New TaylorMade bags built to last

CARLSBAD, Calif. – The new golf bags from TaylorMade have my attention and my admiration. They are colorful but not gaudy. They are light in weight yet exceptionally sturdy. The pockets are plentiful and perfectly placed.

I witnessed a demonstration in which one of the bags was crushed by a heavy weight and immediately popped back to its original shape. I was hooked.

Why should this surprise me? It shouldn’t. Under CEO Mark King, TaylorMade is known for innovation. The story of the bags is once again a reflection of King’s seasoned instincts.

In 2005, King took a long look at his business. He decided to concentrate on clubs and balls, transferring the responsibility for conceiving and manufacturing bags and accessories to another company.

That company was TMAX Gear, which has built an impressive reputation for itself in less than five years of operations. The company, which opened its doors in June 2005, is owned by three former high-ranking TaylorMade officials – Jim Stutts (CEO before King), Mark Leposky (COO) and Jeff Letourneau (director of U.S. sales).

TMAX became an official licensee of several TaylorMade golf products, but it was the bags that were most important.

I knew Jose Miraflor as a knowledgeable and enthusiastic golf club designer and fitter for TaylorMade. Now he too has joined TMAX (as marketing manager).

Miraflor showed me the snap-on system on all TaylorMade golf bags, thus solving one of my persistent dilemmas as a golfer. In between shots, I never knew exactly where to put my hand-held rangefinder. Now I do – I return it to the snap-on case that can be placed in many different accessible positions on the golf bag.

TaylorMade offers additional snap-on choices, such as a cell phone caddy or cigar holder.

Outside the golf bag arena, TMAX has been busy with golf accessories. The popular Speed Stik, which has been around for nearly a decade, is now a TaylorMade product with a TMAX upgrade.

Important changes to the Speed Stik include a thinner golf club-sized grip and a convenient two-piece construction. The new Speed Stik unscrews like a pool cue and can easily fit in a golf bag.

What else can be found under the TMAX umbrella?

“Gloves, headwear, travel gear, accessory items such as towels and divot tools, and a variety of training aids,” Leposky answered.

Active in the training aids area is the brainy Brad Adams, son of TaylorMade founder Gary Adams.

TMAX occupies a 27,000-square-foot facility here in Carlsbad. A large contemporary design center is located in the building, as future TaylorMade bag designs and other products are turned from vision to reality.

“Is your growth on track?” I asked Leposky.

“We have nearly quadrupled our market share in bags and gloves since taking over from TaylorMade,” he said. “This year our role expanded when they asked us to develop a line of golf clubs for kids, so we’re very busy.”

Busy, as they might say, to the MAX.

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