LPGA pro putts with wedge after damaging putter — but obscure rule could have saved her

Emma Talley used a wedge to putt with after damaging her putter at Congressional on Thursday.

Golf Channel

BETHESDA, Md. — Congressional Country Club played like a beast on Thursday morning, but for one player, there was an added challenge.

Emma Talley, who is playing in her fourth KPMG Women’s PGA, smacked her putter against her foot after making bogey on the 6th hole (her 15th of the day) during her opening round. And while the act was seemingly innocuous, it loosened the head of her putter from the shaft.

Talley, in doubt about how to proceed, completed her remaining three holes by putting out with her wedge. She played the final three holes in two over and signed for a six-over 78 — 14 strokes behind leader In Gee Chun.

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“Yeah it was just a freak accident,” Talley said. “I hit my putter on my toe, but it wasn’t even that hard, that’s why I’m so upset … That’s what sucked.”

The 28-year-old was visibly shaken after the incident, with tears welling in her eyes as she played out the remainder of her round.

However, Talley was not obligated to ditch the putter after damaging the club during her round. According to Rule 4.1, “a player is allowed to keep using and/or to repair any club damaged during the round, no matter what the damage and even if the player damaged it in anger.”

The rule is listed on the USGA website under the “Major Changes” subsection of the rulebook, as it is one of the most consequential rules that was altered in 2019.

The PGA of America released a statement after Talley’s incident outlining the rule and stating that she could have continued using the putter for the remainder of her round.

“Obviously, you want to shed light when you’re out here,” Talley said. “If they didn’t see what happened they would think I probably snapped it over my leg.”

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Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.