If you watched Golf Channel's Fore Inventors Only show last year, you would have seen some "interesting" ideas that the contestants were hoping would be "the next big thing." While some of the ideas were strange, impractical, or just plain stupid in my opinion, there were a few that were of particular interest to me. The ClubGlider belonged among the latter.
ClubGlider inventor Gary Sherrell signed a licensing agreement with Sun Mountain in 2007 to "perfect, manufacture and distribute the ClubGlider golf travel bag." That's a pretty sweet gig as Sun Mountain has been around for over 20 years and the Missoula, Montana company has been pretty innovative when it comes to bags, carts, and outerwear. The ClubGlider and Sun Mountain seem like a perfect fit.
At first glance, the ClubGlider looks like most soft-covered travel cases. It has your thick foam padding to protect your clubs, internal cinch straps to secure your golf bag, various storage pockets and lift assist handles to make it easier to load and unload the ClubGlider from your car.
Where the ClubGlider stands above the crowd is with its innovative "integrated leg set" that helps to eliminate the bending, lifting and handling that those of use who travel with our golf clubs are accustomed to. The legs retract into a molded tray for safe traveling and the caster wheels pivot to make navigating airports much easier. I was pretty excited when I saw this on the show and am quite happy as it looks like several tweaks were made to the original design to make it even better.
The ClubGlider can support quite a bit of weight (up to 100 pounds) as well so you can place some of your extra luggage on top or load up some extra shirts, shoes and golf balls for your golf vacation.
Availability & Pricing
You'll be able to pick up the ClubGlider in May, 2008 for a suggested retail price of $299.99, although a quick peek shows a pre-order price of $259.99. That's a fair chunk of change for a travel bag until you consider the convenience, protection, and ease of use afforded to the ClubGlider owner. The ClubGlider will come in color combinations of Black/Black, Black/Royal Blue, Black/Red, and Black/Yellow.
It doesn't take a lot of weight for you to really mess up your back. Having worked in the insurance industry for over seven years on the safety and loss prevention side, I have seen my share of back injuries caused by improper lifting techniques and the current crop of travel bags don't make it terribly easy to lift that heavy weight. Lifting your golf bag and travel cover improperly can really mess up your back, causing you considerable pain and lost golfing time.
I usually have two to three golf trips or business trips per year that necessitate me bringing my clubs to the airport, which is never a pleasant experience. Not only do I worry about how the airlines handle my precious cargo but I also worry about the physical issues that can pop up while having to constantly raise, lift, lower and move a travel case around. The ClubGlider looks like it would eliminate that hassle greatly. Now I just have to hope the airline doesn't lose it.
I met and talked with Gary Sherrell at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. Though Gary may not have won Fore Inventors Only, he's come out a winner in the end, as his deal with Sun Mountain is win-win-win: Gary's product was improved by Sun Mountain engineers, Sun Mountain gets to sell a tremendous product, and traveling golfers get to buy a great product.
If you were impressed by the idea on the show, an in-person demo is even more impressive. Several of the design improvements made by Sun Mountain engineers have made a great product even better. The ClubGlider rolls effortlessly. The locking leg mechanism collapses and expands with ease. The padding is incredibly thick and rugged, yet the bag remains spacious enough to carry a full staff bag, two sets of shoes, a few boxes of balls, and more. The extra head room at the top of the bag was a welcome sight, as my current Ogio travel bag is a bit of a tight fit in that dimension.
This bag is all about the gliding, though, and that was the most impressive feature. Though conventional travel bags eliminate a lot of weight with the wheels, the ClubGlider's legs essentially eliminate all weight and strain. The handle remains at hand level, eliminating the need to bend over and pick up your bag every time you stop, and requires only the lightest of touches to push, pull, and steer the ClubGlider around.
In short, your golf travel bag may transform from one of the most difficult pieces of luggage you'll ever lug around to one of the easiest. I can't wait to put the ClubGlider through a full test - we'll post our review in May.