The Tsunami of 2014 golf gear has begun, and first to hit the shores is the new Wilson Staff Nexus stand bag. Released only a few days ago, on first sight I knew that was my new bag. There was no argument over colour choice for me. I'm 27, wear yellow Adizero tour shoes, and occasionally the matching yellow polo shirt so you can see that my only option was the white with orange highlights. The red or blue were just not going to light my fire like the white, and it looks even better in person than in the pictures. The stand bag market has 3 distinct sectors, the very cheap and featureless at one end or the very expensive but great at the other. Yet by far the most important sector for the majority of golfers is the middle ground, and this is exactly where the new Wilson Nexus bag is aimed. From arrival into the golfing market the Nexus is seated (or should that be stands) perfectly positioned, the price point is not out of reach of anyone yet the feature list is anything but sparse. But can it really be THE bag to have in 2014. Let's find out...
Style The Nexus comes in 4 different colours, blue with red and dark blue highlights, red with white and black highlights, black with gold and dark blue highlights and White with orange and black highlights. On reviewing the colour options I think Wilson have got the range well covered. I have opted for the white, this comes with orange and black highlights which I think really give this bag some attitude and presence. This appeals to me because it's not as in your face as other bags, take Cobra/Pumas bright orange bags, and hats, and head covers......and trousers and ....... well everything, for me it was just too much. But Wilson have managed to get the balance just right with their loudest version of the bag. The blue and red options are still bright but the highlights are not as high compared to the orange. I really think these colours will appeal to a lot of golfers who want a new bag, but don't want it to be overly 'loud'. The black bag is the choice for the player who likes to keep thing on the down low. This clever approach to colour schemes taken by Wilson has provided one product with colour options to satisfy all ends of the golfing spectrum. This hints at why Wilson thinks this is the bag of 2014...... and I will explain why. If Wilson was just trying to maintain its current market share it could easily have recycled an old design, changed the colours, moved the logo and put it out to market. It would have been the quickest and cheapest option. But they didn't, they designed a whole new bag, and picked colours and styles which can appeal to all golfers. Unlike other brands who target specific groups with specific products and colour schemes, Wilson has targeted all golfers with one product, with a range of acceptable colours. So Wilson must think its product is good enough for scrutiny by all golfers. Features Some bag designers have been guilty of focusing too much on the colour scheme/design which remove useful features or by adding too many useless features and compromising the design and usefulness of the bag. The Nexus again sits beautifully in the middle. The first feature is the unique aluminium exo-frame skeleton. This is a lightweight (4.8 pounds) yet very stable design where the bag top, stand, base and backbone is all connected as one. This allows the golf bag and its features to grow around it with greater ease than other bags as there is less frame to get in the way of the bags features. The exo-frame is a key feature which claims to make the bag very stable and it does just that. The base is always fully in contact with the ground because the bag pivots from the front ensuring that all but a hurricane will keep this bag standing while out on the course. This is an ingenious design and one which I'm sure will be copied going forward. A great video, but very short video from Wilson will explain better than I can, just watch the base closley -> http://youtu.be/3w4_OmZn6IY The legs can be locked in place with a velcro strap when mounting on a trolley or cart which helps with the versatility of this bag. There are 2 moulded handles one on the top of the bag and the other on the side. Both are comfortable to use and yet feel like a quality design feature and not an afterthought. Pockets in a golf bag are king, some people play light and carry little, and some like to be prepared for any eventuality. Now stand bags can never carry as much as a cart bag, well they can however they would be so big and heavy you would need a cart to move it. The Nexus is a lightweight bag and as such has compromised with the pockets but not a big compromise. It has one large pocket for clothing which is adequate in size, 3 smaller pockets for other items are also present (one of which is fully waterproof), and a ball pocket which can comfortably hold circa 20 golf balls. There is the obligatory insulated drinks holder, and first as far as I am aware on a stand bag a laser range finder pocket. There is a standard five way divider at the top with two full length dividers to the base which help to keep the clubs shafts and grips in the right place. The four point double strap harness works well and is very comfortable. When the bag is on your back it complimented well by the padding on the back of the bag, and the padding on the pivot point on the harness. Other features include the umbrella holder which has three loops which may not sound important but to me it is. For the past 2 years I have had a bag which only had a loop at the top and bottom of the bag, and every time I have an umbrella in, it would fall out of the bottom loop when carrying and hit me in the back of the legs while walking. But with Nexus having an additional loop in the middle this is solved and I will no longer need to curse at my umbrella ever again. (So an important message to all, never but a carry bag with just two umbrella loops!) The bag also has a large towel ring and has a velcro glove patch. The latter of which I have never seen anyone use, and I'm sure is just put on because 99% of other manufactures do, yet only 1% of people have ever used it. The other feature I'm very impressed with is the rain hood and will explain why later.
Design and Quality It's the little features which make this bag so good. To me it's the difference between Apple and the rest of the world's products, indulge me for a moment. With Apple and its products every small aspect has been designed, redesigned and improved till its perfect, the attention to detail is unrivalled. It's why they are where they are and their products are liked across the globe. Their laptops are beautiful to look at, extremely functional and manufactured with precision using only the best materials. Form and function are married perfectly in beautiful design. It's the little touches which make a quality product into a world class product, and while I'm not saying Wilson is or will ever be the Apple of the golf world, they have shown in the Nexus similarities. There are aspects of the design which one first inspection could be missed, but actually are very important indeed. The placement of the pockets is good, all are easy to access and logical to organise all your belongings. The stand is design so that the base is always in full contact with the ground making it very stable, this again will not be noticed by the majority of people but its stability will certainly be noticed when out on the course, even if people don't realise why. But for me is one piece of design which shows me this is not just any photocopy bag with a different shade of lipstick on. Now before you all think I'm mad it's the rain hood. The rain hood has two features which have impressed me. The first is the double zip configuration. My old bag only had the standard single zip which went from top to the bottom, it worked but I have now seen the light. The Nexus has a double zip combination which means when it's raining and in use it keep the clubs dry, and when a club is required you can open the bag in the correct end. If you want you driver you unzip it from the top, the rest of the clubs stay dry, if you want a wedge, you unzip if from the bottom and every other club stays dry. It's so simple and effective, but it's brilliant. The second aspect of the hood it its integration onto the bag. For some bags this is an afterthought. It simply clips onto the top of the bag and gets in the way of the towel ring, or a carrying handle. With the nexus it's been designed to go under the handle so that you can still pick it up when the hood is on. Taking this to the next step Wilson has added velcro to this part of the hood so it fastens under the handle connections to the rest of the hood, so it's secured in place. It's only a little touch but it's a big tick in my book because of the attention to detail. The rangefinder pocket is useful also, as it has been one of my niggles previously when I have has it in a pouch hanging off the towel hook. I can just put in the pocket and know it's secure and easily grab it when I want it without having to unfasten the pouch every time. Lightweight bags can often suffer from a lack of quality due to the requirement of lightness. From my initial thoughts its appears to be inspections of the bag the it's very well finished. The important touches are there, the handles feel tactile and comfortable, not plastic and cheap. The zip pulls on the pockets are rope/string yet have a rubber/plastic grab point which was not a necessity but a nice quality touch. The material the bag is made of appears to be relatively waterproof and feels well manufactured and the aluminium frame is strong and adds to the quality of the product. The longevity of the product and its materials can only be reported on in a few months' time, but on first impressions I am not worried about any aspect of this bags construction or materials.
On the course On the course this bag is great, comfortable, light and with padding in the right places on the contact points of the straps and bag. The biggest compliment I can pay it is that I didn't notice it was a new bag. It felt right at home immediately from the walk to the first tee all the way round the course. My playing partners all commented very positively on the bag both in the looks and features. The green eyed monster was out in force with numerous challenges offered to attempt to win my new bag from me. Every time I took the tee with my driver someone would want a longest drive competition with the winner receiving MY Nexus bag. My similar aged playing partner loved the white and orange, and was must upset because we play together so often that he couldn't get the same colour bag. The two older.....no wait, more â€˜experienced in life' playing partners both really liked the bag but wanted a quieter colour scheme, the black been their choice of colour. Overall it was very very well received, but another brighter colour combination with the white maybe required for the younger market to allow for more diversity/individuality.
Summary I know to some Wilson Staff is a has-been, a past Grand Master who has always attempted to please everybody and never offend. In recent times Wilson has been put out to pasture and enjoy its years plodding in the golf world and just getting by. For years Wilson has been not able to keep pace with the like of TaylorMade, Nike, and Callaway with its tour staff, products and marketing been refrained to say the least. I think Wilson always attempted to please everybody and never standout. There is however a change afoot. This is a company who needed to relight a fire in a new golfing generation and they are now experienced and clever enough to know that a paint job is not the answer. With the Nexus they spent money and time looking at every aspect and asking 'how can it be better'. In doing so they have created a great new stand bag which excels in all departments. This bag I believe is the catalyst to a new Wilson Staff. The brand is improving again and its success can be seen with their range of golf balls. I play a ProV1 throughout summer and in competitions, but over the winter season, it's a Wilson DX3. Now I am no way claiming that a DX3 is a ProV1 killer but it's a good golf ball. It's perfect for when it's cold, damp and there are autumnal leaves covering the course just waiting for a ball to roll and hide underneath, or when balls can plug and never be found. I'm certainly not going to want to lose ProV1's at Â£40 a box, but the DX3 is a great cost alternative which gives me something about 80% of a Pro V1 at 40% of the cost. It's the same with this bag; they have set their minds to something and delivered, at the right price point, with the right features for a modern golfer. It just needs that fire to burn brighter, add another brighter paint job so there is an even mix of classic and loud colours to choose from and stand back and watch what happens. Wilson has the knowledge and experience to succeed again. For me success is not becoming the 1# golf company. That battle between Taylormade vs Nike vs Callaway is not their fight. But 1# players Golf Company is. Wilson Staff vs Titlest vs Ping vs Mizuno. That's their battle ground and if they continue in the same way with their other products as they have with the golf balls and now the Nexus bag, then I know I think will be winning that war in the next 10 years. So can it really be THE bag to have in 2014, only time will tell but I know where I have put my money and I'm feeling very confident. It would take something extraordinary to take the crown from Wilson in 2014.