How Many Clubs In A Golf Bag?

Golfers are only allowed to carry up to 14 clubs in their golf bag during one game of golf.

Typically, individuals will bring three woods, eight irons, and a putter with them for a round for a total of 12 clubs. Golfers are allowed, however, to bring 2 additional clubs with them out on the course for a total of 14 clubs.

How many golf clubs can you have in the bag?

Many of us are just out there playing with friends or on a public course just hacking around. If that’s the case, I doubt anyone is going to call you out for violating the United States Golf Association Rules (USGA) for carrying too many clubs.

Many people bring extra clubs out on the course when they’re playing, waiting for the right chance to try out the club in an actual game situation. Many times I’ve stuck some hybrids in my bag to test the club out during my round.

But, the Rules of Golf state that you can only have a maximum of 14 clubs in your bag while you are out on the golf course.

If you’ve read the entire rule book, you may be intimidated by the complex regulations and the exhaustive regulations written by the USGA. Indeed, the rules of the game of golf can be exceptionally intimidating.

An example of such a rule is how many clubs a person can bring onto the course in their golf bag.

Rule 4 of the Rules of Golf governs what equipment a player can use during a round of golf. The Rule says:

Based on the principle that golf is a challenging game in which success should depend on the player’s judgment, skills and abilities, the player:
• Must use conforming clubs and balls,
• Is limited to no more than 14 clubs and normally must not
replace damaged or lost clubs, and
• Is restricted in the use of other equipment that gives artificial
help to his or her play.”

USGA Rule 4

In short, while most players typically carry 12 clubs in their bag for a game, you can carry up to 14 clubs. But if you have more than 14 clubs in your bag, you could incur a penalty that adds strokes to your golf game. 

Why do they limit the number of clubs you can carry?

When golf first started, there were no restrictions about the number of clubs you could carry in your bag during a round.

A couple of examples of the extremes are in 1913, carrying only 7 clubs, Francis Ouimet won the US Open. On the other hand, in 1934, Lawson Little had his caddie bring 31 clubs out onto the course when he won the British Amateur.

In 1939 the rules of golf were amended to include a rule that golfers were limited to using 14 clubs during a round.

There are three main reasons the USGA had for adding the rule:

  1. “De-skilling” the game.
  2. Inequality between wealthy golfers, who could afford many clubs, and average players who couldn’t.
  3. Caddies, who were having to carry bags that weighed in excess of 35 pounds.

golf clubs in red bag next to flag pin

Are There Strict Limitations Regarding The Number Of Clubs In A Bag?

Golfers will usually only need a total of 12 clubs to play 18 holes of golf. A golfer is required to play with the clubs that they bring onto the course with them.

The only instances where they can switch up their clubs are usually due to a club becoming broken or damaged during the game. So, if you only bring 12 clubs out on the course with you then you can use 2 additional clubs during your round.

However, this limit is usually strictly enforced by the course or club itself.

What About Borrowing Or Sharing Clubs?

The USGA restricts the number of clubs that are allowed in a golf bag. Because of those restrictions, some golfers consider borrowing clubs from another player. The USGA has gone back and forth regarding the specifics of the restrictions regarding borrowing.

The current rule is that a player may not borrow a club only from someone you’re playing with.

Under the Rules of Golf, you cannot use another player’s club during your round to hit any shot that will count on your scorecard.

What is the penalty for having too many clubs in your bag?

A player that carries more than 14 clubs in their golf bag is subject to a penalty. The “excess club penalty” can be issued in a couple of different scenarios.

Stroke Play:

According to USGA rules, for stroke play, the penalty for carrying too many clubs in your bag is two strokes for each hole where a breach of the rule happened.  As such, the golfer will incur a two-stroke penalty for each hole where this excess club was used.

The golfer in violation can only incur a maximum of 4 additional penalty strokes per round.

Match Play:

In a match-play scenario, the penalty is assessed by taking away any hole the golfer won while playing with the excessive clubs.

That penalty is limited to 2 holes per match

The most famous penalty for too many clubs

Ian Woosnam too many clubs in bag
From MyScoreCard

In the 2001 British Open Championship at Royal Lytham, Ian Woosnam was tied for the lead in the final round. After a birdie on his first hole of the final round, his caddie told him that he had been playing with 15 clubs in his bag.

Famously, his caddie, Myles Byrne, whispered to Woosnam,  “You’re going to go ballistic. We’ve got two drivers in the bag” and then showed Woosnam the extra driver. 

It turned out that Woosnam had been practicing with an extra driver and his caddie forgot to take it out of his bag before his final round.

Woosnam threw the extra club to the ground in disappointment and told his caddie, “I give you one job to do and this is what happens.” he said.

Woosnam finished in 3rd place, 4 shots behind the eventual winner David Duval. The 2 stroke penalty cost Woosnam the win, £360,000 in prize money, and a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

Which Clubs Should Be Considered Extra?

 If you are going to bring 14 clubs onto the course, the first 12 of these is a standard carry for an 18 hole round of golf. The remaining 2 clubs are typically determined by the golfer.

These choices can vary depending upon a couple of factors.

The factors include: if you need extra wedges, if the course has a large number of sand bunkers, or if you need a hybrid driver, which will assist you with shots from the fairway.

If you have a handicap, it may be a good idea to pack your bag to the standardized limits so that you have a few extra clubs to help you with a tough hole or shot.

What If I Do Not Need The Standard 12 Clubs For My Game?

 While 14 is the maximum number of clubs that you can carry in your golf bag for one game, there are no USGA restrictions regarding carrying less than 12 clubs at one time.

Therefore, for some reason, if you believe that you only need 8 or 9 clubs to complete a particular course, feel free to proceed.

This has become more common among avid golfers in recent years due to the increase in hybrid clubs that are available for purchase in today’s market. However, if you choose to go this route, be sure that you are not restricting yourself too much.

It would be a pity to bring 9 clubs and then get onto a course where one of the clubs you have opted to leave behind could have improved your golf game and overall stroke count.

Which Clubs Should I Carry in my bag?

You can carry whatever clubs you like with you out on the course. If you want to carry 14 putters in your bag, well, have fun. It’s your call.

The exact clubs that you will use in a golf game are dependent upon your specific handicaps, as well as the course you are playing on. However, most of the time, you will carry a combination of woods, putter, wedges (pitching wedge and sand wedge), and irons in your bag.

Usually, you should bring a driver and a putter. You’ll need those, no matter what kind of golf course you’re playing.

Then, bring along your long, short and mid-irons. That would be your 4-5-6-7-8-, 9-irons. In addition, include your Pitching Wedge and Sand Wedge.

Typically, the clubs you carry will be some combination of wedges, long irons, hybrids or fairway woods,

Some players like to use long irons and will carry a 1, 2, or 3 iron. For the average golfer, it’s a good idea to replace those clubs with hybrids. These hybrid clubs are usually a combination of an iron and a wedge, with the best characteristics of each merged into one club.

These hybrid golf clubs are generally more forgiving when you hit the ball off-center enabling you to improve your accuracy. Besides, you will tend to have better control of the clubhead within your swing, resulting in an improved shot length.

Several golfers will tend to include a hybrid club or two in their bag in addition to their typically 12 clubs. That fulfills their 14 club limit and affords them a better advantage within their game.

Other players will like to carry a gap wedge to help them out when they are fairly close to the green.

Again, bear in mind that although 14 is the maximum number of clubs, you can carry less if you want.

how many golf clubs in a bag?


Many clubs strictly adhere to the USGA regulations regarding the number of clubs you can carry in your bag, and penalties will be enforced for those in violation. You are limited to the number of golf clubs you can take in your golf bag to a maximum of 14.

Therefore, you must choose wisely to ensure that you are providing yourself with great resources to enable you to have a spectacular game.

We hope that this information was able to clear up some things about the golf clubs in your bag. However, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. 

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