PING Latitude 08 Review?

08 PING Latitude Review
I have been a fan of PING stand bags for over 8 years. My first bag was an original Hoofer with my Club’s logo stitched on the ball pocket. It was white and had black trimmings. In those early days of Hoofers, there were no dividers.
My best friend and golfing buddy, Darren and I both debated on the merits of the Hoofer and eventually consoled ourselves that the unique stand mechanism found on the Hoofer and most, if not all, Ping stand bags, justified the non-usage of internal dividers. We arrived at the conclusion that it was just impossible to fit internal, full length dividers with that kind of stand mechanism.
I used that bag faithfully for 4 years, while my friends, including Darren, moved on to Ogio’s, Nike’s, Sun Mountain’s. Not me. PING made the best stand bags in the world and I was going to stick by it. My second stand bag was also, naturally, a PING Hoofer. This one was updated with internal dividers and Darren and I laughed at each other for thinking, internal dividers were “Impossible” with that kind of stand mechanism. Ah, the things we said when we were younger. I got this one in black at the Olympic Club in San Francisco and it remains my favorite bag.
There are a few reasons for this and I’m happy to share them here.
1. Most stand bags are made by 3 or 4 of the bigger bag making companies who also sub-contract the manufacturing to overseas manufacturers. If they keep the manufacturing in-house, they probably also own their own factories or have joint-ventures with overseas mass manufacturers. Ping bags are also manufactured overseas, but their stand mechanism is unique and the construct of a PING stand bag can only be found on Ping bags and nowhere else.
2. PING stand bags are durable! In the last 8 years, I have only used 2 Hoofers. I thrash them and set them down hard, on all kinds of surfaces. I’ve had dirt and grime on the bags and a dog that just won’t quit peeing on it. All I got to do is spray some Super 409 on it, hose it down and leave out to dry.
3. Ping stand bags are used by “players”! This still holds somewhat true today.
The Olympic club Hoofer was used and abused for the next four years and I never had the mind to switch it out till one day, a fellow golf buddy looked at my bag and said to me seriously, “hey man, your bag is really old and beat up. I think it’s time you got a new one.” So I started searching for a new stand bag.
I looked at Ogio, Titleist (Sun Mountain), Nike, and whatever else I could see and find. Nothing came close to beating the Hoofer in terms of function, durability, practicality and all around seriousness. The Ogios were really nice, stuffed with so many new features and functions, but I kept thinking about that “pencil” pocket and wondering if I really need the “Ball magazine”. It was just too gimmicky for me.
In the websites, I found something which appealed to me made me drool. The Mizuno Tour Stand with Aeroframe. Wow. That really got me eyes popping. Unfortunately, the local dealer did not have any and I refuse to buy a golf bag without handling it carefully.
Eventually, it all came back to PING. I had seen a few Junior members at the club with their PING Freestyles and I was wondering if that was the new Hoofer or L8 equivalent so I hit up the PING website and did a little bit of research.
I then visited the B & M stores so I could handle the bags and think about pocket arrangements, etc. I eventually settled on the new Latitude and my reasons will be covered in the review below.
The Latitude I got is of the Black/ Graphite/ Silver color scheme. It is highlighted on the zipper pulls and a few small areas with the Atomic orange thread which just adds a dash of color into the staid color scheme. I have never liked the louder colors or styles so this suits me just fine. It has eleven pockets and I am certain I don’t use them all. PING emphasizes the detachable ball pocket but somehow, I have never found the need to remove it.
There have been some negative comments made on the position and size of the putter well and largely, I am prone to agree. The well is a little small and it’s placed on the top corner of the bag opening. I am using a Cameron Futura Phantom and the body of the putter sticks out well beyond the circumference of the opening. It doesn’t actually bother me much but I could see how it might actually bother some folks.
I place my Driver, 5 wood and hybrid in the compartment for woods. The 4, 5 and 6 Iron goes in the middle left compartment and the 7, 8, 9 irons go in the middle right compartment. My 52 and 56 degree wedges go into the bottom right compartment and my PW goes into the bottom left compartment. I need to point out that there are only 4 full length dividers although the bag opening is separated into 6 compartments. This means that there are times when clubs still do get tangled up in the bottom of the bag and this is especially on the 4 to 9 irons. When I play, I ride mostly so the stability of the bag on a cart is important as well. With the old Hoofers, the base of the bag would slide around a bit and that would cause the clubs to get tangled up further. Eventually, my driver might not slot all the way in and I’ll just end up leaving it sticking up half way. It’s darned irritating. This does not happen so often with the latitude so I am happy. But it does happen.
I hit the range about 3 to 4 times a week. Sometimes I hit 80 balls and sometimes I just hit 20. As such the performance of the stand mechanism is actually quite important to me. Here are a few points about the latitude’s stand mechanism.
1. The legs flop. They flop so much, I’ve had my own legs caught in it’s legs on more than a few occasions when pulling the bag out from the trunk and setting it down. This is very frustrating. It is also quite ugly to have both straps on the shoulders and walk around with the legs flopping and hanging down a good 4 to 5 inches from the fully retracted position. I looked at the mechanism carefully and decided it only needed a quick fix. I got a small piece of wood block and placed it on the plastic tensioner, then I proceeded to give it a few good raps with a plastic mallet, moving it about ¾’s of an inch upwards. This is supposed to increase the amount of tension on the retract mechanism. Problem solved, for one week. It’s now back to haunt me and I am thinking of fabricating a pinch to keep the tensioner from sliding down.
2. The “famed” design of Ping’s stand mechanism means the bag does not stand up straight on it’s own. The stands need to be deployed. I have seen Latitude’s displayed in the store, standing upright. Do not be mis-led. Once you stick your clubs in there, it is not going to stand on its own anymore. You’ll either have to lean the bag against something or have the legs deployed, and that takes up a whole square foot or more space. I am of course, used to this so it does not really matter to me.
3. The “Mantis” legs are just a marketing gimmick to me and they do not do much to improve on the stability of the bag.
It’s pretty obvious I am not very happy about the stand mechanism on the Latitude. I do not recall having these problems on my Hoofers and it has left me a little bit disappointed.
I do love the pocket arrangement on the Latitude and this could be due to habit. Looking at the Latitude carefully, you’ll note that the pocket arrangement has not changed much from the Hoofers of old. I stick my range cards in the valuables pocket, my rain coat and spare towel goes in the long zippered pocket and balls and accessories go in the ball pocket. I have never actually used the drink holder so I cannot comment on it’s effectiveness in keeping a drink cool or warm.
As I said earlier, I have never actually zipped off the ball pocket and to Ping’s credit, the zipper has never unraveled or unzipped itself.
There are actually two little pockets which go unaccounted for. They are located close to the carrying handle and I had no idea what they were for till I had the bag for a good 2 months. I stuck a tee in one and a pencil in the other. Voila! Pencil pockets that aren’t marked as so, go unnoticed. This is a neat little surprise that I truly appreciate.
I know that lots, if not most of the bags out there, have one large pocket that would accommodate a pair of shoes, a rain coat, and whatever other bulky items are carried in a golf bag. What I do not know and understand is, why can’t this compartment be, compartmentalized? I am not talking about a bag loaded with patches and pockets, I am just wondering why can’t this big pocket have an internal divider or separator so that stuff does not keep sagging to the bottom of the bag? This is especially annoying when I walk the course and have to keep setting the bag down. Thumping the bag down every time, gets the stuff in that compartment to bunch up more and it all becomes a ball of mess in there, leaving the top part of that compartment empty. On my old Hoofer, I took some light weight fishing line and stitched up that pocket in half.
The latitude also comes with a rain hood that is made of a thin, coated nylon material. It is equipped with two way zippers. My zip got tangled after about 4 months of use. Very disappointing. I do not know if this is because of my mistreatment or not but I have never had a zipper break on me with my two previous Hoofers. Another neat feature on many Ping bags is the retractable strap. I really like this feature as it’s the one new feature I did not have on my older bags. It serves its purpose in keeping the strap out of the way but beyond that, it is kinda pointless. On paper, it seems like a great idea, but in practical, day to day usage, I am not sure if it’s actually that useful. Nonetheless, it is a neat feature but it’s not one that I would miss.
One of the biggest problems that the old Hoofers had was the body of the bag would collapse inwards after some use and this would reduce the amount of volume in the bag. This in turn causes a bottleneck to form and pretty soon, clubs are getting stuck on their way in and out of the bag. PING has addressed this issue with the Freestyle but I have not had any experience with that bag and cannot say if the spring wire stays actually work or not. It is a neat idea and I wish they incorporated it into all their stand bags. However, the latitude has not shown any sign of “inward collapsing” and I am most pleased about that.
In conclusion. Coming from 8 years of Hoofer usage, I had very high expectations for any PING stand bag. I am able to see past the many design quirks that Ping insists upon and have even grown to accept and appreciate them. This is what sets Ping apart from many companies and, I truly remain loyal to the brand. However, the high standards set by my two previous Hoofers leaves a lot to be desired in the new Latitude. It is not as durable and the compromises that Ping’s designers have made seem to have made it a worst bag than what they used to come up with. It’s as if all the new advancements in fabric and zipper designs not only did not make a better bag, it’s allowed the manufacturer to get away with sloppier manufacturing techniques. I am quite disappointed with the Latitude and I am thinking if I should have bought a Hoofer Vantage instead. Maybe the Hoofers are designed with more durability in mind and it would only be fair to compare my previous experiences with the old Hoofer to a new one.
Thanks for reading and I hope everyone found it useful.
Dan
Answers:
There's a thread going about the old Ping fuzzy headcovers and I would say the same argument could be made about Ping bags; had they just left well-enough alone and still made the Hoofers and L8/K56 bags everyone would be happy. I think Pings current bag line-up leaves a lot to be desired but to be fair I don't think I've ever found a stand bag I've been completely happy with, the old Hoofers included.
I owned a Latitude for awhile in the same color scheme you have. I thought it was a nice bag and never had a lot of problems with the legs. The main 2 gripes for me were the size of the putter well (too small) and the height of the bag (small again). Ping, to me has always been about form over function, meaning the products performed whether they looked good or not. That putter well is just not right as they have a huge area at the top for woods that they could have borrowed a bit of room from and still had plenty up there. What griped me the most was all they would have had to do was walk over with one of their own putters with the cover they ship with it and try to put it in the well and they would have noticed it was too small. They obviously didn't do that, which leaves me scratching my head as out of all manufacturers I would have thought Ping would be thoughtful enough to do this one check.
On the height of the bag, I don't know what it is but this bag is shorter. I'm not sure if they did this so that both mens and ladies clubs would fit but when it's collapsed into the standing position it makes it look like a kids bag.
Ping could tweak this bag and it would probably end up being pretty good. I hope next go around they do that.
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I'm getting a Hoofer Vantage for Xmas, in black / orange. Finally got to replace my craz-e-lite as the legs have gone. Will let you know how it is after a few games.
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I had the same Latitude you describe above. Got rid of it for the Ogio Edge. A heavier bag, but much more stable and better built. If you ride a lot, you will enjoy the cart strap.
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Damn, wish you have posted this before I ordered one. Oh well, I used credit to buy it. If it sucks, it will be in the For Sale section real cheap.