May 11, 2023

Golf is an exciting game, whose scoring and regulations are based on complex rules. Of all the regulations governing its play, one of the most intricate is the limit of clubs allowed in a golf bag. Professional and amateur golfers alike must stay within the maximum number of 14 clubs to avoid incurring penalties and disqualifications.

While it is important to understand what clubs constitute the 14-club limit, it is also crucial to grasp the nuances of when additional clubs can be employed and exchanged during a round. This article will discuss these essential elements and topics such as: how many clubs are allowed in a golf bag, the best club breakdown, if there is a minimum number of clubs you can carry, two of the same club, the protocol for replacing damaged clubs during a round, and the difference between professional and amateur golfers’ regulations.

A comprehensive knowledge of golf club regulations is key for the success of any golfer.

Short Summary

  • Golfers are limited to 14 clubs in their bag, with no restriction on the number of putters and allowance for additional hybrid/antique clubs and club replacements.
  • Carrying too many clubs in a golf bag can incur a penalty of up to two strokes per hole, with an additional two stroke penalty for match play.
  • Replacing a broken golf club is allowed during a round of golf, however the rules on how many clubs can be carried in a bag still apply.

How many clubs are allowed in a golf bag?

A golf bag with clubs inside

Just how many clubs CAN you carry? Well, The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) rules stipulate that a player may carry a maximum of 14 clubs in their golf bag. Putters are to be included in the maximum number of clubs permissible at the commencement of the round, yet there is no restriction on the number of putters allowed.

The penalty for having an excessive number of clubs in one’s own bag during a round is two strokes per hole, with a maximum of four strokes, and an additional two strokes on the first two holes in stroke play. In match play, the penalty is a match adjustment of two holes, a loss of a stroke in stroke play, a loss of a hole in match play, or disqualification.

Players are also allowed to carry any combination of clubs in addition to the 14 clubs permitted, such as hybrid clubs and antique clubs such as hickory shafted clubs. If a player loses or damages a club during a round, the player is allowed to replace it with an additional club or the same club from his own bag.

Amateur golfers may also carry fewer clubs than the maximum and experienced golfers often opt to carry fewer clubs so that their selection of clubs is tailored to the course being played. Beginner golfers may carry up to 14 clubs, but are not required to carry the full number of clubs.

What happens if I carry too many clubs?

A golfer carrying too many clubs

The penalty for having an excessive number of clubs in the bag is two strokes per hole, with a maximum of four strokes, plus an additional two strokes on the first two holes in stroke play. In match play, golfers receive a match adjustment of two holes.

If a golfer carries more clubs than the maximum allowed in match play, a penalty of up to two holes will be assessed. This penalty is applicable for each hole played with excess clubs.

Carrying too many clubs in a golf bag can limit the shot-making possibilities, as the golfer is restricted to using the same clubs for every shot. Additionally, carrying too many clubs in golf bags can make the golf bag heavier and more difficult to carry.

It is important to note that the rules and regulations regarding the number of clubs in a golf bag differ for professionals and amateurs. While professionals are allowed up to 14 clubs in their bags, amateurs are typically limited to a maximum of 13 clubs.

What is the best club breakdown?

Novice golfers tend to prioritize distance when selecting clubs, whereas experienced golfers prioritize precision. For experienced golfers, the recommended club breakdown typically includes a greater number of long irons, fewer woods and hybrid clubs, and an additional wedge. Having both a 3-wood and a 5-wood in one’s golf bag would provide a golfer with a wider range of options when teeing off and when approaching a par five green.

Ultimately, the optimal club selection for golfers depends on their level of skill; beginners should emphasize distance while experienced players should prioritize accuracy. When selecting clubs, it is important to consider the golfer’s skill level, as well as the terrain they will be playing on. Novices should focus on clubs that provide maximum distance, while experienced players should select clubs that offer precision and accuracy.

It is also important to consider the number of clubs that can be carried in a golf bag; the maximum is fourteen, but experienced players may find that fewer clubs are sufficient. Additionally, having both a 3-wood and a 5-wood in one’s golf bag provides a wider range of options when teeing off and when approaching a par five green.

Can I add clubs during a round?

It is permissible for a golfer to increase their club count during a round of play, provided the total number of clubs does not exceed 14. The clubs that a golfer adds during a round must comply with the rules of golf, and a golfer is permitted to borrow clubs from another player during a round, provided that the borrowed clubs have not been deliberately damaged to alter their playing characteristics and the borrowing player is not sharing a club with the lending player. If a golfer exceeds the maximum of 14 clubs during a round, they may be subject to penalty strokes.

In addition to increasing the number of clubs during a round, golfers may choose to carry fewer clubs if they feel that the extra weight is impeding their performance. For example, a golfer may choose to carry a hybrid club instead of a long iron, or opt to only carry one putter or wedge instead of two. As long as the golfer is not carrying fewer than 14 clubs, there is no penalty for carrying fewer clubs.

Is there a minimum number of clubs you can carry?

No, there is no stipulation requiring a certain number of clubs to be present in a golf bag. However, the upper limit of clubs permissible in a golf bag is 14.

It is permissible to augment one’s equipment during a round of golf, yet there are restrictions on introducing additional clubs; it is only permissible to do so if the initial set of clubs contained fewer than 14 and it is not allowed to add a club that has been deliberately broken or damaged during the round.

Can I have two of the same club?

Transporting multiple copies of the same golf club is permissible, provided that the total number of clubs in the bag does not exceed 14.

Some players carry two drivers or putters in order to have extra club and the option of different shots. This is allowed within the maximum club count of 14, as it is permissible to carry up to 14 clubs in a golf bag, including multiple of the same club.

Are rules about how many golf clubs in a bag different for professionals?

The PGA Tour and amateur golfers alike are subject to the same rule, which stipulates that no more than 14 clubs may be carried in a golf bag. This rule applies to all types of golfers, regardless of their skill level. This means, whether a player is a beginner, an experienced golfer, or a professional, they must adhere to this regulation.

The regulation regarding the maximum number of clubs permissible in a golf bag does not differ between professional and amateur golfers. Even though professional golfers may have more advanced equipment and use more expensive golf balls, they are still limited to the same 14-club limit as amateur golfers. This helps to level the playing field for all participants in a tournament, as each competitor has the same number of clubs in their bag.

Additionally, the rules do not differentiate between steel shafted clubs and graphite shafted clubs. A player is allowed to carry the same amount of clubs regardless of the type of shaft used. Furthermore, the same golf bag may be taken to each round of a tournament, and the player is not required to use a new bag each time they play a golf tournament.

What happens if I break a golf club?

It is permissible to replace a broken golf club during a round of golf. This holds true regardless of if the club was damaged due to misuse or accidental damage. While replacement is allowed, players should note that using a damaged club is also permitted. This means that if a club is broken mid-round, the player can choose to continue playing with the damaged club rather than replace it.

In the event of a broken club, it is important to remember that rules on how many golf clubs can be carried in a bag still apply. It is important to not exceed the full number of golf clubs allowed in a golf bag, or else penalties may be incurred. Additionally, if a player chooses to replace a damaged club, they should make sure it is of the same make and model as their other clubs. Although there may be some differences between clubs made by different manufacturers, they should still generally be the same in terms of size, weight, and design.


In conclusion, the rules of golf define that a golfer may carry up to fourteen clubs in their bag at any one time, without discrimination between steel and graphite shafted clubs. Additionally, golfers cannot add any further clubs during the round, unless they replace a broken one; this must meet the same make and model of the other clubs and still follows the 14-club rule.

As a result, golfers should carefully consider which club or combination of clubs can best benefit them based on their skill level and terrain. Moreover, when preparing for a golfing trip, they should already have an established optimal balance in their bag, as carrying more than fourteen clubs will result in a severe penalty.

As such, it is paramount that golfers remain mindful of this limit to maximize the return on their energy expenditure and not hinder themselves with superfluous golf equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I carry 15 clubs?

Unfortunately, no, you cannot carry 15 clubs. Golf rules state that 14 is the maximum number of clubs allowed on-course for play, regardless of their type and use.

So although you could potentially carry multiple putters, drivers, or any combination of left-handed and right-handed clubs, the total number of ones own clubs would be limited to 14.

How many clubs can PGA players carry?

PGA players are permitted to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in their golf bag, according to the R&A and USGA. This typically includes woods, irons, hybrids and a putter, although the exact combinations can vary from player to player.

Allowing for different shot types, PGA players must be precise about which clubs they choose to optimize their scorecard.

How many clubs can a high school golfer carry?

A high school golfer is allowed to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in their golf bag, as per the United States Golf Association’s guidelines. This number is not required though, and golfers can choose to play with fewer or more clubs than the limit.

Why can you only carry 14 clubs?

With the understanding that the golfing experience requires a player to be able to access all clubs in their bag with relative ease, the 14-club limit ensures that players can carry a variety of clubs without having to deal with an excessive load on the golf course.

This also balances out the advantage among players and has been standard practice since the 1920s.

About the author 

Linda Parker

My name is Linda Parker, I’ve been around golf since I was born, and I’ve been golfing since I was four years old!

I’m here to share my love of the game with you, so please do let me know if you have any questions!

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