How Many Golf Clubs are Allowed in a Golf Bag?

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As a golfer, there are many things to be aware of before stepping onto the first tee. 

Have you got enough golf balls? Have you remembered your towel? Do you have a drink? These are just a few of the things you must check off your list before hitting your first drive of the day.

However, there are some things which tend to go unnoticed on the golf course. One of which is the number of golf clubs in a golf bag.

Do you know how many golf clubs are allowed in a golf bag?

The maximum number of golf clubs allowed in a golf bag is 14. 

This may seem a trivial question to those who are playing for fun every now and then but if you compete in competitions it is something you need to know.

Why 14 golf clubs? 

Well, following the 1935 US Open, the USGA talked about limiting the number of clubs which could be used in a round of golf. There were a few reasons behind this discussion, one of which being the fact one player turned up to the tournament with 32 clubs in his bag!

Firstly, this is going to be very heavy for a caddie to carry around 18 holes. Secondly, it was argued that having access to such a huge range of clubs reduces the skill level required to play the sport.

Typically a standard golfer’s bag will include three woods, eight irons and a putter. That makes a total of 12 clubs, so there is room for an additional 2 clubs of the golfers choice. However you can pick and choose the clubs as you wish!

golf clubs in a golf bag
Typical golf bag set up with 3 woods, a putter and the rest irons and wedges

If you want to find out more about which clubs you should carry, check out our post on what golf clubs you need on the course.

Can you share golf clubs with your playing partners and other players?

Unfortunately no. It is against the rules to share a club with another player, even if they are on your team in a competition. 

Interestingly, you can share the same golf bag as a playing partner, with both sets of clubs in the same bag but you can only use your own clubs during the round.

Can you alter golf clubs during a round?

These days when purchasing a new golf club such as a driver, it’s usually expected that it is possible to change the loft of the club. With that in mind, could you change the loft of your driver at some point during a round of golf? 

For example, if the wind started to pick in the middle of a round, could you change the loft on the driver so you can hit the ball lower?

The simple answer to this question is no, you cannot change the loft of the club once you have started the round. The rule states, ‘during a stipulated round, the playing characteristics of a club must not be purposely changed by adjustment or by any other means.’

Can I replace a damaged golf club during a round? 

Sometimes, during a round of golf, a golf club will become damaged. The rules state a player is allowed to keep using and/or to repair any club damaged during the round, no matter what the damage. 

However, the only time a player is allowed to replace a damaged club is when the damage is caused by an outside influence or natural forces

So, if you see red and get mad after a bad shot and damage your club, you cannot replace the club and it will remain with you for the rest of your round. 

That’s why you may have seen the odd tour pro previously putting with a wedge or three wood!

Can you add more clubs to your bag during a round?

Yes. If a player started a tournament with only 12 clubs in their bag, they could add an additional 2 clubs during the round.

Although this can only be done in accordance with the rules regarding the number and type of each club allowed in the bag.

What happens if you have more than 14 clubs?

What happens if you begin playing in a golf tournament and suddenly realise you have more than 14 golf clubs in your bag?

Panic is probably the overriding emotion plus the temptation to quietly discard one of the clubs in the long rough and return to collect it after the competition is over. You would never do that though, right?

The penalty for carrying more than 14 clubs in your golf bag varies depending on the format of the tournament. 

Stroke play – In a stroke play event, there is a 2 stroke penalty for each hole you have played up to a maximum of a 4 stroke penalty. 

Match play – In a match play event, you will lose 1 hole for each played with more than 14 clubs, up to a maximum of 2 holes.