We occasionally recommend products we love and might be paid a share of the sale.
Whether you’re an experienced golfer or a beginner picking out their first set of golf clubs, there’s a tonne of information you are required to know in order to play the sport successfully.
So much so that things can get pretty daunting and intimidating, especially when we decide to enter a competition for the first time.
Before you even set foot on the first tee you need to take into consideration the rules and regulations, of which there are many.
Some rules are fairly obvious, but others may surprise you. One such rule often overlooked and forgotten is how many golf clubs you can have in your golf bag.
It is crucial that every golfer knows exactly how many clubs they are permitted to carry on the course to avoid any disappointment at the first tee.
To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, in this article we will tell you everything you need to know about this question and how you can avoid any unwanted interruptions on the course.
Let’s get straight into the article!
How Many Golf Clubs In A Golf Bag?
If you’re not new to golf you’ll probably already be aware of the golf governing bodies USGA and the R&A.
These governing bodies have strict regulations on almost everything you can possibly think of when it comes to golfing equipment.
When it comes to how many golf clubs you’re allowed to have in your golfing bag things are no different.
According to Golf’s governing bodies, players are only allowed to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in their bag.
This rule is set out in Rule No.4 of the Rules of Golf, specifically under The Player’s Equipment section of the rule book.
Rule number 4 covers all the equipment players may carry or use during a round of golf.
Based on golf’s principles that it is a challenging sport in which a player’s success should depend on judgment, ability, and skill, a player must use conforming balls and clubs, is limited to a maximum of 14 clubs which they cannot typically replace, and are also restricted from using equipment that provides artificial help on his/her play.
Putting it simply, golfers are restricted to carrying no more than 14 clubs during their round.
When Did This Rule Come Into Play?
This rule came into play after a number of interesting incidents took place in the sport. Talks began to introduce rule number 4 in 1935 following the US Open.
The main reason USGA started to discuss the idea of limiting the number of clubs was the result of one player turning up to take part in the tournament with an astonishing 32 clubs in his bag.
We don’t know about you, but we feel pretty sorry for that golfer’s caddie!
When it came to changing the rule, the caddie was actually taken into consideration. It was first argued that it was unnecessary and too hard for a caddie to carry that many clubs around for 18 holes.
The second argument USGA raised was that having that many clubs takes away the skill level golfers require playing the sport.
Is There A Penalty For Carrying Too Many Clubs?
You probably won’t be too surprised to hear that there is a penalty for carrying too many golf clubs in your golf bag.
In fact, as far as penalties go, for breaking this rule you face quite severe penalties. So much so your round of golf may as well be over.
If a golfer carries more than 14 clubs in their bag they are hit with a two-stroke penalty for every hole in which the rule was breached.
This means that if you accidentally had 15 clubs in your bag but only noticed on the second hole, you’ll receive a four-stroke penalty.
The only saving grace golfers have if they break this rule is that the maximum penalty a golfer can receive is four-strokes, so things won’t get too much worse.
If the breach in the rule is recognized during the hole, the penalty will be accessed when the hole has finished. However, if the breach is noticed between holes, the golfer can expect the penalty to be applied straightaway to the hole just completed.
In match play events, things are slightly different. The penalty is simply one hole. If you break the rule the total match score will be changed. You won’t just lose the hole you’re playing.
How Do You Take An Extra Club Out Of Play?
The procedure golfers must follow to remove an additional club from play is very straightforward. When a golfer realizes the violation has occurred they have to “immediately take an action that clearly indicates to each club that you are taking out of play”.
This can be done by alerting other players to the breach in rule or by putting the club away in your golf bag but upside down.
Too Many Clubs Can Cost You The Win
If you find yourself wondering how much the penalty for carrying too many clubs can affect your chances of winning a tournament you only have to look at Ian Woosnam.
In 2001, Ian Woosnam holed a birdie on the opening hole of the Open Championship to tie at the top of the leaderboard with only 17 holes left to play.
Sadly for Woosnam, when he reached the second hole he realized he had an extra club in his bag. This brought his total to 15 clubs. After iconically throwing his club on the ground, Woosnam was given a two-stroke penalty, causing him to fall to 6th place.
He ended up finishing T3. Just think what could have been!
How Many Clubs Should You Have In Your Bag?
Generally speaking, golfer’s carry a total of 12 clubs in their bag. This usually consists of eight irons, a putter, and three irons. This leaves golfers with additional space for two extra clubs.
Typically, golfers will leave this space free for two other clubs of their choosing.
The clubs a golfer selects could depend on their individual style of play or the layout of the course. Weather conditions could also play a part.
Is There A Minimum Number Of Clubs You Have To Carry?
There is no USGA or R&A rule that dictates the minimum number of clubs a player has to carry in their bag. As a result of this as long as a golfer has no more than 14 clubs they can carry as few or as many clubs as they want.
Having said that, it’s probably not a good idea to only carry a putter in your bag. That is unless you want a very long round of golf.
Does The Type Of Club Matter?
Though golfers are free to decide which clubs they carry in their golf bag there are still regulations that need to be followed. Every club a golfer carries in their bag or uses on the course must conform with the Rules of Golf.
However, there aren’t any governing rules that regulate the make-up of their clubs. If you want to carry 4 drivers, 6 putters, and 4 wedges, you are totally free to do so.
Adding Clubs To Your Bag While On The Course
Despite the strict rules regarding how many clubs you can have in your golf bag, you can strangely add clubs to your bag during a round. Provided you still only carry 14 clubs or fewer in your bag, rules permit you to add an extra club whilst playing.
For example, if you start your round of golf with 13 clubs in your bag, at any point in the round you are free to add an extra club of your choosing without receiving a penalty.
Golfers use this rule to their advantage by adding an extra club once they have a feel for the course.
Can You Replace Damaged Clubs?
It isn’t that uncommon for clubs to break during a round of golf. As a result, there are rules in place to deal with any situation that may arise.
The regulations state that players are allowed to repair or keep using a damaged club during their round, no matter what the damage is.
Frustratingly, the only time a golfer is allowed to replace a completely damaged club is if and when the damage has been caused by natural forces or an outside influence.
If a golfer sees red, which again isn’t uncommon, and breaks their club, unfortunately, that is the club they will have to keep using for the rest of the round. This could be why you’ve seen the odd pro putting using a wedge.
Rules are quite strict when it comes to the number of golf clubs a player can carry in their bag. In this article, we have shown you that you can only carry a maximum of 14 clubs at any time.
Those who break this rule face pretty severe penalties that can play a big part in the overall result of a tournament.
Hopefully, now you’ve read through this guide you have a much clearer idea of the rules regarding how many clubs you can carry in your golf bag.
By understanding these rules clearly, you can avoid making any mistakes that may negatively impact the outcome of your round and deal with any unfortunate circumstances.