Why can I only carry 14 clubs and would more clubs help my score?
— Brian, TN
I have covered this issue in our book “From Sticks and Stones” which is the evolution of equipment rules, published in 2011, which I urge anyone interested in changes to equipment rules to read.
I will gladly summarize the reason for the 14-club rule which was adopted in 1938/1939. This was before commercial jet planes, personal computers, cell phones, or even Google, but we were playing golf, with fundamentally the same rules. However, in an effort to be more specific and overly inclusive, the rules today have become extremely complicated and difficult to interpret conclusively.
The rules change re. 14 clubs was made for several reasons, the primary one being that without a limit – some golfers were reported to have been carrying up to 24 clubs— a club was available for every occasion and this compensated for the skill required to create shots and cope with different situations. The second was that it had become an undue physical burden on caddies who, in the most part, were children.
The second part of your question was, “Would more clubs help my score?” The answer to this one is NO for most of us.
If we were as skilled as the touring pros, then more clubs would help such as a couple of left handed clubs to get out of awkward spots and others for specific in-between shots for different types of trajectories etc.
For most of us, more clubs would mean more decisions and slow down play while trying to make up our mind regarding which one to use. With fewer clubs in the bag, we should in most cases pull the longer one out and not swing too hard. Nine out of ten times this results in a better swing and we will find ourselves on the green more often than when we try to force the shorter club to make the distance.
I suggest that you take five clubs out of your bag (as an experiment) and see how well you play. A nice by-product may also be that you play faster.
Do you think that the governing bodies should change the 14-club rule and what effect might this have on the game? Share your thoughts with us and other readers by replying below.