How Many Clubs in a Golf Bag?

The rules on how many clubs in a golf bag during competition are set by the two governing bodies, USGA and the R&A. The rules are not about limiting your ability but creating fair and equal grounds for competition.

If you’re new, you will want to choose the best clubs to complement your unique style of play, so read on for tips on which clubs to choose!

How Many Clubs in a Golf Bag?

The maximum legal number of golf clubs allowed in a bag is 14. You can choose any combination, though. Some golfers prefer to use a driving iron, instead of a wood. Beginners might only use 9 to 12 clubs to focus on the basics.

Golf clubs in a bag

What Are the 14 Clubs in a Golf Bag?

The rules state how many golf clubs are allowed in a bag but do not dictate the types of clubs. Some golfers need more precision and therefore will carry more wedges, while others need more coverage and want an even spread of clubs.

High handicap and beginner golfers generally require fewer clubs to avoid confusion as to which club to use. It is recommended that beginners carry between 9 and 12 clubs without sacrificing coverage, yet have some overlap between the clubs.

If you’re curious what wedges a beginner should carry, we wrote a whole post about that.

The most frequent composition of amateur sets are:

  1. 1 driver
  2. 1 fairway wood
  3. 2 hybrids (replacement for 3-iron and 4-iron)
  4. 5-9 irons (5 irons)
  5. Pitching wedge
  6. Sand wedge
  7. Putter

Experienced golfers often add a gap wedge and a lob wedge to the basic set for precision from 100 yards in.

We also wrote about how to organize your golf bag to keep your play smooth and efficient.

How Many Golf Clubs Are Allowed in a Bag During Tournament Play?

Golf clubs in a bag with head covers

The limit for the number of clubs in a golf bag during competition play is also set to 14 clubs. The USGA adopted the limit of 14 clubs in 1938 and the R&A in 1939.

What Is the Penalty for Carrying More Than 14 Clubs?

In the early years, the initial penalty for breaking the rules was disqualification. This was viewed as a harsh penalty and later rules have been adopted to reduce the penalty for this infringement.

New rules state that exceeding the number of clubs in a golf bag is the loss of 2 strokes per hole in stroke play. In match play, it calls for a loss of a hole or disqualification.

The maximum penalty that can be incurred is the loss of two holes in match play, and 2 strokes per hole up to a maximum of 4 strokes if you don’t remove the extra clubs after the first hole.

The rules vary based on the competition, so always check before starting out.

What Clubs Are Included in the 14 Club Rule?

Any equipment used in the execution of a stroke on a golf ball is deemed to be a club. Included in this definition are drivers, woods, irons, wedges, and putters.

Rule 4.1 in the rules of golf is dedicated to how many golf clubs in a bag are allowed.

Phil Mickelson carries 2 drivers on occasion, as he did in the Bell Classic a week before the 2006 Masters Tournament. He did a similar thing in his most recent major win at the 2021 PGA Tournament.

In this tournament, he carried a 6-degree Callaway and an 11-degree TaylorMade driver.

Rules do not permit a club damaged during the round to be replaced.

However, it can be repaired during any break in play if it was caused by weather or any other condition. The only provisions are that you cannot use any component that was not part of the original condition of the club, and it may not delay the resumption of play after the break.

If you use any non-conforming club in competition, you are likely to be disqualified.

Any number of clubs in golf bag can be used out of competitive play.

Does the Putter Count in the 14 Clubs and Can You Have 2 Putters in Your Golf Bag?

The limit of 14 clubs includes any equipment used to strike the ball, which includes putters. So you can have 2 putters in the golf club’s bag. There is no limitation on the number of putters in your bag provided you abide by the maximum of 14-club rule.

What 14 Clubs Do Pros Carry?

Used golf clubs in a bag

Professional golfers are more demanding in the types of clubs in their bag as they hit more consistent distances and are extremely accurate with their wedge play.

The most frequent combination of golf clubs in a bag that are used by professionals are:

  1. 1 driver         
  2. 1 fairway wood
  3. 1 hybrid (sometimes replaced by a second fairway wood)
  4. 4 iron
  5. 5 iron
  6. 6 iron
  7. 7 iron
  8. 8 iron
  9. 9 irons
  10. Pitching wedge         
  11. Gap wedge         
  12. Sand wedge
  13. Lob wedge
  14. Putter

The Minimum Number of Clubs in a Golf Bag

There is no rule dictating the minimum number of how many clubs you can carry. It may be to your benefit to carry less than 14 clubs, especially if you are walking and carrying your own bag.

It is possible to add clubs to your bag during a round as provided for in Rule 4.1b(4).

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve covered the question, how many clubs in a golf bag, we hope you can use these tips to improve your next round of golf.

Governing bodies clearly stipulate the rules of golf to ensure everyone competes on an even playing field. Rule 4.1b(4) is dedicated to the equipment that can be used in competition play, how to remove clubs, and add others to the bag during the round.

Beginners and high handicap golfers will benefit most by only carrying the minimum number of clubs to provide full coverage. Specialty wedges such as the lob wedge and gap wedge should be avoided initially. It’s recommended that beginners carry between 9 and 12 clubs to tweak their swing initially.

Experienced golfers will benefit by carrying 14 clubs even if you are unlikely to use all of the clubs during the round. This provides the flexibility to get out of any situation.

If you’re ready to get started, one golf club you will definitely need is a driver, so we reviewed the best drivers on the market today. 

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