How Many Golf Clubs Can You Have In Your Bag?
You can have a maximum of 14 golf clubs in your bag under USGA rules, but lots of pro golfers carry far fewer. It’s not really about the number, more about the type of club and whether your choice fits with the course and the weather.
Back in the early days of American golf, in the 1920s, things were different, and golfers regularly carried between 20-25 clubs for tournaments! As amateur and professional golfers started to increase the number of clubs in a game, governing bodies decided to limit how many could appear in a golf bag.
The rule of 14 is not specific to the type of club, so you are free to choose what you like on the day.
Let’s discuss everything you need to know about your clubs!
Is There A Minimum Number of Clubs You Can Carry?
US Golf Association (USGA) rules have a maximum number of clubs allowed to be carried by one player, but there is no minimum.
It’s easy to think you should go prepared for every eventuality, but pro golf players carry surprisingly few clubs in their bags.
If you do find that you have too few clubs during the game, then you can add to your bag, providing that the total does not exceed 14, which is the maximum number allowed under the rules.
You can also ask another player to carry some clubs for you. Your kit should be easily identifiable and distinct from theirs; otherwise, that player could be penalized for taking too many.
How Many Clubs In a Golf Bag is Ideal?
It can be hard to generalize as many factors can affect the correct number, including your level of play, the landscape of the course, and even the weather conditions.
Simply because the limit is set at 14 doesn’t mean you should or need to carry 14.
The standard set consists of 12 clubs, but the right set of golf clubs is the set that works for you on the day, so that will vary.
Usually, your level of play determines the best choice of clubs. Novice golfers and beginners are better off focusing on those irons which are easier to use – these tend to be hybrids.
Serious amateur golfers or semi-professionals are more developed as players and can use specialized clubs like a driver and play a wider variety of shots.
A novice golfer’s bag might contain a 3-wood, 4,5, and 6 hybrids, 7,8 and 9 irons, a pitching wedge, and a putter. See, no driver in sight!
The better you become, and the more you develop as a player, correspondingly, the more specialized your game will be. The clubs in your golf bag could be radically different five years down the line from when you started.
For instance, most low handicapper players rarely use a long iron as they can hit the ball far enough. The lob wedge and gap wedge are favored as they increase options around the green.
Even the most experienced golfers will play around with the contents of their golf bag as the choice of clubs will depend upon the terrain of the course they are playing on and the weather/environmental conditions.
Beginners who trundle around with 14 clubs are more likely to make the wrong choice when it comes to playing a shot. Pick a selection of no more than 9 or 10.
The contents of most golf bags are pretty traditional. You will need a driver and a putter, and who would want to be without a three wood? Next, add a set of irons that run from 6 through PW, so now you have eight clubs in your bag.
A mix of hybrids can fill the rest, long irons and wedges to suit the day and your play.
If you are unsure about picking out the right set of clubs for your game, then a club-fitter, golf pro, or teaching professional can evaluate your game and make recommendations. Some factors include your height and stature, which play a crucial role in selecting the right irons.
What Are The Penalties For Carrying Too Many Clubs?
USGA rules clearly state that the maximum number of clubs a player can carry is 14. Consequently, penalties are imposed for players who break this rule and carry more.
The penalty applies even if you have no intention of using the extra clubs or haven’t used them. The penalty is two strokes for every hole that you have played in contravention of the rule and is subject to a maximum of four strokes.
Always double-check your bag before you set off. It is easy to over-count, particularly if you have been chopping and changing before the game starts.
Can You Use Your Partner’s Golf Clubs?
Under the US Golf Association rules, the maximum number of clubs a player can carry during their round is 14.
If you are playing with a partner, you can share clubs provided that the total number between the two of you does not exceed 14. You may not share clubs with another player if you are not partnered with them for the round.
These restrictions are in place to prevent cheating and granting unfair advantages.
If you are playing in a competition, then check the rules carefully.
Can you Add Clubs To Your Bag During a Round?
It’s a fair question. If you have less than 14 in your bag, why not add one if you miss a particular club? The rules allow players to add to their bag during a round providing the total number does not exceed 14.
The overarching philosophy is that players will typically play the entire round with only the clubs they started with or added to reach the maximum of 14 allowed.
Sometimes, a club can become damaged during play. Under the USGA rules, a player can keep using a damaged club even if it was damaged in a moment of fury.
However, a player cannot replace a damaged club except when it is damaged during the round by “an outside influence or natural forces or someone other than the player themselves.”
Does The Type of Golf Club Matter?
There are no restrictions on the type of clubs carried in a golf bag providing the total number does not exceed the maximum number of 14.
The choice of the club can be as eclectic as you like; it’s whatever works for you on the day. Serious amateurs or pro golfers tend to use more specialized clubs, but they won’t necessarily carry all their clubs for an individual game.
How many golf clubs and the type of club you should carry in your bag depends upon the level of your game, handicap, the kind of course you are playing, and even the weather.
There is no such thing as ‘the perfect set of clubs as there is so much variation surrounding fit, preference, and player skill. However, some general principles apply, such as hybrid clubs being better for beginners or novices.
If you are a starter or novice, take pro advice about the best set of clubs for you now. You may not play all of these on any one day, but you should have a selection to match your skill and game.
As your game changes, so will your club choices. Mix and match, but stay 14 or under — and you’ll learn your ideal set over time!