This June, Bag Boy will celebrate their 75th anniversary. Marking 75 years is a major accomplishment for any business. A company passing that mark in the ever-changing golf marketplace is worth celebrating and exploring.
How did the company start? What was their mission and what does that mission look like today? Such a success story does not happen by accident. Bag Boy must have tapped into a secret that enabled their longevity.
Let’s go back to the beginning and see if we can figure out that secret.
Making Golf Easier to Play
Bag Boy began in 1946 with the noble goal of making golf easier. Not the game itself as we all know that’s not likely possible. Instead, Bag Boy wanted to enhance the ease of the golfing experience. First point of business: reducing the burden of the golf bag.
With push carts becoming ever more popular, it is tough to visualize a time when you either carried your bag or hired a caddie. Getting the bag off a player’s shoulder would definitely lessen the physical requirements for a round of golf. Parents were well aware of this concept, toting babies around in prams for centuries prior.
Using aluminum tubing, springs and lawnmower wheels, Bruce Williamson and E. Roy Jarman built the first Bag Boy cart. It took the bag off of your back, lessening the strain and enhancing the enjoyment of your round of golf.
Did golfers embrace this? You bet. Soon, Bag Boy was a full-fledged cart production company, building not only lots of carts but additional factories to make more carts. The golfing public embraced the Bag Boy carts to such an extent that the term “Bag Boy” became synonymous with “golf cart.”
What do you see as the key to Bag Boy’s longevity in the golf marketplace?
The key to Bag Boy’s longevity in the golf marketplace is the company’s ability to be innovative and constantly evolve. When Bag Boy was started in 1946, the company solely manufactured and distributed pull carts. As needs changed over time and golfers began taking a strong interest in push carts, we changed our priorities to align with customer needs. Today, we produce a wide variety of push carts as well as golf bags, travel covers and accessories. By continuing to adapt to customer wants and needs, Bag Boy is able to cement its place as an industry leader.
Craig Ramsbottom, President, Dynamic Brands
Why Was Bag Boy Successful?
In addition to the ergonomic advantages provided by the first Bag Boy, subsequent carts soon featured innovations to change the way one played golf. One of the most interesting advances, as shown in this old magazine advertisement, is the addition of a rangefinder. After adding a distance-measuring device to the wheels of the cart, the Bag Boy could now tell a golfer how far they hit their shot and how far they were from the green. That little analog clicker provided the type of information that we now access digitally with phone apps, GPS units and laser rangefinders. Bag Boy did that in 1953.
Over the next couple of decades, Bag Boy continued to improve their carts and also explored other innovations such as the bag redesign shown in the photo above.
A Few Decades in the Short Rough
In 1970, Bag Boy was sold to the Browning Arms Company. I point this out because this is the part in the story when companies usually begin the decline into obscurity. Obviously, since we are talking about their 75th anniversary, Bag Boy made it through this period of transitional ownership but that wasn’t necessarily an easy accomplishment.
Bag Boy was next acquired by AMF and incorporated as a part of their Ben Hogan golf line. The carts kept rolling. During this time, Bag Boy was able to branch out into other products such as golf bags and golf accessories. Again, Bag Boy was able to survive these decades with different owners but perhaps not thrive like they did in the preceding decades. They were still making great products for the golfer but the vibe seemed different.
When Spalding bought the Ben Hogan line in the late 1990s, Bag Boy was excluded from the sale and once again existed as a stand-alone brand.
Enter Dynamic Brands
What makes Bag Boy competitive in the current golf market?
In today’s fast-paced golf market, Bag Boy is able to stay competitive by focusing on innovation and new technology. We strive to continuously design never-before-seen products and features, such as our Nitro-Piston and Top-Lok technologies, that change the way golfers play the game. By offering products that make the game more enjoyable and more accessible, we’re able to keep a strong edge in the golf industry.
Craig Ramsbottom, President, Dynamic Brands
The modern version of Bag Boy was born just after their 50th anniversary. It is after their acquisition by Dynamic Brands in the early 2000s that Bag Boy once again rose to the top of the marketplace. This was no small feat as the market now featured serious competition from companies like Sun Mountain and Clicgear.
So what did Bag Boy do? Like they did back in the ’50s and ’60s, they innovated. One of the first product releases was a three-wheeled cart, allowing consumers to pick a push or pull version of the Bag Boy. This push cart was soon followed by a four-wheeled cart and the Most Wanted-winning Tri-Swivel cart with the free-spinning front wheel. To recapture the crown, they designed better carts.
This spirit of innovation was part of their golf bag line as well. One of the most unique designs that Bag Boy produced was the Revolver top on their cart bag. Though not specifically designed for push carts, this rotating top changed how golfers could access their clubs and quickly became beloved by its users.
All in all, Dynamic Brands was able to restore the Bag Boy name to its top of the market position.
Keeping it Fresh
One of the greatest pressures of success is that you need to maintain that success. We all know that, in the golf business, staying successful requires innovation. This is how Bag Boy reached their impressive anniversary milestone. They continue to provide innovative products to enhance the golf experience. Let’s look at some of Bag Boy’s most recent innovative standouts.
Nitron Push Cart
The design goal of Bag Boy’s most recent push cart, the Nitron, is the same as that original Bag Boy from 1946: make golf easier. Rather than focusing on the ease of transporting the clubs, the Nitron reduces the strain of using the cart itself. The internal nitrogen-filled piston makes the Nitron amazingly easy to open and close. While other carts require specific sequences of levers and tugs to open, the Nitron just pops up and is ready to go. Folding is just as easy.
Chiller Hybrid Bag
Do you enjoy a beverage or two when you play? If so, you need to look at the Bag Boy Chiller line of bags. These bags are cool, literally. Rather than going the insulated pocket route, the Chiller bags feature removable insulated cooler bags. The obvious advantage is that you can refrigerate or even freeze the bag prior to play, enhancing the cooling for your round. A cart version of the Chiller is also available.
The Bag Boy Tracker turns your golf cart into a fitness tracker. Once you pair this tiny unit with your phone, you’ll be able to accurately keep track of how far you walked and how many calories you burned doing so. If you need additional motivation to walk, the Tracker app features a rewards program where your miles walked can earn you discounts on gear.
Push Cart Solar Charger Kit
Have you ever had your phone die while you are out on the course? Did you forget to charge your GPS before the round? Not to worry. The Bag Boy Push Cart Solar Charger Kit features a battery to charge your devices and solar panels to charge the battery. Now you can literally burn daylight as you play.
3-in-1 Cart Fan Kit
My favorite modern Bag Boy product is the 3-in-1 Cart Fan. You can mount this four-inch fan on your push cart or riding cart to add a cool breeze to your golfing experience. And I do mean “cool” as you have the option to turn on the fan’s misting system. Additionally, you can detach the battery to charge your electronic devices. Although it seemed ridiculous when I first saw it, once I used the fan during a hot round, my skepticism turned to gratitude.
What will they think of next?
Cheers To 75 Years
Given Bag Boy’s rich history of innovation, what can we expect from Bag Boy in the future?
Bag Boy’s future definitely holds more new and innovative products. Right now, we’re focused on keeping up with the rising demand and building a strong community around walking the course. The pandemic has really changed the public’s perspective on golf and we expect to see this wave of newfound interest in walking the course continue for years to come. As we approach our 75th anniversary on June 4, we couldn’t be more thankful for our past and we are thrilled to continue our innovation as we look toward the future.
Craig Ramsbottom, President, Dynamic Brands
Happy anniversary, Bag Boy. Staying alive and relevant for 75 years is an incredible accomplishment.
The company started with a plan to make golf easier, more enjoyable to play. Three-quarters of a century later, that mission is still the same. Bag Boy builds products for the everyday player and we continue to show our gratitude by supporting them.
Cheers, Bag Boy! I toast you with a can from my Chiller cooler.
Find out more about Bag Boy’s history and current products at BagBoy.com