What are the 14 Clubs in a Golf Bag

How Many Clubs in a Golf Bag? (14 Clubs + Tips on Choosing)

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You’re familiar with the scene: you’re flipping channels and come across a golf tournament. There are all the golfers traveling along the green with their caddies. And the caddie is usually carrying a golf bag with what looks like a million golf clubs in it. But why all those clubs? And how do the golfers know which one to use?

Golfers are allowed to have up to 14 clubs in a golf bag, each serving a specific purpose. The most common setup is:

  1. Driver
  2. Pitching wedge
  3. Sand wedge
  4. Gap wedge
  5. Lob wedge
  6. 3-wood
  7. 5-wood
  8. Putter
  9. 5 iron
  10. 6 iron
  11. 7 iron
  12. 8 iron
  13. 9 iron
  14. 4 hybrid

A golf club is what’s used by golfers to hit the golf ball. They are typically made to have a long shaft, a grip, and a club head. Each club has what’s called a loft angle. This helps with creating a specific trajectory for the golf ball when it is hit.

Honest Golfers 14 golf clubs infographic
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14 clubs in a golf bag

Overview of 14 Different Golf Clubs and Their Uses

Let’s break it down and explore what each golf club does and look at the most common types of golf clubs professional golfers use.

Driver

Driver

The golf driver’s use is very simple: this is typically the club used to tee off because it allows the golfer to hit the ball a great distance.

For that reason, a driver is usually the first club that a golfer reaches for in the bag.

Sometimes it might be used on the fairway, but that’s very rare.

Wedges

Wedges

The wedges are used for short, high shots. Typically those shots that need to be made near the green or in a sand bunker.

There are a few types of wedges:

  • Pitching wedge – you can use this wedge with a full swing to help get a higher shot and lift the ball over a tree or a bush. It can also be used on the sand if the golf ball is sitting on the surface.
  • Sand wedge – this club is designed for getting the golf ball out of a sand bunker. Sand bunkers are sunken portions of the course, filled with sand. It can be very difficult to get your ball out if it lands in here. The wedge is specifically designed with a wide sole (think sole of foot, it’s where the club rests on the ground) which helps the club glide through the sand. You can also use this type of club in a thick rough (the area between the fairway and the out-of-bounds markers) or mud.
  • Gap wedge – This wedge was designed to quite literally fill the gap between sand and pitching wedges. This means the gap wedge to hit a shot higher and shorter than that of a pitching wedge, but longer and lower than that of a sand wedge.
  • Lob wedge – Lob wedges are angled as a L-shape and are most often used to put shots over hazards (water, bunkers, etc.) and/or obstructions. When the golf ball is hit with a lob wedge, it leaves the ground in an extremely high arc allowing it to clear whatever obstacle.

3-Wood

3-Wood

The 3-wood is to be used on the fairway (the closely mowed area of the course that falls between a tee and a green) and allows the ball to remain lower and travel further.

Typically the use of this club aids in accuracy. You can use this club to tee off.

5-Wood

5-Wood

The 5-wood has a higher loft than a 3-wood. Remember, the loft is what helps with determining the angle and trajectory of the shot.

A good rule of thumb to remember is the the higher the golf club number, the higher the loft and the shorter the club shaft.

The 5-wood is typically used in the second shot of play, hitting the ball from the fairway.

Putter

Putter

The putter’s function is to put the golf ball into the hole. This club is used on the green (the area of the course where the flagstick and hole are located).

Once the ball is close enough to the hole that you don’t have to completely slam it with a club, you would use the putter.

If you’ve ever played miniature golf, sometimes referred to as “putt-putt”, these are the clubs you use around the mini course. They are designed to deliver a smooth shot which usually rolls the ball right into the hole.

5-9 Irons

5-9 Irons

The iron clubs are usually used if you find yourself less than 200 yards away from the green.

A rule of thumb for golf irons is the closer you are to the green, the higher the number of the iron you’ll use. The higher numbers are easier to hit than the lower numbers, making them a favorite among senior golfers and women golfers.

4 Hybrid

4 Hybrid

The term “hybrid” simply means a cross between two things. With the hybrid club, you get a combination of a wood golf head design with an iron length shaft.

Some golfers will use a 4 hybrid instead of a 4-wood. Most hybrids match up with their wood or iron counterpart, but the most important thing to look for is the loft of the club.

The hybrid club will be easier to hit and performs well in terms of distance and accuracy.

Tips on How to Choose the Right Clubs for Your Golf Bag

The most common setup is not always the best setup in every situation. 

You may therefore be wondering: Which 14 clubs should I carry? The three main factors to consider are your skill level, the course you are playing on, and the weather conditions:

Skill level

If you’re a novice player, you’ll want to be equipped with clubs that work with (rather than against) your natural tendencies in play.

For example, do you struggle with long-distance shots? 

If that’s the case, you will need clubs that make it easier to hit further. This is the standard use case for woods. 

The driver, mentioned earlier, is also known as a 1-wood and is the go-to club for the longest shots. Its long shaft and large head mean the head moves faster, hitting the ball harder.

The material of the shaft is also important to consider, with graphite shafts being ideal for maximizing distance due to being more lightweight and flexible.

Perhaps you struggle more with aim and accuracy; this is where a steel shaft is ideal! A steel shaft has less flex, which makes the club heavier but also more predictable.

Terrain

The golf course itself is a significant factor in choosing the right assortment of clubs.

A more technical course with a lot of tight corners and obstacles will favor clubs that promote highly controlled shots, with the putter being the most obvious choice when you need to maneuver out of an awkward spot and the wedge being the ideal tool for getting out of sand bunkers.

A large, open course will favor clubs that promote well-aimed, longer-distance shots. Once again, this is a standard use case for drivers and other woods.

Weather

The third most significant factor is the conditions on the day of play. Is it wet? Windy? Both?

In wet conditions, you’ll want the ball to be able to stop more easily as slippery surfaces make it harder to predict where the ball will end up after it lands. 

Therefore, you’ll need a club that helps create a strong spin on the ball

The two factors that help most with that are high loft and lots of grooves on the club face. As such, wedges and lob wedges are a good choice as they maximize both of these aspects.

In windy conditions, you want to maximize control of the ball and minimize wind resistance. This means keeping the ball low and therefore opting for a lower loft club such as a driver.

In mixed conditions, you need to be equipped with clubs suited to both conditions and play it by ear from moment to moment – paying attention especially to the wind as it changes and choosing the appropriate club accordingly. 

The moisture is obviously less prone to change during a given round, which is why you want to pay more attention to wind speed. It’s not always easy– and that’s just part of the art of playing golf!

Is There a Penalty If I Carry More Than 14 Clubs?

If a player finds that they have accidentally breached this rule, they must remove the excess clubs of their choice from play and receive a penalty

That penalty is different for match play and stroke play. In either case, it is a significant penalty.

In match play, for each excess club, you will lose one hole up to a maximum of two. This means that if you bring 15 clubs, you will lose one hole. If you bring 16 or even 30 clubs, you stand to lose two holes.

Somewhat similarly, each hole made while in possession of excess clubs results in a 2-stroke penalty in stroke play with a maximum of four for the entire round. 

This means that it is not the number of excess clubs in your bag that determines the penalty, but only whether there are any and how many holes are made while they are accessible.

Why is This Limit on Carrying 14 Clubs?

The rule can seem a little strange at first glance. What does it matter, and why 14 specifically? 

The rule was adopted in the 1930s as some players would carry as many as 30 clubs to assist their play. 

This rule prevents resources from playing more of a role in the game than skill.

One consequence of this is that players with more resources are less likely to gain an unfair advantage over more skilled players. Another consequence may simply be a more interesting sport.

As for the number 14, it was chosen somewhat arbitrarily as an average between two bags that seemed more reasonably stocked (one player’s bag contained 12, while the other contained 16). 

Since then, the rule has stuck – although there are dissenting voices that advocate for it to be lowered or increased!

Do You Need All of These Clubs?

Do I Need all of These Clubs

The short answer is no.

While golfers are legally allowed to carry up to 14 clubs in their golf bag, having 14 is not a requirement. You can golf with as many clubs as you’d like, so long as the number does not exceed 14.

There are other types of golf clubs available, but the most common setup is with those we’ve discussed: driver, wedges, 3-wood, 5-wood, putter, 5-9 irons, and 4 hybrid.

You can choose any combination of clubs you’d like. Golf club sets are unique to the individual. I’d recommend trying a few and finding out which is most comfortable and works for you!