The number of clubs you are entitled to carry in your golf bag is an often-debated subject and one that can lead to some confusion on occasion (remember the Ian Woosnam mix-up on club numbers at the Open a few years back?).

Nevertheless, the rules are quite clear. You are permitted to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in the bag at any one time during tournament play.

It isn’t compulsory to carry as many as 14 clubs. If you only want to take out three with you, you are free to do so. But 14 is the maximum.

What do the Rules of Golf state about the number of clubs? 

The 14-club rule was first adopted by the R&A in 1939, a year after being introduced by the USGA.  Before then, there was no upper limit. The rule stipulates that players are only allowed to carry 14 conforming clubs for a sanctioned competition event, or during any round that counts towards your handicap. Anyone found to have more than 14 clubs or replacing clubs during a round can be penalised - with anything from disqualification to the loss of up to four strokes in stroke play, or two holes in match play.

During casual play, which would be any round where your score isn’t considered competitive or being attributed towards your handicap, then you can carry as many clubs as you wish. As long as they fit in the bag and you can haul them round the course!

Which clubs can make up the 14 in a golf bag?

The 14-club rule applies to any piece of equipment that you would intend to use to execute a shot – drivers, woods, irons, wedges and putter.

There is no stipulation about which types of clubs you need to include in the 14. If you wanted to carry 14 drivers or seven putters and seven wedges (not advisable!) then you are within your rights.  



Can I replace a golf club if it is damaged during a round?

If you already have 14 clubs in your bag and one of the clubs breaks or is damaged during a round, whilst you can continue using it, you aren’t allowed to replace it. In the event that there is a break in play (like a thunderstorm) this does provide you with the opportunity to make repairs to the club, although you must only use the original components.  Anyone modifying a club or clubs outside these guidelines would face disqualification. 

However, if you have less than 14 clubs in your bag and one of them gets broken during a round for whatever reason, you are allowed to add a replacement club.

What clubs do amateur golfers most commonly use?

Typically, most amateur golfers would take out the following set of clubs during a round. Does this tie in with your own experiences?

  • 1 x driver
  • 1 x fairway wood
  • 2 x hybrid rescue clubs (alternatives to 3 and 4 metals)
  • 5 – 9 irons (5 irons)
  • Pitching wedge
  • Sand wedge
  • Putter


Which 14 Clubs do Pro Golfers Carry?

This selection can vary and will depend on the particular preferences of each individual pro. Longer hitters might prefer taking more clubs that play to their strengths, whilst those who focus on their short game might favour a slightly different combination, e.g., more wedges in the bag.  

Generally, though, this is what you would expect to see in a professional’s bag:

  • 1 x driver
  • 1 x fairway wood
  • 1 x hybrid
  • 4 to 9 irons (6 irons)
  • Pitching wedge
  • Gap wedge
  • Sand wedge
  • Lob wedge
  • Putter


Which 14 Clubs should you Carry?

Depending on your standard, a set of twelve clubs would normally be sufficient – but you may find that less than a round dozen will suffice.

When you are starting out as a raw beginner, you might find it easier to leave longer clubs, like drivers and fairway woods, to one side. These take more practice to use effectively, so initially focus on slightly shorter clubs in your bag, until you have built up confidence to hit these consistently.

Once you become more adept, start adding a broader range of clubs to your bag – such as drivers, or even an extra wedge or two, to help you with approach shots to the green, for instance.  

Don’t end up humping loads of clubs around with you, half of which you are never likely to use. There is no stipulation that you must have 14 clubs in your bag, when a number of around 10 will probably be more than ample.

Linking into launch monitors you will need to select which club you are using, these launch monitors include Skytrak, Trackman, Garmin R10, FlightScope Mevo+

Written by Robert Hart

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