Golf Buzz

July 6, 2016 - 2:35pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
9 things to carry in your golf bag
Seamus Golf
Is your golf bag bursting at the seams? Do you really need all that stuff that's in there for a 4-5 hour round of golf? Here's a list of the essentials you should be carrying. Leave the rest in the trunk.

Who out there is guilty of slinging an overloaded golf bag?

Come on. I can't be the only one raising my hand.

Just because many great golf bags today feature loads of pockets doesn't mean we have to fill them all up. Admittedly, I'm still trying to grasp that concept.

During a recent round at an exceptional golf course that required our foursome to take caddies (which I love on those rare, special occasions, by the way), I realized what a problem my "loading the golf bag" issue had become when my caddie demanded I switch my stand bag for a lightweight loaner bag from the bag room.

In fairness, our foursome had two caddies carrying two bags apiece. I can't blame my looper for not wanting my bag to be weighed down by a rainsuit and umbrella on a cloudless 85-degree day, an Orange Whip training tool, position sticks, bluetooth speakers and whatever else was in there.

RELATED: Things that drive us crazy on the course | Things that drive you crazy

So, we made the bag switch and tossed in just the bare essentials.

Once the round was finished, we went back to the bag room to move my belongings back from the loaner bag to my own back. As I hoofed it back to my car with that ridiculously heavy bag and jumped in for a four-hour drive home, I had a lot of time to think about what should always be in the bag and what shouldn't.

With that theme in mind, here are the nine things you should be carrying in your golf bag.

By the way, I'm sure I have golf minimalist friends out there who can eliminate even more... this is what I feel comfortable with:

9. Sunscreen. Do yourself a favor and do not mess with the sun's harmful rays. Always have a tube of sunscreen in the bag. And don't think that applying before your round and then throwing it in the trunk is enough. It's recommended that you reapply sunscreen when you're outdoors every two hours. For a round of golf, that means at least once at the beginning and once at the turn.

8. A rangefinder. For a long time, I believed I wasn't a good enough player to have a rangefinder. When I finally got one, I realized I wasn't a good enough player not to have one. I'm not like Johnny Miller hitting it within a half-yard of my target when I'm at my best. But my round moves quicker and I'm more likely to hit my shots -- even bad ones -- closer to the hole when I know precisely how far away I am.

7. A great towel. We're not talking about the beat up bath towel you dig out of the linen closet. This type is golf-specific -- one that retains water and has a pattern that allows you to dig in and get that dirt out of your iron grooves, keeping your clubs and golf balls clean over the course of a round.

6. A water bottle. Most courses have water scattered throughout at various tee boxes. Just to be safe, I always like to have a bottle of water handy. There's nothing worse than being parched on a hot summer's day as you make the climb up to an elevated green. It feels like you're in the Sahara instead of on the golf course. No thanks.

5. Two golf gloves. One might rip. You may sweat through one. You might get some rain on the course that soaks one. Have a dry second one for back up. It takes up virtually no room in your bag and is as light as a feather.

4. A palmful of golf tees. I'm not going to tell you to take only 2 or 3 tees, or even 5 or 10. I've played with guys who break tees virtually every time they use them. Personally, I prefer the plastic, unbreakable tees (they're not really unbreakable, but close enough for me). I like to carry just enough tees so that I don't have to ask a playing partner, "Hey, can I borrow a tee?"

3. Four coins or ball markers. Why four? One for you and one for each of the other three people in your group in case they don't have one. There's nothing worse than when your lining up that rare birdie putt only to have someone in the group use a tee to mark their ball that's halfway between your ball and the hole. So distracting.

2. Divot tool. I've seen people fix their ball marks with tees. Can we all agree that doesn't get the job done as effectively as a dedicated divot tool? I had an old golf coach who had a great rule that I try to follow to this day -- when you arrive at the green, use a divot tool to fix your ball mark and at least one other. It keeps the greens in good shape for everyone.

I recently got something called a "Switchblade" and I love it. It's basically a divot tool and ball marker in one. What's great about it is the fact that the divot tool portion closes up so it's not stabbing your leg while in your pocket. You just hit a small button when you're ready to use it.

1. 6-8 golf balls. This is mainly for your regular golf course, or a course you're familiar with. I realize you might need more on a more difficult course. I'm so guilty of carrying way more golf balls than I need. It's pretty much a mental block. I stress out over, "what if this isn't enough? What if I run out of balls at the turn and I spent $120 to play this course?"

If you really sit back and think about your recent rounds, you might be surprised when you realize how few golf balls you've actually lost.  

July 6, 2016 - 1:18pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
backyard, driving range
T.J. Auclair/
Can't carve out enough time to get to the golf course or the driving range, but still want to work on your game? Why not setting something up in your backyard.

If you work a lot of hours, have young children -- or both -- chances are you don't have much time to work on your golf game.

A round of golf is probably going to take between 4-5 hours. That's not going to happen during the week.

A trip to the driving range to hit a large bucket of balls could be a nearly two-hour roundtrip if the range isn't around the corner (assuming you're working on hitting golf shots and not just hitting golf balls).

You can only look at your swing in the mirror so many times before you're itching to get out and hit a real golf ball.

RELATED: One man's amazing backyard golf practice area setup

Lucky for you, we have a solution that will allow you to stay at home and get in some valuable practice whenever you have a spare moment. It's even the kind of thing that can be fun for the whole family: A backyard driving range/practice area.

It could be as simple as buying a net at your local golf store.

But, if you want to get creative, we have some ideas...

A practice area for less than $400

What you need: A couple of small turf mats ($30/ea), a portable golf net ($50), a storage container (around $150) with padlock, a bucket of balls ($50 for bucket of 100 recycled golf balls), a few targets (free -- use large rocks/boulders around the yard), a chipping net ($25) and a shag-bag ($30)

This is precisely the set up in the backyard of my parents' house. Over roughly 2 acres of land in the powerlines adjacent to their house, my dad put in a very basic -- yet highly effective -- practice area that has been working wonders on his previously non-existent short game.

In the area, he put a portable pop-up net between two telephone poles:

It's just right for when you want to take full swings with all your clubs and you really only need to use 3-5 golf balls. You can hit right off the grass, or use a small piece of artificial turf.

Let's get to the short-game, though, as that's at the heart of this particular backyard set-up.

There's a concrete drum in the middle of the 2-acre field. It's about 2 1/2-feet wide. We use this as our primary target, but there are plenty of things to aim at -- big boulders, specifically -- in the yard. Here's what the drum looks like:

You can use anything, really -- even a real golf flag from a sporting goods store. For us, the drum was just sitting around and had no other use, so we figured it'd be perfect.

At the back of the property, my dad put in a storage container he purchased at a box store. You don't need one, but it's certainly a time saver. In it, my dad stores a bucket full of real golf balls, a bucket full of foam golf balls ($15), small turf mats, the chipping net and the shag-bag. When you're ready to practice, just bring your wedges and the key to the container:

Also, not absolutely, positively 100 percent necessary, but I also recommend taking your rangefinder along with you. Unlike at the driving range where targets are marked off, the ones in your backyard are homemade. I like to shoot a variety of targets so that I can dial in my wedge distances while I practice:

I like to switch between hitting to the concrete drum and the chipping net:

When you're done, simply take the shag-bag to pick up all the balls and then start over:

There's your at-home practice area for less than $400. 

July 6, 2016 - 12:22pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
practice area
T.J. Auclair/
Want to get a little more elaborate with your backyard golf setup? Check out one man's amazing backyard setup in northern Rhode Island.

We showed you how easy it is to build your very own backyard golf practice area for not a lot of money.

This is the opposite of that. 

The "money is no object" practice area (Or, as my dad and I also like to call it, "Chris's backyard")

What you need: A lot of experience with heavy machinery (or hire someone who does), lots of money and a spouse who supports your crazy obsession with golf

Chris is my dad's neighbor who lives about a mile away. My dad has gotten to know Chris over the last couple of years from seeing him on the morning walk with his dog.

One day, my dad noticed something in Chris's backyard. It was like walking into an episode of MTV Cribs:

Yep. That right there is in the neighbors backyard. This, my friends, is the ultimate backyard golf practice area.

As it stands now, Chris has two tees set up in two different spots on his sprawling property. One is about 40 yards -- carrying water the entire way -- from his artificial practice green:

The other is from a mini-cliff, roughly 70 yards away (he also has plans to install a second green, which will be roughly 120 yards from the first tee):

I mean, couldn't you just practice here all day? Along with those longer pitch shots and lob-wedge shots, you can also chip and putt:

And Chris has thought of everything. Not wanting to go diving for water balls every few days to reload his bucket, Chris purchased two key items for his backyard practice area that come in incredibly handy and also keep (some) costs down. The first is floating range balls:

Chris has a skimmer to get the balls at the edge of the water, but for the ones that find a watery grave in the middle of his beautiful pond, Chris has this peddle boat:

Pretty sweet, isn't it?

Chris is a handy guy and does a lot of the work in his backyard by himself. Even with that, for a set-up like this one, you're talking 10s of thousands of dollars.

I don't have the extra dough for that. So, for now, I'm happy to use what I can in my backyard (a fantastic net by The Net Return, $595 -- pictured below) and then travel just five miles away for the open invitation to Chris's house.

July 5, 2016 - 12:34pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Danny Willett
@Danny_Willett on Facebook
There was no mistaking who Danny Willett was at Wimbledon on Monday. The 2016 Masters champion wore a yellow Augusta National tie along with his green jacket.

Wimbledon -- arguably the most prestigious event in tennis -- is going on right now in England.

In golf terms, it's safe to say that Wimbledon is the "Masters" of tennis. And, in tennis terms, fans of the sport might tell you that the Masters is the "Wimbledon" of golf. Whichever way you decide to look at it, let's all agree that they're both pretty darned big time.

With big-time events come big-time spectators.

At Wimbledon, golfers have come out in droves. Jack Nicklaus is there. Ian Poulter was there. Luke Donald was there. Lee Westwood was there. More will make it there this week before next week's Open Championship.

When one goes to Wimbledon, they get dressed to the nines if they're VIP.

With that in mind, check out the get up from 2016 Masters champ Danny Willett from when the Englishman attended Wimbledon on July 4:


First-time Masters winner sitting next to a record-setting six-time Masters winner? That's not bad either.