Do You Really Need 14 Golf Clubs?

We all know that 14 clubs is the maximum anyone can carry during a round of golf. There is no limit on the minimum number of clubs, but 14 is max. There are reasons for only 14 clubs, however that would be a topic that would take us down the rabbit hole. Knowing how to distribute the type of clubs you carry is determined by your game.

But, I really need to ask, do you really need to carry 14 clubs when you play?

wp-1467199623898.jpgHaving played about 2500 rounds of golf in my life, I have watched many players hit club after club. Most had a full set and only a small majority of those actually use all 14 clubs.

Many players, usually higher handicappers, have their favorite clubs and use those regardless of the situation. I have inquired with a few about why they did not hit a specific club (generally a long iron) and they said in earnest that they never hit that club! I would then ask myself, why carry it?

I find it interesting that the media hype sells the message that it is important to have a full set of expensive clubs. I find it even more interesting that many players agree with this and by default encourage club manufacturers to only sell “complete sets of clubs”.

I think we need to change this paradigm and force manufacturers to make sets with 5, 7, and 9 clubs. When players are first starting, having fewer club selection will benefit their decision-making process on the links. It will allow them to experience the game without being overwhelmed by trying to figure out how to use all 14 clubs.

The make-up of the 5, 7, and 9 sets would be designed to address the actual needs of the players and their skill level. Here is what I am thinking:

Set of 5 clubs. The clubs would be a 5 wood, 5 – 7 – 9 iron, and putter. This set would be for young kids just starting. These are the fundamental clubs that all players need to master as they become better golfers.

Set of 7 clubs. This set would include the above clubs plus a 3 wood and a sand wedge. Adding these two clubs would open new opportunities for the player. They will be able to focus on hitting the ball a bit farther and working on their short game. These two areas will definitely lower their scores. This set would be suitable for the 18 to 28 handicapper.

Set of 9 clubs. This set would look similar to the above clubs with some minor changes. I would add a driver and remove the 5 wood. I would add a 3 hybrid and a gap wedge. You have probably figured out that the increase of clubs in a player’s golf bag matches the growing skills. This set would be for a 12 to 18 handicapper. It may seem like I am holding the players back, but most players in this range do not use all the clubs in their bag anyway.

Once players reach the single digit handicap range they are ready for a full set of clubs! They understand the complexity of each shot and need the 14 clubs. The type of clubs will be determined by the player.

So there you have it, by staging the number of clubs in your bag to match your skill will go a long way to being a better golfer. Do not confuse my suggestions with anything but musings, however if the players demanded these type of golf sets, the manufacturers would comply. In the long run, it would be cheaper for the beginner when buying their first set of clubs and it would benefit their game as they become proficient with the fewer clubs.

So what do you think? Do you need 14 clubs in your golf bag?

I am grateful golfer! See you on the links!

31 thoughts on “Do You Really Need 14 Golf Clubs?

  1. I personally am a firm believer in having a ‘core’ of 13 clubs that cover all the gaps and having one open slot you can fill with whatever club depending on the course/conditions, be it a driving iron, another wedge or whatever specialty club that basically lives outside of the basic gapping structure of the bag. That way you don’t have to take out another club and run the risk of opening up gaps in case you need a course specific club.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: How Many Clubs Can You Carry In Your Golf Bag? Make Sure You're Following The Rules –

  3. As a recreational golfer, I find it interesting that anyone except a professional would need 14 clubs. After scouring the internet for information on the distance a golf ball will travel relative to the club #, including practicing with a short medium and full swing along with a slow medium and fast swing you end up with 9 different distances with any iron. In my humble beginner opinion a 5 iron can easily replace a 3 and 7 iron ect. ect. B. T.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill

      That is interesting. I would suggest that 14 clubs is a good selection because I try to emulate the same swing through all distances. Having 14 clubs allows me to do that. As far as adjusting my swing according to a specific club, that is for special distances. Overall, I use all my 14 clubs and find that my game is better for it. I enjoy your perspective on the number of clubs we can carry.

      Cheers Jim

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  4. The key words here is consistent. I to can hit with varying degrees of confidence and competency from my driver to my flop shot with the SW. But I am hopeless when it comes to posting a decent score in a round of golf. The great Peter Thomson claimed the recreational golfer would be better off with fewer clubs in their bag.
    The thing here is you have to find the time to practice practice practice to build the necessary skills to deliver on your One Shot as is the case in the game of golf.
    Best is less.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete

      You may have a point. Many players carry 14 clubs and are reluctant to hit any number of them. If this is the case, they should leave the ones they do not hit at home. Personally, I hit all 14 when the need arises…..most of the time I hit them well.

      Cheers Jim

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  5. I actually feel at times i could do with 16!! as i would like a more intense focus on wedges rather than general irons.Saying this i have found i hit my 6/7 the same my 8 is my ” go to ” club at 125-150 yards and i often need my 9/PW/SW as i have a timed short back lift swing and i know pretty much to within 1ft exactly how far they will go so are needed. The Lob wedges are needed for around the green and bunker play ( Yes i use a LW from bunkers as i can open it right up and swing hard for maximum lift and backspin ), Putter , Driver , Rescue and 4 Wood.;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fitting the right clubs to your game is an art. I agree that club selection for your bag is more important than the long irons. I focus most of my play from 7 iron to lob wedge….it is where all the scoring is!

      Cheers
      Jim

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  6. What an interesting concept. i think there is certainly mileage in reconsidering the make up of a set of clubs at different stages of a golfer’s progression. Ultimately, too, it takes time to figure out which combination of clubs is right for you as an individual. I think I now have the best 14 for me and I use each and every one of them in a typical round. But as a consequence I have a number of clubs demoted from the bag and now at the back of my wardrobe! Cheers, Rob

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    • Rob,

      I think we all have clubs relegated to the minor leagues! I wonder if they had a selection of clubs you could pick and choose from….make a set of any 5 clubs for $200! Something to kick about for sure.

      Cheers
      Jim

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  7. Hey Jim,

    The first two sets of irons I had as a kid consisted of a 3, 5, 7 and 9 iron, which was completely sufficient to get into the game at that level. I believe the more skill you have the more useful a full, well rounded bag can be. I got out for a round yesterday and I think I used every club, which is usually a sign of an interesting round! Haha

    However I think it’s good practice for even highly skilled golfers to play with less clubs sometimes. Playing 9 holes with say a driver, 7 iron and a wedge will force you to get creative

    Cheers
    Josh

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jim, I used 13 of my 14 clubs in yesterday’s round. Seems like the better I drive the ball, the fewer clubs I use. Yes, your assumption that yesterday was not a great driving day is correct!

    Thanks,

    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      As an avid golfer, you have an understanding of which club is used when. This, in most cases, makes our game better. Too bad about your driving woes, we have all been there and I am glad I carry 14 clubs! Hope things get better.

      Cheers
      Jim

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think I am a 14 club golfer for the reason that the distances between each club are consistent and need them to go specific distances. Now I know you de-loft or open up a club to change the distance but still I pick clubs out of my bag based on distance. I can hit anything from 4 iron – driver depending on the length of the hole and based on the approach, I need whatever the distance demands. Do I have preferred clubs and distances – of course I do, but I match club to the distance and conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Jim,

    I probably use 7-9 clubs consistently when I think about it.

    My ideal “beginner set” would be a 3 and 5 metal, a hybrid of some sort with a good amount of loft, a 7 iron, 9 iron SW and a putter.

    Good selection, availability of “shot making” and LOFT to help with launch. Plus, a good coach who likes to have fun. Get it going!

    Liked by 1 person

      • If I learned one thing about manufacturers when I was a head pro is that it comes down to $. I do remember when I had reps who questioned why I’d only place custom fitted orders for four total irons and two hybrids for example bs the “full” set.

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      • Rick

        You summed it up in one sign: $ – I can appreciate this fact and make my purchases with this in mind. I will try and get the lowest price on a club, they want to get the highest, and that is business. Now the Head Pro at my club…..that is a relationship that needs fostering. Although they are about business as well, they take in to account the personal side of the acquaintance. Thanks for adding value to my article.

        Cheers
        Jim

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      • Any pro should be the “leader” in their golf community Jim. Their value prop is their expertise. Good business comes from their leadership, gained trust in players like you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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