What’s in the bag?

Well, based on three days caddying for a splendid young man named Stan Mathews out of Stockton, California I can exclusively reveal that the answer is…not as much as you might think. Stan’s bag contained a bunch of Mizuno irons (blades) with assorted nicks and scratches on most of them, Nakashima wedges, 5 metal and driver (with which he dispatched the ball in excess of 350 yards on several occasions) and an Odyssey putter. He used only Titleists, and carried only two sleeves of them (a la Bandito Juan). All of this in a lightweight carry bag which had clearly seen better days. The bag also usually contained a Bushnell laser range finder (apart from when I left it in the middle of the fourth fairway yesterday) and the clubs were covered by a damp towel (apart from when I dropped it on the fifth fairway today). Don’t get the idea that Stan can’t play: he shot 66 to win a Pepsi Tour event only last week. It’s just that it’s obviously tough to make a living on the satellite tours and most players are looking to move onward and upward asap. The truth is, of course, that only a fraction will but there’s always  hope. Jason Gore, who won a PGA Tour event last year, was playing on the Golden State Tour just a few years ago. There’s always  hope…

All in all, the bag probably weighed a quarter of my one at home, Stan apparently not feeling the need for a rain jacket, rain pants, umbrella, ball scoop and 40+ third hand golf balls, along with a spare sweater, gloves I never use, mittens, a toque, assorted granola bars and various items of nicely ripened fruit. Stan did sip on water from time to time, but refused most of my offers of apples, peanuts and, whenever the rather attractive cart lady passed by, coffee. I decided not to suggest he borrow my 9 wood for the second round as he seemed to be able to hit his pitching wedge 150 yards quite comfortably. So, to use the old cliché, perhaps it’s not what’s in the bag that counts, it’s how you use it.

My experience with Brett was somewhat different. Firstly, the bag was a lot bigger but as we were riding a cart it didn’t matter. Second, Brett used Cleveland clubs from driver to 64 degree lob wedge and all were in mint condition. When he played a (brilliant) shot out of a stone filled hazard and nicked his 8 iron, he texted his rep straight away to have a new one sent out to him. That’s how it works if you have exempt status on the Nationwide Tour, I guess, and have a major club manufacturer sponsoring you. I imagine, though, that more GST players are in Stan’s situation rather than Brett’s.

Stan and Brett are obviously both excellent players, so what’s in the bag seems to matter a lot less than what’s between the ears…




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