Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.
Let’s figure out how many clubs in a golf bag we should be going for before setting out on the 18.
When you play a sport, it is important to know what equipment is allowed on the field of play. For football, you can have a pigskin and protective clothes like a helmet and a chest piece.
For basketball, you can basically just have the ball.
However, there are some sports where more equipment is required than others. Golf is one of these sports.
You not only need a selection of tees and golf balls, but you need a selection of golf clubs as well.
This makes a lot of people who are new to the game take a pause, though. Exactly how many golf clubs are you allowed in or should have in a bag? Is it a consistent number?
In this article, we will be taking a look at golf clubs and be seeing exactly how many you need to play a game of golf.
How Many Clubs Are Allowed In Your Golf Bag?
When you play a professional game of golf, you are allowed exactly 14 golf clubs in your bag.
According to the USGA or the United States Golf Association, a golfer cannot have more than 14 clubs in their bag when they are playing a tournament or game of golf.
The rules about what kinds of clubs you can carry in that bag are also present in the association’s rulings.
You are allowed to carry a putter, three different kinds of wood – a driver, a 3 wood and a 5 wood –, and eight different kinds of irons – the 3 to 9 irons and a pitching wedge – in the bag that you use.
Generally, these are the major clubs that golfers will carry in their bag, but there may be instances where different golfers have a different selection of clubs.
However, considering how these clubs tend to cover most of the circumstances you will experience on a golf course, this isn’t too common.
This is not a rule that every golfer loves, with some golfers virulently protesting these golfing choices and wanting to carry more clubs than allowed.
This is due to the fact that during the early 20th century and possibly beforehand, golfers tended to carry between 20 and 25 clubs in their bag.
As time has gone on, golf has become a more structured and regulated sport though and, as such, the clubs and the rules surrounding them have also become more regulated.
While some people may not like the change, having the rules in place ensures that cheating is kept to a minimum.
The regulation of the number of shafts also allows players to make their own shot making possibilities, rather than trying to find the perfect club to do it for them.
Punishment For Carrying More Than 14 Clubs
For those that either flout these rules or for those that simply packed their bag improperly due to either forgetfulness or miscounting, there are punishments.
It doesn’t matter if you only exceed the number of clubs you are supposed to have by one, it still counts as too many clubs.
The penalty depends on the type of game that is being played.
If it is a match play game – a head-to-head game where a player will earn a point should they best an opponent on one hole up normally to 18 holes – then a point will be deducted for the hole you use the 15th club on.
If it is a stroke play game – where the total number of strokes you took to pot the ball on each hole is tallied up as a final total score at the end of the 18 holes – then you have two strokes added for each hole you play with a 15th club, up to a total of four strokes.
What To Do If You Accidentally Bring A 15th Club?
Mistakes happen and people will be far more forgiving, if you own up to it the moment you notice.
There is simple etiquette that most golf tournaments and people will want you to do in order to redeem yourself.
The first is to inform another player of the breaking of the rule, making sure that those playing against you are aware of your mishap.
The second is to then take the 15th club and turn it upside down in your golf bag. This will signify that you have taken the club out of play and have no plans to use it.
Most people can accept that we are human, and we can sometimes miscount, though there will always be people who wish to complain.
Are You Allowed To Carry Less Than 14 Clubs In A Golf Game?
There are no rules to say that you have to carry up to 14 clubs, only that the maximum should be 14 clubs on the field of play at any one time.
In fact, there is no actual minimum number of clubs you can bring onto the field. Any number below 14 is okay.
The reason for the maximum rule is that more than 14 clubs is unnecessary and led to problems in the past.
There were many problems, including the huge selection of different shafts providing unfair shooting advantages, but it also slowed down the game heavily, as people could spend ages choosing a club.
In the modern game, you can use 3, 6, 9, or even 12 clubs if you want. You could even compete in a golf tournament using only a putter as your club, with no other ones around.
You would almost certainly lose because it would take 4 strokes from a putter to get close to a driver’s stroke range, but it is your choice.
There are a maximum of 14 clubs allowed in a golf bag for games or a tournament in any regulated golf game adjudicated by the USGA.
Any more than this is seen as unfair and unsportsmanlike, with many penalty points added to any golfer who is discovered using more than 15 clubs in the game.