How Many Clubs Can You Carry? — (Golf Coach’s Tips)

How Many Clubs Can You Carry from Golf Coaches at Tell Me More Golf Instructors Helping Students

As the head golf instructor at Tell Me More Golf, in this article, I will answer one of our most asked questions from beginners: How many clubs can you carry?

There is a maximum of 14 clubs in the bag during a round.

While the answer to this may be simple, it’s also important to discuss how many clubs you should carry, as the two are very different and depend on several factors.

After reading this article, you’ll know everything you need to know about how many clubs you can and should carry. 

The Rules: Limit of Clubs

In golf, players are allowed to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in their bag during a round. This limitation, set by the governing bodies of golf (USGA: United States Golf Association), aims to maintain a balance between skill and equipment variety

The 14-club rule ensures that golfers must strategically choose their clubs based on their skills and the course with its unique conditions, emphasizing skill over excessive gear.

This restriction prompts players to refine their shot-making abilities with a limited arsenal, enhancing the competitive aspect of the game. 

Consequently, the rule contributes to the essence of golf as a sport where precision, strategy, and player skill take precedence over equipment abundance. Because, otherwise, some players may have an advantage carrying many clubs with very little distance in loft in order to control distances easier. 


Penalties for Carrying Too Many Clubs

Exceeding the 14-club limit in golf carries penalties, as you’re not adhering to the sport’s principles.

According to the rules of golf, players in breach face a two-stroke penalty for each hole where the infraction occurs, with a maximum penalty of four strokes per round. 

This strict enforcement ensures that golfers adhere to the prescribed equipment constraints, maintaining a level playing field and emphasizing the importance of strategic club selection. 

Beyond the numerical penalty, the rule fosters integrity and highlights the essence of golf as a game where skill and precision are paramount, with golf equipment serving as a means rather than a loophole. 

Are 14 Clubs Too Many to Carry?

The debate over whether 14 clubs are too many to carry in golf hinges on the player’s skill level and the specific demands of their game, as well as individual preferences.

Beginners and Intermediates

For beginner golfers, having 14 clubs can be perplexing and unnecessary.

Novice golfers are still honing fundamental skills, and a surplus of clubs may distract from the core aspects of the game.

Simplifying the club selection process for beginners allows them to focus on building a solid foundation without overwhelming intricacies.

Moreover, many amateurs struggle to use certain clubs effectively, such as the challenging long irons. For these players, carrying a full set might be counterproductive, as they may not experience benefits from clubs that exceed their skill level. 

Tailoring the club selection to the individual’s capabilities can enhance the overall playing experience, making the game more enjoyable and manageable for players across different skill levels. When simplified, we’d say you don’t need all 14 clubs if you have more than a 10-15 handicap.

Advanced Players

Conversely, for high-level golfers, possessing a full set of clubs is often essential. The diversity accommodates the intricacies of professional courses, offering the versatility needed to adapt to varying conditions and achieve precise distance control. Each club becomes a specialized tool for these players, which is why it makes sense to carry 14.


How Many Clubs Should You Have? – Handicap Tips

The number of clubs that are ideal for you depends on many things. There isn’t such a thing as a minimum number of clubs to carry, as you can play amazing golf with just a couple. 

However, there can be a maximum number of clubs for some players.

Here, we’ve made a short guide for you where we factor in handicap. 

High Handicappers

While determining an exact number for how many clubs you should have in the golf bag is difficult, we suggest high handicappers carry around 9.

With this number, you’ll have everything you need to improve your scores, all without getting overwhelmed.

With more clubs than this, there’s a risk of you using clubs you don’t play very well with, since many high handicaps don’t put in as much time at the driving range. For example, hitting a 3 iron off the deck is too challenging for most high handicaps.

Budget can also be a factor in this decision, as more clubs mean more money spent on equipment.

Mid Handicappers

Mid handicaps can take advantage of a few more clubs, but generally speaking, we’re still looking at keeping things simple and playing clubs you’re comfortable with.

When you’re a mid handicap, you often have higher swing speed than high handicaps, and you’ll hit the sweet spot more often. Now, we’d say that 12 clubs is sufficient. With this, you’ll have a ton of versatility, while still not getting overwhelmed or forcing yourself to use something you’re not comfortable with.

Low Handicappers

Low handicaps can and should take advantage of all 14 clubs you’re allowed to carry. While it’s not necessary, utilizing the maximum number allows you to have all the versatility you need, as well as great distance and trajectory control.


What Types of Golf Clubs to Carry – Handicap Tips

What types of clubs you should carry is highly individual. However, there are some general guidelines that can be applicable to the majority of golfers based on their handicap. 

High Handicappers

For high handicappers, we’d say that simplicity is key. Focus on mastering the core set of clubs, including a driver, a hybrid, irons from 6 through 9, a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, and a putter. Getting good with these clubs is an attainable goal, and you’ll have plenty of versatility out on the golf course.

Mid Handicappers

Mid handicappers should aim for a balanced mix. You would typically include a driver, a fairway wood, a hybrid, irons from 5 through 9, a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, a lob wedge, and a putter. Here, you have even more versatility, but you also need more skill to use all of them.

Overall, a mid handicap should prioritize clubs that enhance precision and forgiveness, helping refine your skills while providing flexibility across different challenges you’ll face on the course.

Low Handicappers

Low handicappers benefit from a more specialized approach. Now, all clubs are on the table. A suitable bag may include a driver, two fairway woods, hybrids, a full set of irons, multiple wedges for precision around the green, and a putter. Things like utility irons also come into play, given you have enough clubhead speed. In general, you should tailor your selection to fine-tune your game. Control and adaptability are the number one focus.

Finalizing Your Selection

Determining how many golf clubs to carry is a difficult decision influenced by various factors. Skill level, handicap, budget, and personal preference play pivotal roles in curating an effective set of clubs. As you finalize your selection, it’s crucial to consider the rules governing the sport. 

According to golf regulations, players are limited to carrying 14 clubs. For novices or those with higher handicaps, simplicity often proves beneficial. Streamlining the set to essentials fosters focus and skill development. 

Mid handicappers should seek out a balanced mix, incorporating clubs that enhance precision and forgiveness. On the other hand, low handicappers benefit from a more specialized approach, tailoring their selection for optimum control and adaptability.

Ultimately, finalizing your club selection is very personal. Evaluating individual strengths, weaknesses, and preferences ensures that the chosen set aligns with your unique playing style, contributing to a more enjoyable and successful golfing experience.

SUBSCRIBE  for FREE GOLF TIPS from our EXPERT INSTRUCTORS! – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have 15 clubs in my bag?

No, golf regulations strictly enforce a 14-club limit per bag during a round. This rule ensures fair play, preventing players from gaining an unfair advantage and emphasizing strategic decision-making in club selection.

How many clubs can PGA players carry?

PGA players, like all golfers, adhere to the same 14-club restriction, maintaining consistency and fairness across professional and amateur levels.

How many clubs can a golfer carry this year?

The standard rule remains valid—golfers can carry a maximum of 14 clubs in their bag, promoting standardized play and strategic decision-making. Extra clubs will cause penalties. 

Can you have 18 clubs in your bag?

No, golf rules set a clear limit of 14 clubs for both amateur and professional players, preventing an imbalance and ensuring a level playing field for all.

How many clubs should you carry?

Carrying the maximum of 14 clubs can be a good idea if you want maximum versatility. However, carrying fewer clubs can make sense if you don’t play well with all 14 clubs or if you don’t have the budget. Also, a smaller number of golf clubs can make decisions less overwhelming and force you to use clubs you know how to use. 

Is it bad to have many clubs?

Exceeding the 14-club limit is against golf rules. For amateur golfers, an excessive number of clubs may lead to confusion and hinder skill development. 



To summarize, the decision of how many golf clubs to carry is a blend of personal preference, skill level, and adherence to the 14-club rule. Whether streamlining for simplicity or customizing for precision, the key is aligning your club selection with your unique playing style for an optimal golfing experience.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
Our golf instructor team brings it all to you, so enjoy!

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