Sharing Golf Clubs is Legal – Who Knew!

Before we get going, this is not an April Fools joke. So you can read on in that frame of mind. I generally feel I have a good handle on the rules of golf. I figured that since I have read them, that I would remember some of the nuances of each rule. Well, I guess I need to get back into the books because I stumbled across the rule about sharing clubs that I thought was new, when in actuality it is not. Who knew?

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Counting Clubs Before A Tournament

I can honestly say that I count the number of clubs in my golf bag before every tournament. I have been doing for about 35 years; it was something that my old mentor Bobby Fortune taught me when I was first started to step up my game and play competitive golf. I was in no position to argue so I adopted the practice and have never looked back.

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Too Much Faith In One Golf Club

In my early golf years, I carried a full set of clubs, but never came close to hitting more that 5 or 6 during any round. The reason for my limited club selection was the lack confidence in my ability to effectively hit those clubs that gather dust in my bag. There were two clubs I over relied upon to help me score low, however, in hindsight I realized that my approach was hurting my golf game. Continue reading

Why 14 Clubs – Part Two

As previously discussed, the 1938 rule limited the number of clubs during a round of golf to 14.  If you ask 100 golfers I bet most would say that 14 is plenty.  However, if you ask a professional golfer they would say it is not enough.  Why the discrepancy?

When I started golfing 37 years ago…..OK, no old jokes….I had a started set.  It consisted of a driver, 3-wood, 3-5-7-9 iron and a putter.  As a beginner, this was plenty.  I did not have to over think club selection or worry about any finesse type shots.  Basically, I bashed the heck out of the ball and developed a passion for the game.  Slowly, my game improved I started looking for another set of clubs.

My first full set of clubs was Spalding Rebels.  I bought them 34 years ago; the set included 1-3-5 wood, 3-pw irons and a putter – 12 clubs in all.  They were my first cavity back set of clubs and I used them for about 10 years.  My game did not really improve because I played on and off during that time.  This set was perfect for me because I did not have much money invested and they were of a good enough quality that it matched my game.  I was about a 16 handicap during this period.

In 1990 things changed.  I was given an old set of Ping Eye 2 red dot clubs and started golfing more seriously.  1990 was the first year I broke 80.  I went from a 16 handicap to a solid 10 handicap in no time.  I carried a 1-3-5 wood, 3-pw irons, sand wedge and a putter – 13 clubs in all.  I used these clubs for about 10 years and only replaced the ping eye 2 persimmon woods with Callaway Warbird 1-3-5 metal wood.  It was during this time that I had quality equipment, practiced 3 days a week and played approximately 100 games per year.  The result of my increase play was a solid 8 handicap, which stayed that way for about 10 years.

Whats in your golf bag?From 2000 to present, my game improved exponentially. I have hovered around a 5 handicap with runs of breaking par once in a while. My success resulted in some club changes. I removed my 5-wood, added a 52 and 60 degree wedge, and change to hybrids for my 3-4-5 iron – I now carry 14 clubs.

This transition to more wedges has propelled my game to a new level.  The extra wedges help with the scoring around the green and that is where most amateurs should focus.  Currently, I use Cleveland Launcher irons, Callaway Razr Fit driver and 3-wood, Titlest vokey (52-56-60 degree) wedges and a pro gear putter.

The 14 club rule is limiting for some players.  Personally, I would add my 5-wood and 64 degree wedge.  The reality is that I would only hit these clubs once every 3 rounds because my other clubs cover all the normal gaps in distance and position. So I stick to 14 clubs because 16 clubs is not legal.

Ultimately, the skill and experience of any golfer will have a direct impact on the type, quality and number of clubs in their bag.  As most players improve the number of clubs will change to match their abilities; there is not set rule or rule-of-thumb.  The reason for club changes will vary, but low handicap players identify early that focusing on their short game will result in lower scores.

See what is in the pros golf bag:

What do you carry in your golf bag?

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

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!