If you’re planning on playing in an open tournament or a match-play competition, knowing how many clubs you can carry is essential. The USGA sets rules that several state and local golf associations follow that dictate the number of clubs any player is allowed to have in their bag, whether the player is a professional or amateur. Carrying too many clubs could mean that you end up with a penalty, and this could lower your overall score and performance.
Golf Club Limits
The USGA states that a golfer is allowed to have 14 clubs in his or her bag. There are several standard clubs most professionals have, and they can add other clubs to get to 14. You’ll usually see a pitching wedge, putter, and a driver. Their bag also features a 3-wood, 5-wood, and four through nine irons. You’ll start to see variations in the long iron, hybrid or wood category, and the wedges. The standard PGA Tour pro bag makeup includes:
- Driver with a 44 to 47-inch shaft with 8 to 10.5-degree loft
- 3-wood with a 13 to 14-degree loft
- 5-wood, 2-iron, or a 17 or 18-degree hybrid
- 3-iron or a 21 to 22-degree hybrid
- 4 through 9 irons
- Pitching wedge with 47 to 50-degree loft, sand or gap wedge with 53 to 56-degree loft, or a lob wedge with 59 to 64-degree loft
- Conventional putter with 33 to 35-inch shaft, belly putter with 39 to 43-inch shaft, or a long putter with 48 to 52-inch shaft
Can You Borrow Clubs?
The USGA altered the rule in 1988 that pertained to borrowing clubs from anyone. The player who borrowed the club could use it to play the rest of the round. However, this rule changed in 1992. This was when the USGA changed the rule back to say that you could only borrow a club from your tournament partner during the tournament.
Clubs and Penalties
Different golf formats have different penalties assigned to them for carrying extra clubs. This includes popular match play and stroke formats. The USGA states that any golfer caught violating the club limit has to declare any excess clubs out of play. The person who declares the golfers excess club out of play can be a competitor if the player is in stroke play competition, or it can be the golfer’s match play opponent. For every hole that the golfer used the club, they’ll get a two-stroke penalty. This penalty caps out at a maximum of four strokes for every round. For match play penalties, the golfer has to deduct a hole he already won for each penalty he incurs up to two holes for every round played.
Adding Extra Clubs to Make 14
When you pick out your 14 clubs, you typically add two clubs to the core 12 already in your bag. The last two clubs are normally a wedge that you use on your short game and a hybrid driver to use when you play the fairway. You can also pick out two wedges instead like a sand wedge or a lob wedge. The sand wedge will help with bunker shots, and the low wedge will give your ball a much better lift.
If you play with a hybrid club, you’re getting a combination of iron and wood that can help you reduce the number of clubs present in your bag. Some hybrid clubs look like a 3-wood, but some hybrids can look like a traditional iron. This club gets counted as a single club in your bag, but you can use it for several purposes. It works well as a replacement for a long iron, or you can use it off the tee. It’s also possible to sink chip shots off the green with it. You could potentially eliminate a 3-iron and a fairway wood by using a hybrid, and this gives you room to add another wedge.
The regulations that govern the clubs a professional golfer can have come from the USGA and the R&A. They say that no club can be extremely different from the customary and traditional form. Every club the player has should have a head and a shaft, and there must be material on the shaft that lets the player get a firm grip. The club has to be a single unit, with every part fixed. It isn’t allowed to have external attachments. The club’s head has to be shaped plainly, and every part of the head has to be functional, structural, and rigid.
If you’re interested in seeing if you have what it takes to be a pro golfer or perhaps a professional caddy, you may want to look into golf colleges that have certified PGS instructors that can help you with the fundamentals of the game and more.