Golf's Sunday Bag: What It Is, Why It's Called That

A Sunday bag is a type of lightweight, no-frills golf bag
So you want to play golf, and you want to walk the course, and you want to carry your own bag. But you don't want to carry a big bag or a heavy bag. What you need, then, is a Sunday bag.

A "Sunday bag" is a category of golf bag, and on the spectrum from the smallest (in terms of bag top) and lightest (in terms of weight) — a spectrum that runs on the large, heavy end all the way to the "tour bags" or "staff bags" used by tour pros — the Sunday bag is on the smallest, lightest end of the spectrum.

A Sunday bag is a carry bag, but it's a carry bag with a very small top (in terms of diameter and circumference), and it's a lightweight carry bag. Sunday bags are also bare-bones in terms of bells-and-whistles — typically just a couple standard pockets, nothing fancy.

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Some golfers like to keep different-sized golf bags in the garage, in a closet in the house or even in the trunk of a vehicle. And those that keep a Sunday bag want it handy for when the mood strikes to rush out to the golf course and walk nine or 18 holes with an easier-to-carry option for one's golf bag.

Traditional Sunday bags have small tops — sometimes just four to six inches across — with few or even no club dividers. Some might come with stand legs, but many Sunday bags don't have those; they are made to be laid flat on the ground when the golfer is swinging or reaches the green.

On the low end in terms of weight, many are just two or three pounds before any clubs are added. (A Sunday bag that has a single, rigid support rod inside to provide some structure is called a "pencil bag.")

Why Is It Called a Sunday Bag?

Good question! There are competing theories, but one most-often cited has to do with the early days of golf and religion. The farther back in time you go, the more people there were who observed the Sabbath, meaning, no work on a Sunday.

So at some early golf clubs, golfers could play on Sundays, but caddies didn't work on Sundays. So if it was Sunday and you wanted to play, you carried your own sticks. The Sunday bag arose out of that circumstance, when golfers wanted a lighter, pared down golf bag — one they typically filled with fewer clubs and less equipment overall (in part because they were conserving weight, in part because the smaller bag simply didn't fit as much).

How Many Clubs Fit In a Sunday Bag?

The exact number of clubs you can into a Sunday bag depends on two things: How big the bag top is, and how much you are willing to struggle pulling out clubs if you overstuff the bag.

You can stuff a full, 14-club array into the traditional, 4- to 6-inch bag-top Sunday bags, but the grips down in the bottom of the bag might make pulling the clubs out a chore as the round wears on.

That's why some golfers who carry a traditional Sunday bag prefer to play with a short set, paring down their 14 clubs to just 6-8 clubs. But many manufacturers who make Sunday bags today do make no-muss, no-fuss, bare-bones bags with slightly largers tops, too, in the 7- or 8-inch range. Those more easily fit a full set of 14 clubs.

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