Last Updated on December 26, 2023 by Matt Greene
If you are new to golf, you might not be sure about how many golf clubs you need to play golf or how many clubs are allowed. In this article we will give some clear advice on the minimum number of clubs in golf bag and the maximum amount of clubs you can use. Let’s dive in.
Rules of golf
The R&A (Royal and Ancient) one of golf’s governing bodies who govern the game of golf have set the maximum number of golf clubs a player can use in tournament play to 14. If you damage a club during a round of golf, you are not allowed to replace the damaged club. You must learn the rules and terminology to improve at this game.
Less than 14 clubs in a golf bag
It is perfectly fine to play golf with less than 14 clubs. Many recreational golfers prefer to carry fewer clubs and may actually benefit from less clubs to choose from. I have played some of my best golf with half a bag and my favorite club competition to play in is “3 clubs and a putter.”
The world record for number of rounds of golf in a day was achieved by a player using nothing other than a 7 iron! Sometimes less is more.
Can I add golf clubs
If you manage to start your round and realize that you’ve left one of your clubs in your or your playing partner’s car, you are allowed to add a club to your bag during a round, providing you don’t exceed the maximum number of 14. You also have to make sure that:
- That the act is not causing a delay in play
- That the clubs are not from another player
Try to be organised though. If you’re playing a golf tournament, have your golf equipment ready. Even if you’re just playing a casual round, it better for yourself and those you’re playing with if you’re ready to play.
More than 14 clubs in a golf bag
Oh no! You’ve started a competitive round and you realise that you’ve got more that 14 clubs in your bag. Even experienced golfers can do this, but the rules of golf are the rules.
So what type of punishment can you expect to receive?
Exceeding 14 clubs penalty
If you’ve exceed the number of clubs allowed in your bag, the punishment you will receive depends on the type of game you’re playing. In a match play situation, you’d get a hole deduction from your score for each hole you with too many golf clubs – up to two holes deduction. In stroke play, you’d be penalized two shots for every hole that you play with too many clubs – up to a maximum penalty of four strokes.
You used to get disqualified for breaking this rule, so make sure that you minimize the damage by declaring the extra clubs as soon as you can.
Why the limit on golf clubs?
Golfers are limited to 14 clubs to encourage creativity on the golf course and to speed up play. Anything more than 14 clubs would make your golf bag very heavy and also make the game even more expensive than it already is! Amateur golfers don’t need too many clubs to enjoy the game, so I think the limit helps golfers. Professional golfers might want more options in their bags, and more clubs to choose from, but again, creativity needs to be encouraged.
Does a putter count in the 14 clubs?
Yes, the putter is a typical golf club found in a golf bag and is counted in the 14. Playing golf without a putter isn’t impossible, but it would make the game even harder.
What are the typical clubs found in a golf bag?
Most golfers will have a core of 12 clubs in their golf bag. These include:
- Three woods or hybrids – driver, 3-wood, 5-wood or hybrids
- Eight (8) irons or hybrids – 3-9 iron and pitching wedge or 2 hybrids and 6 irons
Some golfers may nor choose to add clubs to the 12 listed, but many will depending on their specific skills and requirements. I carry 4 wedges, a pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge and lob wedge as this is the area of my own bag where I need the most flexibility. Less experienced golfers may carry more fairway woods or hybrids to replace long irons which they find harder to hit.
Highly skilled golfers will usually switch clubs depending on the courses they play. For example during the Open, professional golfers will carry a driving iron and specialist wedges to play from tight lies and bunkers.