How Many Clubs in a Golf Bag: Understanding USGA Limits

A total number of 14 clubs are placed in a golf bag over the course

Learn how many clubs in a golf bag would be perfect for your game and your skill set. Also, find expert tips on choosing the right club for your game.

How many golf clubs do you have in your bag when you play golf? For most people, the answer is either 9 or 10. But did you know there can be up to 14 golf clubs in a golf bag? 

Read on as we discuss how many clubs in a golf bag are acceptable under the existing rules of golf. We will also take a glance at the different types of golf clubs found in a golf bag and how they are used.

What is a golf club?

A golf club is a long-handled piece of golf equipment with a weight at the end of a long shaft used to hit a small, hard ball. The head of the club is usually made of metal, and the shaft is made of wood or graphite.

There are different types of golf clubs, and each one is designed for a different purpose. So, let’s now know how many clubs are there in a golf bag.

How many clubs in a golf bag?

According to the rules of golf mandated by governing bodies like the United States Golf Association (USGA), a player can carry up to 14 clubs in their bag during a round. 

How many golf clubs in a set? 

Standard golf sets typically include 14 clubs, which is a combination of a driver, fairway woods, irons, wedges, and a putter. The exact number of clubs in a set can vary, but 14 is considered the standard count that you can carry for any golf game.

Below is the list of 14 golf club set that is used by golfers:

  1. Driver: A driver is the largest and most powerful club in a golfer’s bag and is used to hit the ball the farthest distance.
  2. Pitching wedge: A pitching wedge is a short-iron club used to hit the ball a relatively short distance with a high degree of accuracy.
  3. Sand wedge: A sand wedge is a specialized club used to hit the ball out of sand traps and other difficult lies.
  4. Gap wedge: A gap wedge is a club used to hit the ball at a medium distance with moderate accuracy.
  5. Lob wedge: A lob wedge is a club used to hit the ball a very short distance with high accuracy.
  6. 3-wood: A 3-wood is a club used to hit the ball a long distance with moderate accuracy.
  7. 5-wood: A 5-wood is a club used to hit the ball a shorter distance than a 3-wood with moderate accuracy.
  8. Putter: A putter is usually used to hit the ball a very short distance with high accuracy on the green.
  9. 5 iron: A 5 iron is a club used to hit the ball at a medium distance with moderate accuracy.
  10. 6 iron: A 6 iron is a club used to hit the ball a shorter distance than a 5 iron with moderate accuracy.
  11. 7 iron: A 7 iron is a club used to hit the ball a relatively short distance with a high degree of accuracy.
  12. 8 iron: An 8 iron is a club used to hit the ball a shorter distance than a 7 iron with moderate accuracy.
  13. 9 iron: A 9 iron is a club used to hit the ball a very short distance with high accuracy.
  14. 4 hybrid: A 4 hybrid is a club used to hit the ball at a medium distance with moderate accuracy. It is a cross between a 4 iron and a 5 wood.

Carrying less than 14 clubs in the golf bag

Most professional golfers only carry between 10 and 12 clubs, as this will enable them to specialize their selection for the course conditions and their playing style. While carrying fewer clubs may seem like limiting a golfer’s options, it gives them more control over their game.

For a smaller selection of clubs, the golfer should select each club carefully to ensure that it can be used in various situations. This forces golfers to think more carefully about their shot selection and increases their chances of hitting the ball squarely. In the end, having too many clubs can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Penalty for exceeding 14 clubs  

You are only allowed to carry a maximum of 14 clubs during a round of golf. According to rule 4-1b mentioned by USGA guidelines, here are the penalities that are imposed if you break the rule:

Stroke play

A two-stroke penalty will be imposed if a player has extra clubs in their bag and they discover it on the first hole. If the player realizes it after the second hole, the maximum penalty will be four strokes. 

This means that the penalty will be two strokes per hole for the number of holes in violation. This penalty stroke limit is capped at four strokes, even if the violation continues for more than two holes. 

One famous example of this penalty was when Woody Austin was penalized for having too many clubs in his bag during the 2013 PGA Championship. In scoring, two strokes will be added to each of the first two holes.

Match play 

In match play, the rules are slightly different regarding extra clubs. If a player has more clubs than allowed, a match adjustment will be made for each hole played. 

However, the adjustment is limited to two holes if the violation continues for more than one hole.

Here’s an example to help illustrate this rule. If your opponent starts with 15 clubs and you become aware of it on the third hole, and you lose the match 1 down, the hole adjustment would result in you winning the match 1 up. If the violation only occurs on the first hole, the penalty will be a one-hole adjustment.

How to set up a golf bag – Step by step guide

Are you ready to hit the links with a perfectly organized golf bag? Setting up your golf bag doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With this step-by-step guide, you can easily organize your clubs and accessories in no time.

Step 1: Empty your entire golf bag. Gather/categorize all essential equipment you intend to carry.

Step 2: Arrange clubs from longest to shortest, top to bottom, starting with woods and drivers at the back of the bag.

Step 3: Place medium irons in the middle compartment and short irons and wedges in the front compartment.

Step 4: Putter can go either in front or back depending on preference.

Step 5: Store the tees, golf balls, golf gloves, towels, etc in side pockets for easy access during play.

Step 6: Make sure to fasten the bag and secure everything before heading out onto the course.

What do golf club numbers mean? 

Golf club numbers refer to the numerical designation assigned to each club in a golfer’s bag to indicate the club’s loft and length. This helps golfers easily identify the right club to use for a specific shot.  

The higher the number, the more loft the club head will have and the greater the angle that the ball will take off at when struck. The lower numbered clubs usually have a lower loft and will send the ball further from its original point than their higher numbered counterparts.

Can I carry 2 putters at a time?

Yes, you are allowed to carry two putters in your golf bag. Professional golfers like Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stull, Scotty Cameron, and Mark Calcavechia have been known to carry two putters in their golf bags. People may want to carry two putters for a variety of reasons.

  • Some golfers like to maintain different putters to match the different speeds of the greens.
  • Others golfers like to swap between putters without having to adjust their strokes. 

Can you use your partners golf clubs?

Sharing golf clubs with a partner is allowed if the combined number of clubs is no more than 14. For instance, if you have 6 clubs in your bag and your partner has 8, then you can use their clubs as long as the total number does not exceed 14.

What type of clubs do most pros use?

It is obvious that professional golfers see a driver, putter, and pitching wedge in every PGA Tour pro’s set. Here is a standard list of clubs most golf pros carry in their golf bag:

  • 3-wood: 13-14° loft
  • 5-wood, 2-iron or 17-18° hybrid
  • Driver: 44-17” shaft, 8-10.5° loft
  • Irons: 4-9 irons
  • Wedges: Pitching wedge (47-50°), lob wedge (59-64°), gap wedge or sand wedge (53-56°)
  • Putter: Conventional putter (33-35°), belly putter (39-43°) or long putter (48-52°)

Club breakdown on the basis of skill level

The table indicates which golf club to use, based on skill level. Ultimately, the best club for a player depends on swing, strength, and personal preferences of individual golfers.

Skill LevelAverage ScoreClub Setup
Beginner100+12-club bag with a driver, 3 wood, 5 hybrid, 7-9 irons, pitching wedge, and sand wedge
Intermediate85-100Driver, 3 wood, 4 hybrid, 5-PW irons, SW, and LW
Advanced70-85Driver, 3 wood, 4 hybrid, 5-PW irons, and SW
ProBelow 70Driver, 3 wood, 4 hybrid, and 5-PW irons

*PW – Pitching Wedge, SW – Sand Wedge, LW – Lob Wedge

Why is there a limit on carrying golf clubs?

The limit on carrying golf clubs is in place to make the game more fair and challenging. It forces players to choose the right clubs for each shot, and it also prevents players from carrying too many clubs and becoming fatigued. 

Carrying too many clubs can also be a burden, both physically and mentally. It can be tiring to lug around a bag full of clubs, and it can also be distracting to have so many options. If you find yourself constantly changing clubs or second-guessing your choices, it might be time to simplify your golf bag.

How much are golf clubs?

The price of golf clubs can vary widely depending on their quality and type. A beginner set typically costs around $700 to $1,000, while high-end clubs can cost upwards of thousands of dollars. 

Additionally, many factors such as the age and condition of the clubs can also affect the overall price. If you are looking for more affordable golf clubs, you can find pre-used clubs online or at re-sale shops. These golf clubs cost much less than brand new ones.

Tips to pick the right golf clubs for your game

It’s a question that every golfer has asked at some point. And while there’s no easy answer, there are a few things you can keep in mind when choosing the golf clubs for your game:

  1. Consider your skill level: If you’re a beginner, you should purchase a set of clubs that are designed for beginners. As you progress and your skill level improves, you can begin to add more clubs to your bag.
  2. Check the grip: The size of your hands may affect the grip on your golf club. Not all people’s hands are built the same, and so the size of their grip is very important. The capacity to properly wrap your fingers around the club is referred to as a good grip. A too small or large club might prevent you from swinging it correctly. 
  3. Examine the length of the shaft: The length of your golf club matters so that you maintain proper posture during your swing. For example, taller players will need a longer shaft to make contact with the ball. But keep in mind that different clubs also provide varying degrees of flexibility. The professionals at your golf shop can help evaluate what you need and narrow down the options until you find the club that is most comfortable for you.
  4. Review the loft: The loft of a club is the angle between its shaft and face. A lower-lofted club will make the ball travel farther than one with more loft, but the latter’s steeper ascent and descent may be preferable, depending on your game. Have an expert from the pro shop assess your skills to learn which clubs are best for you.
  5. Consider clubhead size: A larger clubhead size will make it simpler for new players to connect with the ball. A bigger clubhead, on the other hand, comes with more weight and bulk, making it more difficult to achieve the ideal swing. Most manufacturers provide alternatives for standard, midsize, and huge heads to cater to every golfer’s requirements. Experimenting with different sizes is a fantastic method to figure out which clubs are best for you. 
  6. Don’t forget about the putter: The putter is often overlooked, but it’s an important part of the game. When choosing a putter, make sure that it’s the right length and weight for you.
  7. Ask for help: If you’re unsure of which golf clubs to choose, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a friend or family member who plays golf. They can offer advice and recommendations based on your skill level and playing style.
  8. Take your time: Choosing the right golf clubs takes time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end. By taking the time to find the perfect set of clubs, you can improve your game and enjoy the sport even more.


To conclude, a golf bag typically contains between 10 and 14 clubs, although the exact number will vary depending on the player’s preferences and the type of game being played. With a variety of clubs at their disposal, golfers can tailor their approach to each hole and adapt their game to any situation.

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