This area is addressed under Rule Four of the USGA guidelines. It states that you aren’t allowed to carry more than 14 clubs on the course with you. Interestingly, you can choose to start a round with less than 14 clubs. There is no minimum number of clubs you can use. Technically, you will be able to take on a course with just one club. As you play, you can add more clubs.
It should be noted that clubs that are damaged are only able to be replaced if the damage occurred naturally, or by another player. In other words, you can't snap a club over your knee and replace it, but you could replace your driver if the head were to come off during a normal swing. Also of note, you aren't able to use another player's clubs. Golfers can play with a partner, storing both sets of clubs in the same bag. This is allowed, as long as the clubs are clearly labeled so you can tell who owns what.
Penalties will be used to enforce this rule and make sure that you are carrying the right amount of golf clubs. The impact on your game will depend on when the error was discovered. It will be a two-stroke penalty for every hole that you had too many clubs. This goes up to a maximum of four strokes.
If you discover the problem on the walk between holes, the penalty will be based on the last hole you played. For example, if you find out between the first and second holes, you will only have a two-stroke penalty. Don’t feel too bad if you get one of these penalties. Even professional golfers have accidentally carried too many clubs.
Once you discover that you have too many clubs, you will need to either remove the club from your bag or declare which one you will not use. It's common to turn the club upside down to remember not to use the club. This article goes into more detail about the rules that govern the number of clubs you can carry in a golf bag.
There are no guidelines that regulate the types of clubs each player needs to carry. However, there is a common mix of clubs that players take.
The first club to carry is the driver. The purpose of this club is to allow you to hit the ball over a long distance. Since this club is so important, you want to make sure that you are getting a high-quality driver. To get one that will compliment your game you'll need to look at things like the head size, shaft flex/length, and the overall weight of the club. This list of lightweight TaylorMade drivers will give you a better idea of what you should look for.
The next family of clubs to consider is the woods. They generally come in odd numbers starting with the 3-wood and going down to a 9-wood. These tell you the amount of loft, with the higher number representing a higher amount of loft. This is the angle of the clubface, relative to the shaft. Simply put, a larger loft will be able to put the ball higher into the air. This will allow you to deliver more spin. Generally, you’ll want to have two woods. A 3-wood and 5-wood tend to deliver the best results.
It might also be a good idea to use a hybrid. This is a combination of wood and iron. This will give you a good blend of distance and accuracy. Again, there are multiple hybrids that you can use. Though it’s best to use a hybrid-4.
Next, it’s time to consider which irons you are going to use. These are most useful when you are less than 200 yards or so away from the green. The closer you are to the hole, the higher the iron number that will need to be used. The higher the number on the iron, the more loft that club has. It's common to use anything from a 3-iron to a 9-iron.
The next thing to add to your bag is a set of wedges. These are used to hit shorter, higher lofted shots. Often times, a set of irons includes a pitching wedge (usually around 46 degrees of loft) and/or a gap wedge (around 52 degrees of loft). The iron set often does not include a sand wedge (around 56 degrees) or a lob wedge (around 60 degrees).
Finally, most golfers will carry a putter. This club is used to roll the ball along the green. It's typically the heaviest of all the clubs and has a slight amount of loft on it.
This is a good setup for a beginner golfer. But as you grow more experienced, you’ll be able to fine-tune this mix.
There are a few rules that you need to keep in mind when you are choosing what clubs you want to add to your golf bag. As long as you have 14 clubs or less, you will be within the rules. The composition of those 14 clubs, though, is entirely up to you. As you gain experience, you will find that certain clubs serve a greater purpose than others, and you may not be comfortable with certain clubs. That is all a part of the experience of learning the game.