9 unnecessary items weighing down your golf bag

Iron covers on a golf bag.

Do you really want to go through the hassle of taking these on and off?

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Welcome to Stuff Golfers Should Know, a GOLF.com series in which we’re taking a departure from traditional swing instruction to reveal all kinds of other useful golf (and life!) wisdom that is sure to make you the smartest, savviest player in your foursome.

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If you’re like most golfers, you step up to the first tee with a lot of mental baggage. Why add to that burden by lugging a bunch of excess weight around? Clear of mind and light of load. That’s how you ought to go about your business, free of swing thoughts but also liberated from unnecessary ballast. In the interest of staying light on your feet, here are nine items you don’t need in your bag.

1. An entire box of golf balls

Sure, extra balls are a security blanket. But really, how many do you need? Surveys suggest that even mid- to high-handicappers can make it through 18 with a couple of sleeves. Do an honest self-assessment. Chances are you can get by without stocking your bag like the sales rack at your local sporting goods store.

2. Iron covers

Not only will you save yourself the extra weight, you’ll spare yourself the sideways looks from fellow golfers, who recognize these items as the hallmarks of a dork.

3. A full-length towel

Psst! You’re not going to the beach. You’re headed to the muni. If things really get messy, you might need to wipe a club face or clean mud from your ball. And even in those instances, a smaller towel should do.

4. Extra… everything

A lot of high-end courses hand out big, glittery bag tags that could pass as sheriffs’ badges or Olympic medals. Keeping one attached is cool. Two? That’s getting showy. Any more than that is downright silly. Stash them at home in your trophy case. While we’re at it: There’s no need for old scorecards, extra pencils, multiple ball makers and duplicate divot-repair devices. Scorecards only matter for the course you’re playing. As for the other items, you can only use one at a time.

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5. Clubs you can’t/don’t hit

Only God can hit a 1-iron. Most of us struggle with a 3-iron. Why haul around a stick you can’t get airborne? If we’re really being frank, a case could be made for carrying a max of eight or nine clubs. It might cut down the chance of overthinking. And there’s no doubt it will trim back weight.

6. Old snacks

A moldering banana. A mealy apple. A half-eaten pre-pandemic power bar. Go easy on your back and trash that extra bellyache-inducing baggage.

7. Rain gear on a sunny day

As much as we admire your Boy Scout-like attention to preparedness, It’s 100 degrees and sunny, with a 10-percent chance of drizzle three Fridays from now. Keep the rain gear and/or umbrella in your closet.

8. Alignment sticks

There’s a place for these. It’s called the range. The trunk of your car is acceptable, too.

9. Ball retrievers

Save the fishing expedition for when you’re actually fishing. Besides, is reclaiming a waterlogged golf ball really worth sacrificing your pride?

Ready to get your game dialed in? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf.

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.