Knowing how many clubs you’re allowed to carry is vital if you’re playing in a match play competition or an open tournament. The United States Golf Association (USGA) has rules that many local and state golf associations adhere to regarding the number of clubs allowed in a player’s bag. According to the USGA, a golfer is allowed to have up to 14 clubs in their bag. There is no minimum number enforced, and if a golfer starts with fewer than 14 clubs, they may add additional clubs, provided this total does not exceed fourteen.
The penalty for excess clubs is assessed in various golf formats, including the popular stroke and match play formats. The USGA requires that golfers in violation of the club limits have the excess club declared out of play. The club is declared out of play by the golfer’s match play opponent or fellow competitor in a stroke play competition. A golfer will incur a two-stroke penalty for each hole where the extra club was used, with a maximum penalty of four strokes per round. Match play penalties require a golfer to deduct a hole he won for each penalty, up to a maximum of two holes per round.
In 1988, the USGA altered a rule about club-borrowing that allowed a player to borrow a club from anyone. The borrowed club could be used throughout the remainder of the round. However, in 1992, the USGA changed the rule back to the pre-1988 interpretation that allows you to borrow a club only from a partner you’re teaming up with during a tournament. Partners may share clubs, but the total number of clubs carried between partners must also not exceed 14.
A Standard Bag
The standard 12 clubs in many golf bags include:
- 3 woods (driver, 3-wood and 5-wood)
- 8 irons (3-iron through 9-iron and pitching wedge)
- 1 putter
Another 2 can be added to this usual allotment. The last two clubs can include a hybrid for use on the fairway and a wedge for the golfer’s short game, or a player may choose to use two wedges, which can include a lob wedge or a sand wedge. Hybrid golf clubs have become increasingly popular as they can replace various woods and irons and reduce the number of clubs in a bag.
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