So, you’ve brought your clubs down from their Winter storage space in your closet. You’ve set your goals for the upcoming golf season. You’ve hit a couple of buckets at the range. And now, you and your friends have some free time this weekend and a tee time at your favorite course. Time to check your bag to make sure you’re ready to rock when you step up to the 1st tee.

There are some essential items that every golfer must have in their bag every round. Let’s take a look at these and a few other things that should be in your bag before you begin. In order to actually play, you’ll need clubs, balls, and tees. Don’t be the guy that shows up to play 18 with 3 tees in your bag. And likewise, bring enough balls to make it through a round. If you have a hard time breaking 100 and you’re playing a wooded course with water hazards, you may need to bring more than one sleeve. A glove is a must-have in any bag, carrying multiple gloves is highly recommended. Change your gloves out every few rounds as well. They don’t cost much, and a worn glove adds strokes to your scorecard.

OK, so just about everybody has those basics you may say. What else to bring along? You should have a divot repair tool and ball marker. Most tools come with a marker, or if you want to save a couple bucks, use a tee and a quarter. Either way, you’ll need to fix a divot at some point and probably need to mark your ball on the green, be prepared, and always conduct yourself with the proper level of respect and etiquette. Some type of insect repellent or bug spray is a survival item in the middle of summer. I enjoy catching some twilight rates but just before dusk it’s as if the forgotten plague of the black flies begins. Not much fun trying to swat flies from your face while trying to tee off or sink a par putt.

From this point on, it really comes down to personal preference. I always keep a club brush and golf towel hanging from my bag, and a variety of odd and end items inside such as band-aids (in case of a blister), matches (for smokers in the group), a spare pencil, and of course some kind of snack. I like to keep my phone with me, but it is an unwritten rule to silence your phone if you take it out on the course. Photos and emergency calls only, or if your partner or group agrees, some occasional music helps ease the tension and allows you to relax and just enjoy the round. One piece of advice, especially if you’re walking your round, is not to overload your bag. When your bag is strapped to the back of a cart it’s irrelevant, but the weight of every item quickly adds up when you’re carrying it on your shoulders. Pack as lightly as possible when walking without a push cart.

I can tell you from personal experience, that it is difficult to enjoy your round of golf if you are not properly prepared. I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I no longer have to face the ridicule of being Mr. I Didn’t Bring Enough Balls Today. I will never again endure playing the back nine with blisters because I forgot my glove in the car. And after running out of tees on more than one occasion, I now make it a point to bring enough tees for my entire group. But seriously, preparation is essential to enjoying a round. A good habit to develop is getting your bag packed and ready the night before your round. Go ahead and lay out your clothes and shoes as well and be ready to roll out of bed, grab your bag, and head to the course.