Product Review: Vessel Player 2.0 Stand Bag

The recently announced end to the ban on golfing breathed much needed hope in to Wisconsin golfers, who have otherwise been dealing with a generally cold, wet Spring and Governor Evers’ “Safer-at-Home” order while we all do our part to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus pandemic.

To say there hasn’t been much to look forward to would be an understatement. One thing I’ve been really looking forward to, though, is my new golf bag: The Vessel Player 2.0 stand bag.

My new Vessel Player 2.0 golf bag

While not yet a household name, regular watchers of the PGA and LPGA Tour have seen Vessel’s products… a lot.

The top luxury bag brand on Tour, customized Vessel bags are used by the likes of Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Steve Stricker, Patrick Reed and about 30 others, not to mention Michelle Wie and 38 other LPGA players and another 100 male and female Tour pros who use Vessel’s stock models. Steph Curry, Michael Phelps and other celebs who value sleek looks combined with unmatched quality and customization also tote Vessel bags.

But probably their most high-profile commission was for the 2019 President’s Cup at Royal Melbourne (link: Vessel Goes to the 2019 President’s Cup in Australia). These bags were awesome!

Vessel’s custom US & International team bags for the 2019 President’s Cup

I was first introduced to Vessel at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, where I spent at least 30 minutes gawking at their staff, cart and stand options.

From premium-quality microsuede-backed synthetic leather, to durable weatherproof zippers, premium leather handles and purpose-built functionality that’s “Filled with purpose,” Vessel bags have all the look and feel of a true premium brand.

It’s that purpose-built functionality that I love most about my new bag: Convenience, comfort, security and good looks all come together seamlessly.

The straps rest comfortably across my neck and shoulders. A magnetic tees / rangefinder pocket keeps on-course tools quickly accessible while not requiring constant zipping and unzipping, and a pocket-inside-pocket lockable valuables pouch makes almost too much sense.

“Filled with purpose” goes beyond golf bags, too. For every Vessel bag purchased, the company donates a school backpack to a child in need. My bag, labeled 56479, represents a whole lot of good deeds on the company’s behalf.

Vessel’s mission, likewise, is sewn in to each bag and is a breath of fresh air for the soul:

Inspired by love
Intentionally designed
Handcrafted to perfection
Made for a unique mission
One that only you can fulfill

Life is an adventure
Experience it to the utmost
Carry what you treasure
Reach out eagerly and without fear
Become who you were created to be

You are a Vessel
Filled with Purpose

Sign me up. I’m bought in and already have luggage and a duffel on order.

Vessel’s mission statement, stitched in to each bag

Because of the “Safer-at-Home” order and its coinciding ban on golf, I haven’t had a chance to put my new bag to the test on the course yet. So rather than fully reviewing it from experience, I’ll touch on my perceptions as they pertain to four key features of golf bags: Storage and features, durability, weight and carriage, and options and customization.

Storage and Features
The Player 2.0 has some really smart features that I’ve never seen on other bags. Two of these that I really like are the hidden lockable valuables pouch and the magnetic range finder / tees pocket.

Located above the central belly panel, the magnetic pouch holds strong while opening and closing with ease and is sizable enough for a range finder and other odds and ends. This is a really cool feature.

The valuables pocket is a waterproof pouch located inside the garment pocket, providing a secure space for wallets, rings and so on, and includes a hanging lock.

The Player 2.0 is available in a 6-way or 14-way configuration. I chose 6-way as when I’m practicing I like to bring an extra club or two (usually both woods and a 1-iron, for example, or sometimes an extra wedge).

The cooler pouch is another nice feature. Most bags these days have a cooler pocket, but Vessel’s feels more substantial and is perfect for holding a water bottle.

There is a nice video on the Player 2.0’s product page, linked here:

Link to product overview video for Vessel Player 2.0 stand bag

Durability
One of the problem areas with every golf bag I’ve used (other than my Seamus Fescue Project Sunday bag, which I use only during ideal weather conditions) is the zippers. Inevitably, standard zippers rust, snag and even crack.

While my Player 2.0 bag has not been exposed to any elements yet, there is a noticeable difference in the quality of the YKK waterproof zippers they use compared to anything else I’ve used, and I expect them to hold up well.

The Player 2.0 utilizes microsuede-backed synthetic leather (a very high-quality microfiber), which is an ideal material for long-lasting golf bags. Even colored white [and meant to be used outdoors], the fabric is known for its abrasion, fade and heat resistance, toughness and cleanability.

The Player 2.0 also now features carbon fiber legs. I’m guessing they probably won’t withstand my golf cart’s wheels (like my old Sun Mountain bag’s didn’t when I backed over it in the garage – not the bag’s fault, obviously!), but they should be as or more durable than anything else on the market.

Weight and Carriage
At 5.7 pounds, the Player 2.0 is about a pound and a half heavier than Vessel’s Lite Stand model, and within the acceptable range for a light-weight carry bag.

The two-way, interchangeable straps are soft and feature an eight-point pivot to provide an extraordinarily comfortable carry.

The Player 2.0’s 8-way pivot point for carrying straps

Options and Customization
If you don’t find exactly what you like in their stock bags, Vessel has a comprehensive custom bag process that I recommend playing around with online:

Link to Vessel’s custom bags process

Basically everything aesthetic is customizable (including 22 colors and 7 material types for 3 different sections of the Player 2.0, for example; logos and embroidery can also be added).

Even though he uses all black, Stephen Curry’s bag is a terrific example of what can be done through Vessel’s custom bag process (Golf Digest link: Stephen Curry’s Got a Brand New Golf Bag — and it’s Straight Fire):

Stephen Curry’s custom Vessel Player stand golf bag

Product Overview:
Brand: Vessel
Model: Player 2.0 stand bag
Base Price: $345
Website: https://vesselbags.com/collections/stand-bags/products/player-2-0-stand-bag

Club Champion: Milwaukee Golfers’ New Secret Weapon

By Nick Zellmer, WiscoGolfAddict Contributing Writer

A number of friends have asked me about my recent fitting experience at Club Champion, so I wrote up a little review for them and thought I’d also share it here.

What they want to know most is if it’s worth the price and if I learned anything I didn’t already know. The short answer is yes, I thought it was worth it and I did learn some things along the way.

I think the highlight for me was the availability of all types of exotic shafts. Eric was my fitter and he obviously has more knowledge of the clubs/shafts than I do so that was extremely helpful.

Club Champion emails a questionnaire prior to the fitting to find out a few things. They ask if you are loyal to any brands so they can ensure you hit those brands during the fitting. They also gauge the kind of player you are based on index and your answers to several quick questions.

I did a full bag fitting simply because it was 50% off (new store discount) and I thought it would be a fun way to spend 3.5 hours in the heart of a winter snow storm. The full bag fitting includes irons, driver, wedges, fairway wood, hybrid and putter.


Irons

I started by warming up with a 7-iron, then moved on to the 6-iron that’s currently in my bag (gamer). These swings provided a baseline for the TrackMan data. I have the TaylorMade PSI’s in my bag, so Eric grabbed the TM 790’s first since they’re most like the PSI. They only have 6-iron heads at the store and will have you try several head/shaft combos. You’re only hitting 6-irons to allow for accurate comparisons of data between different manufacturers.

Eric analyzes every swing and pays attention to what the ball is doing relative to the baseline data from the club you’re gaming. He’s looking at ball speed, club head speed, smash factor and spin. Eric can tell quickly if a club isn’t working out, so you can eliminate it from the hunt. All the while you’re trying to find that perfect shaft/iron combination. I had a giant blister on my hand by the end of the fitting, but we eventually found the combination that best suited me. Eric added it to the quote and we moved on to the driver and repeated the process.

Gamer iron/shaft combo: TaylorMade PSI irons (4-PW) / KBS C-Taper 105 stiff
Club Champion iron/shaft combo: TaylorMade M5 irons / Aerotech Steelfiber i95 Parallel stiff

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TaylorMade M5 irons


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AeroTech SteelFiber i95 Parallel Stiff Shafts (irons)


Driver

I tried several drivers but hit the Srixon head the best with the PADERSON KINETIXX LOADED. I am currently gaming the Srixon Z-785 so I was pleased that I had good results with that head and only needed to change the shaft. I had never heard of Paderson before stepping in to the store that day. The drivers I hit were from TaylorMade, PXG, Ping, Cobra, Srixon and Callaway.

Gamer driver/shaft combo: Srixon Z-785 with Project X HZRDUS Black Handcrafter 65 Graphite (stock)
Club Champion driver/shaft combo: Srixon Z-785 with Paderson KB Driver KG65-D30

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Paderson KB driver shaft (KG65-D30)

Wedges

Eric put tape on the bottom of my wedges and asked me to hit a few 60-75 yard shots. He looked at the bottom of the tape and saw the impressions were right in the center. According to Eric, this was desirable, so we didn’t spend much time on wedges other than discussing the Vokeys’ grinds. I looked in to the grinds when I got them at the end of last season and am happy with my current wedge setup. He didn’t disagree based on the swings I took so we moved on after seeing a few other wedge options

Gamer wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 Jet Black – 50.08 F-Grind, 56.08 M-Grind, 60.10 S-Grind
Club Champion wedges: No changes


Fairway wood

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Holiday Gift Guide & Golf Equipment Review: Arccos Caddie

Combining two of my favorite things, golf and data, Arccos has quickly become my favorite piece of golf equipment… And if you’re still looking for the perfect gift for a golfer in your life, ensure your spot as their favorite person by letting them open up Arccos Caddie (fka Arccos 360) or Arccos Caddie Smart Grips this holiday season. It’s what my favorite person got me for Christmas last year 🙂

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In its simplest form, Arccos is an unobtrusive game improvement system that helps golfers improve their skills and enjoyment of the game through artificial intelligence and next-gen data analysis. It puts all the information – historical data, predictive analysis, weather and geographical factors, … – all at players’ fingertips so they’re well-informed before, during and after rounds.

At $199.99 for the system (including 13 club grips and one for the putter), I can’t imagine a better golf investment.

So how’s it work? With Arccos Caddie, quarter-sized sensors screw in to the end of each  grip (there is a special one for the putter). They’re easily paired using the system’s intuitive smartphone app, and with it opened during play, collect and analyze an endless number of data points.

Through a strategic partnership with Microsoft Azure, Arccos Caddie leverages artificial intelligence using the world’s largest database of golf shots, course knowledge and weather conditions. Sensors are activated when upright (not in a golf bag) to preserve battery power, and they track shots via Bluetooth (GPS location, club used, etc.) using your cell phone’s microphone.

The Caddie system makes recommendations based on past behavior and course conditions, using inner (60%) distances that disregard values in the 0-20th and 80-100th percentiles. Distances are given to the front, middle and back of each green, along with wind speed and changes in elevation.

Even though a lot of people think I’m a long hitter, I know I don’t hit the ball like Dustin Johnson does. You probably don’t, either. Rather than dwell on what you think you should hit the ball, wouldn’t you rather know the distance you actually do hit it?

For example…

How far do you hit your 7-iron? Most younger, lowish-handicap players will default to saying between 165-180, which is what I figured for myself. With one season of using Arccos under my belt, I can tell you that I hit mine between 145 and 164, and average 154. The max (an outlier) this year was 188. If I’m on a par three over water that needs at least 165 to carry, I am armed with information most players are not.

Arccos Caddie also provides “plays like” shot yardage, factoring in actual yardage along with various weather, wind and elevation elements. If I’m on the par three seventh at North Hills Country Club, and it’s 174 yards to the pin and obviously well uphill, all I knew before was I’d need to hit my tee shot more than 174 yards.

Using Arccos Caddie, I’m provided all the data and even a club selection that takes every factor in to consideration. Some of that specific functionality needs to be turned off during competitive play, of course, but it’s invaluable during practice rounds and competitive preparation.

I also know the holes I need to rethink my strategy on. For example, below is my statistical history at North Hills since getting Arccos:

NHCC 2018 course summary

My 2018 golf course performance summary at North Hills Country Club

The third, fifth, tenth, 14th and 17th are really tough holes, but why am I having issues on the first? Especially when I hit the green in regulation 61.1% of the time?

Another cool feature is that Arccos allows players to relive their favorite rounds and golf holes. For example, I had this beauty at Streamsong Blue in February:

Streamsong Blue 18 01232018

My best hole at Streamsong Blue this past February (par four 18th)

331 down the pipe on a 474-yard par four finishing hole was a great way to end my trip. I can actually go through all the rounds I played last year and relive all my shots. I love that.

Even if you’re not a data junkie like me, you can probably appreciate this next fact: Players who purchased Arccos Caddie in 2017 improved by an average of 3.55 strokes per 18 holes.

My game was inconsistent at best this year, getting to play just over 20 total rounds, but the handicap Arccos kept for me (8.7) was consistent with my official USGA one.

The only negatives I’ve come up with so far are that A) I had a sensor fall off and get lost, B) The Bluetooth app can drain my cell phone’s battery life, C) It can be a little uncomfortable having my cell phone in my pants pocket while golfing, and D) While the putting sensor is more accurate than I expected it to be, it still needs some checking to make sure the right number of putts are calculated.

Great products have great solutions, and Arccos can remedy three of these issues. Regarding the lost sensor, Arccos’ customer service was easy to work with and quickly sent me a replacement sensor (they’re available on their website for $19.99 each).

For the phone issues, Arccos’ 2018 updates included smart watch functionality, taking the phone out-of-pocket and working instead with the Bluetooth in your watch. I haven’t gotten a smart watch yet, but it’s on my list of potential purchases in 2019.

I always confirm the number of putts following my rounds, and it’s really not a big deal.

If you have a golfer on your Christmas list, Arccos Caddie or Arccos Smart Grips (sensors are built in to the grips) are a can’t-miss gift idea. Or, if you’re looking for a sure-fire way to help improve your own golf game this year, get it for yourself. Either way, I cannot say enough how much I enjoy using Arccos Caddie, and how highly I recommend implementing it in to your own golf routine. The more I use it, the more valuable data I get… And the more interesting it is to dig in to all the nuances of golf that make the off-course part of the game so much fun.

Arccos Caddie Website

Surfing the Brute Course at Grand Geneva on GolfBoards

Last month, WiscoGolfAddict Contributing Writer John Ziemer and I had the opportunity to try something new: GolfBoarding.

Grand Geneva is the first golf destination in Wisconsin to offer this alternative mode of transportation, which got its start in Oregon at the world-renowned Tetherow Golf Resort.

In response to my social media posts, the main question asked was: “What do GolfBoards have to do with golf?” A GolfBoard does not need to be used on a golf course – they would be fun to ride on any terrain – but there are a few benefits realized by utilizing GolfBoards on the course:

  • GolfBoards allow players to go straight to their balls, reducing time spent with both players in one cart looking for the same ball
  • The higher vantage point standing on the GolfBoard helps find balls in the rough
  • GolfBoards allow players to ride right up to the green and teeing complexes
  • GolfBoards reduce the stress put on turf (substantially wider tires that distribute weight more evenly) versus golf carts
  • GolfBoards are fun!

While GolfBoards cost around $5,000 apiece to buy, using one for a round of golf at Grand Geneva costs $20 over the standard round rate for playing with a cart.

First-time users are required to watch a short safety/instructional video and sign an electronic waiver prior to using GolfBoards (which I found helpful), and are then able to practice riding them around before heading to the first tee.

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GolfBoards at the bag drop at Grand Geneva Golf Resort

As a snowboarder, John caught on to GolfBoarding immediately. As a skier, it took me longer to learn how to distribute pressure with my feet. Even so, I was comfortable and on to the faster mode by the time we reached the first green.

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GolfBoarding to my tee shot

I loved the GolfBoarding experience and can’t wait to do it again. The other great thing that came out of our trip to Lake Geneva is that I was able to utilize John’s photography skills to re-shoot the Brute course. Every other time I’ve been there was with terribly inclement and nasty weather; John took full advantage of a perfect Summer afternoon and got some beautiful shots.

I will be following up this post with one updating my 2012 early-Spring review of the Brute course.

Have you had a chance to try out GolfBoards yet? What are your thoughts on the experience and its benefits to golf, in general?

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Setting up for an approach shot in to 18

Golf Equipment Review: Seamus Feel Player Golf Shoes

One of the many things I love about my wife, Kelly, is that she likes to spoil me with awesome presents.

Kelly knows my favorite golf brand is Seamus, and although she’s not a golfer she knows it resonates with me. Similarly to Ashworth’s Golf/Man campaign (R.I.P. Ashworth), Seamus celebrates the game’s rich heritage and traditions with classic style that features super-high-quality materials, fabrics and craftsmanship.

Early last year, Seamus announced a new venture: Feel Player shoes. They were accepting pre-orders for up to 200 pairs, and luckily Kelly saw the email blast and knew I’d love them.

I can’t say it was easy waiting for these to arrive! Not only did images of the prototype look great, but I was excited in general about getting something as exclusive as “200 pairs pre-ordered.” I’m also a huge advocate of walking golf, so the thought of having a shoe that feels like a moccasin intrigued me.

Feel Player boxed

A great example of Seamus Golf’s always masterful packaging/marketing

 

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The Seamus Feel Player golf shoe (photo credit: Seamus Golf)

 

Minimalist in style, the Feel Players debuted at $195/pair with the option of adding a “Supporter kit” for an extra $100. The supporter kit included a shoe bag, shoe horn, special ball mark, coaster, a tartan pouch for the little items, an extra pair of reflective laces, a hand-signed note of thanks from the shoe’s designer, Michael Friton, and Seamus owner, Akbar Chisti, and a cleaning kit from one of their local Portland, Oregon companies.

The 200 pairs took three weeks to sell out, and most were purchased during the first week.

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