By Erik Matuszewski
“So, what’s in the bag?”
Chances are you’ve asked that question of your golf buddies or playing partners a time or two. It’s one of the unique aspects of golf—we golfers regularly go out and buy the same clubs, or at least ones that are very similar, to those used the game’s biggest stars. Many of those commercials we see on TV with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas, it’s the equipment manufacturers trying to sell us clubs and balls.
You don’t see Tom Brady trying to sell helmets, shoulder pads or footballs to NFL fans. Baby Boomers aren’t running out to buy the same glove or bat used by Mike Trout. Sure, you’ll see basketball shoes being pitched by NBA stars, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find too many pastimes that have golf’s consumer retail impact. It’s one of the biggest participation sports in the U.S., played by golfers from ages eight to 80 (and beyond). And to play, you’re going to need clubs.
We frequently get to see golf equipment websites or magazines run “What’s in the Bag?” features that highlight the clubs used by weekly PGA TOUR winners.
Well, what about those of us who cover the game regularly? The reality is that most (almost all) of us who write and report on golf play ourselves, just like you readers. Usually not all that well, unless its someone like Fox Sports host and play-by-play announcer Shane Bacon, who advanced to the second round of U.S. Open qualifying this year. And Shane’s 3-under-par 68 in a regional qualifier got me thinking: what are some of my other media brethren using?
I reached out to a handful to find out.
Let’s call it a What’s in the Bag: Golf Media Edition. Here’s the deal, there are a good number of media members or influencers out there who either have relationships with equipment companies, meaning they’re somewhat tied into using specific clubs, or the companies they work for have similar partnerships, making them reluctant to perhaps appear that they’re going against the incoming sponsorship dollars. I skipped those folks over, instead reaching out to a few who—like you and I—play whatever we find works best for us. What you’ll probably notice is a noteworthy diversity of brands and equipment companies, similar no doubt to what you’d find at the bag drop of a public course near you. Yes, some might have multiple bags or switch clubs fairly frequently, but here’s “What’s in the Bag’”for them at the moment:
Damon Hack – Host of ‘Morning Drive’ on Golf Channel
I first met Damon years ago when he and I were both writing about the NFL. While we never played football, we’ve since teed it up together a number of times. That’s the kind of community that golf fosters. Damon acknowledges his bag is a “mishmash” of manufacturers, lies, and lofts. But his go-to club is his 50-degree TaylorMade gap wedge, a game improvement club that he says never lets him down from 110 to 115 yards and always seems to get him out of a jam. We all need a club like that.
- Titleist TS3 driver and 3-wood
- Titleist 23-degree hybrid
- Miura Genesis irons 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, P
- TaylorMade RocketBladz 50-degree A wedge
- Cleveland 52-degree wedge
- Scratch wedges 56 and 60 degrees
- MATI putter
Ryan Asselta – Digital, TV and Radio Host for Golf.com and Sports Illustrated
Ryan probably spends more time caddying for his two talented young sons than playing nowadays, but I’ve gotten the chance to hit the links with him in New Jersey, New York, and Florida. The last time we played, he was hammering a Titleist 915 driver that was relegated to his attic for several years but has since worked its way back into his bag the past two seasons. After using a Scotty Cameron Newport putter for 15 years, he recently switched to a newer version: the Select Newport. Says Asselta, “I use a 32-inch since I’m not the tallest guy and it encourages me to keep my eyes over the ball and my putting line.” Oh, and one of the two sentimental keepsakes in his bag is an invitation to play Augusta National when he was picked in the media lottery at the 2016 Masters Tournament. That’s not a bad lucky reminder to have.
- Titleist 915D3 driver (9.5 degree loft)
- Callaway XR 3- wood
- Titleist 915 H2 hybrid (21 degree loft)
- Callaway Apex Forged 16 irons (3 through A-wedge)
- Callaway Mack Daddy forged wedges 56 and 60 degrees
- Scotty Cameron Select Newport putter
Jason Scott Deegan, Senior Staff Writer for Golf Advisor
Jason really didn’t pick up golf clubs until his college days at Eastern Michigan, but has since played more than 700 courses worldwide. Fittingly, I’ve played with him in various spots from the hills of Western Pennsylvania to the distant reaches of South Korea. Jason says when he finds a club he likes, it stays in his bag, even if its “well past its prime.” He’s never carried an iron lower than a 5 and never used anything to putt other than the Odyssey mallet he got in the 1990s when he first picked up the game. His favorite club? A Miura wedge that helped him break 80 the first time he put it in the bag. It’s a club that gives him the belief he’ll get up and down from anywhere. Said Jason, “When you hit it as poorly as I do, that’s important.”
- TaylorMade R15 driver
- TaylorMade Rocketballz 5-wood
- Adams Idea Tech V3 Hybrid
- Nike hybrid (26 degrees)
- TaylorMade Rocketbladez irons (6 to A wedge)
- Miura wedge (53 degrees)
- Odyssey Dual Force Rossie II putter
Dominic Chu – Senior Markets Correspondent for CNBC
If you watch Golf Channel in the mornings, chances are you’ve seen CNBC’s Dominic Chu weigh in on the business of golf. Dominic also has a diverse bag with clubs from several different top manufacturers, the product of hours in front of a Trackman experimenting with different club head and shaft combinations. “My day job of covering markets and business news means I deal with lots of data and numbers,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons why I was so intrigued by the concept of custom club fitting.” While clubs might change according to the data, Dom has had the same golf umbrella in his bag for 19 years, having bought it when he traveled to Scotland for the 2000 Open Championship at St Andrews.
- Callaway Epic Flash Subzero driver (9 degree), Project X Hzrdus Smoke Black Stiff
- Callaway Rogue 4-wood (17 degree), Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei CK Pro Blue Stiff
- Titleist 818 H2 Hybrid (19 degree), Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei CK Pro Blue Hybrid Stiff
- TaylorMade P790 irons (4-PW), Oban CT-100 Steel R+
- TaylorMade Milled Grind wedges (54 and 58 degrees) – Oban CT-100 Steel R
- Odyssey EXO Indianapolis putter
And how about me?
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to play more than 300 courses around the world while writing about both the business of the game and many of its best destinations. I’m always on the lookout for any club that might help me improve an erratic game. I’ve got multiple sets, including full bags in both New Jersey and Florida as I split time between both states, and am regularly (and fickly) swapping out clubs for whatever is working best at the moment. Here’s a look at my primary set at the moment:
- PXG 0811 GEN1 driver (9 degrees)
- PXG 0811 GEN2 3-wood
- PXG 0317 hybrid (19 degrees)
- PXG 0340 hybrid (23 degrees)
- Mizuno MP18 SC irons (5-PW)
- Titleist Vokey wedge (52 degrees)
- Tommy Armour Atomic wedge (56 degrees)
- Bridgestone Tour B lob wedge (60 degrees)
- Spider X putter
Remember, one of the many beauties of golf is that there’s a good chance that all of us will have a different set of clubs.
So, what does your bag look like? Tell us what you play in the comments section below!