14 Golf Clubs Rule in Your Golf Bag
In 1920, the maximum golf club rule was introduced setting the maximum number of clubs allowed in a golf bag at 14 golf clubs.
This rule helped relieve caddies who were carrying 20+ golf clubs in the bag. Think about how exhausting that must have been. A golf bag is already heavy enough to carry when I used to walk 18 holes during tournaments and carried my own bag with 14 golf clubs.
If you choose to have more than 14 golf clubs in the bag during a competitive round, you’ll incur a penalty of 2 strokes for every hole you play that you’re over the limit according to the USGA rule book. So if you forget to remove an extra club and you realize it on hole 2 or hole 3, you’ll incur some penalty strokes for the previous holes you played that the extra club was in your bag.
Match play penalties require a golfer to deduct a hole he won for each penalty up to a maximum of two holes per round.
Did you know…it’s also against the rules to borrow a club from another competitor during competition? This rule came into effect in 1992. However, it was allowed for you to borrow a club from a teammate you’re teaming up with during team competitions.
What are the 14 Standard Golf Clubs to Carry in Your Bag
Choosing the 14 golf clubs you wish to carry in your bag is a personal preference but here is a breakdown of a common golf bag collection.
- Fairway Wood
- 2nd Fariway Wood or Hybrid
- Pitching Wedge
- Chipping Wedge #1
- Chipping Wedge #2
Every golf bag needs a driver. This club hits the golf ball the farthest and is ideal for tee shots to start off a hole with. Drivers come in a variety of lofts. For beginners, start with a higher lofted driver such as 11 or 12 degrees loft to get more launch and farther distances.
The Fairway Wood
Fairway woods come in a variety of lofts. Depending on how much loft the fairway wood has will determine the number assigned to the fairway wood. For example, a 3-wood typically has 15 degrees of loft and a 5-wood has 17 degrees of loft.
There are all sorts of woods such as 1-wood, 3-wood, 5-wood, 7-wood, 9-wood.
Woods are great for alternate clubs to tee off with if you’re finding your driver hard to control or maybe you have water and a driver would be too much club to tee off with.
Woods are also great for fairway shots to the green when you need to reach the green from far away, like on a par 5.
Hybrid Golf Clubs
Hybrids are a newer golf club introduced to bridge the gap between woods and irons. Hybrids tend to be easier to swing and more forgiving than irons, causing many golfers to replace long irons with hybrid clubs instead.
Golf hybrid clubs come in a variety of lofts as well so matching up the loft of your long irons you wish to replace will tell you which hybrid to purchase.
For example a 4 iron may have a loft of 19 or 21 degrees and thus you can find a 3 or 4-hybrid with a similar loft to replace the 4 iron with.
Hybrids have a smaller clubhead than woods but perform pretty similar and feel similar when swinging them.
Long Irons & Short Irons
Most golf club sets come standard with a 4 iron through 9 iron. Some golfers like to go out and buy 2 irons and 3 irons if they feel more comfortable swinging irons rather than hybrids and woods. The loft of a 2 iron or 3 iron will be similar to that of a hybrid or 7 wood/9 wood.
Long irons get their name because they are much longer in shaft length as compared to short irons like your 9 or 8 iron.
Long irons also hit the ball further as a result of the longer golf shaft which helps them generate more club speed and distance.
Short irons are great for getting control over the ball and better at generating backspin to stop the golf ball on the green. Short irons are most commonly used around the green on approach shots.
Pitching Wedge / Gap Wedge
Another standard club you’ll find in most 14 golf club sets is a pitching wedge. The pitching wedge is a short iron but has the feel of a wedge when swinging it.
The PW is great for approach shots to the green from 125 yards and closer. It’s high loft helps your golf shots fly straighter and with more backspin so they stop better on the green compared to longer irons.
The gap wedge is another club many golfers may choose to add to the bag. It has a slightly different loft than the pitching wedge allowing you to bridge the gap between your chipping wedge and pitching wedge.
I play with a gap wedge and use it as my 100 yard club. My pitching wedge serves as my 125 yard club. My chipping wedge serves me from 75 yards and closer. So the gap wedge is important to bridge the gap between the 75 and 125 yard clubs in my bag.
Chipping wedges are higher lofted clubs that range from 50 degrees to 64 degrees. These clubs put the most spin on a ball, helping it stop quicker and also hit the shorter, since they have shorter club shafts than your irons, woods, and driver.
Chipping wedges are mainly used around the green but can also be used when hitting approach shots from 30-100 yards away from the green.
Most golfers like to have multiple chipping wedges in the bag for different scenarios. For example, if you need to hit a high flop shot that stops quickly, you may want to have a 60 degree wedge in the bag. For normal bump and run chips that roll more and have less height on them, you may elect to use a 54 or 56 degree wedge.
You only need one putter in the golf bag, but this may be the most important club out of the 14 golf clubs. The putter serves to roll the ball across the green and into the hole. It’s flat face makes contact with the ball much easier than a wedge or iron would, and thus a putter is a unique club that is only used once you’re on the green.
Choosing the Best 14 Golf Clubs to Put in Your Bag
When you take away the Driver, Putter, and 4 iron through 9 iron, this leaves 6 clubs left to fill out the 14 spots in the golf bag. Most golf bags should probably have a pitching wedge and fairway wood. This takes up 2 more spots, leaving 4 spots left.
These remaining 4 spots can be filled in a variety of ways. If you find yourself struggling on the long distance shots, maybe you add multiple woods and hybrids to give you a variety of clubs to choose from for long distance golf shots.
If you need more focus on the short game, maybe you add in a gap wedge and multiple different chipping wedges with different lofts. Some golfers have added 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60 degree wedges, taking up 6 spots in their bag solely for wedges.
Find what suits your needs best and use those flex spots in your golf bag to fill out the 14 clubs once you’ve gotten the core clubs figured out like your iron set, your driver, and your putter.
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Nick Foy, Instructor