Golf bags buyers' guide

Thomas Tanner
Nov 11, 2020
9 minutes
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Picking a new golf bag used to be a simple decision - a carry (stand) bag or a cart bag? Now, however, it seems that there are bags for more scenarios than we could ever have imagined - stand, cart, tour, pencil, and even hybrid!

What type of bag?

In the good old days, it was a simple decision - a cart bag t use with my cart or a carry bag (which was the same but a bit lighter and with legs) if you chose to carry.

But now, all bases are indeed covered - with many golfers owning more than one golf bag.

If you want a lightweight carry bag, you can have one. If you wish to have 4, 6, or even 14 dividers, you can have them! Waterproof pockets, or an entirely waterproof bag - no Problem! The same works with cart bags. The possibilities are endless!

Stand bags

Despite every Tour Professional under the sun using a tour bag, the most popular bags for club golfers are stand bags. Now taken for granted, the stand mechanism is a brilliant piece of technology that automatically extends the legs when the bag is placed on the ground, and then retracts them when the bag is lifted up again.

But with around 100 stand bags for sale on Golfibdder - how do you choose the one that's right for you?

The first decision to be made is 'do you need it to be waterproof?'. If you play in the rain, then this is a great idea as there's nothing worse than everything getting wet after a few holes!

If you decide you do need a waterproof bag, then be prepared to pay a little more as the material is more expensive and the manufacturing process more labour intensive.

The next decision is going to be around the size of the golf bag and a good question to ask is "how many golf clubs do you carry".

If you carry the full 14-club allowance then you're going to be looking at a full-size stand bag - maybe even one with 14-dividers (which we'll come on to). If you only carry 8-12 clubs, for example, then you might be ok with a smaller bag - usually with a 6, or 7-inch top, rather than an 8, or 9-inch for the full-sized bags.

Linked with the size of the golf bag, is how much does it weigh - check out our video to find exactly how much a full golf bag weighs.

It will come as no surprise that bigger golf bags weigh more than smaller ones. However buying a bag because it's lightweight, and then filling it with golf balls defeats the point. If you pack light, then you can use this in your decision making. Otherwise, a few 100-grams here and here is quickly lost with full pockets.

Finally, club organisation - 'how many dividers do you want?'.

Stand bags are available with just a few dividers up to 14 or one for each club. This decision is purely personal preference - but be aware that the more partitions, the more the bag is going to weigh.

Bags with 14-dividers are increasingly becoming knows as hybrid bags - designed in a way they'll be perfectly happy sitting on a trolley as being carried. If you sometimes use a trolley then look out for these - they're more expensive, but you only need one bag!

Cart Bags

The alternative to carrying your bag is to let someone or something else, do the work for you - a caddy or a cart. With the golfer not having to take the extra weight, cart bags, tend to be bigger and have more features 'as standard'.

The buying process is mostly the same as stand bags - starting at waterproof or not and going from there. But, if we're taking weight out of the decision making, are there any other things to consider?

The main one is dividers - if you don't want 14, or even 15-dividers, then it is increasingly more difficult to find a cart bag as most of the main manufactures assume everyone wants this. You might need to upsell yourself to a mini Tour bag if you don't like being told where to put your clubs.

Outside of this, it's just a case of how much storage you need. If you only carry a few accessories and maybe a sweater, then a simple cart bag will do. However, if you want to have drinks and snacks for you (and you buddies), then a big cart bag with 10+ pockets might be more appropriate.

Pencil Bags

If you're looking for the ultimate small and compact golfing setup, then pencil bags are for you. A golf bag cannot get any simpler than these lightweight sleeves. There's room enough for 8-10 clubs and a few balls and tees - perfect for summer golf or a range session.

Some now have a waterproof belly or a mini stand. This feature keeps the bag out of the morning dew and extends use from spring, well into the autumn.

Tour Bags

At the other end of the spectrum are Tour bags. These are the ones used on the PGA and European Tour. They're big, heavy and expensive - but they have everything you need and more. Once you've had one, it isn't easy going back to anything else.

Quickfire decisions and FAQs

Now we've gone through each of the four main bags available, below is a quick reference section to help you make the right decision.

How many pockets?

Personal preference but all bags will have at least 2 (usually 4-6) - a small one for balls tees etc., and a bigger apparel pocket. Bigger bags will have more pockets, but from experience, people end up filling them with things they don't need.

What about my valuables?

As smartphones have become more and more popular, the golf manufacturers have started including a smaller, velour-lined pocket where fragile items can be placed. This is often in a convenient location too so it can be accessed easily. Note though, these are not usually a feature of pencil bags.

What's the difference between waterproof and water-resistant?

A waterproof bag is fully waterproof - all seams and zippers have been sealed to ensure nothing gets in.

A water-resistant bag is often made of the same waterproof material, but the seams and zippers are not sealed, and thus it cannot be sold as waterproof. These bags are often cheaper, and this is why - it's not as labour intensive to make them.

Are pockets waterproof?

As mentioned above a pocket is only waterproof if it has had its seams and zippers sealed. Even if your bag is not waterproof most stand and cart bags now feature a waterproof pocket (usually the valuables pockets) to keep some small items dry if it chooses to rain.

What are full-length dividers?

Full-length dividers are just that - dividers in the top of the bag which run all the way to the base. These keep your clubs totally separate, so if you have larger grips, they're a great option.

As the process is labour intensive and adds weight, most stand bags have only a few full-length dividers even if the top is 14-way - so what's on top is not always mirrored all the way down the bag.

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Further reading

It's winter, conditions are very different from Summer, so what are the essential items you need to have in your bag get the most from your Winter golf?

Golf is an excellent form of exercise! You're so distracted and upset by crooked drives and putts that lipped out that you don't even notice you've walked over 4-miles! But if you are carrying your golf bag around that distance, you sometimes do feel it.