My putter is broken, can I use my driver on the putting green?
Yes, you can, and you may have to!
The rules of golf allow you to putt with any club in your bag. Granted, the putter is specifically designed for use on that beautiful short grass but there may be cases where you must use a club other than your putter for holing out, hopefully for birdie.
A recent example is seen when Robert Streb, at the 2015 Greenbrier Classic, used a 56-degree wedge for nine holes. Why would you do such a thing? Well, it worked for Streb but this wasn’t his first choice of clubs.
USGA rule# 4-3/1 states you can repair or replace a broken club during a round if it’s done without delaying play and if the club you are replacing/repairing was broken in the normal course of play.
That’s legalese for “if you broke your club over your knee you’re out of luck.”
In Streb’s case he tossed his putter at his golf bag after finishing the hole. The putter just landed poorly and the head broke off. While this wasn’t an act of anger it’s not “normal play.” An example of normal play would be a driver head breaking off during a swing (which many of us have had happen to our favorite 460cc driver), or breaking your seven iron when trying to hook the ball around a tree (save that shot from the pine straw for the pros), or cracking the face of a wedge when you hit a rock coming out of that bunker (I wish the greens keeper would add some sand to these bunkers).
Other, less civil, golfers have even tossed their clubs in the nearby water hazard (lateral or not, this isn’t good for your game). Guess what? That’s not normal, at least in the eyes of the USGA. So now you either have to putt with another club the rest of your round or do a fast dive to the bottom of the pond to retrieve your lost equipment.
The rules of golf can be a friend or foe, it depends on how well you know each. And to make learning the rules easier and enjoyable, I wrote the entertaining and educational series The Golf Rules, covering stroke play, match play, and golf etiquette.
Cover Photo by pierpeter on Flickr