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.
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.