Emergency Putting SituationsMarch 22, 2018

When Anger Management Doesn't Work: What to do When You Break Your Putter

Luke List World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play - Round One
Gregory ShamusAUSTIN, TX - MARCH 21: Luke List of the United States putts with a wedge on the 18th green during the first round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 21, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

When things start to go south on the golf course, your round can quickly become reliant on your anger-management skills. But, as we all know, sometimes the frustration is too much to take. It happens to us, and it happens to the pros. During the first round of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Luke List had a moment where he got upset about his putting. He swung his putter at what looked like some bushes, only to be greeted by a wall behind them. The move bent his putter. Bad news, he had another 11 holes left in his match against Justin Thomas. List started putting with his wedge. Good news, he actually made some decent putts.

We chatted with one of our Best Young Teachers, Jason Guss, about what your plan of action should be if your putter falls victim to your rage and breaks while you’re playing.

Guss says that what List did is the right move: grab a wedge. One reason for this choice is because if there’s any club in your bag that you may have putted with that isn’t your putter, it’s probably your wedge.

“If you usually take a cart and you don’t want to walk back to get your putter, you just putt in with your wedge, right? People do it all the time,” Guss says. “There’s a chance you’re somewhat comfortable putting with your wedge already. So, if you need a putter replacement, that’s the best place to start.”

Try The Butch Harmon Short-Game Clinic video series for lessons on all the short-game shots you need.

Another reason Guss likes the wedge is how it simplifies your thinking when you’re over the putt.

“Many people struggle with over-thinking on the green,” Guss says. “But when you’re standing over a putt with a wedge in your hands, your goal is to hit the ball right in the middle of its equator. That’s tough to do with the leading edge of a wedge. You’re just worried about hitting it there, about making contact. It frees up your stroke.”

One thing you want to make sure you do is choke down.

“Your wedge is longer than your putter, so choke down until your arms are straight and the blade of the wedge is at the middle of the golf ball,” Guss says. “The face of the wedge should be square to a little open, hold it with your putting grip, treat it like a putter and just try to make contact with the middle of the ball.”

There’s a chance you’re going to feel really awkward putting with your wedge. Give it a try for a few more putts, but if you think that this option has no hope for you, Guss says your next-best choice is your driver.

“It’s closest in loft to your putter,” Guss says, “but the bottom of the driver is so rounded that it makes putting difficult.”

If both the wedge and driver aren’t working for you, your last choice should be your hybrid.

“The hybrid is your third option,” Guss says. “But it’s anywhere from 17 to 24 degrees, so it’s a little scary. It has the potential to make the ball bounce too much.”

If you feel like you're the type of person who may wind up in a situation where your putter finds its way into a pond or mysteriously breaks after a four-putt, you might want to consider rolling a few putts on the putting green with a wedge once in a while.

“If you practice a little,” Guss says, “it won’t feel so awkward if you have to putt with your wedge.”

(*With the changes to the Rules of Golf coming in 2019, if you bend a club in anger you'll be able to continue playing with it.)


WATCH: GOLF DIGEST VIDEOS