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Opinion & Analysis

How to build an intimidating bag of clubs

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It’s said that scratch golfers are among the top 1 percent of golfers worldwide. They are the Sasquatches of the golf world — often heard about, but seldom seen or played with. Some people think you can recognize these golfers not just by their fluid swings, soft touch around the greens and rhythmic putting strokes. According to a lot of golfers, most good golfers can be recognized with a simple peak into the bag to see what clubs they are playing.

There’s something telling about a golfer’s bag and the clubs in it. Maybe it’s the wear spots on the irons and how old the wedges are. Is there a classic club in there? A Titleist 905R driver perhaps? Does he or she have an old Ping Anser style putter, or rusty Cleveland 588 wedge?

We all play this game because we want to be that golfer, the one who no one wants to play against, the golfer who makes every 5-foot putt he or she looks at and the one who can get up and down from anywhere. It’s time to be honest, though. There’s a solid chance that golfer is never going to be you. You work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and have a wife and children. You aren’t the golf Sasquatch, you just use a Nike Sasquatch (not the tour model, the retail version with the Mitsubishi Rayon’s made-for yellow Diamana).

I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. Remember, the average handicap of male golfers is 16, which is a really long way from scratch.

Here’s the thing with golf though — when you’re on the course with three other people, even a fairly open course, only those three people (and possibly the three people in the group behind you) are the only ones who will ever see you hit a shot. So does it matter if you are a scratch? Maybe to some. But for most golfers, looking like a scratch golfer will be much easier and more fun that being one.

If I’ve learned one thing from golf, it’s that the golfers who look good on the course also have a tendency to play better. That’s why I’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to build an intimidating bag of clubs, one that will make you look like a scratch golfer. Getting better is up to you.

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum.

Step 1: Bagging the right bag

Let’s start with the bag. You have a staff or cart bag you say? Great. How big is your fireplace? Go throw it in there.

I’ve played with some great players who’ve had cart bags, but that’s not the point. We want to make this a slam-dunk. You know what a cart bag says about you? It says you like to ride in a cart (and you probably drink beer during rounds too). That means you are probably not a scratch golfer.

Go buy a Ping Hoofer carry bag and thank me later. You get bonus points if you carry it during the round. I’ve never seen a bad player lug a Ping Hoofer around for 18 holes and neither have you.

Step 2: Covering those clubs

Don’t stop there while you’ve got the fire going. Here’s another piece of golf equipment that never hits a shot, but can make a world of difference in how you’re perceived by the golfing community: head covers. No scratch player is going to lose to a guy with a set of head covers that look brand new say “Rocketballz.” You can use TaylorMade RocketBallz products, mind you, just make sure to get a sock head cover for them. Put your Rocketballz under a Rocket Tour and you are in business! (If you don’t get that reference, you are probably one of the golfers that should re-read this).

If you want to take your head cover street cred a step further, drive over your head covers a few times with your car. Head covers are like jeans – they look better broken in. As for iron head covers, throw them out because no good player has ever used them. Dings are like divots — if you’re a good player, you can’t escape them.

Step 3: Choosing the right driver

First off, trade in your square driver unless your name is Lucas Glover. Ditto for any driver with a significant offset.

Great players use drivers from all makes and years, so it’s really tough to go wrong. If you want to seal the deal, though, buy a Titleist 910 driver. Great amateur players use Titleist drivers, but you don’t necessarily want it to be too “new” because that has its own implications. The 910 models are in the sweetspot — a couple of years old, but holding strong on Tour.

The aforementioned 905R is another good choice, but it’s been around so long it’s made it into a lot of hacks bags through eBay or used bins. If you have a Titleist 907 and think that’s fine, it’s not. Drive into a bad part of town and leave your door open (I am doing you a favor. You’ll just have to trust me). The 907 drivers were only created because TaylorMade got a Manchurian candidate into Titleist for two years to sabotage them. That’s at least what I read on GolfWRX.

Step 4: Picking a 3-wood

A good 3 wood needs to be old enough that you’ve hit it a lot, like a 1000 times. It also needs to look like it’s made par 5s just line up and surrender to you.

A good 3 wood is your most trusted club, but also one of the hardest clubs to hit. Scour eBay and find a TaylorMade V-Steel, the holy grail of modern 3 woods. You get bonus points if it’s beat to within inches of its life. If it isn’t, just smack it with a rock a few times so it is. Done and done. Actually, while you’re at it, make sure to get the 5 wood too, because great players don’t use hybrids. I don’t know why, but Tiger and Rory don’t use them, so that’s good enough for me.

Step 5: Bagging the proper irons

Irons present the biggest opportunity for posing of any club in the bag. Miuras might mean you are a player, but they also might mean you have a lot of money and just want to play the clubs Tiger used while with Nike, I mean … never mind.

Titleist blades? You might be one of the many 15 handicaps who actually think blades are the best way to improve. I’m not going to judge, actually no wait that’s what we are doing here. In fact that’s the whole purpose of this article. So let’s judge: I don’t trust people with blades. Some golfers with blades are great players, but some guys are trying to appear like great players. I’m trying to give you a chance to not appear like you are appearing, are you still with me here?

Here is what you do: buy a set of Mizuno MP-60s. They are tasteful and elegant forged cavity backs. No one “poses” using cavity backs, and Mizuno somehow manages to be a players club while simultaneously avoiding the pitfalls of being a magnet for wannabes. Your irons better be dinged up too, because nothing says “I like to take drops when my ball is on a root” more then pristine clubs. So bang ‘em up a bit. Scratch players punch out. Guys that get beat by scratch players use their foot wedge and say things like “leaf rule” or “root rule.”

Step 6: Adding wedges

Scratch players pretty much all play the same wedges. I’ve never met one who didn’t have a Vokey or some form of rusty Cleveland in his bag. So when you’re choosing why risk it? Get yourself one of both. I’m thinking a 53-degree rusty old Cleveland 588 and the 60-degree Vokey of your choice.

Step 7: The putter

Probably half the great players you’ll ever meet use Scotty Cameron putters. I’d guess those players make up less than half Cameron’s business, however. Horrific golfers who happen to have great wives use the rest of Cameron’s putters. If you choose to go with a Scotty it had better be an old one because the absolute truth of golf is that guys with shiny putters make absolutely nothing.

If I were choosing (and I am), I’d go with an old Ping Anser style putter. You might be thinking, “Aren’t there like a million Ping Ansers out there? Aren’t most of them in the bags of total hacks?”

The answer is yes, but an old Anser putter in the bag of a guy using MP60s and a Titleist 910 driver — there’s not too many of those. That guy isn’t missing inside 10 feet and you know it. At least that’s why you think when you see his bag.

I shouldn’t have told you all this, because guys with intimidating bags don’t lose. But just by hanging out by the putting green with your new bag, 97 out of 100 of them will think you are the best player they’ve ever seen. Impressing the other three is on you though.

The range is that a way.

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum.

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008

94 Comments

94 Comments

  1. ben

    Jan 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    this is horrible. great job outfitting a whole bunch of people with mp60s who can’t hit them. excellent way to slow the game down. plenty of scratch golfers have used x14/x12 and eye2’s through the years. i get the point here, but what you did is detrimental to golf. maybe i’m taking it too seriously, i don’t know, but when you outfit some1 like a scratch who’s more like a 16, they start playing slowly like the typical scratch, and you just help ruin golf for us masses.

  2. Leigh

    Nov 5, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Awesome article, doesn’t matter who says what, yet you have an opinion and you are clearly passionate about it, the club’s you have chosen would be very hard to beat by any golfer and if I started with those clubs I would still have them.. 905R is the better choice in my opinion tho. Just because it is non adjustable.
    Thanks loved it, I always come back to this bag.

  3. Frank Tank

    Apr 26, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    This article applies to old guys. Look at the young hotshot am players and they use mostly latest clubs.

  4. Haaank

    Mar 3, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever beaten a guy with an old Adams Idea Pro A2 hybrid (beat to hell, of course).

    Also, if I get to the practice green and see my opponent hitting only 3-4 footers, I know I’m in trouble.

  5. Golfraven

    Jan 7, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Just love to read this over and over again every year round. Classic!

  6. Caine

    Dec 21, 2014 at 3:56 am

    Funny article. I am a +2 and get new clubs every 6 months.

  7. Double Mocha Man

    Dec 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    As a very young (and naive) man I moved to Miami to work on my golf game. Dressed pro style, had McGregor’s, Titleist balls. Met another young guy on the first tee at the Miami Springs Golf Course… barefoot, cut-off jeans, beat up bag of clubs. He suggested a little bet. I saw easy money.

    I shot a respectable 76. He shot a 67.

    Lesson learned.

  8. Oldplayer

    Dec 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I hope you can recognize that this article is almost identical to a famous thread here on WRX. I think it was started my Mtl Jeff. He should be given compensation for this plagiarism.

  9. Ponjo

    Nov 30, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Alpha 10.5 Driver,
    Tom Wishon Fairwar 3 Wood/Hybrid
    Allpha Hybrid
    Alpha Irins 4 – PW
    Miura Wedges 51, 55 and 59.
    Putter personally made by club builder no make as such
    Bag Miura Tour Bag
    Balls PRO V1

  10. Yao

    Oct 17, 2014 at 4:27 am

    I really hope this is a troll post. I would rather pair up with someone that suck at golf and knows it than a guy that pretend he can shoot single but he can’t even drive the ball off the tee.

    • dan

      Mar 10, 2018 at 11:40 am

      Agreed. This article is the most pretentious thing I have read in a while. No wonder why golf is struggling to gain new players. Calling players, more likely new ones, “wannabes” and “hacks” really attracts people to the game. Nice job Jeff.

  11. Beacher50

    Oct 4, 2014 at 3:31 am

    You forgot a couple; be the guy that every guy on the Ground Crew, the Starters, Marshalls seem to know and wave at, and smile. This says you’re on the course a lot, you could still suck, but you’re spending a lot time doing it, most likely your pretty good. Also only one kind of ball in your bag, not tons of hawked balls from the course. And having a spit set is also and indicator that you have something going in your iron game. And it never hurts to have some kind of weird rescue club in your bag. Have have my Dad’s bag and clubs, and interesting set to say the least, he was a great golfer in his prime, slowed down a bit in retirement, he always told be, beware of the guy with an odd 7 wood or long iron, and a putter that looks like he as been using his entire career.

  12. ScooterMcTavish

    Oct 1, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Close but no cigar.

    An anser style putter is good, but the 8802 (mentioned above) or a Bullseye says “game”.

    As does a 2-iron, wedges that are older than the golfer (anything that says “Dual Wedge” or “11i” is a warning), a driver that is at least 6 years old, an old bag, and blades or Eye2s for irons.

    Seriously, a guy with a 2i, Eye2s, G5 driver and a bullseye is “the man”.

  13. bradford

    Aug 19, 2014 at 9:26 am

    It’s really not that elusive…Realize that the scratch guys are the ones coming up the 9th when you pull up for your “early” 9AM tee time. They play early to avoid playing in the droves of “normals”, and they play together.

    • bradford

      Aug 19, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Also…16 may be the “average” hcp in some group you’ve selected, but even that is about 10-12 shot lower than the actual average score for amateur golfers. Average is around 100, which would put the average hcp closer to 26. The average golfer does not shoot 86-88.

    • Mark Reckling

      Sep 30, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      Your correct. I’m a 3.1 and always play the 1st tee slot ever day. Also work 50 hours a week. Perk of working afternoon shift lol

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  15. Tom

    Jul 24, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I actually felt like I was giving something up over the last 2 years with an almost complete equipment overhaul. Granted, having a real job and a wife has taken it’s toll on my game, but here is the old followed by the new. I was a much cooler golfer in the past!

    2006-2012 – Driver Ping G5 7.5 with a 1/4″ short shaft (Repainted after wife messed with my bag on the cart and it fell off when we pulled away chipping the hell out of it).
    1998-2011 – Callaway Big Bertha 3 wood memphis steel shaft (Before the Warbird- had a Flat Bottom)I actually flattened the face it was hit so many times. Had to replace.
    2011-Current – Titlest PT 906F2 bore through shaft ($15 and repainted in garage to get rid of 1000 sky marks from previous owner).
    2000-2012 – Hogan Apex Plus Forged minimal cavity back irons w/ turned over tour velvet grips. Still love these sticks and will go back to them.
    2003-2012 – ONE Wedge – Hogan Riviera 56
    1997-2003 – Knock Off Panzer sand wedge with some scars in the leading edge that looked like they might have happened by hitting the curb of a sidewalk. Resembles the Eye2 wedges.
    2000-2012 – Odyssey #2 with the 1st gen white hot face with the course logo that i worked at in High School printed on the toe. Also beat to snot with no cover.
    1997-2011 – Jones stand bag intermittently swapped out for the Highschool bag, then a junior college ping Hoofer. Stitching finally gave out on the strap loops, but the leg system was still perfect.
    2011-2012 – Replaced Jones reluctantly with a Callaway hyperlite black stand bag with the Jack Daniels Logos all over it because I won it in a captains choice tourney.
    1996-Current – Red Macaw Parrot Daphnies Headcover on 3 wood. 4 years of HS golf with 1 team state championship, 1 year of Junior Co. golf, and a host of captains choice wins.

    I’ve since replaced the driver with an XHot Pro, the Irons with much needed forgiving Ping i15’s and after loosing my 3 iron (Who does that?), added a cobra hybrid. However the driver is now covered by a hand made black and yellow plaid one that i made myself, and the hybrid has another hand made tweed cover. It still looks like I know something, but man did the forged hogans look good too.

  16. Steve

    Jul 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Great Article…It sounds like he was writing the article about me and he was at the range looking at my bag!

    Taylormade SLDR 9.5 Driver
    Taylormade R11s 3-Wood
    Taylormade RBZ Stage 2 Tour 5-wood
    Mizuno MP-68’s 3-PW
    Mizuno MP-10 52*
    Vokey Oilcan Rusted 56* & 60* wedges
    Bettinardi/Mizuno BC-4 Black and yellow Putter.

    Oh and by the way I throw on the Bright Orange Puma golf shoes every once in a while. LOL

  17. Doctor Phil

    Jul 11, 2014 at 7:22 am

    This article is just fantastic. Boys and girls, don’t forget the Dyna-Powered sand wedge. Just showing my age a bit. Congrats to all who encapsulated the spirit of the article.

  18. Mike

    Jun 27, 2014 at 4:12 am

    haha.. i have both 3 and 5 wood V-Steel..

  19. Ken

    Jun 25, 2014 at 1:54 am

    If Mr. Wonderful throws down a Dunlop X-Out on a water hole … Well … He’s just a poser.

  20. Mithrys

    Dec 17, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Bumping the thread because I am curious. No one mentioned the pitching wedge. I just swapped my r7 pw for a cleveland 588. Who all still plays the stock set pw? I feel the rest of my wedges (All 588s) feel better so I swapped the pw to get a more consistent short game.

    • richie65

      Jun 20, 2014 at 12:17 am

      My 3-wood is even older……..KZG CH-1 with a stiff Dynalite. Every year for the last 9 I’ve tried to replace it, but nothing has stuck. Only an old Steelhead + 4-wood came close.
      Ping L8 bag. Old.
      Nike wedges…..very straight leading edge.
      2-Ball. old original grip
      Don’t really play more than 8-10 times a year. (3 young kids)
      Holding on to an 8 hncp. I wish I could still score!

      • Terry Michaelson

        Jun 22, 2014 at 11:14 pm

        The KZG CH-1 3 wood is an awesome club. I have the Harrson low launch shaft in bight yellow. Can’t miss it Can’t replace it. KZG forged cavity backs are pretty sweet too.

  21. russ

    Dec 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Not a bad article, I conform to most of it. I was a scratch golfer 6 years ago but gave up due to a child coming into my life. I sold everything but last week I started back up.

    Basically I have gone secondhand on the irons mizuno mp 37, I love blades and no cavity back touches them. I’d rather hit a shit blade shot than awesome cavity.

    I’ve gone for TM r1 driver new club,
    Titleist 913H hybrid #3 (never used them in the past hated the things but gave one a go yesterday and Christ they are awesome)do miss my TM burner 3 wood from the early 90’s though.
    I still use 3 iron and don’t bother with a 3 wood.
    I have secondhand ghost putter, but if I could put I would be plus 4 golfer not just scratch.
    Cleveland secondhand wedge 54 degree

    I use a carry bag (Cleveland)new. I played my first 18 holes on a new course yesterday and the first comment I got was about my bag and clubs within it. At the moment it’s all show though as I shot a 78 not bad for first hit but pretty shit really.

  22. realist kenan

    Sep 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

    i love putting a new club in the bag and experimenting with equipment.

    New technology and tinkering with your bag is a part of golf that makes it fun

  23. Carlos

    Aug 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    This article is greatness. Thanks for sharing.

  24. tyler

    Jul 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    This is dumb. I am pretty good player and i love putting a new club in the bag and experimenting with equipment.

    New technology and tinkering with your bag is a part of golf that makes it fun.

  25. Rixirox

    Jul 11, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Ho Hum. I love golf. I have a nice brand new Titleist bag and sock covers. My clubs have each earned their slot in my bag. I play for money. I don’t try to look like an intimidator. I look like “easy money” In Drag racing we call them “sleepers”. I am not laughing at your article but I am laughing all the way to the bank. New Titleist cart bag and all.

  26. Jeffrey C Daschel

    Jun 22, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Another Step- Tan your legs, only the calves need be paid any attention to. Do not, ever, allow sun-tan to form on ankles, there should be a white line, from ankle socks that go just fully past the ankles, as everyone knows no scratch golfer has ever worn no show shocks. Those are for the kids.

    • bradford

      Jun 20, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Not sure I agree here…in fact, almost all of us (not that I’m scratch) that walk wear the best socks we can get, and most of those are no-shows.

      What I will agree with is that the tan line is a dead giveaway, but it’s the hands. If there’s a clearly white hand (usually left), that’s a pretty good sign that anytime the guys outside, he’s on the golf course.

  27. Jeffrey C Daschel

    Jun 22, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    Great read, but the first paragraph, its peek, not peak. Hopefully that will allow more people like me with OCD to enjoy the article

  28. manlong

    Jun 3, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Enjoyed your article so much. It gives pleasure to “act” like a scratch. However, the best thing to copy or “act” is how the scratch player react to their own game. Most of this scratch players I played with have great calmness during their game apart from having the equipment’s you mentioned.

  29. GO

    May 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    You can fake it to about the 2nd shot, maybe 2nd tee . . . I’ve made mistakes on the first tee looking at bag, made mistakes looking at grip, but it doesn’t take long watching a player, . . . and it doesn’t take long to figure out a golfer that wants to look good compared to a player that wants to play good . . . and that’s when you hope the wager is auto 1downs.

    Kind of sad actually that someone wants to buy status . . . it’s a parasite on our current culture, I see it with the cars my neighbors drive, and the jeans kids buy new that are already worn out (my kids too) . . . what ever happened to wearing out your own jeans, driving something that is practical, and being proud of the player you are becoming instead of the player you want to be perceived as. I’d much rather play with a 15hcp player who is learning/working it than a 15 that carries ‘the sticks’… not many winners i know that are faking it.

    But I did enjoy the article, well written and aside from the Titleist affiliation accurate with my experience…. Jeff must be hanging with a bunch of All American AJGA Club Champions.

    This coming from a guy who has played a bunch of golf,

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  33. mike

    Jan 15, 2013 at 1:18 am

    ” im trying to give you a chance to not appear like you are appearing ”
    this line got me. funny stuff

  34. mike

    Jan 15, 2013 at 1:15 am

    hey Jeff, this article had me in stitches. i really enjoyed this . really funny yet some weird truths in there.
    keep’em coming.

  35. TXgolfer

    Dec 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    great article, oh and shoes MUST have spikes and preferably footjoy icons. grips need to look good cuz every scratch golfer knows good grips are a must, and if not gp multi compounds then logo down. scratch golfers also dont buy a large bucket of balls and only bring their driver. if you are wondering why then youve got a lot to learn my friend

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  37. Paul

    Nov 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    This article does not wash with me. I play a nice cart bag, with shiny Tour Edge exotic CNC forged irons, R11’s all the way around. I play to a 2 and have never thought about what I carry making any statement. I hope others view me as a poser, fine with me. They better come with game, and old clubs. And my putter is shiny too!! lol

  38. Dannyboy

    Nov 14, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Also, take the decals off your iron shafts, knock in and replace your divots rather than filling them with sand and only use a tee for your driver (which you should also knock to correct height using the club)… Hoofers, 588’s and 975D’s all the way! Used to see a few sets of DCI’s around too…

  39. Vansmack73

    Nov 14, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Add bonus points to guys who have real deal shafts. Not the ones the that say deigned for titleist

    Also beware of the guy with a Wilson 8802

    • Doctor Phil

      Jul 11, 2014 at 7:03 am

      The 8802 is a dead set give away, much better than a Johny come lately Scotty!

  40. LOL

    Nov 13, 2012 at 1:24 am

    Im laughing at all of the people that seem to be taking this article seriously based off the comments their leaving…

    • Paul

      Nov 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Agreed. They think they are scratch because their bag looks like junk? Play what you have and play them well. I do. Shiny new Tour Edge CNC forged.

  41. GolfTecHogan

    Nov 12, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    How about this:

    Callaway Ft-9ta w Matrix tp7hd X flex

    Tour Edge Exotics cb4 tour 3 wood w Graphite Designs Tour BB

    Miura Limited Black Blades 3-pw KBS c-taper S+

    Miura 54 C grind and Miura 59 y grind
    dynamic Gold Spinner + Shafts

    and yes i do carry a staff bag.

    • Paul

      Nov 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Amen, I have played with awesome players with shiny new clubs and staff bags. This article is bull, plain old bull. I carry a staff bag and play to a 2 and will take scratch players most the time.

      • Mick

        Jun 27, 2014 at 2:01 am

        then why arent you playing off scratch??

      • bradford

        Aug 19, 2014 at 9:18 am

        If you’re beating a 0 “most of the time”, either you’re not a 2, or they’re not 0’s.

      • Joe

        Apr 4, 2015 at 11:14 am

        I play off a 3 and play with some scratch guys i beat them once in a while but i have to be on my game and get a little help from them.

    • Doctor Phil

      Jul 11, 2014 at 7:06 am

      CB1 3 wood. Then you would be talking. Throw in the 5 as well. That’s what I’ve got 🙂

  42. GOLFLB33

    Nov 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Great post. obv there are variations but you hit the nail on the head here.

    So true about the ping hoofers. When i was growing up that was the 1st indication of a player.

    Then scottys camerons, clevelands or vokey wedges and a 975d sweet

  43. WOW

    Nov 11, 2012 at 4:06 am

    My WITB currently: 905R w/ Diamana BB, Callaway Warbird 5 wood, Mizuno MP-60 irons, 588 gunmetal wedges, Bullseye putter. I have yet to find that elusive, hard to find 3 wood….but i will try the v steel. These clubs were all in my bag before i read this interesting and entertaining article cause it speaks the truth.

    • renoir99

      Nov 12, 2012 at 11:27 am

      The V-Steel is a good one…others you may want to look at if you haven’t…Titleist 906F2 or the Tour Exotics CB4 Tour which is a rocketship

  44. Desmond

    Nov 11, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Seriously? A scratch golfer plays new-grooved clubs and a Sun Mountain bag. Hoofers? Maybe if you’re still using one from the ’90s. But c’mon, no longer.

  45. Renoir99

    Nov 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Great article…one thing I’m surprised I haven’t heard yet…alignment rods!!! Put those in your bag, and everyone thinks your a ‘grinder’. Not only do you practice, but you lay these down and line it all up…for about 7 shots…then you get right back to the old ‘hit and rake’

  46. jbob

    Nov 10, 2012 at 9:31 am

    currently have rusty vokeys and 910 driver also have 608.mb irons and get alot of questions about if i will sell irons. also 3hcap enjoy

  47. Orangebang

    Nov 10, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Great article. I laughed myself silly convinced you couldn’t keep a straight face while writing this as well.

  48. MarcB1

    Nov 10, 2012 at 12:13 am

    I took 15 years off of golf (wife issues) and came back to it this year (no more issues). I decided to up-grade some of my equipment so I visited the local driving range pro shop. I would look at the shiny new stuff gleaming on the racks but my main focus was the used rack at the back of the shop. Sometimes a clubs would appear and I would try them on the range. I did this almost every other day until something striked my fancy. Eventually, I rebuilt my bag with some near new and some a few years old. I also made new friends in the people that practticed, worked and owned the range. I now regularly practice , hangout and play with all of them. 15 years ago I was a 3 cap….there is so much more to this game that I will ever know or perhaps understand, but really, the people I have met? Priceless! Great article, thanks.

  49. Blake

    Nov 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    My WITB…
    Driver: Ping G5 9* w/ a Grafalloy Epic X
    3 Wood: Mizuno MP Titanium w/ a MR Fubuki S
    2 &3 irons: Titleist 704 CB’s with dy gold s300’s
    4-PW: taylormade rac forged with dy gold s300’s
    54*: Cleveland CG10 w/ wear spots on face and sole
    58*: Titleist Vokey 200 Series (Raw)
    Putter: Scotty Pro Platinum Delmar 3 (Rusty)

  50. Bogeytrain

    Nov 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Throw on an Amino Vital towel to that bag and one gets 10+ points for style.

    • gallas2

      Nov 14, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      Ran into a guy that worked the back shop @ Cdn Open at our course and he had a stack of 15 Amino Vital towels and was kind enough to give me one….thx EP

  51. sean_miller

    Nov 9, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I aspire to appear to be better than I am, so I’ll trade in the Sun Mountain for a hoofer, the MP-11s for my old TA3s, and my Scratch wedges for my old Mizunos (can’t use the 588s since they match). I’ll keep the MP600 and Launcher 3-wood, but I’m gonna miss my 2-hybrid (even though it has a DGS300 in it). My Cleveland Classic putter doesn’t have enough dings so I’ll put the Anser 2 back in, but I hate the pingman grip. Which aftermarket grip can I use?

  52. John Wunder

    Nov 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    This was such a fun read. What a great way to start a Friday. Thanks Jeff. If I would add to the equipment I would take it one further and mention an old JONES bag with no stand that is just dropped on the ground from shot to shot.

  53. George

    Nov 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    great article and entertaining read! personally i’ve always had fun ‘predicting’ the playing level of those based on what gear I see (and seeing how close I am during our round). often i’m right but not always.

    i second the notion of low caps carrying a large towel not connected to the bag, as I’ve seen this quite a bit. a well-used carry bag (very often titleist or ping), rusty wedges, and an old 2 iron are signs i can attest to also.

  54. Brian

    Nov 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Great article Jeff. So now that I have all that info, what the heck should I be wearing? Finding the clubs to make my appearance go from a 14.9 to scratch is easy enough, but when it comes to how to match up a shirt and pair of pants I’m lost. My purple-lined Footjoys mess up the whole ensemble!

    • Blanco

      Nov 12, 2012 at 2:35 am

      just wear some old new balance running shoes, x-pants, and a big-dog shirt. If you have a pony tail, ONLY use the rubber band to keep it together. scratch in no time.

  55. Aaron Alter

    Nov 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Great piece. I make sure to never have a club in my bag that i can’t hint (cough blades cough )

    • Blanco

      Nov 12, 2012 at 2:28 am

      wow, that was awesome. your typo ended up working out being as your.. cough cough, hint, cough cough, was in fact a hint! Unless of course you meant to do it, in which case, pretty genius.

  56. Steve Ronaldson

    Nov 9, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Yep the club hoes are easy money. The lack of confidence in their games always comes back to their clubs. Always trying to buy a game

  57. Somaplr

    Nov 9, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I love playing guys that try to look like scratch golfers. Or club hoes…even better, easy money. I’ve found out the guys I’m most scared of are guys with tanner legs than my wife and look like Tin Cup.

  58. Steve Ronaldson

    Nov 9, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Having a big towel that is not connected to your bag. Is also a sign of a good golfer.

    • Zooch

      Nov 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      it sure is. Especially if you stole it from a hotel pool and it has one of those blue lines down the middle:)

      • GOLFLB33

        Nov 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

        lol at the towel comment played in a tournament last year. we were called in after a few holes. getting equipment dry all players were in using the courses towels including a player that plays european tour (no names)

        The next day on the course i noticed from another fairway that he was using one of the towels on the course.

        Lol

  59. Tyler Dunham

    Nov 9, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Great article, I’m really coming to the realization that switching to new equipment every three months is affecting my game in a horrible way. Sticking with the equipment I have and starting to play better.

  60. Steve Ronaldson

    Nov 9, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Your article is false, I played college golf within the last two years and and majority of the players use at least two hybrids. They are used off the tee and to hit par fives. 5 woods were not common. You also didn’t metion shafts good players know that the shaft is more important than the head of a driver. Really only good players get fitted for the right shafts. The blades thing is true I play 690 MBs but only because I have played the same clubs for 10 years and I like the weight and ball flight if I was not afraid of change I would have gone to a forged cavity back.

    • Blanco

      Nov 12, 2012 at 2:24 am

      Please add:

      Step 8: Scratch golfers possess self-confidence and understand concepts like written humor and social media’s role in group think– that’s why they’re so damn good! They don’t try and downplay their not-aforementioned “ol’ trusty one” with the x-flex “scratch shaft” in an attempt to alert readers that to THIS article, they do not apply.

  61. scothomas24

    Nov 9, 2012 at 9:39 am

    wow – my new bible. well stated. i recently spent a few bucks and upgraded to the 913d2 and mp64s, might have to take a few rocks to them now.

    What about the hybrid? i vote for either a driving iron, or adams………………

    • Cameron O'Leary

      Mar 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Hybrids are for Hacks, 3 wood 5 wood combo is what scratches use!

      • shawn

        May 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm

        3-wood 2-iron more is like it

      • Larryoffthedeck

        Jun 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

        The right hybrid replaces the 5 wood and let’s you carry an extra wedge, 2-iron or whatever other ‘scratch’ club you prefer. Old school scratch play X100.

      • J.T. Parker

        Jul 21, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        I love to play the guys who believe hybrids are for Hacks! I have a 23 degree hybrid that I can hit a variety of distances and from any lie. While most are under clubbing or trying to hit a five wood out of rough, the hybrid comes out like a perfect lie.

  62. JRM

    Nov 9, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Pair me up everyday with a dude who wants to “look like” a scratch. The excuses start early… “that was a tough lie”, “these greens are slower than normal”, “bunkers are in bad shape”. Easy money.

  63. Prim'

    Nov 9, 2012 at 4:58 am

    WTF ?
    I just need to change my Staff Bag … 🙂
    I’m an” old school golfer” with my full TPZ Set (from 3 to SW), my TM Rescue MD (first generation), an F50 by Mizuno and a bullseye blade.

    And I like drinking beers too (but not during a round)

    enjoy !

  64. ZenGolfer

    Nov 9, 2012 at 4:17 am

    i love ths article!!!!!!! reminds me of myself
    see below for my WITB………..

    9.5 Srixon W506 with Aldila NVS 65 Stiff
    3w Callaway Big Bertha with Aldila NVS 65 Stiff
    2iron Tommy Armour 855 Silverscot 18 deg with stock Stiff shaft
    3-PW Srixon i302 with Nippon 1050gh Stiff
    Ram FX Pro Set PW bent to 52 degrees with TT Dynamic Gold X100 Stiff
    60deg Titleist Vokey Design Custom Ground by myself with TT Dynamic Gold Regular
    36inch Ray Cook M1-3X (designed by Scotty Cameron)
    Cleveland Tour Stand Bag

    i cuurrently play of a 4 handicap……. enjoy!

  65. jgpl

    Nov 9, 2012 at 3:55 am

    Excellent – just forgot to add in a blade/forged 2 iron to cap it off!

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Podcasts

Gear Dive: Mizuno’s Chris Voshall speaks on Brooks Koepka’s U.S. Open-winning irons

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Mizuno’s Chief Engineer Chris Voshall speaks on how Brooks Koepka was the one that almost got away, and why Mizuno irons are still secretly the most popular on Tour. Also, a couple of Tiger/Rory nuggets that may surprise a few people. It’s an hour geek-out with one of the true gems in the club biz. Enjoy!

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

Listen to the full podcast below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Hear It, Feel It, Believe It: A Better Bunker Method

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The following is an excerpt from Mike Dowd‘s upcoming novel, “Coming Home.” 

After picking the last of the balls on the driving range, Tyler cornered Mack as he hit a few shots from the old practice bunker to wind down at the end of the day. Mack was hitting one after another, alternating between the three flags on the practice green and tossing them up about as softly as if he was actually lobbing them each up there underhanded.

Tyler just stood there, mesmerized at first by the mindless ease with which Mack executed the shot. Bunker shots, Tyler silently lamented, were likely the biggest hole in his game, and so after Mack had holed his third ball in a couple of dozen, Tyler finally decided he had to ask him a question.

“What are you thinking about on that shot, Mack?” Tyler interrupted him suddenly.

Mack hit one more that just lipped out of the closest hole, paused a few seconds, and then looked up at his protégé in what Tyler could only interpret as a look of confusion.

“What am I thinking about?” he finally replied. “I don’t know, Tyler… I’d hate to think how I’d be hittin’ ‘em if I actually started thinking.”

Tyler gave Mack a slightly exasperated look and put his hands on his hips as he shook his head. “You know what I mean. Your technique. I guess I should have said what exactly are you doing there from a mechanics standpoint? How do you get it to just land so softly and roll out without checking?”

Mack seemed to be genuinely considering Tyler’s more elaborately articulated question, and after a moment began, more slowly this time, as if he was simplifying his response for the benefit of a slightly thick-headed young student who wasn’t getting his point.

“You can’t think about technique, Tyler… at least not while you’re playing,” Mack replied. “There’s no quicker path back to your father’s garage than to start thinking while you’re swinging, especially thinking about technique. That’s my job.”

“Mack,” Tyler insisted, “How am I supposed to learn to hit that shot without understanding the technique? I’ve got to do something different than what I’m doing now. I’m putting too much spin on my shots, and I can’t always tell when it’s going to check and when it’s going to release a little. How do I fix that?”

“Well, not by thinking, certainly,” Mack fired right back as if it was the most ridiculous line of inquiry he’d ever heard. “A good bunker shot can be heard, Tyler, and felt, but you can’t do either of those if you’re focused on your technique. You feel it inside of you before you even think about actually hitting it. Watch, and listen.”

With that Mack swung down at the sand and made a thump sound as his club went through the soft upper layer of sand and bounced on the firmer sand below.

“You hear that?” Mack asked. “That’s what a good bunker shot sounds like. If you can hear it, then you can feel it. If you can feel it, then you can make it, but you can’t make that sound until you hear it first. Your body takes care o’ the rest. You don’t have to actually tell it what to do.”

Tyler still looked puzzled, but, knowing Mack as he did, this was the kind of explanation he knew he should have expected. Coach Pohl would have gone into an eight-part dissertation on grip, stance, club path, release points, weight transfer, and so forth, and Tyler suddenly realized how much he’d come to adopt his college coach’s way of thinking in the past four years. Mack though? He just said you’ve got to hear it.

“Get in here,” Mack said suddenly, gesturing to the bunker and offering the wedge to Tyler. “Now close your eyes.”

“What?!” Tyler almost protested.

“Just do it, will ya’?” Mack insisted.

“Okay, okay,” Tyler replied, humoring his coach.

“Can you hear it?” Mack asked.

“Hear what?” Tyler answered. “All I hear is you.”

“Hear that sound, that thump.” It was Mack’s turn to be exasperated now. “It was only moments ago when I made it for you. Can’t you still hear it?”

“Oh, remember it you mean,” Tyler said. “Okay, I know what you mean now. I remember it.”

“No, you obviously don’t know what I mean,” Mack replied. “I wanted to know if you can hear it, in your mind, hear the actual sound. Not remember that I’d made it. There’s a big difference.”

Tyler suddenly did feel kind of dumb. He wasn’t picking up what Mack was getting at, at least not exactly how he wanted him to get it, and so he sat there with his eyes closed and gripped the club like he was going to hit a shot, waggled it a bit as if he was getting ready, and then opened his eyes again.

“Okay,” he said suddenly. “I think I can hear it now.”

“Don’t open your eyes,” Mack almost hissed. “Now make it, make that sound. Make that thump.”

Tyler swung down sharply and buried the head of the wedge into the sand where it almost stopped before exiting.

“That’s not a thump,” Mack said shaking his head. “That’s a thud. You can’t even get the ball out with that pitiful effort. Give me that!”

He took the wedge back from Tyler and said, “Now watch and listen.”

Mack made a handful of swings at the sand, each one resulting in a soft thump as the club bottomed out and then deposited a handful of sand out of the bunker. Tyler watched each time as the head of the club came up sharply, went down again, hit the sand, and came back up abruptly in a slightly abbreviated elliptical arc. Each time Tyler listened to the sound, embedding it as he studied how the club entered and exited the sand. Mack stopped suddenly and handed the club back to Tyler.

“Now you make that sound,” he said, “and as you do remember how it feels in your hands, your forearms, your chest, and most importantly in your head.”

“What?” Tyler asked, looking back up at Mack, confused at his last comment.

“Just do it,” Mack said. “Hear it, feel it, then do it, but don’t do it before you can hear it and feel it. Now close your eyes.”

Tyler did as he was told, closing his eyes and then settling his feet in as he tried to picture in his mind what Mack had been doing. At first, he just stood there waggling the club until he could see the image in his mind of Mack hitting the sand repeatedly, and then he could hear the soft thump as the club hit the sand. He started to swing but was interrupted by Mack’s voice.

“Can you feel it?” Mack said. “Don’t go until you can feel it.”

“Well, at first I could see the image in my mind of you hitting that shot over and over again,” Tyler said, opening his eyes and looking at Mack, “and then I could hear it. It sort of followed right in behind it.”

“Ah, the image is a good starting point, but you can’t just see it and hear it, you need to feel it,” Mack replied, pointing to his head. “Feel it in here, and then you can feel it here,” he continued, putting his hands together like he was gripping a club. “Now close your eyes again.”

“Okay,” Tyler said, not sure he was getting it, but finally bought in. He settled in again and began waggling the club until he could see Mack swinging and hear the subtle thump of the sand. He let it just loop in his mind, over and over again, until suddenly he could feel it like he was the one doing it, and then he swung.

Thump came the sound as the flange of his wedge hit the sand. It was his swing, but it was different, maybe not to the naked eye, but in the speed, the level of tension, and the release. He opened his eyes again, almost tentatively, and looked at Mack with a combination of curiosity and amazement.

“I felt it that time,” Tyler said in a voice that seemed to resonate within from somewhere in the past. It almost sounded like Jackie’s in its exuberance.

“Yes… good,” Mack replied patiently. “Now close your eyes and do it again, but make sure you can feel it before you pull the trigger.”

Tyler settled in again, waited until, like the last time, he could see it, hear it, and then finally feel it… Thump… Something was slightly different this time, though, and Tyler opened his eyes to notice Mack kneeling down next to him. He had quietly deposited a ball into the place where Tyler had swung. Tyler looked up in the direction of the green and the target flag he had been aiming toward just in time to see a ball slow to a gentle stop about four inches from the flag.

“How’d you do that?” Tyler said, almost in wonder now.

“I didn’t,” Mack replied. “You did. You just had to stop thinking. See it, hear it, and feel it. Once you feel it, you can believe it. Anything more is more than we need. Any questions?”

As Mack turned to walk up out of the bunker, Tyler just stood there shaking his head a moment, looking at the spot in the sand, and then back up at the green as if to confirm the ball he’d seen roll to stop was still there. “I guess I’ve still got a lot to learn.”

“Well… yes and no,” Mack said cryptically as he turned back to look at him. “You pretty much know how to hit all the shots, Tyler. You’ve hit every one of them at one time or another. You’ve just got to learn how to empty your head of all those instructions so you can focus on finding the shot you need when you need it. It’s in there somewhere.”

“It’s hard to explain,” Tyler said, “but a lot of times I walk up and think I somehow just instinctively know what shot to hit without even thinking about it. I just kind of see it and feel it. It’s when I start to analyze things a bit more closely, factoring in all the things I know are important to consider like the wind, keeping away from the short side, where I want to putt from, and the best trajectory or shot shape for the situation, that I often start to second guess that feeling.”

“Ever heard the saying paralysis from analysis?” Mack asked. “It pretty much describes those moments.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Tyler replied, “but all that information is important. You have to consider everything and not just make a rash decision.”

“Sure, information is important, but you can’t get lost in it,” Mack countered. “Whether it’s golf, or just about anything else in life, Tyler, you need to learn to trust your gut. You’ve hit hundreds of thousands of shots in your life, Tyler. All those shots leave a mark. They leave an indelible little mark that gets filed away in your brain subconsciously, getting stacked one on top of the other. And after years of playing the game, those stacks and stacks of shots create an instinctive reaction to each situation. It’s like gravity. It pulls you in a certain direction so much that most of the time you almost know what club you should hit before you even know the yardage. Trust that, Tyler. Go with it, and know that first instinct comes from experience. There’s more wisdom in those gut reactions than just about anything else.”

“Thank you,” Tyler said after considering it a moment. “I think that’ll really help.”

“You’re welcome,” Mack replied. “Now rake that bunker for me and clean the balls off the green. I want to get things closed up before dark.”

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Opinion & Analysis

5 things we learned on Saturday at the 2018 U.S. Open

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Whoops, we did it again. While not as dramatic as the 7th hole concern of 2004, the Saturday of 2018 seemed eerily familiar. The commentators were divided on the question of whether the USGA was pleased with the playing conditions. The suggestion was, the grass in the rough was higher than necessary, and the cuts of the fairway and greens were just a bit too close of a shave. No matter, everyone finished and the band played on. The hashtag #KeepShinnyWeird didn’t trend, but Saturday the 16th was certainly not ordinary. Five weird things we learned, on the way.

5) Phil’s breaking point

It wasn’t violent. No outburst or hysteria. We’d seen Phil leap in triumph at Augusta. Now we’ve seen the Mickelson jog, albeit under most different circumstances. Near as we can determine, for a moment Phil forgot that he was playing a U.S. Open. After belting a downhill, sliding bogey putt well past the mark, the left-handed one discerned that the orb would not come to rest for quite some time: a lower tier beckoned. As if dancing a Tarantella, Phil sprang toward the ball and gave it a spank while still it moved. Just like that, his quadruple-bogey 8 become a 10, thanks to the 2 strokes for striking a moving ball penalty. In true warrior fashion, Mickelson accepted the penalty without questions, intimating that it saved him another stroke or two in the end. Yeesh. Phil, we feel you.

4) DJ’s front-nine free fall

Just as unlikely as Phil’s whack-and-walk was Dustin Johnson’s front nine of 41. The cool gunslinger of Thursday-Friday faced the same turmoil as the other 66 golfers remaining, and the outward nine did not go according to his plan. DJ got past the opening hole with par, after making bogey there on Friday. Number two was another story. Double bogey on the long par three was followed by 4 bogeys in 5 holes, beginning with the 4th. The irony once again was, Johnson struggled on holes that the field did not necessarily find difficult. Hole No. 2 was the 10th-ranked hole for difficulty on day 3, while 4 and 7 were 13th and 11th-ranked, respectively. Hole No. 6 and 8 did fall in the more difficult half, but not by much. At day’s end, however, the tall drink of water remained in contention for his second U.S. Open title.

3) The firm of Berger and Finau

Each likely anticipated no more than a top-15 placing after 3 days, despite posting the two low rounds of the day, 4-under 66. Those efforts brought them from +7 to +3 for the tournament, but Johnson and the other leaders had yet to tee off. Every indication was lower and deeper; then the winds picked up, blustery like the 100 acre wood of Winnie The Pooh. Both golfers posted 6 birdies against 2 bogeys, to play themselves into the cauldron of contention. Berger has one top-10 finish in major events, while Finau has 2. None of those three came in a U.S. Open, so a win tomorrow by either golfer would qualify as an absolute shock.

2) Recent winners fared well

In addition to Johnson, the 2016 champion, Justin Rose (2013) and Brooks Koepka (2017) found themselves near or in the lead for most of the afternoon. Since Shinnecock Hills offers much of what characterizes links golf, it should come as no surprise that 2016 British Open champion Henrik Stenson is also within a handful of strokes of the top spot. Rose played the best tee-to-green golf of the leaders on Saturday, but was unable to coax legitimate birdie efforts from his putter. Koepka was the most impressive putter of the day, making up to 60-feet bombs and consistently holing the clutch par saves. On another note, given his victories at Chambers Bay (2015 U.S. Open) and Royal Birkdale (2017 British Open), the missed cut by Jordan Spieth was the week’s biggest surprise.

1) The wind

The most unpredictable of nature’s weapons, the winds of Shinnecock Hills exposed flaws in the course preparation. Areas that would have held off-line putts, were dried out enough to escort those efforts off the shortest grass, into the runoff compartments. The zephyrs pushed tee balls and approach shots just far enough astray to bring all the danger zones into the recipe. Prediction for tomorrow is, any golfer within 5 shots of the lead has a chance at the title. A Miller-esque round of 63 would bring anyone into contention, if the wind continues to blow. No event appreciates drama more than the U.S. Open, and Sunday at Shinnecock promises plenty of it.

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