Have you ever wondered how the folks who run the game of golf ever arrived at certain numbers?

Legend has it that the reason there are 18 holes on a typical golf course is that the Scotsmen who invented the game used to have a shot of Scotch after each hole and when the bottle was empty the round was completed.

Basic math, 18 holes became the traditional number of holes in a round of golf.

But how did the lords of the game ever arrive at 14 clubs in the bag?

No legend, no explanation. Its 14 clubs and that’s it. Maybe its because the caddys refused to carry any more.

My illustrious counterpart thinks that 14 is ideal and I tend to agree with him, which makes me seriously consider counseling.

And I am in full agreement that professionals should have a set limit of sticks, but for those of us who play for recreation, who go out to have some fun and who need all the help we can get? I say we should be able to take as many as we can tote, push or pull.

Or in the case of those who ride in carts, as many as we want as long as the front wheels don’t lift off the ground.

And I’m shocked the golf industry isn’t on board with this. It would allow them to sell more equipment.

Personally I’d like to have about 16 clubs in my bag (and I have played with those who have as many. In fact I have played with one guy who carried four drivers).

I’d like to have that 64 degree wedge for those few shots where I need to get the ball up right away and land soft, maybe 10 yards away. I need a 3-iron in my bag for those many shots I need to hit out of the woods and keep it low, but other than that I would prefer the 3-hybrid that is easier to hit but tough to keep only three or four feet above the ground.

Now if you are playing in a tournament, either professional or amateur, the 14 club limit is fine. There need to be regulations for serious play. On that score Gorman and I are in agreement (again a shock).

Golf for most of us is just a game, not a serious sport. We get together with our buddies to play a $5.00 nassau or skins or some sort of friendly game where we’ll put the money on the bar at the 19th hole.

It should be fun and since few of us are accomplished enough to hit specific clubs a certain distance, it can become very difficult. A couple of extra clubs could make the difference between shooting 100 or 99, or 90 and 89. Anyone who can challenge the 80/79 threshold doesn’t need any extra help. Fourteen clubs is perfect.

But most golfers, the backbone of the game, are not among those elite players. They can use all the help they can get. They don’t need the USGA or the Royal & Ancient throwing a monkey wrench into their enjoyment.

Golf is currently suffering through a serious decline in participants. People are leaving the game and many younger players are not picking it up.

At my club we have an annual Junior/Senior Tournament as do many clubs. A junior used to be anyone age 44 and below.

This year the cutoff was age 62.

Golf needs to do anything it can to attract and keep its players.

Time to stop putting in limits. The difficulty of the game itself sets enough limitations.


(Tim Geary is a R.I. based freelance writer. Even 20 clubs couldn’t help his game).

What Does Tom Gorman Have to Say About This?