What is in The Walking Golfer’s Bag?

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:


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.


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.


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.


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.

Rob Rigg


  1. Great read…

    I have actually shot one of my better rounds (low/mid 80’s) with a mere 3 clubs + putter which was quite an eye opener for me. Sure there were some shots where I wish that I had the full arsenal of weapons at my disposal but playing with 9 or 10 clubs should be sufficient.

    Oddly enough – I have yet to try to play with 9 or 10 clubs my self but am looking to take out only 10 clubs the next time I hit the links.

    I bet I could to with a set consisting of:

    Driver (12 deg.)
    4 wood (17 deg.)
    Hybrid (23 deg.)
    5 iron (27 deg.)
    7 iron (34 deg.)
    9 iron (43 deg.)
    50 wedge
    54 wedge
    58 wedge

    I will be sure to give an update as my transformation towards the minimalist golfer begins 🙂


    Steffen in DK

  2. rob, i’m jealous. my clubs are only 19 years older than yours. :-).

    played palouse ridge with: Titleist 983K 10.5*, Titleist DCI irons 2,4,6,8,9,P,W,S, and Ping Anser2 putter.


  3. Rob,

    I too love playing a ‘half set’ game.
    I recently contacted Scratch about purchasing a half set of SB-1s.
    I love these blades. I talked to their sales people and was informed
    that Scratch does not sell half sets??????

    How were you able to convince them to sell you a half set?

    I’m a little disappointed and befuddled?


  4. Hi Dean – It is really hard to find a manufacturer that will put a half set together for you these days. I got lucky and was put in touch with one of the senior members of the company about doing a product test so they hooked me up. In the past, I have always had to buy a full set and then ended up only using half the clubs. It is pretty frustrating, but I would imagine us “half set” guys are a pretty small percent of the population. If you send another email to one of the senior guys at Scratch explaining why you want to play with a half set, they might be able to help you out.

  5. Great Stuff Rob!!! Beautiful set of clubs !!
    I am a PGA Golf instructor and believe there is great merit in what you are saying.
    Playing with less clubs is great too.
    For most golfers the loft progressions in a 14 club set are just too close together.

    Great Work Rob.
    Dean Larsson PGA
    Dallas TX

  6. “Whats in the walking golfer bag?” I recently played in the Harold Hilton Medal at Royal Liverpool Golf Club( Hoylake) an over 30s competition off scratch, over 5 rounds. Played off The Open chanpionship tees, a gentleman from Sweden turned up in plus fours a canvas bag, played in a shirt and tie with a 3 iron, 5, iron, 7 iron, and wedge, two woods all hickory with the driver over one hundred years old. With plently of fixing holes re drilled. He played a 50 compreesion ball and shot 83 in the first round with a standard scratch of 75 how good was that? His playing partners were in ore of his short game running the ball from 100 yards out.

  7. If any one wants to play in the Harolde Hilton Medal the entry form is on the clubs web site, Saturday night includes a black tie dinner in Honour of Harold Hilton, best check out his CV then you will understand. Followed by chipping up the stairs in front of an original oil painting of Bobby Jones. This is a a tournment you should play at least once in your life if you want to play golf as it is meant to be played.

  8. Quick update.

    Since discovering this site and after starting to carry my reduced bag of only 9-10 sticks I have now entered the realm of single handicap going from an 11.4 handicap to a 9.8 handicap.

    I am convinced the change in focus from the very result oriented approach to the more relaxed maybe even zen-like approach described in the “Why I walk” article by this site founder has
    contributed vastly to my improvement.

    Playing with fewer weapons really does set free a lot of creativity and enables you to enjoy the game even more… after all this is a GAME remember 😉

    Keep it simple and walk on!

    Steffen in DK

  9. I’ve been playing with 9/10 clubs for two years and walking…handicap is closing on 6, which ain’t bad for a 72-year old fart who HATES to hit range balls. An interesting side note: I haven’t lost a ball in at least 6 months. I’d strongly advise anyone dropping clubs to start with his driver and play a strong 3-wood. I had my old Ruger Bertha refinished by Golfsmith and can still hit it about 245…and it’s always in the middle of the fairway! For me, it’s 3-wood, 20-degree hybrid, 5-SW in 5-degree loft increments (brand new Snake Eyes 685Xs with pured UST V2s and I love them) and a Nickent PIPE putter (which is one ugly sucker, but very effective).

    I carry a little medicine kit with bandaids, some nasal spray, moleskin and hand sanitizer/cleaner, a windshirt and 4 balls and a handful of tees. No umbrella, even in Portland…but a towel and a good stiff brush. WALK ON!!!

  10. Rusty: Enjoyed your comments. Since you’ve been pretty precise about your walking equipment, I was just wondering whether you have a favorite ball that you like to play?

  11. Jerry,

    You will find the answer to your question in the first comment on this article 🙂 but in short it is something like this: Driver, 4-wood, 4-hybrid, 5, 7, 9 iron, 50 & 58 degree wedge, putter

    I do take an 8-iron with me on occasion if the par 3’s I am playing requires it – but normally the 9 weapon configuration will do…


    Steffen in DK

  12. Rob-

    Recently retired and walking my club course ( Cedarbrook Country Club ) in Western NC with just 10 clubs :

    Driver , 3 wood, 3 hybrid, 5 ,7, 8,9,PW, SW and Bullseye putter ( that I have used since I bought it
    used in 1968 ). Scoring improving on each outing.

    I really enjoy The Walking Golfer site and my membership and hope to order a MacKenzie bag in the future.


  13. Due to my involvement in TRUE linkswear I have tried to remove any comments on the site discussing other brands.

  14. My true walking set of clubs is my 5 mid-iron, 54 SW, and anser2 putter.

    My super light set is 3 hybrid, 7I, 8I, PW, 54 SW, and putter.

    My light set is 3W, 4 hybrid, 6I, 7I, 8I, PW, 54 SW, and putter.

    My game has improved by having fewer clubs. I feel I have developed better control and feel of each club, hitting the ball straighter and longer. I do not use a driver, mostly because I have not been able to hit the new drivers accurately enough for my satisfaction. My 3 wood is a 250+ club anyways.

    My goal this year is to break 80 and move to a 10 handicap.

  15. Recently I am getting back in to walking after 30+ years of riding the buggy. I am coming to understand what you mean about golf being a walking game.

    Right now I am playing with 7 clubs I put together for the purpose. A Ram 5 iron bent to 26*, a Hogan Director 9 iron bent to 34*, a Wilson Staff 9 iron bent to 42* all with TT steel shafts in lengths of 38,37, and 36 inches respectively. A driver of some sort, (varies) a Taylor Raylor 16*, an old Wilson Staff JP pitching wedge, and currently a PING Zing putter.

    All in an old Dunlop nylon bag (hoping to replace with a Sherpa soon!)

    Nine is all I can handle and play decently now, but hoping to improve to 18 by the end of the season!

  16. Oh and by the way, I use a MacKenzie Llama bag, Nylon, I purchased while the golf course superintendent at Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, with the resort logo on it. Peter Jacobsen model.

  17. Similar to many others, I find playing 7-10 clubs gets me really familiar with each. There is also less uncertainty figuring out what to hit on a particular shot.

    This really proved true in trouble spots. After errant tee shots where GIR percentage is low, I’ll often dump the ball safely in front of a green and try to get up and down. Usually playing two wedges, familiarity with those clubs comes around very quickly. My scores dropped from the 90’s to mostly 80’s almost instantly by dropping clubs and better course management.

    Now if I can only beat 80, my current golf nemesis!

    Good luck to all.

  18. For those interested in playing partial sets, Golfsmith offers customized partial sets through their “custom fitting” option. You can also go through a local custom builder and get custom sets made from makers like Maltby, Snake Eyes or Tom Wishon. I presently play Driver, 3w, 2h, 3h, 5-8 irons, PW, AW, SW, LW, XW, and of course putter, and I build my set that way, customized. Very good way to go.

  19. This post plus some reading about hickory golf and the clubs early golfers carried has led me to a 6 club set for afternoon golf:

    4W 17* (spoon), 5H 26* (baffy), 7I 35* (mashie), 9I 43* (mashie/niblick), wedge 54* (flanged niblick), and flanged Bullseye putter in a Titleist carry bag. All the clubs are used but very serviceable. I am experimenting with a 2H 17* to replace the 4W.

    I use the clubs above plus (also used) Driver 13*, 3H 23*, 6H 29*, 8I 39*, and PW 47* to make up my “full” set which I put in a Titleist lightweight stand bag and strap to a ClicGear 3.0 push cart.

    Lest you think I’m a spendthrift, I picked up a new Cleveland Classic #1 Putter–an unbelievable putter and a great value.

    For someone whose handicap is “whichever club I’m holding,” less is more. Fairways and greens!

  20. Great thoughts. I typically carry 12 clubs with me when I walk. Driver, 5 wood, either 3 or 4 hybrid, 5-SW’ a 60 wedge and putter.

    I am going to try over Labor Day taking the hybrid out, because a choke down 5 wood is about the same as my 3 hybrid.

  21. I have been a walking golfer for over 45 years. When I started in the 1960’s, I used a cheap 3W, 5I, and putter. (All I could afford.) In the 1970’s, 80’s, and part of the 90’s, I trollied around a staff bag with 14 clubs. (Heavy!) As I grow older, I’m going back to my roots.

    Currently, I carry a Driver, 5I,8I,PW and putter in a nylon 5″ Sunday bag I bought 10 or so years ago. Sometimes, I’ll substitute a 3W for the driver or add an extra iron or so. I haven’t played with over 7 clubs in a long time, mostly just 5. I find my scores are just as good as with a full set. Most of the time better. Last week I shot a 35 (par) at my local course, a very rare occasion. Most of the time I’ll average 42-45 for nine holes. I attribute better golf this year with playing with forged irons, Callaway 2009 x forged. The chunky offset irons I’ve played since the 90’s do not improve one’s game.

    I’d love to get a Mackenzie bag, maybe next season. The ballistic nylon 1 pocket would be probably the best lightweight choice.

  22. Update–trying for ten clubs. I got my bag down to 11: 3W, 5W, 4H, 5I , 6I, 7I, 8I, 9I, PW, SW 54*, P. When I played today, the 6I is the only club I didn’t hit. So, out of the bag and into the “corner of exiled clubs,” and I’ve got my ten. I decided on 3W based on the old Harvey Pennick axiom–don’t use a driver until you can put seven of ten in the fairway with the 3W…

  23. Great article…I only use eleven clubs when I play. I always walk and have a great time. I found an old Sun Mountain Sunday carry bag at a golf garage sale a few years back, it works great. It is made of a heavy nylon, one club divider to separate the woods from irons, has two pockets with leather tabs on the zippers and leather trim around the pockets. The bag has a single strap, which I prefer over the double straps. My bag consists of:

    3 wood/driver
    3 hybrid
    4 hybrid
    5-9 irons

    11 clubs, some tees, a dozen golf balls and That is it……

  24. A dozen balls? Wow. That’s a lot of golf balls. You can lighten your load by not carrying so many balls. I hope you don’t have to use 12 in a round.

  25. I have been playing a partial set on and off for several years. Yesterday I played Pinehurst #2 using only 6 clubs. First, I love the renovation of #2. The return of the natural sandy “rough” is historically accurate, visually intimidating and offers a more varied challenge than the previous uniform rough. Coore/Crenshaw definitely got it right. I was a caddy favorite with only 6 clubs and 4 balls in a Nike Sunday stand bag. I shot a respectable 86 and thoroughly enjoyed the round.







  26. That is awesome Karlton !!!
    Have been playing for a while now with
    3,5,7,9 Sw
    7 Clubs walking. Love it. Fosters shot shaping makes bag super light. Love it !!!

  27. Although the weather in PA was a bit chilly, I played 9 holes the day after Christmas. My home course was deserted, so I could walk briskly. I played with a 3W, and an adjustable iron, carried 4 balls and tees. Surprisingly, the newer irons play very well. I had one dating from the 60’s, not nearly as good as the new ones available on EBay.

    Although illegal for USGA play, an adjustable iron makes walking the course effortless. I play occasional solitary rounds with it alone and sometimes include it in my bag. Driver, putter, and adjustable, with maybe a PW added in makes a comfortable carry in any bag, if a bag is even needed.

  28. Glad I stumbled upon this site! I love walking with a light single strap golf bag and only 7 clubs. I currently use a 3-wood, 3i, 5i, 7i, 9i, 54 wedge and a putter. About 5 golf balls, and a little baggie with some tees, ballmarks, band-aids, and cash. Sure, I have a push cart, big bags and way too many golf clubs in the garage…but walking with half the clubs, and creating shots makes this game much more like being on vacation. And truly, my scores (4 hcp) just don’t seem much different then with a full bag of sticks.

  29. Even the pros are seeing the value of fewer clubs…

    Rafael Cabrera Bello @RCabreraBello
    Practice round today without my clubs…Just a driver,5iron, & 2wedges that @TitleistEurope made me. Never had a doubt which club to hit!!!

  30. I got excited about this concept after being pointed to this site from a golf forum. I gave it a try and now have 2 successful outings under my belt – one with 8 clubs, and one with 7. I am an 8 handicap and broke 80 both times! Basically, I shot my ‘normal’ scores (on a good day) with half the clubs, half the weight, and twice the fun! it’s very rewarding at 60 years old to go back to my walking roots. I carried Driver, 4H, 6, 8, W, GW, putter. Now I am shopping for a nice carry bag – single strap, no legs!

  31. 14 clubs just do not fit into my light weight stand bag. I was on the verge of buying a “14 way” divider bag to sort it all out when it dawned on me that I did not need 14 clubs. I pulled my 60 degree wedge, 5-iron and 9-iron. With only 10 clubs, the bag is lighter and more accessible. Best of all, my focus has shifted back to my swing rather than “pulling the right club”; playing golf has become more imaginative and fun. It’s easy to forget that, ideally, we “play” golf.

  32. Dean & Rob,

    I check this thread occasionally and thought of this post today as I was getting fit for a partial set of Callaway Razr X HLs (6 – PW) at Golf Headquarters in Chesapeake,VA. Callaway sells individual clubs online as well. Enjoy the walk!

  33. For about a month now, I’ve been exclusively playing with 1969 aluminum shafted Haig Ultra clubs. Driver, 4W, 6I, 8I, 9I, and putter. 6 vintage clubs total in a recently purchased Sun Mountain Sunday bag, (no stand) It’s remarkable how well those old clubs play. Unbelievably, last Wednesday, I scored an eagle on a par four. I haven’t had an eagle since year 2000. What’s more remarkable, is I scored an eagle yesterday on a different par four. 2 eagles in less than a week, and a total of 4 lifetime (over 45 years of golf).

    At age 60, I’ve been playing the best golf of my life. I attribute the recent 2 eagles completely to luck, but still amazing.

  34. Same hcp and results here. I went for single strap no legs too…but found that the dew made my grips wet and it really was easier on the body to pick the bag up from a the higher position the stand gives. Still using 9 clubs and enjoying a very light weight bag with stand that only has 3 dividers (three clubs per divider). I have seen several companies that sell such a bag.

  35. Hi to you all, I’ve just stumbled across this site via the Mackenzie bag site and TRUElinks and even though I live in Scotland I wanted to agree with what you all seem to be saying about carrying fewer clubs. Sure like you all I have a big cart bag and a smaller Titleist carrybag with stand but I had a vacation in Northern Scotland this summer playing with my 12yo daughter for the first ever Daddy and Daughter 2 week golf vacation and took my even-smaller Titelist carry bag (two pockets and a stand but v. light). I needed to do that because even at 12 yo my daughter has a full ladies set of TaylorMade RBZ with matching staff bag and pul/push cart – who the hell says kids nowadays are spoilt!! Anyway the point is this, I had no space in the car for my big ensemble so I travelled light even if she didn’t. Links golf in Scotland is fantastic (sorry for the biased advert!) and I think it lends itself to walking especially with a half set of clubs. I took Driver, 3 wood (left the H2 and H4 behind at home), 4i, 6i, 8i, 9i and 52 degree wedge plus putter (a 35yo Achusnet La femme…remember when Titleist was called that?!) which is just the best for me on slick links greens. And boy did I have fun ! The walking was great exercise (I also wore TRUE linkswear shoes), sure it rained occasionally but I took my GoreTex Paclite PeakPerformance waterproofs (in my daughter’s cart bag I must confess!) and I enjoyed the scenery andthe experience but here’s the big point in all this – despite playing off 0.8 I shot only my second-ever 67 gross (par 71) of my life by playing improvised shots when my irons and the yardages of the courses conflicted. I used my 3w on the occasions that I would normally have reached for the hybrid and taught myself all over again the ways in which to play that club with all the different shots that I’d forgotten all about post-hybrid. So back home now I’ve put the two hybrids in the garage and gotten out my old 1-ron to replace them both and now carry nine clubs max. So, if you’ve read this far you’ll see that what I’m saying is that I agree with all those guys who say walking with a half set or so isn’t just great exercise and fun but it teaches us all about how golf was played before and can be played again both now and in the years ahead.

  36. Great little article. It’s amazing how many rounds I use only 8-12 clubs and played better. So now I usually only carry 11-12. When I played Cabot Links this past Summer I used only 10.

  37. I’ve played most of the last decade with a half set. 3-wood, Original Tight Lies 16*, 5i, 7i, 9i, SW and Augusta putter. Added a sweet spot mark to the top of the putter. It all goes in a Ping Mantis bag (only piece of Ping kit I’m worthy of) and I walk, indoctrinated in that by my then 75-year-old dad. Only use a cart in a shotgun start tournament.

  38. Driver, Taylor 16* Raylor, Callaway 3 and 4 hybrids, Golden Ram 5 iron, Ping Zing 5 iron Hogan Director 9 iron(bent to a 7 iron) Wilson FG-17 9 iron, Wilson JP pitching wedge, putter.

    I put this motley crew together to have a “car trunk bag” for a quick walking 9 after work, and now it is all I play with. Depending on if I am playing 9 or 18 and which side of the course, one of the 5 irons and 1 of the hybrids might sit out.

  39. I believe Chick Evans won two U.S. Amateurs with only 7 clubs claiming that is all a golfer needed to be successful.


    Buffalo, NY

  40. sorry I just wanted to say that I love this site and since going to a 9 clubs set up the last couple years I am a much better golfer. I really want to get rid of my stand bag for a McKenzie. Well keep this site rockin and hopefully more people find that less is more. I go 3w,5w,4i,6i,7i,9i,aw,sw,putter all the time.

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