Under the rules of golf, you’re allowed to carry 14 clubs. The rules don’t care which ones you choose, they just say you can’t play with any more than 14.
So, just which clubs should you carry to get the most out of your game? That’s the million-dollar question we’re all trying to answer.
We asked a host of our readers, industry leaders, and our own staff just what clubs comprise their set makeup. Not surprisingly, the answers varied widely.
Which Clubs Do You Absolutely Need in Your Bag?
While there’s plenty of room for creativity when it comes to your set makeup, there are some clubs that are essential for every golfer.
It’s a fact that strokes on the green account for about half your score. That’s why having a putter you can trust is so important. There’s no faster way to start shooting lower scores than making putts.
The style of putter you choose is entirely up to you. Again, it just needs to be the one you’re most comfortable with.
Getting off the tee is an essential part of the game. You need a club that you can hit both straight and long.
Driver technology is constantly improving and it’s important to stay up to date to make sure you’re maximizing this club’s performance.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to buy a new driver every time one comes out. Instead, it’s good to go through a fitting and find the driver and shaft that perform best for you and stick with it. Once you have this club dialed in, you can keep it in your bag for quite a while.
Once you get off the tee, you need to advance your second shot as far as you can toward the green.
For these shots, a fairway wood or hybrid is going to be your best friend. Both clubs are designed to provide plenty of forgiveness and get the ball up in the air.
You can choose between either one or two fairway clubs. The key is to make sure there aren’t any gaps in your yardages.
No set of clubs is complete without irons. While traditional iron sets come with three-iron through pitching wedge, there are lots of variations you can choose from depending on your preferences and ability.
Some better players still carry this set makeup. They aren’t intimidated by traditional long irons that other players might have replaced with hybrids.
For players that aren’t as skilled or comfortable with long irons, hybrids have become a popular replacement.
While nearly half of your shots come on the green, the second most shots come from just off the green out to 125 yards. This is where you hit your wedges.
Also referred to as scoring clubs, being proficient with your wedges is paramount to shooting low scores.
At a minimum, most golfers carry a pitching wedge and sand wedge. Some players carry up to four wedges varying by four or five degrees each.
Again, the number of wedges you carry is up to you. Just like your fairway clubs, the key is to ensure there are no significant gaps in how far you hit each of these.
Choosing the Right Set Makeup for Your Game
Now that we’ve covered the clubs that are essential for every golfer’s bag, let’s talk about the way you should go about deciding the makeup of your set.
Your past experience is going to be your best guide as you set about constituting your set makeup.
It’s best to start close to the hole and work back.
What kind of putter have you had the most success with in the past? A mallet? Maybe a blade? Chances are you’ll find success with something similar if you’re thinking about replacing your putter.
Next, move on to your wedges. What lofts of wedges are you most comfortable chipping and pitching with? Do those lofts allow you to cover all the necessary yardages on full shots?
What about your irons? Do you hit them how you want consistently?
Most golfers find the short irons easiest to hit. That’s why they carry nine-iron down through at least six-iron.
But what about irons five through three? Are you confident with these clubs? Or would you be better off replacing them with hybrids? After all, hybrids are easier to hit and go a little farther than irons.
By now you should take inventory of how many clubs you have in your bag. Remember, you’re only allowed 14 and one of the remaining has to be your driver.
If you have room for two more clubs by now, great. That leaves you room for a couple of fairway clubs. If you only have room for one fairway club, however, choose one that doesn’t leave too big a gap behind your next longest club.
Fine Tuning Your Golf Clubs
As you can see, the process of choosing the golf clubs you put in your bag is strategic and involved.
It can be fun though. You have the chance to experiment with different clubs and learn more about your game.
Once you’ve decided on the specific clubs you want, go through a fitting. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned. A club fitter will be able to dial in your specs for every single club.
Fourteen golf clubs. That’s the maximum number of clubs you’re allowed to legally carry. And it all seems pretty simple on the surface.
But such couldn’t be further from the truth. With so many different types of clubs to choose from, and the countless variations of each one, it isn’t easy.
The good news is that the process can be a fun one if you know what you’re doing and follow the steps and advice above. Even better, there’s a chance you’ll learn a thing or two along the way.