How Many Clubs in a Golf Bag? [Don’t Get Penalized]

The rules about how many clubs in a golf bag 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?

Golf clubs in a bag

The maximum legal number of golf clubs in a bag allowed 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. 

If you’d like to learn more about the types of golf club names, we wrote about that here

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. There is no best golf bag setup that will be the same for everyone. 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 about 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, you can read a whole post about that.

The typical golf bag setup looks as follows:

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

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

Read More: How To Organize Your Golf Bag

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?

The initial penalty for breaking the rules was disqualification in the early years. 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 2 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?

What are the 14 clubs in a golf bag? Any equipment used to execute a stroke on a golf ball is deemed a club. This definition includes 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 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 other conditions. 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.

You will likely be disqualified if you use any non-conforming club in the competition. If your bag is over the limit, you may suffer a penalty. 

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

Read More: The Distances of Your Golf Clubs [With Table]

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 professionals use are:

  1. Driver         
  2. Fairway wood
  3. 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-iron
  10. Pitching wedge         
  11. Gap wedge         
  12. Sand wedge
  13. Lob wedge
  14. Putter

The Minimum Number of Clubs in a Golf Bag

How many clubs can you have in your bag? There is no rule dictating the minimum number of how many clubs you can carry. It may be beneficial 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).

FAQs

Can You Carry More Than 15 Clubs in Golf?

Golf rules don’t permit more than 14 golf clubs in a bag. In the 1920s, they introduced this rule for several reasons, such as overloading caddies with 20 or more clubs. The other reason was skill, and they didn’t want some players to have an unfair advantage just for having more clubs. 

Does a Putter Count Toward 14 Clubs?

The putter counts toward the 14-club limit in the golf bag. Many amateur golfers only golf with 12 clubs instead of the 14-club limit. They don’t have a minimum number of clubs, but you can’t exceed 14 clubs in golf bag. 

Can You Carry Two Putters in Your Golf Bag?

Provided the number never exceeds 14 clubs, you can carry two putters in your golf bag. You can set whatever combination you want in the golf bag as long as it doesn’t exceed 14 clubs. 

Can You Use Your Playing Partner’s Golf Clubs?

Looking at the USGA rules, rule 4-4 lets you share clubs with a teammate or even a team of golfers. Still, while you can share clubs among the team, you can’t exceed the 14-club limit, which is a rigid rule. The rules for sharing clubs can be quite tricky to work with. 

Can I Add Clubs to My Bag During a Round?

You must use the clubs you started with, and you cannot add more clubs to the bag during a round. Therefore, you will want to choose your clubs carefully before playing. If, on the other hand, you started with fewer than 14 clubs, you can add clubs until you reach 14. 

Final Thoughts

Now we’ve covered the question, how many clubs are in a golf bag? We hope you can use these tips to improve your next round of golf. We also looked at what clubs should I have in my bag. 

Beginners and high handicap golfers will benefit most by only carrying the minimum number of golf clubs in your bag to provide full coverage. You don’t want all clubs in golf when golfing because it can get overwhelming to someone new. 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. 

Writer | Website | + posts

Charl is an avid golfer who studied marketing and advertising. He is fascinated by new technology in golf equipment and the mechanics of the perfect swing.

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