How to pack for a golf trip, according to a golf-equipment junkie

How to pack for a golf trip, according to a golf-equipment junkie

Trying to bring only 14 clubs on a golf trip can be difficult

Ryan Barath

Packing for any trip is tough. But packing for a golf trip as a gear junkie with an armada of clubs from which to choose? That’s downright terrifying. 

OK, let me back up for a minute and acknowledge the “problem” isn’t much of a problem, but as any gear nerd knows, there can be a crippling amount of indecision when it comes to which clubs to put in the bag for any given round.

Packing everything into a travel bag can be tough.

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For most golf travelers, especially those traveling by plane, decisions are made for you thanks in part to luggage weight restrictions. But for anyone driving to a golf destination, options abound. Let’s talk our way through the process.

The ‘problem’

As someone who plays the majority of their golf in the same conditions all year round, the mere thought of various playing conditions and grass types is difficult to plan for. Sure, you could just “wing it” with what you’ve got — but speaking as someone who has spent a lifetime fitting players for various conditions, the “what if” of it all drives me nuts. 

The 1st hole at St. Patrick’s Links in Ireland.

Clyde Johnson

Do I bring an extra wedge with more bounce? Do I bring one with less bounce? What is the sand like? What if it gets windy — should I pack a driving iron? If it’s soft, maybe I should bring a fairway wood instead for extra carry? What if the greens are fast and my putter isn’t working? How many balls are too many balls?

They are all questions I have asked myself over and over.

The solution 

Start with the essentials: balls, gloves, lots of socks, shoes, sunscreen. No, they’re not clubs but you’re gonna need them one way or the other.

Next up you need to know the lay of the land when it comes to where you are playing. Do the courses have carts? Are they walking only? Will there be caddies? If you have a couple of golf bags, bring the one that is going to be the most convenient. 

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I suggest a small to midsized stand bag, because they are the most versatile. If you’re carrying, it’s light enough to tote on your own. 

As for the all-important clubs, my best advice for players who are unsure about what clubs to bring for any specific round or trip is to use what you know is going to work. Don’t go out of your way to buy a specific club on the basis of “just in case” — use the gear with which you are comfortable playing. You don’t want to be standing on the tee of your dream golf destination, or playing in a big match, and not feel confident about the shot you are trying to hit.

So, what’s a gear nerd to do, with endless cubic feet of space and enough clubs — old and new — to outfit a high school golf team?

First up, we have the “gamers,” the clubs that I don’t test with. They are the 14 tools that I know are going to be in the bag when I step up to play. 

Different sand can require different wedge grinds.

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Next up, we have one extra lob wedge with a different bounce and grind compared to the one in the gamer set, because, hey, if the pros change wedges before the Open Championship, I can, too, for a member guest. I also have an extra driver — this is only because it’s the same brand as my gamer, and I only need to bring the head thanks to the interchangeable adapter.

Last but not least, we have an extra set of irons — they don’t “need” to come but since I have space and I’ve haven’t had the chance to use them since they were built, they might as well make the trip for 18 holes. It’s my job to test and write about equipment after all!

Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.

Ryan Barath Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.