5 Reasons Why You Should Play With Fewer Than 14 Golf Clubs
It’s just accepted that a golf bag is made up of 14 clubs, right? Surely it’s always been this way? Not exactly.
Back in the 1930s when Bobby Jones was busy completing the Grand Slam, he was doing so with 16 sticks in the bag. Sure, that’s not far off the modern day maximum, but Jones wasn’t the only player loading his caddie up with clubs. Incredibly, some of Jones’ contemporaries were carrying double this amount! These included notable names of the day such as Walker Cup player Scotty Campbell, or two-time Amateur Champion Lawson Little who carried 32 and 31 clubs respectively - Campbell strangely decided to carry seven 9-irons?! After much discussion in the late 1930s, (likely after somebody realised how insane it was to carry 32 clubs) 14 became the new limit, much to the delight of caddies around the world, and it’s remained that way ever since.
But just because 14 is the current limit, the rules don’t specify that golfers must carry this amount. Indeed, many choose to carry fewer than this for a huge number of reasons. Here we take a look at handful of those, perhaps inspiring you to leave some of your set in the car ahead of your next round.
It sounds obvious, but carrying fewer clubs reduces the overall weight of your bag. If you regularly carry your clubs, you’ll likely notice a difference even by dropping a couple of irons. However, if you’ve ever played in four or five club competition, you’ll remember the sheer delight it was to carry a bag which weighed essentially nothing as you skipped around the course. Those suffering from the occasional stiff back or shoulders the day after playing, take note!
Related to the above, but if you’re going to carry a half set regularly, it seems a little daft to do so in a full-sized bag. Pencil bags come into their own here, allowing you to load them up with seven or eight clubs but taking up a minimal amount of space. This is ideal for a quick knock after work, allowing you take your clubs into the office, or chuck them in the boot of the car. Moreover, this can be game-changing for those needing to travel to the course on public transport.
(Image Credit: Carefree Golf Photography)
One of the most popular reasons people give for carrying fewer than 14 clubs is the enjoyment they get from creating shots. If you’ve not got your usual 150-yard club, you’re forced into perhaps gearing down on a longer iron, or trying to step on something which usually wouldn’t make the difference. Either way, there’s more to think about, and more satisfaction than hitting a ‘driving range’ stock shot to your target.
The lack of a club or two also forces you to take on shots that you’d usually shy away from. Whether that’s committing to chipping over a bunker with less loft than usual because you haven’t got your 60-degree wedge, or hitting a low punch 7-iron which runs up to a green because you don’t have your 6-iron. These types of a shot can be essential to good scoring in the long run, but they’re things that we never practice enough. Carrying fewer than 14 clubs forces you to do so!
Improvement in Scoring
Yes, really! One of the weakest part of the average amateur’s game is decision-making, with golfers not showing enough commitment to a shot. How often have we hit the 7-iron thinking that it will just about get there if we hit our Sunday best, only to come up 20 yards short of target? With less clubs to rely on, you’re forced to be clear in your thinking before hitting the shot; perhaps settling on hitting the 6-iron which may go a little long (but never really does!), and getting pin-high more often than with your full set. Playing with fewer clubs forces you to really ‘see’ the shot, something every pro will tell you is essential for true commitment to the next swing.
So why not give it a go next time you’re out. Better yet, why not track some of your stats when carrying fewer than 14 clubs and see if you notice a significant difference to your scoring? We’d wager that if you do, it’s likely to be in a positive direction.
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