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.
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!