Even though clubs have always been used in the age-old game of golf, there have not always been bags in which to carry them. The first golf bags were actually used in the late 1800s–almost 400 years after the game was first played.
Along with the discovery that a dimpled golf ball flies farther than a smooth one, another important golf invention came into being–the golf bag. Early 19th Century bags had small mouths compared to the bags of today and were made of a metal frame on the top and bottom and strips of canvas and leather on the sides. They were also strapless and pocket-less, serving the unitary function of carrying a golfer’s clubs. This style of golf bag remained popular throughout the Great Depression.
As the World Wars came and went, more innovations came about as a result of military research. Nylon and plastic began to be used in the making of golf bags, allowing them to be bigger, roomier and lighter. These materials also allowed for the addition of straps and pockets for an extra convenience factor.
Although the invention of the battery-powered golf cart in the 1950s initially reduced golf bag sales, bag designers took advantage of a seemingly detrimental situation and added cart-friendly features, making them much less likely to fall out of carts and allowing for a much more expansive design. By the ‘80s, such innovations kickstands and double-straps (although not Al Cervik’s air-powered club-launch system with built-in radio, despite being featured on the ‘80s movie Caddyshack) were common features on golf bags.
The golf bags of today, although a broad category, usually are made of lightweight plastics and polymers. Expensive golf bags may even consist of high-tech metal compounds and plastics. Pockets have become specialized with magnets for easy access (as opposed to the traditional zipper) and drink holders. Most of today’s bags come with a double-strap and a kickstand along with many other optional features that increase in luxury as the price tag increases, some even sporting special wired compartments for electronic devices, such as rangefinders and cell phones.
In spite of the 14-club rule, people have found a way to truly deck out their golf bags with something other than clubs. After all, a little bit of luxury doesn’t hurt! The next time you are at Eagle Nest Golf Club or any North Myrtle Beach golf course, pay attention to the golf bags that you see other golfers using. You just might see something you can’t live without.