Sun Mountain H2NO waterproof bag with Zero G Belt

Sun Mountain H2NO waterproof bag with Zero G Belt

During our Ladies’ section Autumn break at Dudsbury Golf Club, I spotted a rather nice bag in the pro shop, the Sun Mountain H2NO lite. It was on sale (£140) and my own bag was showing signs of giving up on me, so I gave it a good look. It claimed to be waterproof, relatively light (2.4 kg) and it was a bit more spacious than my current one. Most importantly, it was grey and orange!

There was also a funny pocket open at both ends. I couldn’t work out what it was for, so I asked the pro. He explained that it was where you slipped the Zero G belt, which clips around your waist to make the bag easier to carry. It’s the same system as a rucksack with a hip belt, which can transfer between 70%-90% of the weight of the bag on the hips. This would mean that my solid football player’s leg muscles, and not my puny shoulders, would do all the work. Also, it would put less pressure on my back, which is something I’ve been worried about.

Me carrying my orange Puma golf bag in Italian countryside

Me and my beloved orange Puma bag on a romantic Italian holiday

Of course, I didn’t really believe him. I bought the bag because it was orange and waterproof. I’ve never really been happy with a bag since my old orange Puma bag was retired. I started playing golf with a small bag and a half set. I bought the orange bag when I moved on to a big girl’s set of clubs and I loved it. When I turned up with it at the club, Phil, our former pro, said: “Are you a Ricky Fowler fan, then?” I replied: “Ricky Fowler the old Liverpool striker?” He looked at me in wonder and said: “I’ve never met anyone who is at the same time as keen and as ignorant about golf as you.”

Anyway. These days I do know who Ricky Fowler is. I didn’t bother ordering the Zero G belt (£19.99), which didn’t come with the bag. I started using the bag and I’ve been very happy with it, particularly in the rain. We have had a wet Autumn, but the bag performed well. I also liked having more dividers than usual (14 in all) and more space to put the 20 balls I generally need to carry with me. The only thing was that it was heavier than the bags I’ve had so far, and I noticed I was getting tired towards the end of a round. Was it time to try the belt, after all? It was.


I ordered the belt, it arrived, I fitted it on the bag. I put the bag on my shoulders and a miracle happened. The bag became weightless. Ok, maybe not completely weightless, but much, much lighter. It was a completely different experience from carrying a bag without a belt. I was delighted. And it is so well designed that putting it on and taking it off isn’t at all faffy and takes no time.

So would I recommend it? Hell yeah! This is a fantastic piece of kit. It’s the right size, it has plenty of room for all my bits and pieces, it’s waterproof and thanks to the Zero G belt, it’s practically weightless. And of course, it looks great. I love it.

So I bought a new set of Lynx irons

So I bought a new set of Lynx irons

When is a good time to change your irons?

Opinions vary wildly on golfers’ forums, but the consensus seems to be “whenever you find a good excuse to treat yourself to a shiny new set”. Drivers, woods and irons don’t really wear out, so it can’t really be because they become unusable. In my case, I have been thinking about it for a while, because I’ve always struggled with my irons. They’ve always been a weak part of my game, as established when Anthony and I came up with a plan and then again before my golfing holiday. I bought mine four and a half years ago, six months after I started playing. In the meantime, my swing has changed a lot and what was appropriate at the time probably no longer is.

I know what you’re thinking: a good workwoman never blames her tools. But I will. Even though they’re excellent TaylorMade irons, I never thought they were right for me. However, I couldn’t really justify the expense of buying a new set. Until… I lost my 9 iron two weeks ago. I waited and waited two whole days in case someone handed it in, but nothing, so I decided to buy a new set of irons.

New set of irons

The day I lost my 9 iron, I found a bee. It’s amazing what you find on a golf course.

It’s imperative to test several brands before making your choice

When I mentioned getting new irons, several people advised me to book a fitting at a place offering all the various brands. I should try all of them, test them and compare them to make sure I picked the exact right irons for me. Brands and types of clubs vary widely and I needed to make sure I picked the ones with the feel and performance that suited me best. The problem is, I don’t like shopping and I’m incredibly indecisive, so this sounded like a nightmare to me. So I decided to do the exact opposite. It just so happened that a Lynx rep was coming to the club to sell his wares last week.

I decide to test just one brand because I don’t like shopping

This was perfect: I didn’t even have to travel far. Did I know anything about Lynx? No. I did a quick search and it seemed to be a decent, good value brand. And that’s good enough for me. I’m an average amateur and I really don’t think spending a lot more money on a premium brand will make a big difference to my golf. I did a search to try and have a vague idea of the questions I should ask and what I should be looking for. I found that there are different types of irons, I learnt about iron club terminology and that choosing the right shaft is essential. Also, men’s and women’s clubs are very different. But really, I was counting on the rep to guide me through my purchase.

Trying men’s and women’s club heads and shafts

He asked me about my game and watched me hit a few balls. He was trying to get an idea of what type of club head and shaft I needed. Indeed, women don’t necessarily need clubs that are made for women. A woman’s swing is generally slower than a man’s, so the club manufacturers compensate by making club heads that are slightly lighter and shafts that are more flexible than the men’s. This helps with getting the ball in the air and adding distance. However, my shots, although inconsistent, have always been lofty, so I don’t need extra help in that department, and my swing speed is ok.

We decided to try a woman’s club head with a man’s shaft: a mix of better forgiveness and less flexibility should help me achieve good loft, distance and consistency. The Frankenstein club didn’t really work out. So we tried men’s club heads and that was better, strangely. He gave me three club heads to try with a man’s shaft (regular flex), as he thought that my current shaft was too flexible for my swing, which could explain my inconsistency problem. One was quickly discarded because I didn’t like the look of it. The other two were a cavity back and a blade heads and I hit the first one better than the second. This was expected, as cavity back irons are known for being easier to hit. The weight is moved to the periphery of the iron head, which means that balls are easier to get off the ground and you get away with not hitting the ball dead centre. On the other hand, blade heads are less forgiving, but they give extra control and feedback and make it easier to “shape” shots if you know how to (I don’t). Anyway, the balls went far, high and mostly straight. The price was good (£340 for 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and PW), so we did the deal.

The lowdown

They arrived on Thursday and I spent Saturday and Sunday practicing with them. The result was a bit up and down, but I didn’t worry too much, because it takes time to get used to new clubs. Then yesterday I had a match and apart from a thin approach with my pitching wedge, I didn’t hit a bad shot. And the dodgy approach was after the match was over, so I was distracted by the thought of sandwiches and cake. The clubs felt solid, heavier in a good way and consistent. I’m really pleased, but I’m moderating my enthusiasm, because I tend to play well in a match situation. Now I need to play well in a stroke play competition to finally, finally get my handicap down. Will my new irons help me? To be continued…

Am I damaging my back by carrying my golf bag?

Am I damaging my back by carrying my golf bag?

Is carrying my golf bag bad for my back?

Me, my bag and my current favourite golfing outfit

Jan is worried about my back

“Your back may be fine now, but wait until you’re older. You really should get a trolley”, Jan said.

I was pretty sure that carrying my bag wasn’t a problem, however, Jan isn’t always wrong and I do intend to play golf as long as possible, so I thought I’d investigate. I sent a GP, a sports therapist and a physiotherapist the following email:

Could you tell me if you think carrying a bag of clubs while playing golf (mine is around 11 kg) is good or bad, and explain why? I’m getting conflicting views on it. Some say it makes your back stronger, others that it speeds up wear and tear and squishes my discs. I’m worried that I’ll end up with big problems in a few years.

What the health professionals think

Physio: “Looking at the way you carry your bag, I don’t see a problem at all. You always use the straps over both shoulders. There is an 85 year old at Haywards Heath golf club who has always carried and never suffered any pain. Those who are predisposed to spinal problems will suffer and could damage themselves. To carry you must have excellent straps and don’t overload.”

GP: “I don’t think 11 kg is that big a weight to carry on your back, but it depends how you carry it. If it’s slung over one shoulder, you risk shoulder problems and muscular back pain from an uneven load. The general recommendation for people in good health is that they should be able to carry 20% of their body weight.”

Sports therapist: “I agree with Anna (GP) that 11 kg is no weight at all IF carried evenly. Use shoulder straps and do not carry over one shoulder only. The main thing to be aware of is maintaining good posture: upper back extended, leading from the chest, not hunched over. The weight of the bag must be distributed evenly, so be aware of how you pack your bag too.”

A study on the impact of carrying weight on spinal loads

I also did a search on the Internet and found a study on carrying and spine loading. It’s very academic and complex, but its conclusion is straightforward (one of the weights tested happened to be 11 kg):

Carrying weights increases spinal loads. The loads on a telemeterised VBR were measured in five patients carrying weights in different ways. Holding a weight in front of the body strongly increased the force, while carrying it in a backpack led to only a minor load increase.

Conclusion: carrying my bag is ok for now
Strengthening my back

It looks easy, but that ball is very heavy

So there you have it. I’m sure carrying a golf bag isn’t ideal for some people, but I’ve been doing it for five years with no apparent problems, so it’s probably ok for me. Also, I do a lot of exercise that strengthens my back. I play football, I recently ran a half-marathon and I go soldiering three times a week with my British Military Fitness crew. We do all sorts of strengthening exercises for the whole body, including the back. A decent level of fitness, good posture and an even load on the back should keep me going. I will just have to put up with Jan tutting at me.




Golf polo shirts for women that aren’t pink or pale!

Golf polo shirts for women that aren’t pink or pale!

I am no fashion expert, but one thing I do know: to play any sport well, you have to feel confident, and to feel confident, it’s helpful to wear appropriate clothing that you actually like. This is why this post is in the “Equipment” category. As far as I’m concerned, trousers, shorts, skirts, shirts and jumpers are part of a golfer’s tools to achieve total course domination.

Colourful polo shirts for women

Look! Bright colours!

Unfortunately, clothing aimed at female golfers isn’t very plentiful and there’s a lot of pink and pale colours. Me? I like strong colours, so I often struggle to find items I really like. Enter the Teamwear line by Green Lamb: dark blue, bright green, brilliant orange and no pink in sight! You can find it on Miss Designer Golf, a website I’ve used several times, so I can vouch for the quality of their service. Their sizing guide is also accurate. Now, the question is: orange or yellow?

(I’m not in any type of partnership with Miss Designer Golf. I just really love orange)