Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.
When you go to a serious golf course or club, you may be so invested in the game that you are not thinking about the limitations around your own golf clubs yet. That is right, there are limitations.
Answer: The USGA imposes rules on the amount of clubs clubs experienced golfers are allowed to in a golf bag per put, and according to the USGA, a golfer can have 14 clubs in their bag. This can include 8 irons, three woods ( a driver, 3 and 5 wood), and a putter.
However, most of us do not actually know how many clubs we are allowed to carry, and knowing this is absolutely vital if you are playing in an open tournament or in match play competitions
The USGA (United States Golf Association) has rules in place that a majority of state golfing associations and local associations will adhere to when it comes to the amount of clubs that a player can carry with them in their golf bag.
If you carry too many clubs with you, it can result in penalties which can make a good round end up going sour and leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth (wallet and reputation as well).
So, just how many clubs can you know how too how many clubs are allowed that you can take? What is the amount amateur golfers are legally allowed by the USGA?
Let’s find out!
What 14 clubs do pros carry?
Professional golfers are allowed to carry up to 14 clubs in their bag during a round. The 14 clubs typically include the following:
Used to hit the ball off the tee for maximum distance
Fairway woods (2-3)
Used for long shots from the fairway or rough
Versatile clubs that can replace long irons or fairway woods
Used for shots from the fairway or rough, with lower number irons having a shorter shaft and more loft
Specialty clubs designed for shots around the green or out of bunkers, with higher loft than irons
For shots on the green to roll the ball into the hole
The specific clubs that a professional golfer carries can vary based on their personal preferences and the conditions of the course they are playing on. Some golfers may choose to carry extra wedges or a different combination many clubs made of fairway woods and hybrids.
Limitations On Golf Clubs
The USGA imposes rules on the amount of clubs allowed, and according to the USGA, a golfer can have 14 clubs in their bag. This can include 8 irons, three woods ( a driver, 3 and 5 wood), and a putter.
These are the typical 12 clubs that will be found in a majority of golf bags. If you do not have how many golf clubs you typically carry 14 with you, you can continue to add clubs to this the number of golf clubs until you reach 14 clubs same golf bag. However, you cannot take more than 14 with you.
What If You Borrow – How Many Golf Clubs?
What if you are borrowing clubs?
In 1988, the USGA changed one of their rules about borrowing clubs, which then allowed a player to borrow a club from anyone they wanted to. The club that had been borrowed would then be used through the remainder of the round.
But then, in 1992, they changed the rule again, and changed it back to the ruling before 1988 which only allows players to borrow clubs from a partner if you are teamed up during a tournament, otherwise borrowing is not allowed to be done.
Penalties For Excess Clubs in a golf bag
If you go over the allowed amount of clubs, there will be a penalty for excess clubs. However, the penalty for playing with excess clubs will be assessed in a variety of golf formats.
This includes the match play format and the popular stroke format.
The USGA requires all golfers who are violating the club limitations to have the excess club declared out of play; it cannot be declared in play.
The club will be declared out of play by a fellow competitor, or by their match-play opponent in a stroke play competition.
Golfers can rack up a penalty of two strokes for each hole they have played in which they used an extra club; there is a maximum of four strokes allowed per round.
Many match play penalties will require that a golfer deducts two stroke penalty with minimum number of holes won for each penalty going up to 2 holes per round with first hole played four stroke penalty.
Taking Extra Clubs
When you pick out your 14 clubs, oftentimes you can add 2 clubs to the typical allotment of 12 clubs inside your bag. These last 2 clubs can be a wedge for your short game and a hybrid driver for you to use on the fairway.
If you wanted, you could also choose to have two wedges, such as a sand wedge and a lob wedge if you wanted. A lob wedge will provide you with a better lift, on the other hand a sand wedge could help you out with tougher shots in the bunker.
Hybrid clubs are a combo of iron and wood which helps to condense the amount of clubs you have in your bag, so you can easily fit in the amount you want to.
Some hybrids will look much more like a 3-wood, whereas others will resemble an iron more.
Hybrids are counted as one club in a bag, but they serve many purposes when you are actually playing on a course, so they are a very handy way to minimize the amount of clubs in your bag and avoid a penalty.
Hybrids can be used off the tee, they can also be a replacement for chip shots around the green, or as a replacement for long irons in some cases.
When you are using a hybrid you might actually be able to remove a 3-iron, and a fairway wood, so you can add another wedge into your bag and feel less restricted.
More To Consider
If you were to start off a round with 14 or fewer clubs anyway, most of the time you will be limited to only using these or fewer clubs for the remainder of the round, even if one ends up lost.
However, if you were to break a club in an incident that was not abuse, you could continue to use said club, replace it, or if you can, you could also have it repaired.
However, if you start playing a round with fewer than 14 clubs you can add clubs until your bag contains 14 clubs, but you should not delay in doing this.
If you are playing a partnered game, you can share your clubs, provided that the number of clubs between your partner and yourself is below 15.
Note that you cannot adjust or alter clubs on purpose during a round, this even means you cannot make changes to adjustable clubs during a round either.
You can only carry 14 clubs with you, a good way around this is to take a hybrid club. You can also share your clubs with a partner, however the restriction of 14 clubs still stands.
The total number of clubs used per golf ball in a round cannot exceed two strokes. 14 in a tournament play a game of golf clubs.
Is there a club minimum?
There is no minimum number of clubs that a golfer must carry in their bag during a round of golf, but the maximum number of clubs is 14.
The USGA (United States Golf Association) rules allow golfers to choose the number of clubs they wish to carry, as long as the total number does not exceed 14.
However, it is recommended that golfers carry a minimum of 7-8 clubs to play a full round of golf, including a driver, a few irons, a wedge, and a putter.
Who decided how many clubs in a golf bag?
The modern rules of golf, including the maximum number of clubs allowed in a bag, were established by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA).
In 1938, the R&A and USGA jointly agreed to limit the number of clubs a golfer could carry to 14, a rule that remains in place how many golf put clubs are allowed today.
Prior to the 20th century, golfers would often carry dozens of clubs, each with a specific purpose, and it was not uncommon for golfers to have caddies to help them carry their bags.
The evolution of golf equipment and changes in the rules of the game led to a gradual reduction in the number of clubs used by golfers. By the early 20th century, golfers commonly carried around 20 clubs, and the move to limit the number of clubs to 14 was seen as a way to standardize the game and promote fairness.
Today, the limit of 14 clubs is widely accepted as an essential part of the game of golf, and most golfers carry a set of clubs that includes a driver, fairway woods, irons, wedges, and a putter.