10 best golf bags to take you from the first tee to the 18th hole

·11-min read
Look for styles that are compartmentalised to stop all your clubs clattering against one another (The Independent)
Look for styles that are compartmentalised to stop all your clubs clattering against one another (The Independent)

If you consider that the average golf bag weighs in at 13kg with a full quota of clubs, and that during an average round a golfer will walk up to six miles, you can begin to see why a good ergonomic golf bag that shoulders the burden of 14 regulation clubs is worth some serious consideration.

There are three main types of bag: tour, stand and cart. Tour bags, sometimes called staff bags, are what you will see the pros use because they are built to carry a lot of kit, and are premium quality. They’re usually too much for weekend golfers and you could be guilty of earning the “all the gear, no idea” tag if you turn up to your regular Saturday tee off with one. However, as they are of such high quality, they will last forever, so they do offer excellent value.

If you use a cart to ferry you around a course then you’ll be looking for a bag that is designed specifically to attach to a golf cart, but if you have no option but to lug your clubs around then you’ll need a stand bag, designed to be carried and have legs so that your bag sits at an angle when you put it down, so you can easily select the club you need.

Whatever your means of travel, the bag needs to be compartmentalised to stop all your clubs clattering against one another and to make club selection easier when you’re wandering around the course. At the very least, you’re looking at a pocket for your drivers, and three to organise your irons into short, middle and long.

The weight of the bag is, of course, important, and the lighter the bag the more you’ll be able to stay fresh and conserve your energy for the big tee shots. We also looked at the storage options that each product offered us, because the game is a highly accessorised one that requires multiple pockets for everything from balls and tees to rangefinders and waterproofs.

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How we tested

We took each bag out with us for our regular weekend round to see how comfortable and practical it was over 18 holes. Access to clubs was important, but so was access to our range of back nine snacks that we rely on to keep our energy levels up. And on the subject of energy, our favourite bags were the ones which seemed to successfully spread the weight of our clubs and accessories and were padded in all the right places, namely the hip and the shoulder.

The best golf bags for 2021 are:

Ping hoofer lite stand bag

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

The latest stand bag from Ping weighs 2.2kg and has four dividers and seven pockets that were ample for all our golfing gear and included an easy to get to water bottle and a handy detachable ball pocket. The stand worked well every time we put the bag down and the bag features four spacious, dividing wells that made it easy to sort out clubs for shot selection. The double strap, backpack-style, carry mechanism was extremely comfortable and offered brilliant weight distribution and the comfort is further helped with a big, cushioned hip pad, which doubles to house the rain hood. There is also the option to convert the double carry straps to a single strap, if that’s your preferred method of carrying.

Buy now £135.00, Scottsdalegolf.co.uk

Nike air sport stand bag

Best: For comfort

Rating: 9/10

After a while out of the golf accessories game, Nike came back in 2020 with this lightweight (2.1kg) bag. And it’s still one of our favourites, mainly because of the comfort that you get from the bubble pods on the double strap that really helps to take the weight off your shoulders and also gives the bag a balanced, backpack feel when you’re moving from shot to shot.

The six-way divider system kept clubs protected, organised, and less prone to bunching, with a stand that never stalls or fails to open, is secure when it’s on the ground and retracts without effort. There’s plenty of utility elsewhere in the bag too, from a totally water-resistant pocket, cooler compartment, exterior mesh water bottle storage and rain hood.

Buy now £179.95, Nike.com

Ogio fuse aquatech stand bag 304

Best: For rainy rounds

Rating: 9/10

Ogio has been making backpacks for over 30 years, and it has used this experience to bring us a comfortable 1.9kg bag made from waterproof ripstop nylon, so the bag is able to take a lot of punishment. The waterproofing continues all the way down to the high-quality zips of five of the six pockets, so you can keep GPS, rangefinders and phones out of harm’s way when it’s really hammering it down. Annoyingly, one of the reasons that we need to change bags is because the zips stop working, but these closures were really good quality and you could tell they would stand up to weekly usage. There’s easy access to the large apparel pocket as well as an insulated pocket for drinks, and there’s plenty of detailing dotted all over, from an umbrella holder and Velcro glove patch to the handy marker holder and towel loop. Inside, there are four large full-length dividers, plus a rain hood to complete the bag’s stay-dry credentials.

Buy now £199.00, Ogio.com

TaylorMade flex tech stand bag

Best: For stability

Rating: 9/10

This 2kg bag had one of the best stand systems that we tested, which was not only efficient but also very sturdy and never looked like it was going to suffer from doing the splits under pressure from a fully loaded bag – which can be a recurring problem of inferior stand systems. The six pockets (five of which are waterproof) swallowed everything was asked of them without altering the balance and carry-ability of the bag. The five-way dividers kept clubs secure and organised and the two full length dividers means that you can put a wet club back in the bag without transferring any of the water to dry clubs.

Buy now £159.99, Scottsdalegolf.co.uk

Callaway hyper dry C stand bag

Best: For travelling light

Rating: 8/10

Another fully waterproof bag that tips the scales at just over 1.8kg, making it an excellent option for those who are trying to save as much weight as possible and hoping this will translate into keeping energy levels high – particularly on the back nine when tired legs and arms begin to tell and add shots to your scorecard. The light weight combined with excellent ergonomics also make this a great bag for anyone with back or postural problems, but who don’t have the option to cart their bag around the course. One of the reasons the bag is so light is that there is not a huge amount of storage onboard, but if you often travel light this bag is definitely an attractive option.

Buy now £179.99, Scottsdalegolf.co.uk

Titleist hybrid 14 stand bag

Best: For functionality

Rating: 9/10

You’ve heard a lot about stand bags and cart bags so far, but there is another option, called a hybrid because it has been designed to be carried as easily as it can be attached to a trolley or a buggy. Usually, stand bags lose a lot of functionality when they’re attached to a trolley because the fastening strap stops you from accessing a lot of the pockets. However, the hybrid 14 employs a neat little trick – a tunnel that passes underneath the two sizeable apparel pockets so you can secure the bag and still get to your kit easily. When you are carrying the bag, the double strap does a good job of bearing the weight of the clubs and accessories that are on board thanks to a well-padded double strap that’s easily adjustable. The main compartment offers 14 dividers for each club and there are nine pockets in total although Titleist has managed to keep the weight down to an impressive 2.8kg, so whether you’re carting or carrying the bag won’t sap your energy.

Buy now £179.99, Clubhousegolf.co.uk

Mizuno BR-D4 cart bag

Best: For golf carts

Rating: 6/10

If you’re usually behind the wheel between shots then this is the king of cart bags. The BR-D4 boasts 20 pockets and compartments so you won’t be struggling to find a home for all of your kit. This includes what Mizuno calls a “mission control” panel where you can store and get easy access to all the high turnover tools that you use a lot during your round like scorecards and rangefinders. It has a single strap, as most cart bags do, but there’s plenty of ergonomic handles to make carrying the bag from and to the car a doddle and the bag only weighs 2.75kg. The 14 dividers eliminate bag clatter as you’re driving and there’s a nice integrated umbrella sleeve that makes it easy to grab some cover if there’s a downpour and then store it away afterwards.

Buy now £235.00, Mizunogolf.com

Mizuno BR-D2

Best: For quick practice rounds

Rating: 7/10

This is what is known as a “Sunday” bag, designed for players who carry fewer than the regulation 14 clubs and don’t feel the need for full-size legs. Instead, the BR-D2 has two smaller legs that you flip out by hand that raise it just off the ground so you don’t have to keep bending all the way down. The double shoulder straps are adjustable so you can find the optimum position easily and there are just enough pockets to keep the bare golfing essentials in, although the bag has a pouch that allows more storage when you need it. However, if you’re a confident player who only heads out with a few balls anyway you can easily detach this and reduce the clutter of the bag even further. If you’re just heading out for a quick nine holes with a reduced set the 1.49kg Mizuno is your perfect grab and go companion bag.

Buy now £135.00, Mizunogolf.com

TaylorMade tour staff bag

Best: For lower-handicappers

Rating: 9/10

As the name suggests, this is a bag that is fit for a pro and a golfer who has “staff” e.g., a caddy. That’s probably why it weighs in at 5kg, because it’s your caddy who’ll be carrying it. For us mere golfing mortals, who have to lug our own, the advantages of a bag like this might not be immediately apparent, however the bag is premium quality, made from micro-perforated synthetic leather, and it will outlast all the other bags in this line-up. There are 12 pockets, six dividers and a rain hood and umbrella sleeve and for such a big bag TaylorMade has clearly worked hard to ensure the three-point shoulder strap distributes the weight and lightens the load, although a buggy might be welcome if you’re not in the mood for an on-course workout.

Buy now £369.99, Scottsdalegolf.co.uk

Wilson Staff eco stand bag

Best: For wild swingers

Rating: 7/10

If you’re known by your partners as a “spray and pray” golfer who needs a lot of balls, then the extra-large pocket on this bag could be your saviour. There are another five pockets to carry everything else you might need and five dividers for all your clubs. As the name suggests, the bag has some environmental credentials, because every bag is made from recycled polyester and over 50 recycled plastic bottles. At just 1.9kg the bag is comfortable to carry, and the automatic stand was stable and very efficient every time we needed to put the bag down and get ready for the next shot.

Buy now £119.00, Clubhousegolf.co.uk

The verdict: Golf bags

After testing, we can understand why we see so many Ping hoofer lite stand bags out on the course, because it offers the golfer lots of utility while also being one of those bags that you tend to forget that you’re actually carrying for most of the round. All this in combination with a very sensible price point makes it our pick of the current crop.

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