Why Are Only 14 Clubs Allowed in a Golf Bag?

Category: Rules of the Game
14 clubs in golf bag
WWLG

Clue

Caddies had sore shoulders.

Answer

At the end of 1936 the USGA and R&A announced a 14 club limit to take effect in 1938. No one really knows why the number 14 was chosen. The most likely answer is because of the standardization of golf clubs at the time. A set of golf clubs typically comprised of nine irons, a putter and four woods.

More about the 14 Clubs rule

The USGA had three main reasons for introducing the rule:

  • “De-skilling” the game.
  • Inequality between wealthy golfers, who could afford many clubs, and average players who couldn’t.
  • Caddies, who were having to carry bags that weighed in excess of 35 pounds.

Prior to that rule golfers were allowed to bring as many clubs as they liked. A field survey at the 1935 US Open and Amateur found that the average number of clubs carried by a single player that day was 18. It simply became too much for the caddies.

The highest total number of 35 clubs, a player carried, was recorded in 1935. He had a full set of left- and right-handed clubs in the same bag. His feeling was, ‘If my ball comes to rest against a tree, why should I be disadvantaged?’ It was around this time everyone decided things were out of control.”

Official rule at: www.randa.org