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

91 COMMENTS

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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”.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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.

  13. 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.