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Friday, February 15, 2008

Modified: Thursday, February 14, 2008

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Bright Ideas
Above-par golf bags

Schmidt's stylish, lightweight creations are easier to carry Denver Business Journal
- by Sharon Gillen

When a doctor told golfer Susan Schmidt of Arvada she needed to "get off your pockets" and get more exercise, she agreed to leave her cart-riding days behind and begin walking the course.

But having suffered from back and neck problems for years, she couldn't fathom lugging around a heavy golf bag.

So Schmidt began looking for a lightweight, easy-to-carry bag. The search became as frustrating as an unyielding sand trap.

"I couldn't find a lightweight bag that I liked," she said. Of the bags she tried, "I didn't like the complicated strap to carry it. I didn't like the colors. And I wanted one with a cellphone pocket."

Having run a sewing business "on the side" since 1980, Schmidt, 49, decided to just make her own dream bag. And while she was at it, she decided to use fabrics that are, well, not plain and boring. 

Susan Schmidt(right) of Sassy Golf Bags shows off her golf bags at the Denver Golf Expo at the Denver Merchandise Mart.

(photo by Kathleen Lavine | DBJ) 

Thus, Schmidt created what she now calls Sassy Golf Bags, which come in about 20 designs and sell for between $99.95 and $129.95. Fabrics range from polka dots, plaids and stripes to paisley and camouflage prints. Other styles include a sophisticated version rimmed with a wide strip of classic tapestry, a casual bag made of recycled Levi's and a nautical-themed version.

"At first I made four or five prototypes in order to get it balanced correctly" across the shoulder and back, Schmidt said.

The final result was a UV-protected, waterproof canvas bag that weighs less than 2 pounds and can carry a whole set of clubs. It's got an adjustable strap that goes across the shoulder, laying the bulk of the bag horizontally across the lower back. A cloth handle at the bottom of the bag allows the golfer to steady it while walking.

"It's real easy to carry," Schmidt said, noting the true test for her was playing 27 holes with no back pain. "It probably weighs less with clubs than some of the heavier bags empty."

The bag also includes lots of pockets for cellphones, water bottles, etc., as well as a ball sleeve, beaded stroke counter, an umbrella holder and a loop for use on a cart.

Being a longtime seamstress with a degree in apparel arts and tailoring, Schmidt wanted Sassy Golf Bags to not only be attractive and comfortable to carry, but also durable. Five layers of stitching strengthen the stress points. A dowel rod gives vertical structure, but can be removed when you want to fold up the bag.

Schmidt is so confident in the bag's integrity that she provides a two-year warranty.

Schmidt officially became an entrepreneur in May 2005 when she received a trademark and began earnestly producing Sassy Golf Bags. She left her job as a professional assistant at Green Manning & Bunch last August to devote herself full time to the startup business, which she expects to be profitable by this fall. While Schmidt had been making the bags herself, she now has a manufacturer, Stryker By Design Inc. in Commerce Center.

Because Sassy Golf Bags are easy to fold up, Schmidt said they're great for traveling with a spouse who's taking a standard golf bag with all the clubs. When you get there, both of you will have a bag, but "you don't have to lug around two full bags."

Schmidt is designing a travel golf bag with wheels that can be checked on planes.

Much of Schmidt's marketing efforts have been at local trade shows and expos, where she says the public reaction has been very positive. "Ladies say, 'It's about time someone came out with an attractive bag' ... and they like how light they are."

A customer testimonial from Homer Hoffman of Arvada says he likes the Sassy Golf Bag because it "is real convenient when me and the guys want to go out and play after work at the executive courses. It is so easy to throw a few clubs in it and go. The only time I use my big, heavy bag is when I'm playing all day and riding."

Schmidt has branched out with baby and children's golf bags ($29.95), which are 18 inches long and can hold anything from bottles and diapers to play golf clubs. She's marketing them primarily as gifts.

Sassy Golf Bags also are being pitched to high school golf teams because they can be customized with the school logo. The fabric also can be written on -- a signature selling point with teens.

Sassy Golf Bags
Parent company: A Touch of SAS LLC
Owner: Susan Schmidt
Phone: 303-467-7943
Website: www.SassyGolfBags.com

Sharon Gillen, an associate editor at the Denver Business Journal, can be reached at 303-803-9225


“Of all exercises walking is the best.” – Thomas Jefferson

SASsy Golf Bags

By Pamela Lynn Sullivan

The cool spring air, some of the greenest grass you have ever seen, and a red-tailed hawk flying to her nest to feed her babies. It’s early morning in Arvada and Susan Schmidt, creator of the SASsy ™ golf bag, is doing her favorite thing – walking while golfing alone. Not that she dislikes golfing with others; it’s that when she’s alone she finds the peace and serenity she craves after a long workweek in downtown Denver. Call her somewhat of a pioneer, carrying her light bag in the golfing world. But she is certainly not the first to discover the huge benefits of walking while golfing. For hundreds of years people walked while playing golf without thinking twice about it. Why should it be any different today?

As David Fay, executive director of the United States Golf Association has written, “We strongly believe that walking is the most enjoyable way to play golf and that the use of carts is detrimental to the game. This negative trend needs to be stopped now before it becomes accepted that riding in a cart is the way to play golf.” According to the USGA in a pamphlet titled “A Call to Feed, Golf is a Walking Game.” It’s been estimated that “walking with a light bag, pull cart, or caddie provides twice the benefit of caloric expenditure as riding in a cart.”

Walking a golf course is good or your health, and good or the course’s health. Everyone knows that walking is one of the most recommended forms of exercise. It only makes sense that walking a golf course is considered good for you. Walking the course instead of riding in a golf cart can be a great part of any exercise program, which has long been proved by scientific studies, not to mention anecdotal evidence and good old common sense.

Walkinggolf.com cites a study by Cardiologist Dr. Edward A. Palank in which he evaluated bad cholesterol versus good cholesterol. Dr. Palank had one group of middle-aged golfers walk three times a week for four months without changing their diets or starting any other exercise program. His study showed that walking golfers reduced their levels of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) while keeping their good cholesterol steady (high-density lipoprotein). The control group of golfers riding in golf carts failed to show these results. “The key is in improving the ratio of good cholesterol to bad, which walking the course succeeded in doing.” Cites Dr. Palank.

Another study highlighted on WalkingGolf.com states, “According to Golf Science International, researcher Gi Magnusson calculates that four hours of playing golf – walking – is comparable to a 45 minute fitness class.” And the best part is, he concludes, “Golf is unique in the way it motivates middle-aged and elderly individuals to walk a fairly long distance on a regular basis.”

It is suggested that if you are not used to walking the course to start out slowly. Walk the first nine holes and ride the second, or vice versa.

Susan likes the idea of getting back to the basics of golfing.

“Walkers can fully appreciate the quality and beauty of the course.” She says. “Walkers can enjoy the company of your opponents or fellow competitors, and also, golf is a game of rhythm, and waling enhances its rhythmical character and the ability to concentrate.” When a bad shot happens, a golfer has plenty of time to ponder their mistakes and focus on what they need to do to improve the next shot. Also, walking the course is actually faster, especially when carts are restricted to paths, she adds.

Susan, a graduate of the Tailoring and Apparel School in Minneapolis, made custom clothing for ten years through her company, A Touch of SAS, LLC. She currently works full-time at an investment banking first in Denver. Susan donates 5% of all golf bags sold to the buyer’s charity of choice. She also supports the Disabled American Veterans and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She donates her bags to specific charity events such as the Biz Bash sponsored by the Colorado Business Bank and the King of Swing Golf Tournament, which benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It is the connection with others who love the game and with nature that Susan appreciates. “For me, golf brings me to another place.” She says. “Whether I am with friends or alone, when I walk the course I feel a real connection with nature. It is my meditation.”

The SASsy ™ golf bags Susan creates are very light (weighing less than 2 pounds), waterproof, and can hold a full set of clubs. She makes them for men, women and children in both patters and solids. When walking the course with a SASsy ™ lightweight golf bag, she says, there is no fighting with the possible assembly of a pull cart, no bumps for the cart’s wheels to contend with, and the feeling of freedom to either walk alone or with someone else. The bags are triple-stitched with a lightweight dowel along the side to keep the bags standing tall. They are only available online at www.sassygolfbags.com .

Susan started her line of golf bags after her doctor said she should “get off her pockets” while golfing and walk the course. Susan now golfs at least once a week. Please see her website for more interesting facts on the benefits of walking the courses, and also for a complimentary list of metro area public golf courses that are easy to walk.

By Pamela Lynn Sullivan of Women’s Edition Magazine, June/2007
Reprinted with purchased permission of Women’s Edition Magazine

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