14 Clubs: Bag Building Strategy

I’ve been trying to approach my bag differently this season. Less focus on exactly WHAT I’m carrying and more focus on why I’m carrying it… I played without a 5 iron for a few weeks after buying a new set of clubs that just had 6-PW because I didn’t miss the 5 iron (eventually bought a sub70 639 5 iron for the 2nd hole, feature in my other strategy thread… back right pin from the back tee box requires a 5 iron from me).

More than anything, as my bag filled up, I started looking for gaps that weren’t distance related… and realized I set up my wedges backwards… I thought it’d be interesting to talk about how people set up their bags, and the overall mentality to a thought driven 14 clubs. My bag is built SPECIFICALLY for my home course. It works fine elsewhere, but I’d probably have some different stuff if I played a different course most weeks.

Must Haves This is simple for me. Driver and putter. I want a club designed to go as long as possible off a tee in my bag, and a putter is a no brainer. My driver is 9 degrees and 45ish inches… It’s built to maximize my length with minimal dispersion risk… I could do some tweaking on it, but that’s a whole different thread. 2/14

Irons I play regular 5-PW. I hit the ball a decent clip, so it covers me from 150-210. I play game improvement irons (Adams CMBs) as I’m using these irons to get onto the green and would rather have the forgiveness. 8/14

Wedges This is where I plan to do some tweaking, but more for playability than to cover distances. 150-100 I use PW or 50 degree gap wedge (currently a vokey) but am looking at the new GI spin wedges to improve greens hit from 100+ yards.

100 yards and in, I use my 54 degree sand wedge. Thin soled and decent bounce. I need to do some work around here and expand my shot selection. I’m working on the Sieckmann approach, but haven’t put in the time yet.

Around the green: My high bounce, thick soled 58 is a beast for me around the greens… I wish I had gotten it as a 54 and a thinner soled 58 for more “touch” work, but honestly, the 58 has done so well, maybe I shouldn’t be complaining. Working on Sieckmann here as well, but focusing on the 58 as my “go to” wedge shot for consistency and practice. 11/14

Position Clubs I play a 4 utility (Sub70 699u), 18 degree hybrid (Adams) and a 13 degree Adams 3 wood. If I’m more than 200 yards from a green, I’m more worried about big misses than I am hitting the green… I like the hybrid / iron setup because it offers me different ball flight choices, and allows me to pick the best club for the lie. The 13 degree is almost exclusively a secondary tee club. I have a couple of holes where I need the ball to stop between 260-270, and this club does that for me. I can and will hit it off the deck, but it’s a rare shot for me. The extra 25 yards over the hybrid is usually not worth the inconsistency. 14/14

Overally, my setup is built for me to perform where I need it to perform. The irons cover my distances on par 3s and any long approach shot I may have. The wedges work for my 100 yard and in gaps (though I want to improve my shot making with my GW and LW at these distances) while also covering me around the greens (the GW does work as a bump and run club if I need it). My longer clubs are designed to put me into position to put me close to the green and allow my short game to work. Obviously, this doesn’t always work, but I think I’ve balanced the 14 clubs well and built a bag that works on my home course. I’d like to swap up my wedges some, and have been eyeing replacements for my 3 wood, but I like the “role” every club plays in my bag, even if I can improve the clubs (and my shotmaking) around them.


Lots to digest there, but wondering how your clubs/distances using this concept of setting up your bag compares to a more “normal” set up of SW/GW/PW-Xiron/woods or hybrids/driver?

Do you have somewhere with a big gap of distances? Didn’t seem like it from quick read.

Honestly, hybrid and utility iron are the only clubs that don’t gap particularly well, 225 and 240 and 3w goes 260.

Wedges are a little wonky too.

My point on gapping was more the longer clubs are built for certain flights and just happen to gap decently… wedges are built for slot selection more than distances as well.

I find it interesting that just recently is putter fitting becoming a thing. The most used club in the bag and we’re just now starting to see people get fit for them. I recently had a putter fitting and am so pleased with the results of said fitting.

I agree with driver and putter as the two most important clubs in your bag. Definitely the truth, they account for the majority of strokes on your scorecard. Putter is at least 50% I think I saw somewhere that driver is 38%.

Yeah, I was signed up for a putter fitting this week but had to cancel… Definitely want to take the time to get one custom fit to me!

It’s funny, I always thought I needed a full range of clubs in my bag. Recently, I got some demo clubs from Sub70… 699 9 iron and 5 utility. I brought them to a 9-hole course that is all par 3 & 4 with quite a few dogleg-left holes. In the past, I’ve hit driver off the tee when the fairway was wide enough (I don’t hit nearly as far as you do), but now I wanted to use the 5 and 9 as much as I could to get a good feel for them. As it turned out, they were almost always the perfect 2 clubs for the hole! Also, I got into less trouble off the tee and scored better than I usually do. I probably only used 6 different clubs all day.

I guess my point is twofold:

  1. It’s amazing how much mileage you can get out of just a few, well-selected clubs.
  2. There can definitely be benefit to matching the clubs you carry with the course you’re playing.

@jon - I just want to say, I’ve spent probably 15 minutes on the forum so far and there is so much content already great to explore and look around.

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Glad you’re enjoying it. We’re only 2 days in and I’m very impressed with everyone’s contributions!

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People always talk about how they would play better with 8-10 clubs… honestly, with all the center of the green talk and everything else, I think great is the enemy of good…

Less clubs forces you to compromise on what should you can hit vs what shot you want to hit… it brings focus to where you want to miss.

I’m trying to translate that to a full bag… but also give myself the best options in bad lies. A good round for me will see my long irons only used on par 3s and second shots Into par 5s, hybrid off the 16 tee and never used again and 3w off the 11 tee… I also wouldn’t use my 58 degree wedge, as I hit all greens…

The reality is I built a bag for the shots I need most… I covered the important distances and then looked at what type of shots I’d need… my 54 and 58 are standard length instead of +3/4 so I have more control around the greens, at the cost of them being less comfortable at longer yardages.

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I have run dispersion tests with amateurs. What I was surprised to see was that dispersion is tighter with stock shots versus shots where you are trying to hit it a half-club less.

Based on that I think many ams should give up a longer club in the bag so they can have tighter yardage gaps through the clubs they use the most.

Anecdotally at the pro level we will sometimes hear after a good round: “I had a lot of good numbers today.”


Really excited to see you hear and interact in long form! Love your work.

Anecdotal, but I have a harder time “laying off” an iron vs stepping on a shot… I’m better at pushing a pitching wedge 165 than trying to hit it 155.

I’d honestly love to have more full swings between 150 and 100, but fast swings makes ball go brrr…

I’m curious: was dispersion distance, accuracy or both?

I’m also now more convinced I need to change my wedge set up to be built for more full swings… I’m currently gaming vokeys in gap, sand and lob… might make sense to move to the newer gi stuff and see if I can hit a lob wedge with a full swing.

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This seems to be the case for most of my low handicap friends. Real question: should we be practicing our own way to take a few yards off each club?

In my case I have a large gap from my 3 iron (235) to my 3 wood (270). Most of my irons have 12-13 yards between until we hit the 4-5 iron gap, which my art on has 3 degrees of loft differentiating. I’ve thought about spreading out my gaps to 15 yards and trying to learn a way to take off 7 yards.

Of course, that’s all theoretical since my distance control shows overlapping yardages for each gap anyway. A well struck 7 goes the same distance as a 6 that looks ok but felt just a bit funky.

At that swing speed, I’d consider a hybrid you can hit 240 and 4 iron you can hit 225… covers your gaps much better and doesn’t cost you a shorter club.

I tend to think of my standard swing as my 90% swing… I can go faster with control (100% and five yards) but struggle with an 80% swing… my gaps are ten yards, so I step on a club when I need to hit a five yard gap… (or just play a regular shot a club up if I have ten yards behind the target)

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One simple way to take a few yards off the club is to swing the same but grip the club an inch lower down the grip. It’s a pretty simple trick and just takes a a couple of shots to master.

The dispersion difference was North/South and East/West.

I’ve tried that, and it does work fairly well. One of my swing flaws has me standing up a touch too early so I’m always leery to hit them thin

Interesting… I would have expected a greater distance variation than lateral variation on a “softer” swing… but maybe the attempt to ease off a little messes up all parts of an amateurs swing.

Might be a fun simulator experiment, play a ladder game multiple times (trying to hit different 5 yard targets) and see what your dispersion looks like for each.

I was part of that test, and there’s no question I am less accurate when I try to take something off of a swing.

Mentioned previously that I had a fitting and i now play with 12 clubs.

I didn’t see the need of having extra clubs. I’m not the biggest but my Driver consistently goes 250; my next club is a 19° 3 Hybrid which is 220 so for me that is all hard Par 4s and easy Par 5s in play.

I then have 5-9, PW, AW, SW & LW.

As my handicap came down I very much shifted efforts to the scoring clubs.

It is individual choice, but once you have your yardages down then you can add / remove accordingly.

That being said, distance is king right now …cheers Bryson!!

It was always important - we just didn’t realize how important it was until the last 5+ years.