The quick and easy answer is 14 clubs, for those of you asking. The USGA regulated this number back in 1938 because golfers were toting around 20-25 clubs to play a round of golf. When it came to competition play, the regulators wanted to ensure efforts were taken to level the playing field. Golfers must be more deliberate with their club selection and what shots they like to have made with those clubs.
Are There Any Penalties For Having Too Many Clubs?
Controlling the controllable is a big part of playing golf. There are enough pieces like lies, weather, and course conditions that can work against you; there is no need to be penalized for something you have total control over. Depending on the game you play, different penalties could occur; however, stroke play is the game that most amateur players would participate in. If you are found to have more than 14 golf clubs in your bag, you will have a two-stroke penalty accessed to your card for each hole that penalty was broken. While this sounds intense, the maximum amount of stroke that can be enforced is set at four strokes. However, I do not know about you, but I would rather not have four extra swings added to my score.
How Do You Figure Out What Clubs To Pick?
As you piece together your bag, which can take years for a serious player, you want to pay attention to your distances and your playing style. There is no perfect combination of clubs for someone to have in their bag because we are different in ability and approach. Over time, you will learn how far you strike each club and where you have gaps in your distances. You will also learn about scenarios that your style of play leaves you in. If you are very aggressive, you could find yourself in thicker rough or bunkers around the green more often, so a series of wedges may be more beneficial than an extra wood or long iron. Your essential clubs are a driver, three wood, five wood, and a three-iron through pitching wedge. From there, you can dig into where you need the help.