Tips on Learning the New Rules of Golf
Tip #12: Rule 4.1b: Limit of 14 Clubs
Molly Cooper, Certified PGA Professional
Director of Tournament & Member Programs
Welcome back to our monthly Rules article to help guide you into a successful 2020 and beyond. I can’t believe it is my last rules article of 2019 already!
I chose my twelfth topic to discuss 4.1b: Limit of 14 Clubs as we have experienced some questions on this rule during Section events over the years. There are some misconceptions/confusion people have on this rule.
Rule 4.1b: Limit of 14 Clubs; Sharing, Adding or Replacing Clubs During Round
Limit of 14 Clubs: A player must not:
- Start a round with more than 14 clubs, or
- Have more than 14 clubs during the round
If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs, he or she may add clubs during the round up to the 14-club limit (see Rule 4.1b(4) for restrictions in doing this).
When the player becomes aware that he or she is in breach of this Rule by having more than 14 clubs, the player must immediately take the excess club or clubs out of play, using the procedure in Rule 4.1c(a):
- If the player started with more than 14 clubs, he or she may choose which club or clubs that must be taken out of play.
- If the player added excess clubs during the round, those added clubs are the ones that must be taken out of play.
After the player’s round has started, if the player picks up another player’s club that was left behind or a club is mistakenly put in the player’s bag without his or her knowledge, the club is not treated as one of the player’s clubs for purposes of the 14-club limit (but it must not be used).
This all seems pretty easy right? You just count your clubs prior to the round and don’t start play until you have 14 or less clubs.
The confusion we see often in competition (and I am sure at your golf courses) is what if you find the you have more than 14 clubs prior to the start of your round and you decide to “declare” the excess club or clubs out of play? You may even take the club out of your bag and lay it on the floor of your golf cart.
Rule 4.1c Procedure for Taking Clubs Out of Play explains the procedure in example 2 if you realize you have excess club before the round.
Rule 4.1c Procedure for Taking Clubs Out of Play
Before Round: If a player becomes aware shortly before starting a round that he or she accidently has more than 14 clubs, the player should try to leave the excess club or clubs behind.
But as an option without penalty:
- The player may take any such excess clubs out of play before the start of the round, using the procedure in (1), and
- The excess clubs may be kept by the player (but must not be used) during the round, and they do not count towards the 14-club limit.
If a player deliberately brings more than 14 clubs to his or her first teeing area, and starts the round without leaving the excess clubs behind, the option is not allowed and Rule 4.1b(1) applies.
Suggestion – if at a Section event and you have extra clubs with you that you realize at your starting hole, please give them to your starter until your round is over. We will keep them safe and prevent you from having penalties applied to your first hole.
This is a pretty easy penalty to prevent. Count your clubs before play, take out any that are over 14 and give to your starter (or if you have time, put them back in your vehicle).
As always, to continue learning more about the new Rules of Golf, go to www.usga.org.
Please download the new Rules of Golf App on your phone. I cannot stress how convenient it is and how easy it is to use. The search engine on the App is amazing! You just type in what you are looking for and you immediately have the answer at your fingertips.
Let me know if you have any questions!