As I’ve started approaching my 40’s, the benefits of having a nice stand bag have diminished rapidly. Pushcarts, E-Caddies and more rounds in carts have become more appealing options of transport over the last few years, and as a result I haven’t had as great a need for a bag optimized for the carrying experience.
That said, my physical conditioning hasn’t gotten much worse (yet) than it was in my 20’s, and I’m still perfectly capable of carrying a bag 18 holes (which is the ideal for great on-course exercise). The more significant barrier for me (aside from laziness) has been a lack of a plush, comfortable stand bag that looks so nice it’s hard not to want to carry my clubs.
This season, when the opportunity to review a Vessel stand bag came along, I was excited to experience this heralded brand for the first time, but was admittedly a little skeptical that it would become my go-to golf bag. However, after several rounds with my Vessel Player IV Pro, I can safely report I will be bringing it to the course every chance I get for the rest of the season and beyond, whether I’m carrying, pushing or riding.
Features of the PLayer IV Pro
Vessel is the standard-bearer for luxurious, Tour-grade bags, as Paul and Troy have explored in past reviews. The Player stand bag series has already pushed the boundaries of quality and style over the years, and the Player IV Pro offers some significant upgrades over the Player III as well as the base Player IV:
- A wider top (9.5″ vs. 8.5″) to provide ample space to fit all your clubs without jamming
- Pebbled material texture – this upgraded leather surface is more durable and has a more distinctive look
- An expanded, spacious garment compartment that ensures you don’t need to jam your phone and other valuables into a tiny pocket
- A magnetic side accessory pocket which is perfect for easy retrieval of small gadgets and other items
- Slightly longer and wider dimensions, which promote greater stability all while adding minimal weight
In addition, all Player IV bags feature cooler-lined magnetic beverage pockets, a jam-resistant base and other enhancements to its pockets.
Vessel bags have a reputation for being heavy, primarily because of their leather material. While the Player IV Pro (6.55 lbs) is a pound or two heavier than many stand bags constructed of more common materials, its comfortable straps feel like pillows on my shoulders and more than make up for a slight increase in weight.
Style and Personalization
The Player IV Pro comes in four colors – black, white, grey and navy. Choosing the color for your luxury stand bag is a similar feeling to purchasing a fancy sports car, in my experience. You can’t go wrong with any option, but chances are one color will speak to you in a personal way you won’t be able to ignore. For me, the white option stood out even though I was worried it would eventually show wear; however, after a month of use in variable weather the white still shines brightly with no detectable stains or marks. Paul’s white/navy Player 2.0 bag, which is now three years old, still looks beautiful, as well.
This bag has also been my first personalized one, emblazoned with my name and the WiscoGolfAddict logo. I now arrive at the course with a great amount of pride and legitimacy as a golf blogger with the WGA logo clearly displayed on the front of the bag. Many options are available for personalization, and a Vessel rep reached out to me to help me through the process which I found to be a great experience. I also appreciate how the text and logo are not large or overstated, but are still clearly visible.
The pockets on any Vessel bag will blow you away! The Player IV Pro takes this to another level, boasting an impressive number of pockets to ensure you can stow away everything you need for your walk on the course and have easy access to gear and gadgets in the heat of a round. A few of the pockets have magnetic snaps, allowing for easier and quicker use.
Exploring a Vessel’s pockets is like discovering obscure rooms and passages in an old mansion. In a recent round at Lawsonia, Paul Seifert was shocked to hear I hadn’t used the front magnetic pocket yet. As it turns out, he was on to something – this is the coolest pocket in the whole bag and is perfect for storing my rangefinder.
More than a month in, I’m still discovering new pockets and finding useful ways to take advantage of them. It seems like every time I take a closer look at my bag, I find a new pocket that I hadn’t used yet!
The wide top of the Player IV Pro ensures that 14 clubs can fit into the bag with room to spare. 6- and 14-way dividers are available, and after some frustrations using a 14-way bag earlier this year I opted for the 6-way this time around. Unlike other stand bags I’ve had in the past, I have yet to encounter jamming even when several clubs are placed in the same section.
At a retail price of $435, the Player IV Pro isn’t cheap, but you’ll know where the extra cost is spent compared to a non-luxury bag. The base Player IV costs $40 less, but the Pro offers more storage and enhanced materials to make your experience even more luxurious, all while weighing only a smidge heavier than the regular Player IV. I personally think the added cost is worth it, and you won’t regret the price point after seeing your own name on a shiny new Player IV Pro.