Titleist has gained a reputation over the years as producers of high-quality, traditional and reliable equipment. This is something that extends beyond just clubs but also into accessories such as golf bags too, which is why I have been using a Titleist stand bag for the past couple of years.
Anyone who, like me, plays a lot of golf in Britain in varying conditions will know that it is not always possible to use a trolley or buggy out on the course. Therefore Titleist's idea of a hybrid bag, which in theory is just as suitable to be carried on your back as it is on a trolley, seems like a great idea.
I carry my bag for probably 95% of my rounds during a year, but if a hybrid bag could provide me with all the usual benefits of my stand bag whilst also having the functionality and space of a trolley bag, it could be a winner.
Titleist Product Manager Sean Slater described the hybrid range as being for those people who split time using a trolley and carrying, or even for those who predominantly use a trolley but want the flexibility of a stand bag when storing and moving clubs, as well as at the driving range or practice ground.
What's It All About
The Hybrid 5 bag forms part of the full Titleist range of bags released earlier this year, which you can read more on here. There is a Players collection, which are lightweight stand bags including the fully-waterproof 4 Plus StaDry model, and then the two Hybrid bags.
These sit in the middle of the range between the Players collection and the trolley bags and are said to combine the stability of a Titleist trolley bag with the added comfort of a stand bag.
We are looking at the Hybrid 5 bag but if you want something a little more substantial with even more space, then you could go for the Hybrid 14 which Titleist say offers 'superior organisation'.
Coming in at 2.2kg the Hybrid 5 is heavy for a stand bag, but much more manageable than usual trolley bags. Titleist have attempted to mitigate this weight by adding 25% more dual-density foam padding on the shoulder straps this year, in an attempt to make carrying a more comfortable experience.
At the top end of the bag there is a low-profile top cuff which Titleist say is tour-inspired, something I find a little strange considering they use staff bags, but it looks smart nonetheless. There are also 5 full-length dividers to stop you getting that dreaded tangle of 14 grips at the bottom of your bag.
The bag has a new convertible strap system which is done in a backpack style. This means that you can clip different straps together into the correct sequence in order to create different set ups, such as for single-shoulder carrying. More on that later...
The legs are made from high-grade aluminium and there's an 'advanced hinged bottom' to add stability and durability, something which we have come to expect from Titleist products over the years.
There are seven distinct pockets throughout the bag, of varying sizes, meaning that you can pack everything which you may need to ensure that you're prepared every time you tee it up.
You get all the usual handy features that you'd expect from a Titleist product, including a waterproof valuables pocket, cart strap loop for extra security, GPS rangefinder holder and even a removable ball pocket for you to customise yourself.
The new Hybrid bags bridge the gap between traditional stand bags and cart bags, employing hybrid designs that perform equally well whether you're carrying for 18 or using a buggy or trolley. If you're the type of player who likes to both walk and ride, this just may be the golf bag you've been waiting for!
I took the bag down to my local golf course to put it through a thorough test during 18 holes of golf, as well as putting it onto a trolley to ensure that it really can be considered as a hybrid bag perfect for all conditions.
Talking of conditions, I somehow managed to pick the warmest, brightest day of the year so far to conduct the review. Whilst this meant that I wasn't carrying extra waterproofs around with me, it also meant that there were no excuses for the Hybrid 5 not to perform in perfect golfing weather! Let's see how it got on...
Titleist Hybrid 5 Stand Bag Review
I would say that Titleist bags are, in general, the best looking on the market. Good branding, good colour choices and traditional yet smart overall looks mean that these would be a worthy choice for golfers of all types.
When I first unboxed the Hybrid 5 I was not disappointed. The classic white, red and black colourway was interesting enough without me worrying how it would last in wet or muddy conditions.
I was also impressed by the overall build quality of the bag. At £185 RRP for a stand bag you would hope that Titleist had taken real care to ensure that their product seemed worthy of the price tag, and I have to say that initially it did look that way. The bag had a solid, premium feel to it with a strong, sturdy carry handle and the sealed zip and clip on the valuables pouch was a nice extra touch.
Comparing it to my existing Titleist bag, a 4 Plus stand bag, the Hybrid was predictably slightly bigger, thanks to the extra pockets. I actually also preferred the look of the low-profile cuff in the Hybrid as it looked like it would be easier to access and then replace clubs.
Prior to teeing off, however, I encountered my first problem. Before I transferred all of my clubs, tees and balls into the bag I loaded it onto an electric trolley to check that it could double up as the trolley bag.
The first issue that I had was that the hinged bottom (as George had mentioned in his news piece earlier this year) did not sit on the base of the trolley very well, so much so that the strap was unable to wrap around the bottom.
This concerned me as it felt as if the bag was going to be prone to slipping out of place at the bottom, especially if the trolley was travelling over sloped terrain.
The second problem was that the design of the legs, with the large hinges right at the top of the bag, stopped the bag from stiting flush onto the arm of the trolley. Instead, all of the weight was placed on these two leg joints and they were moving around even as I widened the arm and applied the strap. As first impressions go, not a great one.
On The Course
I headed out on to the course with the bag carrying all of my usual gear that I would use for a normal round of golf, and it was clear straight away that space was this bag's main advantage when compared to traditional stand bags. There was room for a drink, spare towel, balls, tees, GPS Rangefinder, and plenty more. Considering that this bag still looks pretty regular-sized at first glance, Titleist have done a good job with this.
One of the new features on the Hybrid 5 is the convertible strap system, which allows you to change the strap configuration by using the clips. The bag does come with a sheet of paper providing instructions, but I found that some text to accompany the diagrams would've been more useful. For those of you in Europe, if you've ever tried to put Ikea furniture together - you'll get the idea.
Once I got the hang of it this did work well and I managed to get both straps to the right height, but I'll warn you that it was a little fiddly.
Whilst walking down the fairway, the bag was pretty well balanced and the pad on the side was a welcome addition, both against the small of the back or the hip whilst carrying on one shoulder.
When using stand bags there is always a slight concern about the overall sturdiness of the product, in particular the quality of the zips or the durability of the legs. However the aforementioned build quality of the Hybrid 5 was as good as it first appeared, and those worries were quickly forgotten.
The legs were as strong as I've seen on a stand bag and the zips felt like they could withstand all the usual wear and tear of a season of golf. This is just as well, because there's nothing worse than having water creep in or tees drop out of the bottom of your bag whilst you're walking along.
As I made it to the back nine I did notice that the bag was starting to weigh quite heavily on my shoulders, and as I was wearing just a polo shirt I could feel it beginning to rub too. At 2.2kg it is double the weight of the Sun Mountain bag I last reviewed, and although they are obviously different styles it really does make a difference towards the end of the round.
Titleist say that they have added extra foam to this year's model but I couldn't help thinking that it could have been even thicker. By the end of 18 holes I was glad that I wasn't testing the Hybrid 14 bag, which is even heavier at 2.5kg.
Having said that, the redesigned top space was a real bonus as it seemed large and spacious, and I felt that the design made it easier to get clubs in and out of the bag too.
Compared to my existing Titleist bag, there was less tangling between clubs and the dividers separated them well for quick access.
Would I Use It?
I'm not sure I would, because I'm not a trolley user and the bag hasn't done enough to persuade me that hybrid bags are the way forward. It is really too heavy to be using as a carry bag unless you use a half-set or don't carry much in the pockets, and I think if you used mostly trolleys or buggies, you'd notice the shortcomings of the bag when compared to a true trolley bag.
It's a shame, because on looks alone the bag is great and the idea is something that I really wanted to like too. That's not to say that it is unusable, because it's not, but it doesn't fit on the trolley any better than a normal stand bag would.
Titleist Hybrid 5 Stand Bag Verdict
If it was my money, I think it would be better spent to buy a top of the range stand bag which is a little bigger than a standard one, and is a bit better quality. Then you'll get all of the features of a top stand bag, and it should be substantial enough to serve as a good bag for a trolley or buggy too.
As a relatively fit 22 year-old I would be reluctant to walk 18 holes with the bag again, and the issue with the attachment to the electric trolley would put me off using it in that way too.
In my opinion the big problem for this bag is that it needs to be lightweight enough to carry easily, whilst still having all of the space and features you require, which is not easy to do.
So it's more an issue with the application of the hybrid concept, rather than the idea or the quality of the bag itself. There's no doubting that Titleist are good at making golf bags though, so whilst this one may not be my favourite, they have plenty of other options which are bound to serve you well.
- Felt like a premium quality product
- Looks are as good as it gets
- Great choice of different pockets
- Plenty of features and accessories
- Heavier than you would want for a carry bag
- Shoulder strap could still have been thicker
- Strap system was fiddly
- Didn't fit onto trolley properly