Q: I like to walk and carry my bag. What can I do to make this easier on my back, neck and shoulders?
I used to walk and carry my bag whenever it was allowed, until I read the results of the study that showed players burn only marginally fewer calories by carrying their bags than by pushing them, and I thought, why bother with the stress and strain.
But there still might be times when carrying makes sense. For instance, some hilly courses are actually easier to navigate by carrying your clubs. You don’t have that push-pull thing to worry about going up and down.
And if you’re trying to play a quick nine, carrying the clubs expedites access to the proper club at the proper time – no worries about walking across the greens and tees.
A little research on the matter yielded the following tips for making sure your baggage causes no pain:
1. There is such a thing as a woman’s carry bag. “No doubt the color palette is different,” said Sun Mountain representative Steve Snyders. “And the bag is a little shorter, to better accommodate the length of women’s clubs. We’re only talking an inch difference but more of the shaft will show with a woman’s bag.” Women who use men’s clubs most likely would have a better fit with a man-size bag; pink could be problematic.
2. Your height and size make no difference from men’s to women’s bags and straps; straps today accommodate and adjust to all heights.
3. Find a lightweight bag. “The whole goal in our line of lightweight bags is to have the necessary pockets for what you need but without the bells and whistles you don’t need,” Snyders said. “Our carry bags tend to weigh less than 4 ½ pounds and one weighs 3 pounds; the trick is, if you shave a little weight off a bag in 10 places, you can shave 10 ounces.”
4. Make sure your straps are properly adjusted, so that the bag sits just below the small of the back with the top of the bag positioned slightly higher than the bottom. “A lot of people carry the bag too low,” Snyders said. The idea is to transfer some of the weight from the upper body to the lower body; this lightens the load on those neck and shoulder muscles and also keeps the body more upright.
5. To further distribute the bag weight, consider one of the new hip belts featured on some of the 2011 golf bags. Sun Mountain’s Swift ZG belt adjusts with Velcro from 28 inches to 48 inches.
6. Reassess what’s in your bag. Change out accessories seasonally so a watch cap and gloves aren’t weighing you down in July. And, the USGA limits the number of clubs in your bag to 14, but does not require you to carry 14. If a hybrid has supplanted some of your irons, park those irons in the garage.
This article first appeared in the March 2011 edition of GottaGoGolf Magazine.