As I have written about many times, I am something of a golfing contradiction. I generally prefer a minimalist approach, in that I don’t really ever have 14 clubs in the bag. This might mean 11 for most rounds, or occasionally 5 or fewer, especially in the Winter months. On the other hand, I have owned a huge amount of clubs over the last decade or so, especially irons where the number must be around 40 sets or so. I am constantly trying clubs or tinkering. It would seem like smaller golf bags might be the worst possible choice for me, but I am actually finding this to be quite the opposite.
Not Just Smaller Golf Bags
Currently, I own four golf bags. Actually, I have never been drawn to bags, shoes etc in the same way as clubs, especially irons. I do take a very utilitarian approach to bags and so forth. It is there to do a job and I don’t tend to worry much about it beyond this.
You might be wondering why I actually have 4 bags at all if that is the case! They all serve a different purpose really. However, in terms of on course use, smaller golf bags definitely tick more boxes than larger ones for me.
How Do I Store my Clubs?
like many golfers, my golf gear lives its off-course life in the garage. This is where my largest bag is key. It is a robust older Wilson trolley bag. Compared to the modern light-weight bags, this one is very heavy! It has a load of different pockets for everything from tees to shoes. However, it never leaves its place in the garage and is basically just a storage system.
I obviously keep clubs in it and it can probably take 30 or so quite comfortably. However, I also put all the other things that I never for my golf obsession. For example, I like to change shafts and grips, add weight to putter heads, refurbish old clubs….the list goes on. All this requires various bits and pieces and this bag is perfect to keep it all in.
The other big advantage is that it is very hard-wearing. This would make it a real pain to lug around the course, but absolutely perfect for protecting all this stuff in the garage.
Small, Smaller, Smallest
My other three bags all see at least some time out on the course although not all to the same degree. My smallest bag is a fairly basic pencil bag that I picked up from Decathlon a few years ago for virtually nothing. It has one compartment that zips along the side at the top part of the bag and one pocket at the bottom. It can actually fit a full set of irons in there and I tend to store one of my older sets of blades in there.
It is generally what I consider to be a fair weather practice bag, especially for the short course or short game area. Why fair weather? Essentially because it has no stand/legs so I have to lay it on the ground. If it isn’t dry, this means at the best, wet grips and at the worst everything covered in mud! this is, in many ways, the perfect bag to keep in the car with a couple of clubs for those who maybe play a few holes after work or head to the range on the way home to do some putting or chipping. The storage is minimal, but I can certainly put enough balls in there for a good short game session.
I like to keep something like putter, a couple of wedges and maybe a seven iron in there. Possibly a hybrid too. This means that I can either work on my putting and chipping, play a few holes on the short course, or even have enough club to play the first few holes on the course.
Stand Bag or Carry Bag?
Although this pencil bag is useful, almost all my golf is played with two other smaller golf bags. They are slightly different bags and I actually think that this set up, with two smaller bags, might be the best choice for many people.
The first bag is a Nike carry bag that doesn’t have a stand. It is extremely lightweight, can potentially fit in a whole set (although that is rarely the case) and has three storage pockets, one of which runs most of the length of the bag and can fit in a water bottle, snacks and waterproof, for example. There is a large ball pocket, and a smaller padded pocket for wallet, keys and phone.
I generally carry this bag with a single strap, but like most modern bags, it does have a double strap system to carry it on both shoulders.
This set up with my usual 8-11 clubs is great, even in competition. I never find myself wishing for more space, it is practical and lightweight. So why do I have another smallish bag? Well, the one thing that this doesn’t have is legs. This is obviously handy when the ground is wet, either outside of the Summer months, but also early in the morning. In the Summer, I really enjoy playing a few holes while everyone else is in bed and the ground generally has a nice covering of dew. It isn’t always possible to find a place to prop the bag up against, so it can get quite wet.
One side of the bag is fairly tough waterproof plastic which is a plus, but it isn’t perfect by any means.
Which brings me to me second choice. I also use a stand bag. This isn’t the smallest version available, but it isn’t one of the ones that are basically large trolley bags with legs either. The one I have is a Titleist. I actually changed the carry straps from the original ones when I got it, simply because one of the fastenings was broken, but it really isn’t any different to the original set up.
A Versatile Small Bag
When I got this bag, I was actually shopping for a much smaller golf bag. I basically wanted the equivalent of my Nike carry bag, but with a stand. However, all the bags that I looked at didn’t quite fit the bill. I found that storage was generally not that great, or that club space was limited. I tend to play with jumbo grips for example, and in some bags, this can make even carrying a half set something of a tight squeeze.
I was chatting to my local golf shop and he said that he actually had a bag that somebody had traded in that might suite and he was right. This Titleist bag does basically everything that I want. It even adapts easily onto either a trolley or cart too, which I have doe a few times. It has a velcro strap for fixing the stand legs to the bag so they don’t get i the way.
It would seem like this should be it for me as far as bags are concerned, and yet I feel like I haven’t quite found my perfect set up as yet. In an idea world, I would probably want something slightly smaller, completely waterproof, that fits easily on a trolley or cart when necessary and yet also has all the storage space my current bag offers. The search goes on!