A golf bag is designed to carry a player's clubs, but it also can be used to keep all sorts of supplemental items handy on the course. In addition to clubs and balls, golfers can take along rain and cold-weather gear, devices to determine distance, instruments to repair the turf and a wide variety of accessories that make playing the game more fun and convenient. Aside from clubs, balls and other necessary equipment like tees, ball markers and gloves, what you put in a golf bag is an individual decision.
Driver and Fairway Woods
According to the U.S. Golf Association, a golfer can carry up to 14 clubs at a time. Most golfers carry a driver for long shots off the tee, although the long shaft and low loft can make a driver difficult to hit accurately. To make tee shots easier, some golfers use a 3-wood, which is more lofted and also can be used in the fairway for long-range shots. A 5-wood is even more lofted, and is considered a basic club by many golfers. Some players, usually those with less experience, choose to carry a 7-wood or 9-wood because the higher loft makes those clubs easier to hit accurately.
Golfers typically carry several irons in a matched set. The traditional set of irons includes a low-loft 3-iron down to a highly lofted 9-iron, with the 4-, 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-irons providing more loft in the higher-number clubs. The low-number irons are used for longer shots, and the high-number irons for shorter shots. As of 2010, so-called hybrid clubs, which combine the larger clubhead of a fairway wood with the distance capability of a long iron, have become popular replacements for low-number irons because many less-skilled golfers find them easier to hit accurately.
Hybrid golf clubs, sometimes called utility clubs, are used by many beginners and experienced players. They are versatile, since they are effective on the fairway for longer and shorter shots, can be used to hit out of sand traps, and are particularly good out of the rough. Hybrids are designed to promote distance and accuracy because of their design, with the weight of the club toward the back and bottom of the clubface.
A full set of irons will include a pitching wedge for use around the green on pitch shots and chip shots. A sand wedge also typically comes with a set of irons. More advanced golfers sometimes carry a gap wedge, for distances that fall between the pitching wedge and the sand wedge, and an L wedge for very short shots near the hole.
The putter is used on the green. The classic blade putter has a small head and is best suited for fast greens when control of the ball is needed. This putter typically is used by experienced players. Mallet putters, which have a larger head, are helpful to players who have trouble keeping their wrists straight when they hit through the ball. Putters are available in a vast array of designs, and players typically use one with which they are comfortable for years.
In addition to clubs, golfers carry regulation golf balls, tees, ball repair tools and often a golf glove. Some players use a hand-held GPS system that reads the distance between the ball and the hole in order to help choose the proper club for a shot. Rain equipment like an umbrella, jacket and cover for the golf bag are popular items. When cold weather is possible, the bag can hold head gear, mittens and a sweater. Other useful items include a ball retriever for hitting into water hazards, a towel to clean off clubs and drink bottles.