What is in The Walking Golfer’s Bag?

Posted by Rob Rigg
June 2010

There are many golfers in America who think that 14 clubs are simply too many to carry, so they push a cart or ride in one.

The real question is – Why do you need 14 clubs?

Just because that is the maximum allowed by the USGA does not mean a golfer needs 14 of them to play to their potential.

I carry between 8 and 10 when I play and it does not negatively impact my scoring, in fact it encourages creativity and “fun”.

If you want to carry, but need to shed some weight, dropping a few clubs from your bag is the best way to reduce stress on your body. On average, every club you carry weighs at least one pound, so you can drop about 6 lbs from your bag by using a half set.

If you cannot play without 14 clubs, then consider using a push cart which is easier on your body than carrying and much healthier for you than riding in a cart.

These are the clubs that live in my MacKenzie Walker or Sun Mountain Stryder:

Driver

The driver is the longest and most difficult club to hit in your bag,  so it is helpful to get fit by a professional to ensure that you are playing with the “right” one.

During the fitting process, your launch angle, spin rate, shaft flex, etc. will be optimized by trying out various head and shaft combinations. You will also get a feel for the club’s balance and the sound at impact which is important.

If you are between flexes, then I would encourage you to err towards a stiffer shaft for tighter dispersion in as light a weight as feels comfortable to maximize club head speed and distance.

Also, think about playing with a shorter driver if you are directionally challenge – most Tour pros are using 44 or 44.5 inch drivers, while most amateurs have 45+ inch drivers. That does not make sense.

4 Wood

A 4 Wood is a versatile club off the tee and from the deck, and if you find a favorite it can live in your bag forever.

Make sure the shaft is stiff enough to give you the tightest dispersion possible – accuracy is vital with fairway woods.

Using a 4 wood can “even out” the gaps in distance that you will likely get after dropping a few clubs.

Irons

As a walking golfer, one of the things I enjoy about a round is being immersed in the experience. The grass under my feet, the relaxing scenery of the course, the companionship of friends, and the way the golf ball comes off the club face, especially on a pure strike.

A forged blade provides the greatest amount of feedback with the least amount of forgiveness. I enjoy playing blades even if they cost me a few strokes per round.

If you are concerned primarily about scoring then a forged cavity back is probably a good option or a “player’s cast” club with limited offset and a smaller head.

Wedges

Some golfers like having 3 to 4 wedges in their bag while other will go with a PW and SW. It can be hard to master too many wedges and fewer will obviously keep your bag lighter.

A confident short game will not only shave strokes off your score, it will add a lot of enjoyment to your round. Getting up and down for par on a regular basis is a great skill to have and very beneficial for your handicap and wallet.

Putter

The Putter is probably the most important and personal club in the bag because it is used on every hole and at least twice as often as any other.  I think a putter’s feel, both at address and at contact, is key. So if you find a head shape or design that you like, it might be a good idea to stick with it.

The 8 clubs I tend to play with are Driver, 4W, 4i, 6i, 8i, PW, 58* and Putter.

A logical 9 club set would be Driver, 4W, 3i (or hybrid), 5i, 7i, 9i, PW, 58* and Putter.

A 10 club set might add an 8 iron to increase the number of scoring clubs you have, or maybe a gap wedge if you are seeking more options from 100 yards in.

There are many golfers who have scored their best round ever using ten or fewer clubs. One of the benefits of walking is that you experience every step of the course which heightens your senses and, in my opinion, significantly improves your sense of “feel”, which can only enhance your shot-making creativity.

Try dropping a few clubs from your bag and watch your game improve over time which will only increase your enjoyment, while minimizing the weight that you carry around for eighteen holes.


57 Comments

Peter Kiernan
July 15, 2013 10:27 am — Reply to this comment

In hotter weather, when I am traveling light: D, 3 wood, 2 and 6 hybrids, 8 and 9 irons, pitching wedge, 58 degree sand wedge, and putter = 9 clubs. For even lighter, I would drop the 3 wood = 8 clubs. A little cooler, and I will consider adding one or more of the following in general order of preference: 4 hybrid, 54 degree wedge for longer sand shots, and a 7 iron. In addition to saving weight, I find that I can afford to buy new irons more often since I only need a 7 0r 8 thru PW.
Peter

sonny
July 7, 2013 9:49 am — Reply to this comment

titleist carry bag, very light, seven clubs 13* driver, 4hyb., 7i,9i,pw,gw,putter. and ball retriever. 6 balls hand full of tees and water bottle. scores have dropped drastically.

Tom
July 2, 2013 6:03 pm — Reply to this comment

Got it down to 8 clubs now and have all my gaps covered, 8 clubs was my goal. Now thats just 8 clubs I have to worry about hitting well. 3w,5w,4h,7i,9i,aw,sw,putter. Bag is super lite and shooting my normal scores. Nice to know next time I get new clubs I only have to worry about 8 of them. Might change hybrids from 4h to 5h but thats about it at the moment.

Henry Bruns
July 2, 2013 3:02 pm — Reply to this comment

Couldn’t agree more with the above article and most of the comments so far…I carry lofts more than clubs and just 9 lofts: 10.5, 18, 23, 30, 36, 45, 50, 55 and putter. Been slowly dropping my handicap from mid 20s to 16.7 now. Happy face! One of the main advantages I notice in carrying 9 clubs is this: I HAVE to “club up” my shots and this is a good thing. PLUS, my knees and back really thank me for the 9 clubs, 3-4 balls and the MacKenzie walker bag I bought. Keep it up and thanks,
Henry Bruns

Ed Nelson

With the OEMs making their lofts stronger, iron #s have less relevance. Another factor is swing speed--generally, 3 or 4 degree loft separations are not required and show no reasonable distance gaps for slower swingers. Five to 6 degrees is better. So, I'm using a 16* Wishon driver (a real geezer stick), 21* 7W/3H depending on my mood, 26* 5H, 31* 7I, 36* 8I, 41* 8I, 46* PW, 54* SW, P. I'm getting a 27* 6I because I have a 30 yd gap between 5H and 7I. But, I may drop the 21* and 26* club(s) and go with a 23* 4H. FW & hybrids are Cleveland Mashies, and the irons are Cleveland 588 TTs, bent to preferred lofts. SW is Cleveland 588 Forged, and putter is Cleveland Classic. While I can't hit a true forged iron (other than my wedge), the forged face on the TTs imparts a smooth, sweet feel. Another positive factor for Cleveland--they sell individual irons directly from their web site, enabling we "fewer is better" guys to create the set we need. Enjoy the walk!

Derek Shorrock
July 1, 2013 4:48 am — Reply to this comment

I have just found your site interesting I have only ever carried 9 clubs a 2 wood 4-9 irons 50 degree wedge and putter
Why would you want more also use a stand bag carry 3 balls and enjoy golf immensely

Tom
June 24, 2013 1:57 pm — Reply to this comment

I switched from 10 to 9 clubs this year and my handicap has went down! Just walked 9 today at my home course and shot a 43 on par 36. Really considering dropping one more.

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