more tech savvy, more fashionable, and more considerate of the environment. They are more inclusive and less stuffy, and for the modern golfer, though still very conscious of the value of improvement and dedicated to doing their best, they are more in tune with the social aspects of the game," he said. "They may not belong to a country club (or they may) but you can bet they are members of golf's new era of community-based clubs. They hit the traditional range and play the traditional 18 and also practice with launch monitors and simulators and play par three courses. To them, the term 'golfer' doesn't cover their uniqueness. They customize their clubs, sometimes play in streetwear, and adapt their style to golf rather than adapting themselves to the traditional golf style.
"We accommodate this modern player by offering a stylish, innovative bag which maximizes their ability to use their tech and offers the most unique customization process in golf; hand-painted artwork. For any additional fee, our in-house artist will hand-paint your nickname, logo, or essentially anything you want to make your bag more personal."
With every iteration of stand bags that comes along, companies are trying to push the envelope of functionality without surrendering too much on the form front. They may want to sign up for a few lessons from MNMLGolf, as their sleek sacks hit the mark because they had function in mind first and foremost. The look ... that just tagged along naturally.
"Somehow, 'simplistic functionality' seems to always find a way of being beautiful," Goulden said.
He's bang-on, there. The six-pocket bag is made from a lightweight microsuede and tops out at just five pounds. Add in a few pouches for balls and other gear and you reach standard fare for the average walking bag. But here is where we divert from the norm: magnetic closures, an optional Bluetooth speaker, and a tech pocket for the guy who wants to make sure all those birdies he actually gets can be captured on his smartphone ... without making a big show out of it.
"The magnetic pocket closures are favourite features of mine - in 'Let My People Go Surfing', Yvon Chouinard states that the number one failure on a garment or bag is the zipper," he said. "I resonated with this statement, as I've had countless broken zippers on everything from golf bags to wetsuits. I designed the magnetic closures and the factory pulled them off perfectly. The closure is better than a sipper in a lot of ways and now with our new fingertip tabs it's super easy to get in and out of each pocket on the fly."
As for the filming pocket, Goulden said it was just a logical progression in his mind.
"As a coach and player, I'm highly aware of the value of instant feedback; video being the most efficient of the time," he said. "I went through a few different iterations and finally made a mold that will fit almost any phone (the exception being large cases on large phones). There's also the social aspect to consider. Most of us love to share a few shots of our experience on the course and the filming pocket makes that super simple. So at the end of the day its pretty simple really: give the modern golfer what they want on the course."
So for an extra $40 (USD), you'll get the aforementioned speaker along with a small solar panel and charger to help keep your phone pumped up and the tunes pumped out. Goulden said about 85 per cent of customers have added the tech and have been raving about it in feedback MNMLGolf has received. This of how well this will work out with the playlist I came up with ...
"The addition of music on the course is more and more accepted and can really personalize the experience," he said. "I actually have a soundtrack that I use specifically for golfing. And, having a solar power bank to charge one's phone or speaker is a super cool feature. We've all been there with three holes to play and a dying phone."
Besides having the coolest-looking and possibly most complete walking bag on the market, MNMLGolf is doing a little something on the side to make sure there is as little golf-related waste as possible. As the company name indicates, they're finding ways to get you a cool new bag while putting your old (working) one to good use.
"As a minimalist, I believe in re-using and only buying the essentials, and very rarely is a golf bag an essential purchase," Goulden said. "I wanted to find a way to encourage customers to participate in a program that helps juniors and keep bags out of landfills. We do that by incentivizing them with a $50 trade-in credit at purchase with the agreement that they will send us their old back that's in good working condition. We cover the shipping cost as well. To date, we've donated over 500 bags ... that's a lot of bags going to juniors and staying out of landfills!"
At the time of this interview, Goulden said they were likely to donate another 1000 bags by the end of 2022. And hopefully as the MV2 bag keep growing in popularity, that number will continue to go up. Goulden says it's been a journey that's been a long time coming for him; having played and coached his whole life, and having walked over 4500 rounds, he's had time to think this out. He's used the rest, and he's not shy in his belief that MNMLGolf could be the best.
"I felt like there were some great bags out there that covered the bases but there was nobody accommodating the needs of this new-era golfer," he said. "I thought it would be pretty simple to fill that void. And man, I didn't know anything about producing a golf bag. With a drawing on a napkin I started looking for manufacturing - I looked in the US, Mexico, and finally my buddy Bobby introduced me to Gary, who had a connection to a guy who had done work with bags. This was Andy. Turns out there are about six factories who make all the golf bags in the world and they're all in Asia.
"I was fortunate enough to be ushered into a relationship with one of the best. They took me on as a new client and I late found out that our initial order of 400 bags was about 1000 less than their normal minimum order quantity. I was really fortunate to have met Andy because it would've been insanely expensive to start from scratch with golf bag production. And from the very start of the company I've been committed to doing better for the planet. Initially I went through multiple ideas with the intention of making the bag out of old river rafts, sail cloth, and even sign vinyl. Ultimately it just couldn't work so I've settled on making the bag with recycled plastics."
Simple. Unique. Stylish. Fun. That's how Goulden sees the MV2 (and again, he's not wrong).
MNMLGolf is a direct-to-consumer outfit, putting the customer in line for a great custom golf bag at a price most big companies are asking for their off-the-rack offerings.
Needless to say, had I known about the MV2 and MNMLGolf before I purchased my most recent stand bag, I would've made a much different decision. That, like my decision to use driver most times when I shouldn't, is fuelled by hindsight.
Find out more about the MV2 bag, MNMLGolf and all the amazing things they're doing by going to https://minimalgolf.com/ .
all photos provided by MNMLGolf