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How many golf clubs in a golf bag

How Many Golf Clubs In A Golf Bag? What's The Max And Min Number?

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Do you wonder how many golf clubs you can carry in a golf bag? The short answer is 14. But as you know nothing is simple in golf, so we need to cover a few additional things regarding the maximum allowed golf clubs in the bag.


Maximum number of golf clubs in a bag

USGA and R&A rule says that the maximum number of golf clubs in a bag during a round is 14. This rule was accepted in 1936 going into effect with 1938. The limit is 14 clubs because they somehow estimated that this is more than enough to play quality golf with the skills of an average golfer.


History of the 14 club rule

The 14 club rules goes back to year 1938 when it was introduced. Before that there was no real limit on the number of golf clubs golfer could carry in the bag. This was very convenient for some more technical golfers where they used 20 or also 30 golf clubs during the round but when the technology started to evolve and they had more and more varieties of the golf clubs, they saw the change is needed. Some players carried left handed and right handed clubs, just in case they would need it.

Like USGA posted on Twitter, the survey at the 1935 US Open showed that some contestants carried even more than 30 golf clubs. That's extreme, don't you think? Lol most average golfers can't even choose 30 different golf clubs.

But this also means for example 3 different drivers, 2 wood, 3 wood, 4 wood, 5 wood etc. Different club for almost every yardage, can you imagine? Not to mention all the lefty clubs they carried.


Does the putter count in the 14 clubs

Many golfers, especially the beginners ask if the putter counts in the 14 club rule. YES, it does. The putter is counted as any other club so if you have 14 clubs in the bag plus the putter, you're in a breach of the rule USGA Rule 4


What's the penalty for carrying too many golf clubs in your golf bag

The USGA Rule 4 says that you mustn't use more than 14 golf clubs during the round of golf. BUT if you start a round with fewer than 14 clubs, you can add clubs during the rounds up to the 14 club limit. Quite fair, right?

You receive the penalty after you become aware that you're in the breach of the rule. You must immediately remove the excess clubs and adjust the score with the penalty:

  • In match play you lose a hole for each hole you played with more than 14 clubs, but not more than 2 holes.
  • In stroke play you get two penalty strokes for each hole played with excess clubs, but now more than 4 strokes.


How many golf clubs do you actually need

That's a little tricky question. If you're a beginner you don't need many golf clubs. Usually the golf club sets for beginners consists of the putter, sand wedge, pitch wedge, 9i-6i or 5i, then maybe a hybrid, 3 or 5 wood and a driver. That's 10 or 11 clubs. Some beginners start with even less clubs, carrying just a driver, 5 wood or 5 hybrid, 7i, 9i, PW, SW and a putter.

Things get interesting if you're a more skilled golfer. In this case the 14-club limit is quite challenging and you can/should adjust the clubs you carry based on the golf course type, course length, speed of greens, size of greens, rough length and difficulty etc.


I always carry the following clubs in my bag: Driver, 3 Wood, 4i-9i, PW, GW, SW, Putter

And these are the clubs I add to the bag when needed: 5 wood, 2 hybrid, 3 hybrid, 3 iron, 2 iron, LW

That's 17 clubs all together where the 5 wood and 3 hybrid are most of the time left out. If the greens are fast, small, thick rough, deep bunkers or difficult pin positions where I need more loft, I always carry the 60 degree wedge (LW). In case the golf course is pretty long, I would add the 5 wood to the bag, or if the course is long and with thick semi roughs, I would rather choose the 2 hybrid since it's easier to hit it from the rough. And if the golf course is an average all-around course, I would prefer the 3 iron since I can control the shape of the shots better than with a hybrid (just my personal preference). The last reserve is a 2 iron which I use only in windy conditions.


Typical golf clubs in a bag of a beginner golfer

The most common golf clubs a beginner carries are Driver, 3 wood, 3 or 4 hybrid, some mid irons like 5i, 7i, 9i, two wedges (PW and SW) and a putter. Some high handicap players doesn't even use a driver or even a 3 wood and get good results, with proper course management and strategy maybe even better than other beginners forcing the long clubs into the hazards, trees etc. :)


Typical golf clubs in a bag of a good golfer

Good golfer usually carries a full bag of clubs, this is the limit of 14 as per the club rule. Good golfers usually poses more than 14 clubs which they switch based on the course, conditions etc. You can have even different putters for different speed of greens. Usually the heavier putters are better for slow greens and vice versa.


Typical golf clubs in a bag for a professional golfer

Professional golfers play around with their gear very often. It's true that they stick to the clubs they love, like for example Tiger Woods. He played the TPC Boston tournament (Northern Trust Open) back in 2020 with his 21 year old putter.

But with all the new technology and R&D golf manufacturers often present the new clubs to the professionals which are usually stunned by the performance. On top of that they have multiple putters, drivers, fairway woods etc. which they used based on the golf course layout and conditions. Think of Phil Mickelson or Henrik Stenson and their strong 3 wood. Not to mention the driver ball trajectory tweaks if the fairways are soft or firm etc.


Minimum number of clubs in golf bag

There is no minimum number of golf clubs you can carry. If you want, you can play with just a 7 iron. It's a cool drill you know... I tried it 2 or 3 times in the past and it's very interesting to see how you develop different golf strategy skills, you need to master different shot types (especially challenging is the bunker or high and short pitch shots) but as long as you use your imagination you're fine ;)


Can you carry a left-handed golf club in a bag if you’re a right-handed player?

Yes, you can have left handed and right handed golf clubs in the bag as long as you don't have more than 14 clubs. I know a few players that don't have 14 clubs regularly and the filled the 14th spot with a left handed wedge which comes in handy every now and then when they're very close to the water or if a tree is in the way.


Can you carry two drivers in a golf bag? What about even 3 different drivers or putters?

You can carry as many drivers, putters or any other clubs as you want, as long as you respect the 14-club rule. You can have for example 2 different adjustable drivers, one set for a draw and one for a fade. I know it seems silly, but don't be surprised if you see a guy carrying two drivers at the golf course.

When you're using the adjustable clubs be aware of the rule 4.1a which says that you mustn't make a stroke if you changed the characteristics of the club during the round. The penalty for a breach of this rule is disqualification!


Can you still carry and play with the damaged club?

The new rule under rule 4.1. says that you can now play with a damaged club even if you damaged it because of anger. In the past you had to stop using the damaged club, but now the new rule says:

"A player is allowed to keep using and/or to repair any club damaged during the round, no matter what the damage and even if the player damaged it in anger."



I hope you find out everything you were curious about regarding the 14-club rule and how many clubs you can use during a golf round. The most interesting part is of course the club choice before the round. I think almost all of us were in a position where we missed the club that we left at home so plan your game thoughtfully.

If you have any other club choice strategies let me know in the comment, I'm more than happy to know about it.


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