According to international rules of golf, a player can only carry 14 clubs in their bags. It might sound a lot to non-golfers but it’s often not enough for experienced players. There’s a club for every type of shot out there. And players mix and match the clubs to get the 14 that they need.
But how do they do it? What’s the process of sorting them? It’s not like you take the 14 clubs you find lying around and shove them in the bag. The best approach is to contact with a professional fitter to fill the gaps accurately.
In this guide today, we’re going to go through the process of selecting 14 clubs. Still, our recommendation is to get yourself fitted by a professional if you have the chance. Every player is different and so is their need for clubs. It’s best to diagnose the needs in person and provide the solution.
A Few Tips Before We Start
Before we directly jump into the selection, let’s go over the aspects you need to be aware of.
Knowing Your Distances
Before you go to the fitter, you either need to know your distances or at least have an idea of how far you can hit. It’s crucial to know your numbers to accurately fill the gaps. For example, if you incorrectly select the driver and fall short, you won’t be able to cover the rest of the distance with any of the other clubs because you haven’t chosen one for that distance.
Consider Your Course Conditions
Unless you’re a tour pro, it’s safe to say that you mostly play at the same golf course. So, it’s obvious that the selection of your 14-club set would be influenced by the condition of the club.
The overall condition of the grass, the roughs, and lies will tell you how much distance you can cover at a particular course. If it’s a windy region, you usually need to take more clubs to compensate for the wind resistance.
Another example of course condition would be the number of uphill and downhill lies. Based on how many times you may need to overcome such obstacles, the nature of your club selection will change.
How to Choose the Perfect 14-Club Combination?
In this section, we’ll address the clubs by their nature and share helpful tips to get the best out of them.
In most cases, the first hit of a golf round is tackled with a driver. Drivers have the lowest loft and the largest club heads among all clubs. Also, drivers tend to be the most forgiving. Even if you don’t have much golf knowledge, you’ll be able to identify a driver from a bunch of clubs thanks to its longer shaft and larger head.
Drivers are the most expensive club out there. It’s one of the reasons most players have only one driver in their bags. Even if money is not an issue for you, it’s best to stick to one driver setting for all of your tee shots. One driver is more than enough because you can go over 200 yards at the minimum with modern drivers given that you know how to hit one.
Factors such as the loft, the adjustability, shaft and club head material, etc. come into play when you select your driver. 12 degrees of loft is considered the standard for a driver. But it can change based on how your golf is set up. Most drivers nowadays come with an adjustable loft so you can experiment with it at the driving range.
Fairway woods or woods, however you may want to call them, should be your 2nd option for a drive. Fairway woods and drivers are very similar to look at. Woods have a smaller head and sweet spot.
You may need to use 3-wood for a tee shot if you’re playing at a 300-yard hole. Most players and even the PGA professionals start with 3-wood on their bags. It’s a great gapping club that can come in handy in more than one scenario.
You can select between different club head materials and shaft flexes when you get fitted for a wood. It’s best to get the ones you feel most comfortable with. PGA professionals usually keep two woods, a 3 and a 5. The 3-woods generally have 17 degrees of loft while 5-woods have 21 degrees of loft.
As you know from the basics of golf, more loft means more ball flight and less distance. So, if you’re trying to a hit 250 yards shot from the fairway or the tee, you can use the 3-wood. If the distance is between 230 yards and 290 yards, you may use the 5-wood.
Keep in mind that which wood you use will also depend on how strong your swing is and how accurate your launch angle is. We have a guide on how launch angle can affect the overall outcome of your shots. Take a look at it there.
After a player is done with the woods, most will think about moving to the irons. While it’s a standard practice among experienced players, jumping to irons from woods is challenging for new players.
That’s where hybrids come in. There’s a debate between which club is more forgiving, a driver or a hybrid. Let’s not get into that. Just know that hybrids are some of the most forgiving golf clubs money can buy.
Hybrids are also great for filling up the gaps in your 14-club set. They come with different loft settings and multiple types of offsets for players who hit hooks or slices. Depending on what your playing style is and what your weaknesses are, a fitter can help you find the perfect hybrids for your set. In general, PGA professionals carry 2 hybrids with different loft settings.
If you’re an absolute beginner, you can skip this section for now. You can fill up the gaps with hybrids. Irons are one of the hardest clubs to master in golf, especially the blade ones. They have a very small sweet spot. So, even if you miss the spot by a few millimeters, the outcome of your shot can be drastic.
When selecting irons, know that you must make compromises here. You can either get an easy-to-master iron that takes away the control and feel of traditional irons or you can go with traditional irons that offer an amazing feeling but are harder to master.
The best way to populate the slots in your bag is to get a blend of both. You may choose 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and a pitching wedge as irons for your set. Or, you can switch out one hybrid and include a 4-iron. It’s up to you and your fitter. A pitching wedge is also considered an iron. So, no, it was not a mistake.
We’ve entered the realm of short game. Now, it’s time to select your wedges. If you’ve followed the guide so far to make your 14-club set, then you have only 3 clubs left. So, you need to be very careful.
Our recommendation is to get a lob wedge for getting out of steep obstacles and a sand wedge to come out of bunkers. Consult with your fitter about what bounce you should get. If you’re not aware, wedge bounce is the rounded-off soles of these clubs that help you glide on the grass instead of digging in.
The last slot you have left is for the putter. Hopefully, the final shot of your round. You can choose any putter you want off the shelf. Many players impulse buy a putter only to regret it later. That’s why it’s very important to get custom fitted for a putter. If you pick the wrong one, your entire short game will take a hit.
Mallet type putters are usually more forgiving and allow you more control while blade types are the opposite. But blade types have more feel which helps you fine-tune your putting skills. Or, you may go with a hybrid design that has the best of both worlds.
What Clubs Do PGA Tour Pros Have in their Bags?
Have you ever wondered what clubs do PGA professionals make their set with? Tiger Woods is undoubtedly one of the best players of our time. So, let’s take a look inside his bags.
At the time of writing, Tiger Woods uses a 9-degree TaylorMade SIM driver, a 15-degree TaylorMade SIM 3 wood, a TaylorMade M3 5 wood with 19 degrees of loft, TaylorMade P790 UDI iron, a 3-PW (TaylorMade Prototype), two wedges with 56 degrees and 60 degrees of loft, and a Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport putter.
As you can see, the loft is slightly lower than what’s deemed standard. Tiger has built himself up to let go of loft and control the ball flight through his swing. You may have also noticed that we’ve focused the formation of your clubs based off of what Tiger Woods has in his bag. Talk about learning from the best!