How Many Clubs Can You Have in Your Golf Bag?

Published on 09/20/2023 · 7 min readGolf Expert Eric Hall overviews questions he's fielded around what golf clubs a player should consider having in their bag.
Eric Hall, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Eric Hall

Photo by Daxiao Productions

If you're working on building your ideal setup for your game, check out some common questions I've fielded here on Curated while helping people find the right gear for their game.

How many clubs can you have in your golf bag?

Officially, the governing bodies of the game (USGA and R&A) allow up to 14 clubs. This 14-club limit allows golfers the discretion to choose how they combine those 14 clubs, such as Phil Mickelson famously playing two drivers in a few major championships throughout his career. But they are allowed no more than 14 during an official round. If you are just out playing for fun, not many people will care if you play with more than 14 clubs, but make sure to count your clubs before you play a golf tournament or a money match or you will face a penalty. For violation of this penalty in stroke play, the maximum amount of strokes you can lose is four, adding a two-stroke penalty to each of the first two holes. In Match play, you can lose a maximum of two holes from this violation. You can change your club setup in between tournament rounds, but not during the play of a single round of a tournament. Violation of this rule comes with various penalties, depending on when it is caught. For the ability to play a round, the minimum number of clubs would be one.

What are the 14 clubs in a golf bag?

There is no set checklist for the exact clubs that can be in the bag. That being said, there are some general categories of clubs that should be in every golfer’s mind:

  • Driver (used off the tee box on many holes)
  • Fairway woods (Tee shots for better accuracy, longer shots from fairways or light rough)
  • Hybrids (Increase your accuracy and consistency with longer irons that are lowest lofts)
  • Irons (Throw darts at the pin)
  • Wedges (Spin it back or escape bunkers)
  • Putter (Drop bombs and never three putt!)

What do pros carry in their golf bags?

Professional golfers generally carry a driver, 3-wood, 5-wood, 4-PW, gap wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge, and a putter. Depending on the pro, these setups may change slightly, including the use of a driving iron, hybrid, or another longer club in place of one of the woods. They may also choose to go with a two-wedge setup to have access to more long-game weapons. It also depends on where they are playing. Pros love to completely tinker with their bag set up during the Open Championship when links golf demands lowball flights and creative short games.

How many clubs are in a golf set?

The answer to this question is simply that it depends. There are many types of golf clubs and they can be combined in a number of ways. Many “complete sets” come with 10-14 golf clubs depending on what price point the company is trying to hit or whether they believe a golfer needs that many clubs when beginning to play. They offer a full set of golf clubs in the sense that you will get at least one of every type of club. Golfers may have up to 14 clubs in their set.

Do clubs really matter in golf?

Yes, clubs really do matter in golf. Some are set to have an offset to fight a miss, such as a slice, which is largely beneficial for the beginner golfer. Some are lofted differently, which allows a golfer to play various shots around the course. Differences in wedge loft and bounce on the wedge allow for the wedges to move differently through various lies. Be mindful of what you are buying and what that can mean for your game! Chat with a Curated Expert for free advice.

Experienced golfers tend to have more wedges than beginners because they understand the importance of versatility closer to the greens. Their irons also tend to stick closer to the higher lofts (the irons with higher numbers), and choose to distance gap longer distances with their longer clubs. Their set of clubs will also be optimized for precision.

Beginning golfers should look for irons with perimeter weighting, balancing the weight from toe to heel and allowing the ball to be launched into the air. It may also behoove these golfers to go for graphite shafts that tend to be a little lighter than their steel counterparts.

Should I carry a 3-wood or 5-wood?

The quick answer is why not both? With the 14-club rule, a golfer can carry 14 clubs, so why not carry a 5-wood in combination with a 3-wood? This would give a golfer a greater array of options off the tee and for approach into a par five green. Both of these woods would be useful throughout a round of golf, so carrying both may be a smart decision.

What is easier to hit a fairway wood or hybrid?

Neither is “easier to hit” as a blanket statement. A wood is going to be easier to hit for golfers that like seeing a bigger head behind the ball and are able to make a swing that works for fairway woods. Hybrid clubs may be easier to hit for golfers that prefer to see a smaller head behind the ball. Both are infused with technology that makes the ball easier to hit from a marketing standpoint.

What is a hybrid golf club?

A hybrid is a golf club that combines the lofting of an iron with the forgiveness and technology of metal wood. In using one of these clubs, a golfer can more easily get the ball off the ground and move a greater distance in a straighter line than they could with a longer iron. Hybrids generally replace long irons, such as 3-iron or 4-iron, and are designed to be a little easier to hit, saving beginner and intermediate golfers strokes on the course.

Can you carry 2 putters in your golf bag?

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While technically a golfer could choose to play 2 putters in their bag, it is not a recommended strategy. Putting is hard enough with one putter, adding another putter to the mix and having to decide which of the two you are going to use would overcomplicate things even more. Find a putter you like and stick with one, leaving you 13 other clubs you can have in your bag.

Does each golfer need their own clubs?

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Yes, each golfer needs their own clubs. This keeps the pace of play moving at the course during the day, and it allows golfers to have their own discretion for what shot to play with what club. In a competition, a golfer must have their own bag of clubs to play and may not use the clubs of another golfer.

Can you use another player’s club to hit your shot?

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You may not use another player’s clubs during a competitive round of golf. In doing so, a golfer would be deemed to be in breach of the rule stating that the maximum number of clubs a golfer may have in their bag to use is 14. By using a club from another player, that golfer would be deemed to have used all of the clubs in their bag as well as their competitor’s bag. However, amateur players just out for fun on a weekend love to swap clubs and test out new products!

Can you ask a golfer what club they used?

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In a competition, you cannot ask a golfer what club they used on a shot. This comes into play mostly on the tee box of a par three, where golfers are jockeying to hit the closest shot to the pin that they possibly can while also being in the exact same spot. In a casual round, this rule is the most ignored, and what club is being hit by everyone is shared freely.

How many balls can a PGA Tour player carry?

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A PGA Tour player can carry as many golf balls as they desire. More than likely, they carry between 6-10, depending on how often they like to switch balls to avoid playing a ball that is too torn up from on-course wear. One note here is that PGA Tour players may only play one brand and model of golf ball. For instance, they may not play Titleist Pro V1s and Titleist Pro V1xs.

If you have any other questions as you think about finding the right golf equipment for your game, reach out to me or another Golf Expert here on Curated for free advice and recommendations.

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