An ode to my golf bag: A goodbye to my most loyal companion of the past decade

February 5, 2020
An evening stroll for the author and his long-time bag through the back nine at Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula in June 2019.

My golf bag is gone. Now don’t get me wrong, it was my decision, but it’s still gone. We parted ways a few weeks ago. The greatest duo since Hall & Oates and Hall & Nash has broken up.

I got my bag — a slick black-and-white number from a Twin Cities Golf Galaxy — more than 10 years ago thanks to a birthday gift card. It’s been a trusty companion ever since as we’ve trotted the U.S. together: Moving from Minnesota to Iowa, back to Minnesota, and then all the way over to New York, its final resting place. It’s funny when you think about it. When you move from place to place, how many things actually come with you every year over the span of a decade? TVs and clothes and dressers and wedges and furniture run their course. Golf bags, the good ones, have longevity. And while this bag spent much of its time stuffed in a trunk, garage, closet or loft, it got out to play plenty. It’s been filled to its seams with cheap beer and even cheaper rum at local munis, soaked by apocalyptic sideways rain in Scotland and sparkled under glistening sunshine at some of the best courses in the United States, like Oakmont and Augusta National.

Not surprisingly, the round I played at Augusta was the most memorable of my life. I won via the media lottery after the 2016 Masters and played with a foursome who I made brief conversation with, but for the most part I was walking in sweet, sweet solace. My bag was my partner along for the ride. I still remember pulling out of Magnolia Lane and into the CVS parking lot across the street to re-organize my bag and pack my stuff for the flight. That day was a whirlwind.

Playing Augusta National was a big day for the author and his bag, the latter given a tour of the grounds via a club caddie.

But anyway, my bag is gone. It was durable and could have lasted a few more years, but it certainly wasn’t going to fool anyone as something new. It was time for a change. So I recently brought a lovely new replacement bag home, and it sat in the corner of my apartment for a few days, anxiously awaiting the awkward changing of the guard to come. A couple of days later I took my old bag to Chelsea Piers driving range for one last hoorah. It wasn’t much of a send off, a rather unremarkable day if you will. I didn’t dress for the occasion — just pants, a sweatshirt and a stocking hat — and hit range balls off a second-story mat onto a platform stationed on top of the Hudson River. About an hour later I slung my bag over my shoulder and headed out, walking east down 18th Street toward 7th Avenue. Years earlier we walked the fairways of Augusta National, but today we walked by garbage bags, construction sites, bagel shops and honking taxis. I jumped on the 1 train, took it a few stops north to my apartment and then started the transition. Both bags, the new and the old, sat in my living room as I cleaned out one and stocked the other.

That moment was bittersweet. On one hand, imagine packing for an epic vacation with your significant other while your ex watches. On the other, few things in life and golf are more enjoyable than that initial arming of a new golf bag. There are exciting new bells and whistles, different compartments and often a whole new makeover of all 14 clubs’ seating chart. Where did this pocket come from and what should I put in it? The possibilities are endless!

Twenty minutes later I moved the old bag out to the street, readily available for someone to claim as their own. It was still there a few hours later, and again the next day… which kind of bothered me. The is New York, after all, anything of value is gobbled up in no time. But after two long days of sitting out next to the trash it suddenly disappeared. Hopefully this time it found a single-digit handicap. Goodbye, old friend.

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