Most golfers return from a trip to Scotland inspired—maybe to switch out their customary 19th-hole light beer for fine Scotch, learn how to flight the ball down, or wear more cashmere sweaters. In the summer of 1985, Peter Jacobsen (yes, that Peter Jacobsen) and his brother David (now an R&A member) returned from across the pond to their native Portland, Oregon, and went Auld school themselves, in a unique way.
Charmed by the retro leather “pencil” carry bags that Scottish caddies hauled with such panache around the links—like the ones for which the caddie master at the Old Course at St. Andrews, Rick MacKenzie, had switched out the brothers’ ginormous staff bags—the Jacobsens decided to commission a premium version they dubbed “the MacKenzie Walker.”
More than 30 years later, and still in Portland, MacKenzie Golf Bags (mackenziegolfbags.com) continues to make bespoke walking bags and Sunday bags, now under the leadership of father-son duo Tom and Nic Mulflur. Each bag is made entirely to order. For the Original Walker in leather (pictured above; starting at $1,095), the player chooses from almost endless colorways for body, trim, pocket sides, accent and so on. Further customization—to add one’s name, personal message or club logo, for example—runs a bit extra.
Your bag is you, through and through, but each Original Walker begins the same way: at the cutting table with Oscar, the company’s longtime master cobbler, handpicking and then hand-cutting a section of full-grain leather hide that’s ideal for each part of the bag. (Because it’s softer, stomach leather is a better choice than tougher back leather for areas that get touched more.) “Skiving” then shaves off the leather’s suede side, making it thinner and easier to stitch.
In total, more than 60 components of the bag are hand-cut, hand-folded, hand-stitched or hand-tacked, and five different sets of master craftsmen’s hands will touch the surprisingly lightweight (4 lb.), single-divider bag before it’s complete, which generally takes 3-4 weeks from ordering.
“Ours is a cherished brand—people are kind of romantic about MacKenzie bags,” says Nic Mulflur. “We’re blessed to have such a storied little company.”
As the Scots say, “Guid gear comes in sma’ bulk.”