Why 14 Clubs?

Golf Club EvolutionIn 1938, the R&A introduce the rule limiting the number of golf clubs in a bag to 14. Prior, there was an unlimited number clubs any player could carry.  Amateur golfer Francis Ouimet won the 1913 US Open carrying just seven clubs.  Interestingly, 21 years later Lawson Little won the British Amateur using 31. Technology of the day drove the use of different clubs and the inconsistent nature of construction was a factor in the number of clubs used during any round.

As advances in technology, specifically the introduction of metal shafts, the need to carry many clubs seemed to disappear.  The evolution of golf clubs is very interesting and the fast evolution of modern technology continues to drive the golf industry.  Has the change in golf club construction actually contributed to the greatest changes in golf club performance over the years?  Or is it something else?

Depending on what you believe or read changes in club technology might just be a red herring.  Regardless, why 14 clubs?  Why not 13 or 15?

According to Canada.com, golf historians suggest the 14-club rule was made to benefit caddies, because it was common for golfers before 1939 to use 20-30 clubs of varying styles and uses. Caddies would routinely double-bag – carrying two bags at a time – and many did it twice a day to earn a living.  Well I would have hated to be a looper then.

Rule 4-4. Maximum of Fourteen Clubs.  The player must not start a stipulated round with more than fourteen clubs. He is limited to the clubs thus selected for that round, except that if he started with fewer than fourteen clubs, he may add any number, provided his total number does not exceed fourteen.

So there you have it, the 14-club rule was introduced for caddies, not technology, not to make if fair for everyone, increase speed of play or even to help drive the golfing industry by reducing the number and types of clubs they have to manufacture.  It was all for the caddies.

I carry 14 clubs.  How many do you carry?

I am a grateful golfer!  See you on the links!

13 thoughts on “Why 14 Clubs?

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  5. I carry 13 clubs right now. I am trying to figure out if I want a 3 wood or a higher lobbed wedge. I think limiting the clubs to 14 is good for players as well. I think some players would carry redundant clubs and multiple drivers. Amateurs not playing in tournaments could carry 20 clubs if they wanted to I guess, nothing really is stopping them. Most players follow the rules though.

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    • I know it has been a while since you posted this, but I have the same debate with a 3 iron and lob wedge. When I play practice rounds I keep both in my bag so I can get comfortable with the clubs, however when I play a tournament I look at the course and the tee shots I will have to hit as well as the greens and their surrounding areas. This helps me to decide if a 3 iron will be better used off the tee and for possible approaches or if I really need that lob to get the ball up and down so it will stop quickly. Hence the reason I play both clubs as much as I do so I can get comfortable with them and know for the most part which one fits a certain type of course. Just my opinion though!

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      • Brian

        That is a great strategy! You now have versatility and your approach to course management is solid. There are no wrong answers in this situation. Everyone is different! Thanks for commenting.

        Cheers
        Jim

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