How Many Clubs in a Golf Bag: Golfer’s Guide to Carrying Clubs

How many clubs can you put in a golf bag?

If you’re new to golf, you might feel a little intimidated when you step out on the golf course. Understanding your equipment, including how many clubs in a golf bag you can have at a time, can help build your confidence in the sport. Plus, there are a few rules to keep in mind when picking out your clubs. Here’s a quick guide on what to expect.

How Many Clubs In a Golf bag?

You’re legally allowed to have up to 14 clubs in your golf bag. You get to choose which combination of golf clubs, but you must keep it to 14 or less during an official round. 

These rules are most applicable to money matches or tournaments. If you don’t comply, you could face a penalty. 

You are permitted to change club setup between golf tournament rounds, just not during a single round. On the other hand, if you’re just playing for fun with friends, most people won’t care if you have more than 14 golf clubs.

The 14 Clubs in a Golf Bag

There are no rules or checklists as to what exact clubs you should have in your own bag. However, many experienced golfers use the following setup:

  • Driver
  • Pitching wedge
  • Sand wedge
  • Gap wedge
  • Lob wedge
  • 3 wood
  • 5 wood
  • Putter
  • 5 iron
  • 6 iron
  • 7 iron
  • 8 iron
  • 9 iron
  • 4 hybrid

Do I Need All of These Clubs?

Playing partner wondering How many clubs do you need?

You don’t necessarily need all of these clubs. You can carry any assortment you like so long as you don’t have more than 14. These are just the most commonly used, but it all depends on what you prefer. 

It’s important to keep in mind that each club has a different purpose:

  • Driver: Typically used to tee off because it allows you to hit the ball a long distance.
  • Wedges: Best for short, high shots in a sand bunker or near the green.
  • Pitching wedge: Use a full swing for a higher shot over a bush or tree.
  • Sand wedge: Best for getting a ball out of a sand bunker or rough area, like between the fairway.
  • Gap wedge: Used for mid-length and height shots.
  • Lob wedge: Best for shots over obstructions or hazards.
  • 3-wood: Can be used to tee off, but is generally best used on the fairway for low, far-traveling shots.
  • 5-wood: The higher the club number, the higher the loft (angle and trajectory of the shot). The 5-wood has a higher loft than the 3-wood, usually used on the fairway.
  • Putter: Used for putting the golf ball into the hole on the green. 
  • 5-9 irons: The irons are used when you’re under 200 years from the green. Use a higher number iron club the closer you are to the green.
  • 4 hybrid: A combination of an iron length shaft and a wood head design, making it easier to hit.

What’s the Penalty for Carrying Too Many Clubs?

The rules vary between stroke play and match play. If you’re caught with more than 14 clubs during stroke play, you’ll get a two strokes penalty for each hole where the rule breach occurred. However, there is a maximum four-stroke penalty. 

If you realize you’ve violated this rule in between holes, the penalty will be applied to the hole you just completed. On the other hand, if you notice your mistake while in the middle of playing a hole, the penalty isn’t assessed until after you finish that hole.

In Match Play, there’s a one-hole penalty. If golfers violate the rule, their total match score changes instead of simply losing the hole they’re on. What’s the Procedure for Taking Clubs Out of Play?

Once you realize you’ve broken the rule, you must immediately indicate the offending club you’re taking out of play. You can turn the club upside down in your golf bag or let another player know. 

Can You Use Your Playing Partner’s Golf Clubs?

14 golf clubs allowed per bag.

No. Rules state that you cannot use anyone else’s club during your round to make a stroke that would count toward your score. 

However, you can carry multiple people’s clubs in the same golf bag. If using the same bag, you must clearly identify which clubs belong to who and cannot use the same clubs.

Is There a Minimum Number of Clubs You Can Carry?

There’s no minimum number of clubs in your bag. You can carry as few clubs as you like.

Can I Add Clubs to My Bag During a Round?

Yes, you can add clubs to your golf bag during a round, so long as you don’t go over the 14 club maximum. So, if you start a round with 10 clubs, you can add up to four without penalty at any time.

Does the Type of Golf Clubs in Your Bag Matter?

There are no rules about what types of clubs you carry in your bag. You can carry any combination of wedges, drivers, and putters you want. 

However, all of your clubs need to conform to the club regulations that are laid out in the Rules of Golf.

The Worst Too-Many-Clubs Penalty in History

How bad can an extra clubs violation be? 

In 2001, at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Ian Woosnam was tied for the lead with 17 holes to play. He’d made a birdie at the opening hole. 

Unfortunately, at the second tee, Woosman discovered there was an extra wood in his golf bag – he had 15 clubs in total. He tossed the 15th club across the tee and received a two-stroke penalty – pushing him into a tie for 6th place. 

By the end, he finished T3.

What Do Professional Golfers Carry in Their Golf Bags?

Fewer clubs is better?

Every pro is different. Typically, pros carry:

  • Driver
  • 3 wood
  • 5 wood
  • 4-PW
  • Sand wedge
  • Gap wedge
  • Lob wedge
  • Putter

Some pros go with a two-wedge setup, while others like to have a driving iron or hybrid. It all depends on their preferences.

How Many Golf Clubs Are in a Golf Set?

Complete sets generally come with 10 to 14 clubs, but there’s no right or wrong amount. Companies determine sets based on price points and common setups.

Do Clubs Really Matter in Golf?

Yes, clubs matter a lot. They’re designed to perform differently depending on the situation. 

Does Each Golfer Need Their Own Clubs?

Yes. Rules do not permit you to share golf clubs with other golfers during a round. However, you can swap clubs with another player before or after the round, off the course. 

How Many Balls Can a PGA Tour Player Carry?

PGA Tour players can carry as many balls as they want. Generally, they carry six to 10 balls. 

Can I Replace a Damaged Golf Club During a Round? 

Per the Rules of Golf, you may either try to repair a damaged club or keep using it during play. You cannot swap it out for a different club unless the damage was caused by natural forces or an outside force. 

If you damage your own club, you’re stuck with it.

Who Decided How Many Golf Clubs in a Golf Bag?

There are two governing bodies. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (the R&A) governs golf rules around the world, except for in Northern America. There, the governing body is the United States Golf Association (USGA).

These governing bodies first presented the 14 club maximum in 1936 in response to the ever-increasing number of golf clubs when steel shafts became commonplace among golfers. The rule went into effect in 1938.

So – how many golf clubs do you need? No more than 14. If you need guidance on which clubs to carry with you or help with perfecting your swing, check out the Jim Venetos Golf Academy

Via our online portal, you’ll learn a universal system that teaches you how to consistently perform with powerful golf shots and ultimate control over the ball. What are you waiting for? Start your training now.

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