How Many Clubs in a Golf Bag Can You Carry?

Did you know that the United States Golf Association (USGA) and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) limit the number of clubs you can carry on the course during tournament play?

how many clubs in a golf bag

One of the biggest challenges that golfers face is finding the right combination and ensuring they carry the right number of clubs for their round on the golf course.

The number of irons and woods, plus your putter and wedges, all factor into the final number of clubs you carry onto the golf course in your golf bag.

In this article, “How many clubs in a golf bag?” we’ll examine the rules governing the maximum and minimum number of clubs in your bag and what combination of clubs will work best for your game.

How many clubs can I have in my bag?

In USGA and R&A tournaments, a maximum of 14 clubs are allowed in your bag, although you can carry less than that number of clubs if you wish.

Currently, there is no minimum number that the playing field must carry in a tournament, as the bag assembly is left up to the individual player.

When it comes to assembling the set of 14 clubs, no specific guidelines dictate what you carry in your golf bag. You can carry as many drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, iron sets, wedges, and putters as you wish as long as you only carry 14 clubs in your bag to the course.

In recent majors, where fairways were tight and rough was thick and deep, pros sometimes used more than four wedges to navigate the tough terrain around the greens and multiple fairway woods to maintain distance and accuracy.

Can you carry more than 14 clubs?

A USGA tournament has a 14-club limit. Anything over that number is too many clubs; however, pros can assemble those 14 clubs in any combination.

If a pro discovers that they are carrying an extra club in their bag, the rules are clean and clear on the next step.

The offending player must immediately remove the player’s club from their bag, and at the end of the following hole, they must assess a two-stroke penalty upon themselves.

The two strokes should be added to the final score of that hole on the scorecard.

In an interesting twist to the excess club rule, you can actually add clubs during a round if you begin the round with fewer clubs than the 14-club limit.

This rule essentially helps players who forget a club in their locker or car during an amateur tournament rather than offering some tactical advantage against a playing partner.

How many golf clubs do pros carry?

Pro golfers carry the maximum number of 14 clubs in their golf bags.

Since the PGA Tour plays under the USGA and its own rules, it has adopted the standard of 14 clubs in the same golf bag for each playing member of the professional tour.

It should be noted that there are no rules for maximum clubs allowed in the bag with regard to specific individual clubs. So players can bring as many woods, wedges, or putters as they want for executing the shots they need on any given course.

Although the players do not have to ask themselves how many golf clubs they’ll need, that 14-club combination can include any number of drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, iron sets, wedges, and putters.

What clubs are in Tiger Woods’ bag?

After playing with Nike golf clubs for many years, Woods made the switch to TaylorMade after the shoe company stopped making golf equipment for their sponsored pros.

Nike’s golf clubs have been scrutinized for many years for being lackluster and far below the quality of other companies, such as Callaway and Titleist.

Currently, Woods utilizes the new Qi10 off-the-tee box, plus he enjoys his own personalized iron set, the P7TWs, from the short grass.

On the putting surface, Woods has used a Scotty Cameron putter for more than two decades to knock putts into holes during his round.

Tiger typically carries three assorted TaylorMade woods, eight clubs from his personalized P7TW iron set, two MG3 wedges, and a Scotty Cameron flatstick.

In our Tiger Woods WITB (What’s In The Bag) article, we review each of Woods’ clubs and explain how they help the 15-time major winner attack the course.

Does the type of golf clubs in your bag matter?

Yes, the type of golf clubs in your bag always matters. Whether you are a beginning player or one of many professional golfers, the clubs you play greatly affect your golf game.

Finding the right combination of hybrids and wedges to carry for high handicappers offers the best way to play their round.

In contrast, low handicappers don’t need as many intermediate clubs to bridge distances, so they’ll opt for another wedge over a hybrid when putting together their 14 clubs for a round.

During practice rounds, it’s customary for pros to take extra clubs when looking to see what intermediary clubs may work best and, if the rough is thicker, which wedges they need to hit the green with more frequency.

Can I be penalized in a tournament for having too many clubs?

Yes, if you are participating in a USGA-governed tournament, their rules state that you can be assessed a two-stroke penalty for each hole in stroke play where you are carrying 15 clubs, with a four-stroke maximum deduction for the round.

The four strokes will be implemented by adding a two-stroke penalty to each hole where the player carries the club.

In match play, if a player is discovered carrying too many golf clubs before or during the playing of a hole, then the hole is rewarded to the offending player’s opponent between two holes.

The one-hole loss is only applied once per round. If the golfer re-offends by carrying over the maximum number again, they are disqualified from the match.

When asking yourself how many clubs you should carry to the course, be advised that these rules are strictly followed to avoid ruining your round.

While adding extra clubs to your bag to test on the driving range is fun, those clubs need to be placed back into your car or locker before playing your round.

Has a pro golfer ever been penalized for an extra club?

One of the biggest mistakes a professional golfer has made carrying too many clubs in a golf bag came at the 2001 Open Championship.

After birding the opening hole of the final round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, 1991 Masters champion Ian Woosnam realized he was carrying an extra driver in his golf bag.

At the tee box on the following hole, Woosnam received a maximum penalty of two strokes for having more than 14 clubs in his bag.

The penalty cost Ian Woosnam around 233,000 pounds, plus a second-place finish that could have helped the golfer qualify for the Ryder Cup later that year.

Woosnam’s caddy was blamed for the mistake and was fired several weeks after missing a tee time.