As is the case for many people, the golf bag tends to become, over time, the equivalent of the back of the sofa. If you dig around a little bit, you never know what you will find. This might be anything from that commemorative pitch mark repairer you won to a half-eaten cereal bar that is now coated with a mixture of fluff and mud. Going though the contents of the 12 different pockets of your Staff bag might just make you wish for something a little more reasonable: enter the small golf bag.
I must admit that I do have a soft spot for the old-fashioned Staff bags. I have visions of Ryder Cup teams lined up behind matching heavyweight leather Wilson Staff bags, names written on Italics along the sides and flared trousers flapping in the breeze. I even have something similar (minus the signature) sitting in the garage, full of various clubs including a magnificent set of restored Peter Alliss blades that are far older than I am. As classy as it looks, at least to me eyes as a fan of most things old-school, it won’t be going out on the course any time soon.
This isn’t just that I don’t want to have to lug all this weight around the course either. This bag has pockets for everything, including a dedicated shoe pocket! Having all this space leads, inevitably, to making use of it. I find my self carrying enough bits and places to survive a snow storm as I head out for a round on a pleasant Summer’s morning. There is a pocket just for an extra waterproof, so I may as well put one in. And perhaps a couple of extra drinks, a few cereal bars, a sandwich and an energy gel pack or two in case I decide that I might run a marathon between the font and back nines!
This is without starting to think about the main purpose of the bag, that is the clubs themselves. 3 wood or 5 wood? Or maybe that driving iron? 52/56/60 or 50/54/58? No problem, we’ll put them all in, plenty of space after all! And this is where things all fall down for me.
A Small Golf Bag and a Peaceful Mind
Without coming over all zen, golf has become something like meditation for me in recent years. Yes, I am still very interested in equipment and I do still care about being able to make pars and, who knows, the occasional birdie or two. However, I feel like the main role that golf plays for me is as some sort of antidote to the modern world. I wouldn’t consider myself as an absolute minimalist in every area of my life, but I do find myself looking for more simplicity and this is especially true on the course.
I no longer want to have to make a choice between a 54, a 56 and a 58 for that greenside shot. This is fun, but what I really want is just to pull the only lofted wedge I have and then enjoy the opportunity to create a shot.If I am on the tee on a short par four, I don’t want to weigh up the various ball flights of a driving iron vs a five wood vs a hybrid. I am pulling the one long club I have after driver (currently a four iron but sometimes a hybrid if you are interested.)
If I am thirsty, I have my bottle of water in the pocket with a few balls and tees. If I can’t survive for an hour or two without an array of snacks, well that probably explains why the six-pack still is on display, doesn’t it?
This doesn’t mean that we should all be playing TinCup style with just a seven iron (although that is a lot of fun too,) but it should make us think.
We all have limited energy for decisions. Finding a few hours to go to the course can be more and more difficult. Why spend this decision-making power on stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter? I essentially have two golf shirts, a black one and a white one. The one that my wife has kindly folded and put on top of the pile is the one I am wearing today. My current set are sitting in a bag ready. When I get to the first tee, driver is already in my hand. If I miss the green, my 56 sand wedge is out as I walk towards the ball. This is, at least to me, hugely liberating.
Why Do You Play the Game?
Maybe this should be part of a broader discussion, but golf is, for almost the entire golfing population, a leisure activity. The modern world is a hectic place, and seems to be getting more so on an almost daily basis. Any opportunity I can find to free up a little bit of mental space is welcome. As I take my small golf bag with a half set of clubs, a few balls and tees and a bottle of water to the course, it can often feel like a bit of oxygen and an antidote to this daily stress. I might not find a used ProV1 in a hidden pocket somewhere, but knowing me I would probably top it out of bounds after hesitating between a 58 and a 60 anyway.