Table of Contents
- How many clubs are allowed in a golf bag?
- The reason behind a limit on the number of golf clubs allowed
- The penalty for carrying more than 14 clubs
- Taking additional clubs out of play
- Using your partner's clubs
- Carrying fewer than 14 clubs
- Adding more clubs
- Types of golf clubs used
- Professional - and costly - golf mistakes
- Get everything you need for an above par performance at Glenmuir
- Final thoughts
If you are new to the game of golf, there's a lot to learn about this marvellous game. One key - yet often overlooked - factor regarding golf equipment is how many golf clubs you are allowed to carry in your golf bag.
So, whether you are brand new to the game and just finding your feet or a seasoned golf player that needs a bit of reminding, we have you covered.
In this article, we have everything you are looking for, including how many clubs in a golf bag are allowed, the penalty for carrying too many clubs, when you are permitted to use your partner's clubs and much, much more.
How many clubs are allowed in a golf bag?
A player is allowed precisely 14 clubs in a golf bag, as stated by both the R&A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews) and the USGA (United States Golf Association).
These 14 clubs usually include:
- 1 putter
- 3 types of wood (for example, a driver, 5 wood and 7 wood)
- 8 irons
- 2 additional clubs of your choice
The rule is written into the regulations of all the major golfing authorities. The R&A regulations state in their rules, for example, that:
A player must not:
- Start a round with more than 14 clubs, or
- Have more than 14 clubs during the round.
- If the player started with more than 14 clubs, he or she may choose which club or clubs will be taken out of play.
- If the player added excess clubs during the round, those added clubs are the ones that must be taken out of play.
The reason behind a limit on the number of golf clubs allowed
It used to be that professional golfers were allowed to carry anywhere between 20-25 golf clubs at any one time, although sadly, this is no longer the case.
The rules regarding how many clubs in a golf game are allowed changed because steel-shafted clubs could not allow the same number of shot-making possibilities, so then pro golfers would take extra clubs because there was much more opportunity for a variety of shots.
Thus the rules were updated to limit the number of clubs that a golfer could carry in their golf bag, with the USGA imposing this in 1938 and the R&A following suit shortly after in 1939.
The penalty for carrying more than 14 clubs
We've established how important it is to ensure you carry the exact amount of clubs that you are permitted and no more. But why?
If it's found that you have more than 14 clubs, you can face a penalty. The penalties carried out depend on the type of game you are playing.
There are two penalty options:
Taking additional clubs out of play
If you find that you have an extra club, it's essential to make sure this error is rectified immediately.
Generally speaking, there are two ways to do this:
- Inform whoever you are playing with of the mistake.
- Turn the additional club(s) upside down in your golf bag.
Using your partner's clubs
An often-asked question is whether or not you can use the clubs of those with whom you are playing. Unfortunately, the answer is no.
If you want to use your friend's golf club during a round, you can't do so because, due to the rules, a player must only use their own clubs in order to make a stroke that counts towards his score. You can practice with someone else's clubs, but when it comes to actual gameplay, it is considered a big no-no.
You and your opponent are allowed to carry your clubs within the same golf bag instead of using separate golf bags, but each player's club must be identifiable as their own.
Carrying fewer than 14 clubs
Adding more clubs
If you are on the course and decide that you require more clubs, so long as you have fewer than 14 clubs currently with you, you are free to add more clubs, regardless of what point you are at on the course.
For example, if you have 9 clubs but decide you need some more, you can add up to 5 without facing a penalty.
Types of golf clubs used
Professional - and costly - golf mistakes
When he realised his caddie had miscalculated how many golf clubs he had, Woosnam threw his club across the tee but was still given a two-stroke penalty. Somewhat amazingly, he still managed to finish in third place.
As for Woosnam's caddie, he was allowed to keep his job.
Get everything you need for an above par performance at Glenmuir
Should I carry a 3 wood or a 5 wood?
Can I carry 2 putters at one time?
Can you ask a golfer what club they used?
While it might not be something you spend a considerable amount of time thinking about, the number of golf clubs you carry with you during a game is of vital importance if you don't want to suffer an unnecessary penalty on the green.
While 14 clubs is the maximum number allowed on a course, there is no minimum number of clubs allowed, so if 14 clubs is too much for your game, feel free to take fewer.
But, it's definitely recommended that you don't leave yourself too short as courses can always throw up some unexpected shots, choose your clubs wisely to avoid causing yourself overly difficult shots.