To look and feel like a pro, include these seven items in your golf bag

These days it's not enough to carry pro-line irons and woods or play Titleist Pro V1s; it's really the other items in your bag that make you look like a professional recreational golfer. Having the modern essentials will not only undoubtedly enhance your game but make you look like you know what you're doing on the course, whether you can carve a low three-iron around a tree or not.

With that in mind, we've come up with a list of seven things every golf bag should have -- everything from providing a little background ambiance to saving the environment.

Portable speaker

Have you noticed how many golfers seem to be playing their jams on the course? Quite a few, and as far as I can tell, they seem to be mostly middle-aged men who miss their high school and college days as if playing classic rock will inject some youth into their golf game. No matter, it looks like it's a trend that's here to stay. Best part is if you have a smart phone such as an iPhone, you already have a player and there are so many bluetooth portable speakers from which to choose. They start around $30, and the sound is remarkable. Proper brands include the JBL Clip, HDMX Jam Plus and Bose Soundlink.

GPS device/rangefinder

These days, if you're a serious player, you've got a rangefinder or electronic distance-measuring device. It seems more serious players have exacting laser rangefinders, which don't require charging or a subscription. But GPS devices have come a long way in the last decade, so either one (or both) will let you skip looking for sprinkler heads. Prices range from about $200-$500.

Golf rules book

When a dispute arrives over the rules, you can't win an argument if you don't have a copy of the USGA Rules of Golf Book. But let's face it, the USGA book isn't exactly easy to navigate or understand. So, for the sake of speed and comprehension, there's the pocket-sized Golf Rules Quick Reference guide ($12.95). Written by rules expert Yves Ton, this plastic-coated flip guide answers every rules question at a glance. An overview chart on the last page answers 80 percent of golfers’ questions -- without even having to flip open the booklet.

Golf ball stencil

At the very least, you need a sharpie, but if you want to get creative -- or better yet, put a straight line on your golf ball for alignment purposes -- then you'll want a golf ball stencil. One of the most popular is a product called Tin Cup ($19.95 each), crafted from 100 percent stainless steel. The product features 135-plus designs, and golfers can even special order custom designs.

Multi-function ball mark repair tool

You've got to have a divot tool in your bag, so why not have a good one? I like the Mark Mender multi-purpose tool that not only has a ball marker on it but a unique design that allows you to repair ball marks with just a squeeze. It can also serve as a cigar holder or grip rest on those dewy mornings.

Alignment rod

If you want to at least look like you know what you're doing, you've got to have an alignment rod in your bag. All good players have them, even if they don't use them for warm-ups. Of course, you should use them when hitting the range, because alignment is crucial in golf. One popular brand called Tour Sticks is available in a variety of designs. ($15.99)

Epoch tees from evolvegolf

Though they're really not a gadget, I love these composite tees from evolvegolf. They are bio degradable, but best of all, they're also hard to break, so you don't have to put a handful of them in your pocket. There are also short versions of these for hitting irons off the tee on par 3s. The company also claims that the design, which coincides with the dimple on a golf ball, maximizes spin control and accuracy. I don't know about that, but the ball does seem to come off of them better.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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To look and feel like a pro, include these seven items in your golf bag
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