How Many Clubs in a Golf Bag? Official Guide for Every Golfer

how many clubs in a golf bag

Anyone who has ever stepped onto a golf course with the hope of playing a decent round knows that club selection is crucial. The right club can make all the difference, but how many clubs in a golf bag are enough? With my expertise in golf, I have been asked this question countless times. And let me tell you, the responses have often been amusing.

Some people believe it’s only necessary to carry a few clubs in a golf bag, while others insist on having every club under the sun. 

As for me, I always come with a full set of 14 golf clubs in a bag, including the pitchfork and the putter. It’s the perfect balance between being well-prepared for any course and not wanting to carry a bag so heavy it hurts to lift.

But why fourteen clubs? USGA Rules? And how did this become the standard? 

I’ll tell you all about it in this post, so buckle up and get ready to learn some interesting facts about the world of golf.

Note:- This is just an overview. Please read the complete guide for in-depth knowledge.

  • Club Limit: Adhering to the USGA rules, a golfer’s bag should contain no more than 14 clubs, ensuring a level playing field and preventing slow play due to excessive choices.
  • Essential Selection: A balanced set typically includes a driver, fairway woods, hybrids, a range of irons (3-9), wedges (pitching, sand, and possibly a lob wedge), and a putter, catering to various distances and shot types.
  • Beginner’s Kit: Novices should focus on mastering a minimal set, starting with essential irons (7-9), a driver, a putter, and a sand wedge, gradually expanding their arsenal as their skills develop.
  • Advanced Golf Kit: Seasoned players might carry a more comprehensive set, fine-tuning their bag with specific clubs like additional wedges or specialty irons to suit their strategic needs and playing style.
  • Penalty for Excess: Carrying more than 14 clubs incurs penalties, emphasizing the importance of careful selection and adherence to rules for competitive integrity.
  • Club Sharing: While sharing clubs with a partner is permissible, the combined set must not exceed the 14-club limit, underscoring the need for strategic collaboration and planning.
  • Damaged Clubs: Recent rule adjustments allow players to continue using or repair damaged clubs during a round, offering flexibility while maintaining the essence of the game’s challenge.
  • Strategic Considerations: Selecting the right clubs involves considering the course layout, personal playing style, and prevailing conditions, highlighting the strategic aspect of golf beyond mere physical skill.

How Many Clubs in a Golf Bag?

So, in general, a golf bag should carry 14 clubs. The clubs allowed in golf bag includes irons, hybrids, fairway woods, a driver, and a putter. It is not recommended to carry more than 14 clubs as it can lead to confusion, unnecessary weight, and potential penalties on the course.

The USGA states that during any stipulated round, a player may carry up to 14 clubs. This includes any club “designed to propel a ball in excess of 8 inches in length.” However, players may not add or change clubs during the round, except under certain circumstances such as club replacement due to damage or loss.

Why Only 14 Clubs in a Golf Bag?

As deduced from the brief history of Golf, the limit of 14 clubs per bag was first introduced by the USGA in 1938 and then followed by R&D in 1939. The decision came after many golfers began to carry an excessive amount of clubs, leading to slow play and lack of uniformity. This limit of golf clubs allowed in bags ensures that every player has an equal opportunity to compete and that there is no unfair advantage.

What are the 14 Clubs in a Golf Bag?

golf clubs in a golf bag

Choosing the right set of clubs depends on various factors such as skill level, course conditions, and personal preference. Based on my experience & expert discussions on how many clubs are allowed in a golf bag, I recommend the following:

  1. Driver: The longest club in your bag, used for tee shots on long, open holes. Choose a driver that suits your golf swing basics, its speed, and provides maximum distance.
  2. Fairway Woods: Designed for long, accurate shots off the fairway, these can also be used on tees on shorter holes. Carry one or two fairway woods to cover various distances.
  3. Hybrids: Hybrid clubs are a combination of irons and woods, designed to replace long irons. They provide more forgiveness and an easier launch than traditional irons.
  4. Irons: Used for approach shots and getting the ball onto the green. A typical set includes 3-9 irons, with lower numbered irons used for longer distance shots.
  5. Wedges: Designed for short game shots around the green, wedges are available in various lofts and bounces. A typical set includes a pitching wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge.
  6. Putter: The most important club in your bag! Used for rolling the ball on the green and completing the hole.

The above list is a basic overview of how many clubs are allowed in a golf bag. For a detailed overview of the number of clubs in golf bags, read on with our expert advice.

What Clubs Should I Have in My Bag?

Read on and get each and every club type with the prescribed quantity that should be taken on the golf course.

Club TypeQuantity
Fairway Woods2-3

Number of Clubs for Beginner Golfers

Regardless of the skill level, the basic golf clubs in a bag every golfer must have are a driver, a couple of fairway woods, a few irons, wedges, and a putter. In the case of beginner golfers, it is better to practice with fewer clubs rather than nineteen different clubs that seasoned players tend to have in their bags. The fewer the clubs, the less cluttered the bag is.

For how many clubs are in a golf bag for beginners, I generally recommend beginners start with a putter, a sand wedge, a pitching wedge, a nine-iron, and a seven-iron. While it’s tempting to add Wedges to the bag, they can be tricky to master, and in most cases, are unnecessary for beginners.

Club TypeQuantity
Fairway Woods2

By starting with the minimum number of clubs listed in the table, beginners can focus on developing their techniques and gradually add more clubs as their skills improve.

Number of Clubs for Intermediate & Advanced Golfers

Three golfers having a conservation on a golf course

Now, how many golf clubs in a bag for intermediate and advanced-level golfers? They can carry a wider variety of clubs in their bags to cater to their playing style and game objectives. In general, their bags contain drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, long irons, mid-irons, short irons, wedges with varying lofts, and a putter. Thus, follow the 14-club USGA rule.

It’s essential to note that the more clubs you have in your bag, the heavier it will be, which affects your shoulder and back during long rounds of golf.

In my experience as a golf coach, the key to a well-stocked bag that meets your needs & the maximum number of clubs in a golf bag is to review the courses you generally play and the type of shots you commonly encounter. Based on that, you can decide which clubs and how many clubs in a golf bag are necessary.

Do not forget my fellow golfers, whether you are a beginner, or a top expert, cleaning your golf clubs is as important as making the right selection of golf clubs on your golf course. Get your brush, gloves, bucket, and soap, and let the cleaning begin.

What Clubs Do Pros Carry?

Type of ClubName of ClubQuantity for Intermediate GolfersQuantity for Advanced Golfers
IronsFairway Wood23
Long Iron22
Short Iron33
WedgesPitching Wedge11
Gap Wedge0-11
Sand Wedge11
Lob Wedge0-11

It is worth noting that the recommended number of golf clubs in a bag may vary from golfer to golfer, based on individual playing styles and preferences.

For your assistance, I have added a video below.

YouTube video via Golf Monthly

Does the 14 Club Rule Apply to Junior Golfers?

The 14-club rule applies to golfers of all ages, regardless of skill level. Junior golfers, just like adult golfers, must adhere to the same rules for golf clubs allowed in a bag & carry no more than 14 clubs in their bag.

What is the Penalty for Too Many Clubs in Golf?

I understand the importance of adhering to the rules of the game, so how many clubs can you carry? Carrying more than 14 clubs is a clear violation of the rules, and it is essential for golfers to understand the consequences of such an action. Here are some important details about the penalty for carrying more than 14 clubs:

1. Penalty for Breach

The penalty that applies depends on when the player becomes aware of the breach.

  • While playing the hole: If a player becomes aware of the breach while playing a hole, the penalty is applied at the end of the hole. In match play, the player must complete the hole and apply the result of that hole to the match score before applying the penalty to adjust the match score.
  • Between two holes: If a player becomes aware of the breach between two holes, the penalty is applied at the end of the hole just completed, not the next hole.

Consequences of the Penalty

The penalty for carrying more than 14 clubs is straightforward. The player must remove the excess club or clubs from play immediately, using the proper procedure outlined in Rule 4.1c. Failure to do so will result in additional penalties.

2. Match Adjustment Penalty

If a golfer is found carrying more than 14 clubs during a match play game, they will receive a match adjustment penalty. This means the match score is revised by deducting one hole for each hole where the breach occurred, with a maximum deduction of two holes in the round.

  • Not a Loss of Hole Penalty: It’s important to note that this penalty is not the same as a loss of hole penalty. A loss of hole penalty means that the golfer who breached the rules automatically loses the hole they were playing. However, the match adjustment penalty only deducts one or two holes from the overall match score.
  • Maximum Deduction of Two Holes: The maximum deduction for carrying more than 14 clubs is two holes in the round. 

For example, if a golfer starts with 15 clubs that are against the legal clubs allowed in a golf bag and he becomes aware of the breach while playing the third hole, and then wins that hole to go three up in the match, the maximum adjustment of two holes applies. They would now be one-up in the match.

Consequences for Not Following the Rules

Disregarding the limit for the maximum clubs in golf bags can result in disqualification from the tournament, depending on the severity of the breach. It’s vital to keep in mind that golf is a game of integrity, and every player is responsible for following the rules to ensure fair play.

3. Penalty in Stroke Play

  • In stroke play, two penalty strokes are applied for each hole with a breach.
  • A maximum of four penalty strokes is allowed in the round.
  • Penalties are added at the first two holes with a breach.
  • Excess clubs can be left behind or penalties incurred.
  • Rule 4.1b specifies the breach.

Procedure to Take Clubs Out of Play

  • If a player realizes they have more than 14 golf clubs in their bag or made a stroke with another player’s club during a round, they must take immediate action.
  • The action taken should clearly indicate each club that is being taken out of play.
  • Examples of this include advising another player or turning the club upside down in the bag.
  • Failure to take immediate action could result in disqualification as a penalty.
  • This rule is in place to ensure fairness and integrity in the game of golf.
  • It is the responsibility of every player to adhere to this rule and take appropriate action when necessary.

For more information on how many clubs are in a golf bag & taking the clubs out of play, read the USGA Rule 4.1 (c).

Sharing Clubs with Your Partner: Etiquette and Rules

two golfers having a conversation and one of them is pointing a way on the golf course

Professionally speaking, I often get asked the question: Can you use your partner’s golf clubs? The answer is yes, with some important caveats. Here are the specifics you need to know about how many clubs are in a golf bag along with your partner’s equipment:

  • Under the USGA rules, you have 14 clubs allowed in golf bags during a round. This means that if you & your partner are sharing clubs, the legal number of golf clubs in a bag between you cannot be greater than 14.
  • A pair can only share their clubs if they are playing together in the round. If you are playing with someone else, you cannot share clubs with them.
  • Remember that golf is a game of integrity, & cheating is not acceptable. Therefore, if you & your partner agree to share clubs, both should have the same number of clubs & you must only use those clubs throughout the round.
  • Lastly, it’s good etiquette to ask permission before using your partner’s clubs & to return them promptly after each shot. Never take someone else’s club without asking first, & always treat their clubs with care & respect.

Ultimately, how you choose to handle sharing clubs with your partner & fulfill how many clubs in a golf bag rule is all up to you. However, by adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure fair play and enjoy a fun and friendly round of golf.

The Type of Golf Clubs You Carry Doesn’t Affect Your Game

According to the regulations of golf equipment, you can carry any clubs of your preference without it being a violation of the rules. Whether it is a putter, driver, & wedge, is up to you. It is all-important to keep in mind that you need to have a maximum of 14 golf clubs in the golf bag.

Different clubs can help players in different scenarios, but it is the skill of the golfer that determines the outcome. Therefore, the type of clubs you carry doesn’t make an actual difference. What’s essential is that the clubs are in good condition and comply with the regulations of the game.

Can You Use Duplicate Clubs in Your Golf Bag?

Carrying two of the same club can be beneficial for players who are looking for more versatility on the course. However, it can also lead to confusion and inconsistency in their game.

While some professional golfers, like Phil Mickelson in 2016, have successfully carried two drivers adhering to the PGA club limit, I recommend sticking to one of each club. Each club has its unique purpose and using duplicates can limit your options and cause unnecessary confusion during play. Stick to the basics, follow the legal number of golf clubs rules, and get your perfect golf grip & you’ll be on your way to a winning game.

New Rule Pertaining to Damaged Clubs During Round of Play | Major Change

According to New Rule 4.1, golfers are permitted to continue using and/or repair any clubs that may have been damaged during their rounds, including those damaged as a result of emotional outbursts. However, golfers are not allowed to replace damaged clubs unless they were damaged due to an outside influence, natural forces, or by someone other than the golfer or their caddie. This rule change aims to ensure fair play and prevent any potential advantages gained by golfers who replace their clubs mid-round.

Reasons for Change

  • Simplifies complex rules on damaged clubs.
  • Prevents disqualification penalties for unaware damage.
  • Gives players the choice to continue using or switch clubs.
  • Allows use of still-usable damaged clubs.

Other Factors to Choose the Right Number of Clubs for Your Golf Bag

Being an avid golfer myself, I have played endless rounds with both too many and too few clubs in my bag. So, what factors should you consider when deciding how many clubs in a golf bag? Here are my top tips:

  • Course Layout: The course you are playing should dictate how many clubs you carry. A course with lots of long par 5s may require more clubs, while a shorter course with tighter fairways may require less variety.
  • Skill Level: Your skill level matters. If you are a beginner or high-handicap player, it may be best to stick to a smaller set of clubs and focus more on mastering those clubs. More advanced players may have a wider variety of clubs to choose from.
  • Conditions: Weather conditions can play a big role in the number of clubs in your bag. Windy days may require you to carry more clubs to adjust to varying conditions, while still conditions may allow for fewer clubs.
  • Personal preference: Ultimately, the number of clubs you carry is a personal choice. Some players prefer to carry a fuller set of clubs, while others like to travel light.

As for my personal experience, I always try to carry a balanced set of clubs. If I have too many golf clubs in my bag, I end up with a cluttered bag and become more confused about which club to use at certain moments. Having just enough golf clubs in a bag also helps me to focus more on my shots and enjoy the experience better.

Stuck somewhere?? Not able to understand a few pointers?? No need to worry!! Follow our golf terminology guide and get each and every golf term zipping out from your mouth like a pro. Get ready to boast your Golf language now. 

14 Clubs or Less, That’s the Limit!

Well, folks, I have reached the end of our discussion on how many clubs in a golf bag. Let’s review the key takeaways, shall I?

  • The USGA and R&D mandate that golfers carry no more than 14 clubs in their bags. So that you know, that includes your putter!
  • For beginners, stick to the basics with a driver, fairway wood, hybrid, irons, and putter. As you improve, you can add specialty wedges and maybe a few fancy woods.
  • Attention experts! You know your game, so choose those clubs that complement your strengths and challenge your weaknesses.
  • Too many clubs in your bag may result in penalties. A penalty stroke will be added for every hole you play with an extra club, so keep track of your gear.
  • Finally, damaged clubs can now be bent back into shape, but make sure to give it a sniff check first.

So, wrap up your clubs and hit the links, but remember to follow the rules. For more golf advice and information, make sure to get back to Golf Ace Nation: The Home of Golf Lovers. I have everything a true golfer could want to help improve their game! Keep Swinging!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What clubs do I need to start playing golf in?

To start playing golf, you will need some basic golf clubs in your bag. These include a driver, a putter, irons (2-8), and a sand wedge. You can also consider adding a hybrid and a lob wedge to your club collection as you progress in the game. A good idea is to purchase a complete golf set, which includes all of the necessary clubs for beginners at a more affordable cost. Remember, having the right clubs is important, but practicing and improving your swing and technique is key to becoming a successful golfer.

Q2. Does the putter count in the 14 clubs?

Yes, in regards to how many clubs are in a golf bag, the putter comes under the 14 golf club limit. According to the rules of golf set by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and The R&A, golfers are allowed to carry 14 clubs in their bags during a round. The putter, along with drivers, irons, wedges, and hybrids, is considered one of the essential clubs in a golfer’s bag. Therefore, the maximum number of clubs in a golf bag counts towards the 14-club limit. So, players need to choose their clubs wisely before starting a round to make sure they have all they need while staying within the rules.

Q3. Can you have 2 drivers in your bag?

Yes, you can have two drivers in your golf bag. However, it is not recommended to do so unless you have a specific reason for it. Most golfers carry one driver and then add fairway woods, hybrids, or irons for different shot options. Carrying two drivers can limit the variety of shots you can hit and also add unnecessary weight to your bag. It’s best to experiment with different club combinations and see what works best for your game.

Q4. How many putters can you carry?

Golfers are allowed to carry up to 14 clubs being the max clubs in a golf bag. Within those 14 clubs, a golfer may carry as many putters as they desire. However, most golfers only carry one or two putters, as they typically have different lengths and styles for different types of putts. Some golfers may opt to carry more putters if they prefer to have different options for their short game.

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