Golf is hard enough without having to rifle through your bag to find a tee, ball, or even pick the right club. Having an organised golf bag leaves your mind clear to focus on the task at hand, playing your best golf.
The first thing you need to do is figure out the wheat from the chaff, aka decide what is 'essential' for your bag, and leave all the other rubbish out. This is particularly important if you like to carry your bag; having everything light and compact is essential. If you use a trolley, you can afford to put a little more in your bag but will still want to minimise to keep your mind tidy and avoid unnecessary confusion!
Let's start with the clubs and the order they go into the bag. Regardless of the number of dividers your bag has, the principal still applies.
Start with the wedges and put them in the bottom of the bag. You can identify the bag by the presence of a stand or the belly panel on cart bags (the bit of the bag which sits closest to the trolley). Wedges have the shortest shafts, but it's the steel that will help balance the bag when it's full.
Dividers: Regardless of the number, the principals still apply.
In the centre of the bag, place your irons. Split them up into pairs or trios, for example, 5, 6, 7 in one divider and 8, 9, PW in another. As important as getting them in the right section to start is making sure after each shot you place the irons back in their correct slot, long with long, short with short. It will become second nature after a while, it keeps everything in order, and it helps speed up the pre-shot process.
At the top of the bag place your longest clubs, usually the driver, the fairway wood and/or the hybrids. These clubs generally have their own headcovers, and because they also have the longest shafts, you'll see how they separate themselves from the other clubs. The last thing you'll want is for your woods to be chipped or the shafts damaged by iron heads. The headcovers keep them secure in the top of the bag, and you can see your irons clearly under them.
That leaves the putter, and the positioning of this comes down to personal preference. Some people choose to put it along with their wedges at the bottom, while others like to place it at the top with their woods. Just remember it's going to be in and out your bag a lot more than any other club so wherever you choose to put it, make sure it convenient.
Golf balls: Don't carry too many, six should be plenty.
To start, clip your range finder to the side of your bag for easy access and quick yardages.
It a good idea to have a small accessories pouch for your tees, ball markers, pitch mark repair tools, etc., rather than having them loose in a small pocket. This pouch can go in the ball pocket with half a dozen balls, so everything is in one place for the first tee!
Speaking of balls, some golfers bring a bucket of balls in their bag only adding to the weight and the mess, and it's not necessary. Six balls or two sleeves are plenty, or should be!
Other apparel and accessories will depend on the weather, so always check that before you set off for the course.
As a final point, it's ok to have some empty pockets on your golf bag. Just because they're there, does not mean they need something in!
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