The USGA or United States Golf Association can be pretty particular about the equipment that golfers use. In addition to making sure this equipment is legal according to their guidelines, they are also restrictive regarding how many golf clubs you can keep in your golf bag.
We did a deep dive for you on not only how many clubs in a golf bag are legal but also how many golf clubs you should carry. The numbers can be very different depending on what type of golfer you are.
How Many Golf Clubs Can You Have In The Bag?
The current rules of golf allow players to have 14 clubs in their bags. For many years there were no restrictions on the number of golf clubs players could have. This led to golfers with more money having a tremendous advantage.
Rich golfers would have their caddies holding bags with twenty or more golf clubs in them. In 1938 it was determined that having too many golf clubs in the bag was an unfair advantage.
This is when the USGA put the 14 club rule in effect. The rule has never been altered since then, and although the types of clubs allowed have certainly changed, the number remains the same.
What Are The Different Types of Golf Clubs In A Bag?
If you are new to the game of golf, some of the golf terminologies regarding the names of golf clubs may be a little foreign to you. Here are the basic terms you should understand if you are learning about the different golf clubs.
- Driver: the driver is the club that most golfers hit from the tee box, it’s a large club, about 460cc, and it is built for both distance and forgiveness; many golfers hit a driver more than 250 yards.
- Fairway Wood: fairway woods look like a smaller version of a driver; they are built for long distances but can be hit from the tee box or the fairway.
- Hybrid: a hybrid golf club is a mix between a fairway wood and an iron.
- Utility: A utility iron is an alternative to a long iron or hybrid, it has many of the same capabilities as a hybrid, but it is a cleaner, more player-preferred look.
- Irons: irons make up the majority of your club set; irons can include 3-iron, 4-iron, 5-iron, 6-iron, 7-iron, 8-iron, and 9-iron.
- Wedges: wedges are used for shorter shots that will help you get up and down and eliminate the number of shots you take around the green.
- Chipper: a chipper is a rare club that looks like a mix between a putter and a wedge; it’s mostly used for beginners that struggle around the greens.
- Putter: putters are the most important club in the golf bag; they will help
you get the ball in the hole once you are on the putting surface.
How Many Golf Clubs Should I Have?
Even though the USGA allows us to have 14 clubs in the bag, it is not always necessary. Some golfers feel like having 17 or 18 clubs would be beneficial, but most find that around 13 to 14 is all they use. Here is a look at how many clubs you should have based on your handicap.
Beginners need the fewest number of golf clubs. At the beginning, when golfers are highly inaccurate, the golf ball will go the same distance for almost all the clubs. As you improve and your golf game improves, each club will travel different distances.
With a beginner golfer, you will want to have at least six or seven golf clubs.
We recommend a driver, fairway wood, a hybrid, two irons, a wedge, and a putter. The irons can be something rather basic, like a 7 iron and a 9 iron.
Once beginner golfers start to see twenty or more yards between that 7 iron and the 9 iron, they will want to fill in with an 8 iron, 6 iron, and maybe even a 5 iron.
Most average golfers carry 14 clubs in their bag, but the majority only really need 12 or 13. Average golfers often have four wedges but hardly ever take their lob wedge out.
In addition, many average golfers have a hard time with long irons. If you haven’t taken your 4 iron out of the bag in years, there is no reason to do it now.
Instead, find a club that you will hit instead, or simply don’t carry 14 clubs with you. Many golfers forget that carrying 14 clubs is a choice it is not a mandatory requirement for enjoying a round of golf.
Lower Handicap Players
Low handicap players should use all 14 clubs. These golfers are able to hit the ball at varying distances because of their accuracy and ability. If your swing speed is high, hitting long irons, utilities, and even low lofted fairway woods is not a problem.
This opens up the possibilities for lower handicap players and allows them to see considerably higher distances and better results than other golfers out there.
Lower handicap players may have a set that includes; a driver, 3 wood, 5 wood, 3 hybrid, 4-PW, GW, SW, LW, and Putter.
A junior golfer can start with just three or four golf clubs. With junior golfers, the idea is to get them to love the game, and that takes just a few good shots.
Junior golf clubs need to be highly forgiving, and they will need plenty of launch as well.
We recommend getting a junior golfer set up with a driver or fairway club, an iron, and a putter. As the player starts to get more consistency and can hit solid shots, it makes sense to grab some other golf clubs and fill in the set.
Senior golfers often lose a bit of clubhead speed. One of the first things golfers notice when they lose clubhead speed is that all of the clubs in the bag start to travel about the same distance. With a senior golfer, this often happens in the long irons first.
Seniors notice that the 4 iron is no longer a preferred club, but then it spreads down to the 5, 6, and 7 irons. If you have difficulty getting your 6 iron to go any further than your 7 iron, don’t be afraid to take it out of the bag.
For this reason, many senior golfers end up with about 12 golf clubs in their bags.
What 14 clubs do pros carry?
Professional golfers will choose a golf club set makeup that works for their individual preferences. The most common one we see is:
- 3 Wood
- 3 Iron-9 iron
Some professional golfers are carrying a utility or a hybrid instead of the 3 iron. In addition, some will choose a 4 wood instead of a 3 wood to make it a bit easier to bridge the gap between the irons and the driver.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about how many clubs in a golf bag are acceptable. This rule is a universal one, so you shouldn’t run into too much confusion.
You cannot carry 15 golf clubs in golf, and that sometimes gets players confused because of the 15-slot golf bags that are offered for sale. This 15th slot is great for alignment sticks, training aid, or an umbrella, but you must not have more than 14 clubs.
Sometimes golfers that find they have more than 14 clubs in their bag on the first tee box can declare several clubs out of play. Those clubs will remain out of play for the entire round.
The putter counts as one of the 14 clubs that golfers get to carry.
There are only 14 golf clubs in a golf bag, so it is fair for all golfers. It became an unfair advantage for some golfers to carry 18 clubs and others to have just 10. Overall, 14 clubs are plenty to play a great round of golf.
If you find that two putters help your game, then you can have two in the bag. However, you cannot exceed more than 14 clubs in the bag at any time.
Golfers can carry as many wedges as they would like as long as they don’t have more than 14 clubs in the bag. Most golfers are now carrying four wedges because of the way that the lofts in golf irons have changed. There is now a very large gap from pitching wedges to sand wedges, and it requires reconfiguration of the wedges.
The average golfer needs anywhere from 12 to 14 clubs. However, most will not use all 14 clubs, and some find that they go for weeks without using some clubs in their bag. If you want to be more consistent with the clubs you use and indeed only keep what you need, 12 clubs should be enough.
We hope you now feel more confident about how many clubs you have in your bag. Take a look at your golf bag and try to analyze which clubs you use and which you don’t need anymore. Don’t feel pressure to keep 14 golf clubs in the bag, it is not always necessary, and you may find that 12 or 13 is all you use. In addition, when a golf club gives you trouble, take it out. Don’t take up space with golf clubs you can’t even hit.
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