Majors have been won with as few as seven and as many as 31 clubs in the bag. Hannah Holden explains why we've settled at 14
Earlier in the week my brother asked me a golf question that stumped me: “How many golf clubs can you carry?”
Now, that wasn’t what got me – I know the answer is 14, as I’m sure you do. It was his follow up query of “why 14?”…
How many golf clubs can you carry?
In 1913 Francis Ouimet won the US Open carrying just seven clubs. Twenty-one years later Lawson Little used 31 clubs en route to winning the British Amateur. So why can we only use 14 clubs today?
Initially there were no rules of golf governing the number of golf clubs a golfer could use. This changed when the 13th edition of the rules of golf was issued in September 1939. It featured an addition within Rule 1:
The clubs used by a player during a round shall not exceed 14, and the clubs carried shall be restricted to that number.
But what brought about this rule change?
Well, in 1924 Herbert C Lagerblade became the first ever golfer to use a steel-shafted club in a US Open. Sales of steel shafts had begun in 1922 but initially many pros were antagonistic about the new steel shaft.
If they stuck with their hickory-shafted clubs they’d know exactly where each shot would land. But the idea of a longer and more consistent ball flight from steel-shafted clubs was also tempting.
To solve this problem, players simply started bringing both sets of clubs to tournaments with them. From 1924 to 1935 the amount of clubs brought to tournaments increased drastically. Some caddies were even forced to carry two golf bags due to the sheer number of clubs their player required. A field survey at the US Open and Amateur found the average number of clubs being carried by a single player was 18.
“The highest recorded total was in 1935 when a player showed up with 32 clubs,” says Rand Jerris of the USGA.
“He had a full set of left- and right-handed clubs in the same bag. His feeling was, ‘If my ball comes to rest against a tree, why should I be disadvantaged?’ It was around this time everyone decided things were out of control.”
After the 1935 US Open, the USGA began serious discussions about limiting the number of clubs which could be used in a round of golf.
The USGA had three main reasons for this:
- “De-skilling” the game.
- Inequality between wealthy golfers, who could afford many clubs, and average players who couldn’t.
- Caddies, who were having to carry bags that weighed in excess of 35 pounds.
Before steel-shafted clubs everyone carried a mismatched set of clubs. The steel shaft allowed the introduction of matching sets, as there were much easier to produce than matching hickory shafts.
George Nicoll of Leven from Scotland created the first matched set of irons. They were numbered 1 to 9 and led to all other major manufacturers making numbered sets of nine irons.
These irons were played alongside a putter and four woods making up the 14 clubs we are allowed to use today.
Interesting, isn’t it? I think so. So do you think we should be limited to using 14 clubs? Let me know in the comments below or you can tweet me.
Elsewhere I’m settling in nicely in my new role at NCG. I’ve had a busy week that involved filming my first equipment reviews, so make sure to keep an eye on NCG for those, but I did get a chance to play 18 at stunning Alwoodley.
I beat my boss though – which probably wasn’t the best idea…
Anyway, here’s a round up of the equipment news that has grabbed my attention this week…
Don’t blend in
Puma have released their new Union Camo Collection featuring a unique take on the recent camouflage trend.
Introducing U CAMO that @RickieFowler will debut in Augusta. If you look closely, you’ll see it's designed by layering outlines of the United States and Georgia. Don’t blend in.#ResistOrdinary#TheMasters#rickiefowlerhttps://t.co/4bYVeRUUXr pic.twitter.com/MDyHCJpuTp
— PUMA GOLF (@PUMAGolf) March 27, 2019
The range includes polos, quarter-zip jackets, caps, belt and shoes. Rickie Fowler is set to debut the collection at the Masters next month.
More information can be found on the Cobra-Puma website.
Style it out
The design of Oscar Jacobson’s spring-summer 2019 collection is strongly influenced by Scandinavian simplicity. Inspiration for the collection was also drawn from Italian tailoring and the British textile tradition.
The collection uses forces blue, maroon, green and red colour themes.
The collection blends performance, function and style and are versatile so they look as stylish off the golf course as they do on it.
RRP: From £50
More information can be found on the Oscar Jacobson website.
GolfBuddy have launched their latest generation of laser rangefinders for the 2019 season. The Laser 1, Laser 1S and aim L10V.
All the new lasers feature three targeting modes – standard, scan and pin – as well as 6x magnification to ensure precision and clarity of results. The Laser range is designed to be lightweight with an ergonomic and sporty look.
SRP: £229.99 (Laser 1), £269.99 (Laser 1S), £299.99 (aim L10V)
More information can be found on the GolfBuddy website.
King of the hills
The new Cobra wedges are the first in golf to feature a fully Metal-Injection-Molded (MIM) 304 stainless steel head construction. This delivers the most precise shape possible for truly exceptional feel and turf interaction.
This manufacturing process features a fully robotic polishing process where the robot is pre-programmed to polish each wedge to exact specifications this eliminates variance in head weight and thickness from club to club.
The wedges are available in the following lofts: 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees, all with Versatile Grind.
Keep and eye out for my review of these wedges in the near future…
Available: April 12
More information can be found on the Cobra-Puma website.