Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag, sponsored by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive GOLF.com series in which we field your hard-hitting gear questions.
What are some must-have essentials I should have in my golf bag? – Jim S., California
This is one of our favorite questions so far this year. We’re keenly aware that many golfers often carry more of what they don’t need, and sometimes not enough of what they do need. Even we’re guilty of golf bag mismanagement from time to time, so now’s a great time to sort through the clutter and get all our golf bags in order.
Below, we’ve put together a handy list for you to make sure your bag is stocked and ready for play. We figured since you’re a fan of this weekly column, you take your game seriously and we can leave the obvious stuff like bringing 14 clubs, Sharpies and medications off this list.
Essential 1: Always bring a towel
Not having a golf towel is almost as big a crime as hitting up your local gym without a rag to clean up your sweat. A towel not only keeps your hands and clubfaces clean — a must if you want consistent spin — it’s also great for wiping off the excess dirt and oils that accumulate on your grips.
A quick grip wipe down before every shot will leave them feeling fresh and tacky.
What you probably don’t need: A scrub brush. A wet towel and tee are sufficient.
Essential 2: Carry at least one extra glove
Depending on how firm you grip the club, the types of grips you have, and how sweaty or greasy your hands are, a typical Cabretta leather golf glove will last 10 to 12 rounds. It’s always a good idea to carry at least one spare in case of a rip or tear, or if your glove gets wet in muggy or rainy weather.
Which by the way, gloves don’t fall into the golf equipment category, so you can swap in a new one as often as you please during your round without penalty.
What you probably don’t need: grip modifiers like adhesive sprays, powders or sticky glycerin.
Essential 3: Use tees that are all the same length
Tee height is one of the most overlooked components to hitting better shots. Having the same type of tee for every round will help you position the ball at a consistent height and will remove the “is the ball too high or too low?” dilemma that comes with using tees that are either too short or too long. Using the same type of tee will ingrain better muscle memory.
What you probably don’t need: Novelty tees. Seriously, keep the martini glass or hula dancers at home.
Essential 4: Carry a green repair tool
Sure, you can use a tee to fix a pock mark on the green, but repair tools work so much better at lifting and flattening the impression. Also, carrying a repair tool can be a confidence booster—it’s as though it’s there in your pocket to remind and encourage you to put it to good use. If anything, that’s enough of a reason to carry one.
What you probably don’t need: A pocketknife.
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Essential 5: Have something ready to eat and drink
Bananas, granola bars, nuts—these are the kinds of things that supply you with the right kind of energy during the round. A candy bar or some sweets is okay once in a while, just don’t feel as though you have to hold out and not eat until you get to the halfway house or to the clubhouse restaurant after your round.
Whether you walk or ride, you’ll probably burn at least 1000 calories during an 18-hole round (more if you walk, obviously.) If you get overly hungry, you’ll lose your focus and for the matter, strength and coordination. Same goes for hydration, too. Bring a bottle of your favorite sports drink or water and refill it when it gets empty. Never wait to drink until you’re thirsty.
What you probably don’t need: Leftovers from last night in a Ziploc bag. Yes, we’ve seen this crime in real life.
Essential 6: Use a rangefinder or an app
You don’t need both, but one or the other is a must-have these days. Not only will it speed up your round, using GPS or lasers makes the game more fun come time to track your shot distances. And in the case of a golf app, you can log pretty much every statistic you can think of.
What you probably don’t need: A yardage book. Especially if you have an app that has one built in.
Essential 7: Always be the one in the group with enough sunblock
Be the person the group that always brings sunscreen and who is willing to share it with anyone who needs it. Sun cancer is no joke and prolonged sessions out in the hot sun can be damaging. Always be sure you have sunscreen in the bag and don’t be shy about reapplying more of it during the round.
What you probably don’t need: This one is up to you. If you think it’ll protect you from the sun, bring it and/or wear it. There’s no judging here.
Essential 8: Have a Bluetooth speaker for the right moment
Surprised about this one? A Bluetooth speaker may not seem all that essential, but if you’re facing a 6-hour round on a hot Saturday afternoon, having some tunes is a healthy diversion to ease the pain. Also, having some music playing (as long as everyone in your group is cool with it!) can help you get in the flow and play a little better, too.
You probably don’t need: When you have extra time between shots or even holes, don’t whip out a training aid. It’s not the place.
Essential 9: Have some cash in your wallet
The world is becoming less reliant on cash seemingly every day, but the outside and restaurant staff at your local club still rely on tips to make what they’re doing worth the effort. Having cash for tipping is a must-do if you want good golf karma, and it’s also a must-have on-hand come time to pay up for those skins and Nassau’s you sometimes lose.
What you probably don’t need to do: Suppose you could Venmo or Apple cash your buddies in lieu of a few greenbacks, but it’s not as classy as handing over some bills with a handshake and a smile.
Essential 10: Battery charger
Some golf carts have USB ports — which is a godsend — but if you walk or are not in a power-equipped cart, a spare external battery is a must-have. A GPS-enabled app can drain your battery extremely fast and having a charger in the bag will eliminate the stress of a low battery, which in the end will help you to stay focused on shooting lower scores.
What you don’t need: Bluetooth earbuds while playing golf. Just, don’t.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.