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The 48 “essential” items every golfer has in their bag

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After a winter of snow and cold, golfers get excited for their emergence from golf hibernation. This thought usually peaks when we get our first glimpse of the hallowed turf at Augusta during the Masters in April. We instantly get that Pavlov’s dog, watering-in-the-mouth desire to play. So off we go to hunt out the clubs from the garage, attic or shed and get ourselves in golf mode. And with that usually comes the annual bag clean-out.

Golfers know the rules enforcing a maximum of 14 clubs in a bag, but as far as I’m aware, there is no rule as to the amount of “stuff” one can carry in his or her bag. The realization that your bag now weighs 80 pounds (and getting it from your car to you cart is a health hazard) makes you think, “Do I really need all this stuff?”

Akin to the contents of a women’s purse, the golf bag is considered personal space. It’s filled with all sorts of goodies, essentials and lucky charms that golfers needs to survive for the few hours they spend on the golf course.

You decide to do a quick stock check and start opening the multiple compartments, slots and pockets on your bag. After 15 minutes of digging around and removing these items, you’re faced with an array of stuff on the floor that could easily start a yard sale. So you resolve to declutter, archiving the non-essential items.

Here’s what you’re likely to encounter:

  1. Enough balls to start your own mini-range, most of which have seen better days.
  2. An assortment of tees, ranging from wooden to plastic to brush in different shapes, sizes and colors, including at least one naked-lady tee.
  3. Ball markers: a selection of coins, as well as plastic and metal discs with sponsors or club motifs. You only ever use that lucky one you’ve had since you were 11.
  4. Seventeen pencils, usually only half of which can write or have lead.
  5. At least one edition of the rules of golf, so badly ripped and dog-eared by successive soakings that it is like an Egyptian relic when you attempt to use it.
  6. Spare change that has accumulated each week of the previous five golfing seasons. Added up, it’s enough to send your kid through college.
  7. Pitch mark repairers in an assortment of designs, colors and materials including that Scotty Cameron one that cost a fortune, but still does exactly the same job.
  8. Those four incompatible wrenches for the multiple drivers you have consumed in the last five years.
  9. A rangefinder with spare batteries.
  10. A waterproof jacket and trousers — taken off, stuffed away and forgotten about after that last soaking you got. They now smell like a vagabond’s crotch.
  11. A windproof top crumpled down to the size of an orange.
  12. Several faded caps, beanies and visors, all displaying mold, sweat stains, or other bodily fluids.
  13. Winter mittens for those “cold” early-morning July tee times.
  14. At least 10 golf gloves, most of which either have holes or rigor mortis-like rigidity, including a right-handed one should you ever face the dilemma of trying a shot left-handed.
  15. Rain gloves that have developed blue mold.
  16. Energy and chocolate bars, most of which passed their expiration date several months ago.
  17. An array of bags of nuts/crackers/trail mix/beef jerky and other consumables.
  18. A bottle opener/cork screw.
  19. Either a banana or apple that has leaked into a black goo at the bottom of the bag.
  20. Eye drops.
  21. A comb that is at least 15 years old.
  22. Sunglasses, possibly two pairs. One wraparound and a pair that you actually use.
  23. Sticking plasters (Band-Aids) for cuts, grazes, blisters and other severe golfing injuries.
  24. Deep Heat/Mentholatum/Tiger Balm or similar witches potions to loosen those weary/arthritic bones.
  25. An assortment of medications ranging from mild pain killers, anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines through to hallucinogens and anti-depressants (for those tougher days on the links).
  26. Insect repellent.
  27. Baby wipes/tissues.
  28. Sun cream (sun screen). In Ireland, it acts as a thermal insulator in cold weather. Long-distance swimmers smear themselves in grease for the same reason.
  29. Lip balm in an assortment of fruit flavours and colors.
  30. A cigar/cigarettes and a lighter, and possibly chewing tobacco.
  31. Several Sharpies in an array of colors, most of which have lost their cap and are dried out.
  32. A small hip flask of hooch, half-filled with some cheap intoxicant, probably whiskey.
  33. At least one half-drunk plastic soda or energy-drink bottle.
  34. Amino Vital packets to add to water, which for some reason are next to a flare gun and compass.
  35. An array of scorecards and yardage books built up over several seasons, which you felt compelled to hold onto.
  36. Membership and visitor tags from at least one top-100 course that you always brag about playing.
  37. An umbrella, the only one the wife hasn’t “borrowed” and failed to return.
  38. An extra pair of socks. Maybe even clean ones!
  39. Alignment rods with matching impact stickers. An indication of how seriously you take your game.
  40. Ball retriever. Note to self: make sure to change the worn-out grip.
  41. Putter headcover that was an essential when you first bought that priceless flat stick, but the magnetic closure is now broken and it keeps falling off. You actually thought you had lost it.
  42. Iron covers (which you justify keeping for travel). Two of them were lost.
  43. Extra spikes and a wrench.
  44. A rain hood.
  45. A club-cleaning wire brush, on which you’ve cut yourself on several times and sworn to get rid of… but never do.
  46. A Swiss Army knife.
  47. A magic sponge for cleaning your ball, which you got as a Christmas present five years ago.
  48. At least one extra towel, “borrowed” from the clubhouse.

Then there’s the several mystery items and things you thought you had lost like the spare car keys. You feel like Indiana Jones recovering this stuff.

And don’t forget you need to leave that last pocket, the valuable’s pocket, with enough space for your wallet, money clip, mobile phone(s), car keys, rings and all those other essential items that you will need to safely store during your round.

Your inner self tells you to chuck half of this crap, but you are conflicted. There may well be an occasion when you need that fifth glove or you lose your 37th ball of the day. Or you will find yourself starving to death or dying of dehydration on the 7th hole.

So you resolve to buy a bigger bag.

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Mark Donaghy is a writer and author from Northern Ireland, living in the picturesque seaside town of Portstewart. He is married to Christine and they have three boys. Mark is a "golf nut," and is lucky to be a member of a classic links, Portstewart Golf Club. At college he played for the Irish Universities golf team, and today he still deludes himself that he can play to that standard. He recently released Caddy Attitudes: 'Looping' for the Rich and Famous in New York. It recounts the life experiences of two young Irish lads working as caddies at the prestigious Shinnecock Hills course in the Hamptons. Mark has a unique writing style, with humorous observations of golfers and their caddies, navigating both the golf course and their respective attitudes. Toss in the personal experiences of a virtually broke couple of young men trying to make a few bucks and their adventures in a culture and society somewhat unknown to them... and you have Caddy Attitudes. From scintillating sex in a sand trap to the comparison of societal status with caddy shack status, the book will grab the attention of anyone who plays the game. Caddy Attitudes is available on Amazon/Kindle and to date it has had excellent reviews.

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. don d.

    Mar 4, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Reminded me of my caddy days. A member I always got stuck with actually counted his balls and gloves and went through his bag after every round. Needless to say he paid minimum for maximum effort.

    • steve

      Mar 4, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Counting his Balls! How much were you tipped

  2. SirShives

    Mar 3, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    I was once paired with a fellow who for the entirety of the round continued to produce beer out of his bag. Not just a couple of cans of beer mind you, more like the entire case. Guy drank from start to finish, loads his clubs back in the car at then end of the round, and heads home. I bet any beers that weren’t drunk on the course didn’t sit around in his bag until his next round.

  3. cb

    Mar 3, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    great list! i lost it when i saw the wire bush one. thats happened too many times to count

  4. ND

    Mar 3, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Am I the only person who walks? No wonder America has an obesity problem.

  5. steve

    Mar 3, 2016 at 9:58 am

    I know a lot of tour pros have this in their bags, weed and a onehitter

    • devilsadvocate

      Mar 5, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Actually you’d be surprised how many do

      • steve

        Mar 6, 2016 at 9:05 am

        I have a friend that’s been a tour caddy for 20 years with various players and he tells me that most do

  6. RoGar

    Mar 2, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    A bag, 13 clubs, 10 tees, 5 balls, 2 gloves, and rangefinders…Period!!!

  7. Mat

    Mar 2, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    What? Who does this?
    Clubs, dozen balls, tees, laser, marker, repair tool. I wear my gamegolf, but it stores in the bag. The bag has a hanging towel and a brush.
    Man, you guys think too much!

    • that guy

      Mar 3, 2016 at 12:07 am

      1 dozen balls is 6 too many… if you need more than that to get through a round god help you

      • Mat

        Mar 3, 2016 at 4:24 am

        I didn’t say I needed them for a round… sometimes a dozen is a good amount for practice. Don’t be *that guy*.

      • Scooter McGavin

        Mar 3, 2016 at 8:36 am

        One dozen balls is 11 too many for real players…

        • Double Mocha Man

          Mar 3, 2016 at 11:09 am

          I like to carry lots of balls so I can toss ’em to the gallery after every putt out.

  8. Navy Mustang

    Mar 2, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    I once had most of the necessities listed. Until I decided to go old school – walk and carry. Goodbye umbrella, ball retriever, and a whole lot of other crap. Just me against the course.

  9. kn

    Mar 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    I don’t even have half of this stuff in my bag. Only 21 of the 48. But NO rain gear or “vagabond’s crotch” smell. I have my standards.

  10. Butch

    Mar 2, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I have all those plus a pair of “reader” glasses and some “golf mints” (motrin)!

  11. Mike Honcho

    Mar 2, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    A comb? Seriously! Even if you even own a comb much less have one in your golf bag, you’d be made so much fun of in our group that by #4 you’d be asking the marshal to give you a ride back to the clubhouse.

  12. Regis

    Mar 2, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Well Done. One minor change for me. Since I enjoy a cigar on the back nine I carry two (one plus a backup) triple flame cigar lighters. They are filled with premium fuel and are tested before I set out. Nothing ruins a good round or makes a bad round worse than deciding that now is the time for my cigar (or trying to re-light it) and finding out its a no-go, usually in the snottiest weather at a point farthest from the clubhouse.

  13. Abother Lefty

    Mar 2, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Is there a nail clipper on that swiss army knife

  14. Tim

    Mar 2, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    It is amazing how much stuff accumulates in a golf bag over the course of a season. Once or twice a season I audit my stash. I have to admit I am guilty of hording ball markers. I only use one, but I have a slue of backups should my lucky one come up missing. Also, I must have 10 divot tools, but only use the same one from Crooked Tree. Golfers are very peculiar creatures. A good lot of us actually carry these bags on our backs. We must be gluttons for punishment.

    Tim

  15. John Muir

    Mar 2, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Excellent, Mark. I have most of the 48 in my bag, #49 an old empty beer can with a little warm beer at the bottom of the can.
    John Muir

  16. John

    Mar 2, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    6 balls, 15-20 tees, glove, 2 ball markers and one pitch mark tool is all I carry… I keep it very simple!

    • Scott

      Mar 2, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      so you are the one…

    • mhendon

      Mar 2, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      No he’s not the only one. Add a range finder and subtract the two ball markers. My ball marker is part of the pitch mark tool.

    • Mat

      Mar 2, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      Definitely not the only one. Atta boy.

    • that guy the caddie

      Mar 3, 2016 at 12:08 am

      amen. you must have been under the strap at some point.

  17. Geo

    Mar 2, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Love this I have at least 20% of this stuff and now know what to collect and gather over my next 10 years.

  18. Walker

    Mar 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Just get a mackenzie golf bag, you wont have any pockets to put all this stuff, nor will you have any money left to buy anything to put in the bag.

  19. Double Mocha Man

    Mar 2, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Funny stuff! Anyone who has a bag like this definitely needs to use a power cart. I outfit my bag light and lean for carrying or rolling. The only excess in my bag is that golf ball emblazoned with the word “Dad” that my son gave to me for Father’s Day 10 years ago. Every time I am lucky enough to play a Top 100 golf course I use it for one hole, for good luck. Currently is has Bandon Dunes, Pebble Beach and Chambers Bay DNA smeared all over it.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: The best drill in golf (throwing the club)

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If you are struggling with weight shift, clearing your hips, or have issues freeing up your golf swing, then what you want to do is start chucking that golf club. No joke! In this podcast, we will explain how to properly throw the golf club from a safe area and the results will be absolutely transformational.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: A New No. 1 – How Justin Thomas overcame a poor putting performance

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In the final tuneup before the PGA Championship in San Francisco, many of the world’s best teed it up at Memphis’ TPC Southwind in the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational. The final day showcased a stacked leaderboard and plenty of volatility, but in the end, it was Justin Thomas who came from four back to win for the third time this year. This was a quick bounceback after a letdown at The Memorial just a few weeks ago. Winning on the PGA Tour certainly takes stellar play and, typically, a little luck like Thomas’ pulled drive on 15 that skirted off a cart path, over a bridge and into prime position for a late birdie. Had that tee ball found the hazard instead, this article would likely be about Brooks Koepka and his late charge.

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In Ways to Win, it is rare that we highlight Short Game as a differentiating factor for winners. That is typically because to excel in the short game, one has to miss quite a few greens. When you miss greens, it’s hard to score. However, Justin Thomas was able to consistently get himself out of difficult situations, minimize damage, and turn bogeys into pars throughout his four rounds.

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Longest Holeout: 28 ft
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Scrambling Streak: 9 in a row
Holes without a 3 putt: 20
Most birdies in a round: 6

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The best way to improve your short game is to miss fewer greens, like JT. For most amateurs, short game practice should focus on eliminating mistakes, such as “two-chips” when you do miss the green. Once you can consistently get on the green and have a putt to get up and down, focus should shift to the long game. Tee to Green play is where the game’s best separate themselves from the weekend warriors.

V1 Game can help you with each of these items.

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