Leaving aside the stream of woeful Christmas/birthday/mother’s day/father’s day tripe we all accumulate from well-meaning but non golf savvy family members, there is plenty of great stuff to fill one’s golf bag with, the bulk of it completely unnecessary to the actual playing and enjoyment of the game.
Having just reviewed ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’ for the monthly ISG Pod Book Club (shameless plug, listen here: http://podcast.iseekgolf.com/64), I was struck by the much simpler yet no less captivating game played by our forebears.
As it turns out, Francis Ouimet didn’t need the latest GPS watch to shoot 77-74-74-79 and tie the two greatest players of the day, Ted Ray and Harry Vardon, at the 1913 US Open at Brookline in Massachusetts.
Nor were the two English professionals weighed down with the yardage and green reading books so common among their modern-day counterparts, judging distance and club selection by eye considered one of the great skills of the time.
Speaking of the tools of the trade, there was no 14-club rule back then and while many pros carried 20 or 25 sticks Ted Ray (a two time major winner) habitually carried just seven – yes, seven – and often went entire rounds where he used just four.
Bryson DeChambeau took over-accessorising to a whole new level with his green reading compass
Contrast that to the all too common sight on the average comp day where oversized golf bags are lugged around on giant pram like contraptions, some with motors and remote controls.
(One can even purchase interchangeable wheels these days which turn a normal pull buggy into a motorised one, a nifty invention indeed.)
Now, I’m as guilty as the next person of buying into this over accessorising and completely understand the appeal of it.
I have more golf bags than I care to admit and when I venture to a course I’ve not played before I will generally pack my rangefinder.
But like a lot of golfers I’ve recently experimented with the concept of paring down a bit. I’ve gone back to carrying my bag (or a rotating selection of them, actually) and pack little more than a half set for games at my home club.
Generally speaking, a round requires nothing more than a bottle of water, six golf balls, a handful of tees and a light jumper in winter in case it gets cold.
My experimenting suggests 10 clubs are ample and I can’t honestly say my scores have suffered. They fluctuate just as wildly as when I carry a full load.
What has changed, though, is my enjoyment of the game. It’s certainly no less fun and I could probably make a case it’s actually more rewarding.
Hitting good shots and making good scores when you’re forced to be creative because of a lack of implements is somehow more satisfying than when you have a full arsenal at your disposal.
At a guess, I would say this was one of the great appeals of the game before we had mass produced, perfectly matched sets of clubs designed to make every shot imaginable easier to play.
So enamoured am I with this new minimalist approach that I’m considering cutting my number of clubs from 10 down to seven
Of course, old habits die hard and part of me can’t help but think if I was to drop another three that one of those retro, single strap golf bags would be a perfect addition to the collection. Or maybe not.
KIERAN PRATT SHOWS YOU HOW TO HIT A HIGH, SOFT BUNKER SHOT:
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