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Frank, why are we limited to only fourteen clubs in a set? Would it not be better to have more clubs for different situations, such as a left handed club for those awkward shots?
Thanks for your weekly emails.
Jason, Naples, FL
I actually answered a similar question a while ago, but it’s an interesting topic that I would like to address again.
Prior to 1938 – the date the fourteen club rule was adopted by the USGA and 1939 by the R&A — some golfers were carrying as many as 24 or more clubs. This is not an accurate statement because they (the golfers) were not carrying their own clubs, their caddies were, and this was a consideration when the rule was adopted. If the golfer were carrying his/her own clubs the maximum number would be somewhat self-limiting.
The effect the additional weight had on young boys and girls (caddies in the late 30s) was a consideration as well as the fact that “a club for every occasion” was reducing the shot making skills which defined a good golfer.
Yes, Jason it would be easier to play awkward shots with a club specifically designed for each shot which may confront us during a round of golf. Unfortunately the temptation to carry more clubs exists with the use of the golf car(t) and the trunk size golf bags designed with the golf car(t) in mind.
We must remember that the attraction that golf presents is the challenge and if we diminish this, so do we diminish the satisfaction derived from facing and meeting that challenge.
As much as we think we want the game to be easier, we really don’t need it to be easier. This is the very reason why we are still playing a game nearly 600 years old.
Jason, for general information we don’t have to carry – or have in your bag – fourteen clubs. In fact, most of us would probably play better if we reduced this number to ten. We would then not have to make the decisions about which club to use for a particular distance. For example, if the 6-iron we may think we need is not in the bag then we can take out the 5-iron — which is in the bag — and hit it easier rather than trying to kill a seven iron. The results will inevitably be better, even if we had the 6-iron in the bag.
Take a club which will hit the ball farther than we think we need and hit it easier rather than – as most of us do — overestimate how far we can hit the ball with almost every club (except for our Frankly Frog putter).
Have you tried playing with less or more than 14 clubs in the bag? Share your experiences below.
Hope this helps
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My home course Douglas Park Golf Club in Bearsden Scotland have had a four clubs and a putter for many years I have competed in it often I invariably score as well or better than medal completions were I have the full set
Fewer clubs in a set would be greater for everyone, especially the newer golfer. It would make the cost of entry to the game less and teach new golfers how to be “shot makers”.
Neither my wife or I carry 14 clubs and play as well as we will ever play.
During the 50 years I have been playing golf my handicap went down to a 6 for three periods. During those three periods I used 7, 8, and 11 clubs. I have tried 14 clubs, 13 clubs and even 12 clubs many times, but have never scored as well for extended periods. Currently I use two drivers, 4 fairway woods (real wood ones!), a 5-iron, and a putter, chipper and sandwedge.
I’m 66. I just treated myself to a new Wellzher to carry my 10 clubs. My doctor is happy with my blood sugar numbers, I just dropped another stroke off my index, and my only real frustration is following a group playing at a 2-hour pace. We walking seniors much prefer a short set of clubs and 90 minutes a side.
I often use 12 or 13 clubs, but I think Frank’s suggestion of 10 would be great. It would also cut down on the cost of equipment (hopefully). Recently I played the Old Course at Musselburgh (6000 yds) with 5 hickory shafted clubs; driver, putter and 3 irons. The slightly higher score had more to do with the unforgiving clubs than the fact I was using less clubs than usual.
quite a few years ago I played a few rounds with a putter, 7i and wedge. At that time I was very happy to break 90. I found that it didn’t really affect my score. I may try it again now that I’ve worked on my game and brought my handicap factor to 11. I like to carry the max 14, but I carry 4i – PW/GW/SW/LW, 2 drivers (48″ 10° loft and 43″ 14° loft) a hybrid or fw wood (loft depends on the course and wind) and putter of course. I use a push cart or power cart, but occasionally a carry bag too. The bag is def lighter with fewer clubs (and balls). Balls can add a bit of weight if you stock up.
I use a ten club set because fourteen became to many to carry and I don’t care for the awkwardness of a pushcart. When I do ride, and I think to add some clubs, I only manage to get to 12. I’ve found it quite easy to adjust to less than fourteen.
Charles “Chick” Evans, Jr. won the 1916 U.S. Open with just 7 clubs in his bag. He subsequently created the Evans Scholarship for to send caddies to college. Each year, Evans Scholar chapters around the country organize 7-club tournaments to raise money for future scholarships:
7-Club Tourney: http://www.wgaesf.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dwJTKiO0JgI8G&b=7904861&ct=13824591
Evans Scholars Foundation: http://www.wgaesf.org/site/c.dwJTKiO0JgI8G/b.6021361/k.8BED/WGAESF_Home.htm
I use between 10-11 clubs on any given day because I like to carry and I’m 52 now. Driver, 22 degree hybrid, 5-PW, and a 56 degree sand wedge is my 10 club set. Sometimes I add my 50 degree wedge for an 11 club set up. My scores stay the same – my handicap index is 6.0. I was never very good with fairway woods.
Years ago our club had a contest tournament on playing 18 holes of golf with only two clubs in the bag. Quite interesting to say the least. I chose a 5-iron and a putter. It is amazing how we can think a shot, sand trap, drive, or pitch. It was fun and allowed me to think a shot each time I have played the greatest game there is.
Used to walk a very hilly course. In order to reduce the weight I had to carry, I would take only 7 clubs. Although every once in a while I’d miss one that was “perfect” for the shot at hand, overall my scores and enjoyment of the game were not adversely affected.
A player can configure their 14 clubs in any fashion, Phil used 2 drivers when he won the Masters, so a player could put a left handed club in their bag if they wished, but they would soon realize how little they use the left handed club (once every 25-50 rounds) and replace it with another wedge or a hybrid.