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What's in your bag?

Now that golf is in full swing around the country, readers of The First Call share how they prepare and update their bags; pace of play an ongoing topic

With the golf bag being an essential part of a golfer's game, every item from tees and lip balm to balls and clubs come under scrutiny at the start of a new season.

Question of the week [April 24-30]: Which item(s) do you replace in your golf bag at the beginning of each season?

RELATED: The First Call Inbox archive


Kevin Parent ​
Windsor, Ontario

I have three golf bags that I use for different purposes — a cart bag, standard carry stand bag and Sunday practice stand bag. It seems like every year before my first golf trip with the guys I take all three to the bedroom, turn on golf and empty them. Next is the vacuum and then replenish and replace.

First are gloves for play and practice. Then tees, short and long. They go in different pockets and it seems you can accumulate dozens over a year. Then balls, seeing what I’ve found that’s playable and what new ones I want to put in for practicing chipping and putting or playing. I mark them all. Then divot tools, ball markers and lip balm.

The one thing I haven’t found in the bag is a golf swing. So I’ll settle for the couple of quarters and pennies for the piggy bank. 

Barry Duckworth 
Knoxville, Tennessee 

Have to place a new cigar cutter, plus a new cigar lighter, in the bag.

I Need my peanut butter crackers, plus some protein bars. Also need some new tees, plus a rain-proof light-wear jacket. Can’t forget the sun screen. 

Also some new golf balls. 

Arthur Buonopane
Winchester, Massachusetts

I usually change out my grips and I might get a new 60-degree wedge since it is losing grooves from usage during a year of rounds. 

Tom Swales
West Palm Beach, Florida

Since we don't really have an offseason — unless you count October overseeding — we are able to enjoy the game year-round. 

That being said, as the temperatures rise for the summer, it's important to keep items that melt easily out of the bag, like lip balm, chocolate or certain protein bars, and to make sure the bag is always stocked with sunscreen and electrolyte packets.

As for clubs, it's all about grips and grooves, keeping those fresh seems to always help save a stroke here and there. 

Everardo Keeme
Scottsdale, Arizona

Our season commences Jan. 1 and concludes Dec. 31, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That said, I seem to replace putters and wedges from week to week depending on how they perform.

I have a time-out corner, which never seems to have a vacancy.  Grips are replaced two or three times a year as you need to have something to blame. 

Drivers are replaced every other year depending on what deals surface. Often at the end of November, when northern golf is shutting down, I watch carefully for the end-of-season inventory reduction push.
Paul Vicary
The Villages, Florida

Living in Houston, Texas, where there is no true offseason, I don’t have a traditional cleaning of my golf bag.

About once a year I update the grips on my clubs as I play three to five times a week. I’ll update the labels on my clubs when I feel like they are getting too unreadable for any honest person to return a club. Golf balls get refreshed for every game, tees about every month or so.

Mark Chatfield
Houston, Texas

Slow play! Always a hot topic in golfing circles. ("Why does pace of play continue to be an issue?", April 19)

I fail to understand why it is such a big deal on the PGA Tour. If the Tour really wanted to end it, it would be gone within a week or two. Simply start hitting slow play with stroke penalties. And don't ding some teenage amateur like the Masters tournament did a few years ago — I'm sure that taught them all a lesson.

And time individuals, not groups. Putting innocent players on the clock because of a slow fellow competitor is not a fair application. After a few top players lose a few hundred thousand or million dollars due to penalty strokes, play will be a veritable blur. Please do not hold your breath waiting for this to happen, turning blue is not a good look and proven to be unhealthy.  

As for those who complain about watching slow play on TV the solution is equally simple — don't watch. Or go get a beer and a snack, they'll be ready to play when you get back. 

It can be a problem at your local course. Interestingly I have never spoken with a slow golfer — I am usually told of the torrid pace they keep on the course and how they routinely play in much less than four hours. Assuming a full tee sheet, this is a remarkable achievement. Especially considering the simultaneous complaints about the slow groups in front. 

Slow play in public golf can be a problem. After about 4:15, it can get tedious and sub-four hours is great. Knowing how to move along without rushing should be common knowledge, but isn't based on personal observation.

Rangers can help with this if they are a good diplomat, but courses are understandingly reluctant to offend paying customers so it's not as easy as to enforce as you might imagine. Course setup is also significant as fast greens and significant rough slow play. Maybe choose a course with a setup that encourages reasonable times. Ask a course superintendent about this. 

Me? I'll play as fast or slow as you want. I generally go with the flow, but have been known to just go home or to the clubhouse bar if things get too tedious. It's just a game folks — not life and death. Relax, buy a drink from the beverage cart, look at the beautiful surroundings and if you're in the right states, fire up a number and try not to harsh the vibe. 

If you are really experiencing five-hour rounds on a regular basis, I'd find a new course. 

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minnesota

Simply ban the line on the ball. Players at an elite level require a precise alignment aide. Too much time is wasted on the greens marking and remarking. Joe the Weekender thinks he needs the same level of precision.

However, they generally don't have the skill set to stroke the ball on its intended line. That leads to a missed putt and a repeat of the process. All that fussing can add 10-15 minutes to your casual game.  

Ken Venezio 
Fort Worth, Texas

Pace of play is a huge issue.

Slow play is a leading cause of people finding the sport boring or taking too much time to participate in. 

Baseball has found that its efforts to speed up play have made the game more enjoyable for the fans, and the players themselves have found that they have benefits from a faster paced game as well. 

Players should ready themselves for their shot while the player furthest away is preparing themselves. Then, a great rule would be to allow only one mark of a putt per green and continuous putting. 

Golf should never take more than 4 1/2 hours to play at any level and that's a very slow pace.

Terry Fraser
Huntsville, Alabama

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