A Brief History of Golf & the Golf Bag

We devote this page to the history of golf, because we’re historical guys reviving a grand historical bag. The middle column below will change each quarter, highlighting the career of an architect, maybe a video of or interview with a pro, or a link to a great story. Did you know C.B. Macdonald was from Chicago, attended St. Andrews University, then returned to found Chicago Golf Club…the first 18 holes of golf in America? See a bio of C.B. here and watch this space!

The History of
the Golf Bag

Carry bags have come full circle.
And your Macdonald is the culmination of their history.

Twine. A few clubs wrapped in twine. At the birth of golf in Scotland in the 1400s, golf bags were non-existent. Players either carried their clubs loosely or bound them with some kind of cord. There were no pockets for a wallet, no strap to sling over a shoulder, no tripod stand for utility. It was golf at its unimaginably simplistic. Unfortunately, the Scots banned golf, demanding the warring clans put down their clubs and pick up their bows, archery being of primary military importance. Golf was deemed a distraction and would not see a resurgence until the next century.

Fast forward: in 1502, that ban was lifted, and golf rose from the ashes. In the late 19th century, the first carry bag was introduced – along with a first “modern” golf ball. The bag was about three feet tall with metal ends and an opening of about 4.4 inches. According to historians, this bag was in play until the 1930s.

These bags, dubbed “pencil bags” for their slender, cylindrical shape, were generally canvas. Over time, they became slightly larger in diameter and height, and had a pocket: upper end bags were made with leather or cloth.

After WWⅠⅠ, the carry bag evolved with the game. The new bags held more clubs, had a larger pocket, and nylon and plastic replaced leather. The bags lost favor with the advent of the golf cart in 1956, but not everyone migrated. We’re happy about that.

By the 1980s, with the advent of the double strap nylon standbag, average golf bags had been reduced to imported, off-the-rack accessories… and although they underscored the difference between walkers and riders, to this day they simply have no soul. No one ever walked across a fairway to comment on a modern nylon bag—don’t be surprised when that happens while you’re carrying a Macdonald.


“I believe in reverencing anything in the life of man which has the testimony of the ages as being unexcelled, whether it be literature, paintings, poetry, tombs — even a golf hole.” ~ C.B. Macdonald

“Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo clock. I wish to goodness I knew the man who invented this infernal game. I’d strangle him. But I suppose he’s been dead for ages. Still, I could go and jump on his grave.” ~ P.G.Wodehouse

~The history of golf

~The history of the golf ball

“Oh, golf is for smellin’ heather and cut grass and walkin’ fast across the countryside and feelin’ the wind and watchin’ the sun go down and seein’ your friends hit good shots and hittin’ some yourself…”

“Golf is slow enough to concentrate the mind and complex enough to require our many parts.”

“…for if ye’ can enjoy the walkin’ ye’ can probably enjoy the other times in yer life when we’re in between. And that’s most o’ the time; wouldn’t ye’ say?”

“To enjoy yourself, that’s the thing, and beware the quicksand o’ perfection”

“Ye’ll come away from the links with a new hold on life, that is
certain if ye’ play the game with all your heart.”

“In golf ye’ see the essence of what the world itself demands.”

From: Golf in the Kingdom

The History of
the Macdonald Golf Bag

Macdonald Leathergoods announces the rebirth of the sublimely crafted carry bag.

The same artisans who, since 2006, have been crafting fine leather Carry Bags in Portland, Oregon, now bring you the Classic Macdonald. Refined design elements and a classic style evoke the simplicity and pleasure of the walking game, and nod clearly to its history. Full grain leather and hand stitching inform this beautiful Carry Bag, available with one pocket (or two), matching accessories, in an array of leather colors.

“Golf is one of the richest sensory experiences we allow ourselves.” In 1985 an idea was revived in Portland, Oregon, after a visit to St. Andrews, Scotland. It had an awful lot to do with how a stunning leather Carry Bag contributes to the rich sensory experience that is the ancient walking game of golf. In 2019, a Macdonald Carry Bag is your rich sensory accessory.

handwritten- thanks for walking



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