Bear with me a bit as I take a walk down memory lane…

When I was in High School, during the Summer I used to work on the grounds crew mowing fairways at the local Municipal Golf Course. As summer jobs go, it was the best. Summer mornings outside, work in the mornings and afternoons off, Wednesday free golf. Sun and little responsibility. A glorious combination for a high schooler.

One thing about the job that I recall quite clearly is that every morning a couple of old duffers would hit the links and play all 18 holes before the Pro Shop even opened. What amazed me wasn’t their devotion to the game every morning, nor was it necessarily how fast they burned through the course (which was impressive none-the-less considering they walked all 18.) What fascinated me the most was this simple detail: it was the selection of clubs in their golf bags.



Unlike the Professionals who play the game, these two elderly gentlemen had maybe three or four clubs in their bag: a putter, maybe a fairway wood (that doubled as a driver), a long iron, a pitching iron. Nothing more cluttered their bag. Nothing more got in the way of their club selection. They had pared their options down to what they needed. Everything else was unnecessary for them to enjoy a round of golf each and every morning.

I’m not sure what reminded me of how those two old golfers managed the course every day, but it got me wondering.

I’d like to take a moment and do a small thought exercise , then offer up an experiment for you to do over the course of a few weeks. Finally, I have a request.

The Thought Exercise:

For just a few moments, let’s do something somewhat crazy. Let’s briefly examine the game of golf and see if we can draw any correlations to a RPG.

Golf is a good analogy to a RPG. There is no real winning or losing in casual golf since you’re essentially playing against a combination of yourself and the course. Winning in this analysis stems from the enjoyment of the game and the company, that’s an apt definition of winning in a RPG.

Golf Course

Golf Course

  • The GM is the Course Architect and the Adventure is the Course.
    In much the same way that a Course Designer sets up a Course for the enjoyment of golfers, the GM develops an Adventure for the role-players to enjoy. Specific details are selected in order to keep players’ interest, challenge them, and generally make them want to come back for more.
  • The Player is the Golfer, their Character is the contents of their bag.
    The sum whole of the clubs in a player’s bag constitutes their character. Each club is an attribute, a magic item, a skill, a spell, etc. It is with these clubs that the player rolls the dice and interacts with the Adventure.

What’s this got to do with those two old golfers?

They must be doing it all wrong…

I used to watch those old guys wander the course playing it every morning and think they were doing something wrong; they only had 4 clubs in their bags.

What if they needed a 5 iron?
What if they needed a driver? a sand wedge?
How can they possibly be enjoying themselves with only 4 clubs?
What’s wrong with them?

And yet, every morning they successfully navigated all the hazards of the course without the majority of clubs cluttering up every other golfer’s bag.

In the past I’d wonder,

How do they do that?

These days I know the answer. At some point they discovered something liberating. The course would never really require them to need a 5 iron… not so much that one of the two irons they did carry wouldn’t suffice.

They didn’t need those other clubs to enjoy the course each morning because somewhere along the way they found the right Club to Course ratio for their style of play.

So here’s my question to you:

Are you burdening yourself by playing a course with too many clubs?

R-PGA logo

Member of the R-PGA

The Experiment: Finding the right Club to Course ratio.

If you’re willing, I challenge you to remove all but the basics from your bag of clubs. Put in your putter, a short iron, a long/medium iron, and a wood for long drives. Over the span of a few games, put only those clubs back that you’re going to need.

Here’s the simple 2 step process:

  1. Start a new character sheet. Transfer over only the character name and class… nothing more.
  2. At any time you use a skill or a spell or an attribute or an item, note it on the new character sheet.

The Request:

I’m genuinely interested in how many clubs made it back into your bag.

As a result, I’d like to ask that, if you take up the challenge of the home experiment, you stop back and report on your findings.

In particular I’m curious to know what game system you’re playing, what elements were on your sheet that are missing after a few sessions, and how different both the system and your character feel now that/if you’re no longer packing all those clubs.

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