A Golfer's Survival Guide for Equipment Problems on the Course

Stuff happens, especially on the golf course. So every now and then, you'll need to come up with a quick-fix in the middle of a round. In the spirit of "better safe than sorry," we've identified several situations that might arise and tips on how to resolve them.

Driver Snaps in Two

This could be your lucky break. Tee off with your 3- or 5-wood, which probably will produce straighter shots. As long as you're not playing in a tournament or planning to post the score for handicap purposes, you can also borrow a driver from one of your partners. You might find that you like it better than your own. What to do with the broken driver? Carefully place both pieces in your bag with the clubhead and grip ends facing up; that way, you won't cut your hand on the sharp edges when reaching in to remove it after the round.

Putter Breaks

Boy, you have some temper. Okay, maybe it broke accidentally when you hit a tree. Whatever. Again, you can borrow a partner's putter if you aren't in a tournament or posting your score. Other options: Putt with your driver, remembering that since its shaft is longer and less upright than that of your putter, you have to choke down and stand farther from the ball at address. Or use your shortest club -- the sand wedge -- and contact the middle of the ball with the leading edge of the clubface.

Clubhead Comes Loose

Sorry, but you're out of luck here. Even if you packed high-strength adhesive and could glue the head back on, it takes a few hours for the glue to dry properly. Put the shaft in the bag (grip end up), the head in one of the bag's pockets, and have them reattached after the round. Don't play a club with a loose head; it can fly off and hit someone.

Bag's Shoulder Strap Breaks

You can grab the bag by its handle, throw it on a playing partner's cart (wedge your bag between the two already on the back), or try a temporary fix. "Loop the broken end into the trunk handle near the base of the bag," says Jackie Perrin, vice president of bag manufacturer Belding. If there isn't a trunk handle, there's probably another loop somewhere on the bag to tie the strap through and sling it over your shoulder. Consider reinforcing the knot with duct tape (see sidebar). When you get near the pro shop, rent a pull cart.

Shoe Sole Separates From Upper

No glue? Chomp on some chewing gum, break it into a few pieces, sandwich them between the upper and the sole, and press together. You also can wrap a large elastic band around the bottom and top of the shoe. Or go a different route: "If possible, rip the outsole all the way off instead of having it flap around," says Karen Pitts, vice president of Dexter Golf, "then play in what amounts to a slipper." When you're near the parking lot, grab the back-up pair of golf shoes you wisely keep in the trunk of your car, or change into your street shoes for the remainder of the round. (It's actually a good way to work on footwork and balance.) You also could play in bare feet, but be careful where you walk.

Glove Rips at Palm

And, of course, you don't have another one in your bag. Throw out the ripped glove and play bare-handed, being careful not to grip the club too tightly. Buy a new glove at the turn or immediately after the round (so you don't forget and find yourself gloveless next time).

Cart Dies at the Point Farthest from Clubhouse

Officials at manufacturer ClubCar tell us there's no clever way to revive a drained battery out on the course. You need a new one driven out to you. If a cell phone is handy, call the clubhouse. If no one in your group carries a cell phone (hard as that is to imagine these days), flag down a ranger or refreshment cart; they always have radios that are in contact with the pro shop. Finally, leave the cart, shoulder your bag, and try walking. You might like it.

Wheel Falls Off Pull Cart

We're assuming the wheel can't be reattached. If it's a rental cart, leave it until you see a course employee who can get you a replacement and retrieve the casualty. If it's yours, fold it up and place it on your partner's motorized cart. No motorized cart in your group? Stash the broken pull cart under a tree and retrieve it after the round with a cart borrowed from the pro shop. Sure beats lugging it -- and your bag -- all the way back.

Survival Kit

Be prepared for nearly any on-course emergency by keeping the following items in your bag at all times:

  • Bandages in various sizes (they also can double as adhesive tape)
  • Spenco's 2nd Skin or Tuf-Skin
  • Small plastic bottle of carpenter's glue
  • Shoelaces
  • Duct tape
  • Swiss Army knife
  • String or dental floss
  • Heavy-duty rubber bands /UL>

You Get a Blister But Have No Bandages

First, wash the wound with the cleanest water available. Then you need something to cover the blistered area. Cut or tear off a clean piece of a golf towel: If the blister is on your hand, use duct tape to secure the cloth over the wound; if it's on your foot, do the same, but make sure your shoe fits comfortably over the wound.

You Run Out of Ball Markers and Coins

Every course has trees, and every tree has leaves. Find a leaf fragment (the smaller the better, as it won't be easily blown away by wind) and use it to mark your ball. Keep your eye on it while your partners putt so you don't lose sight of its location. And if your ball isn't in someone else's line, you always can use a tee, unless you have the following problem.

You're Out of Tees

Sure, it's unlikely, and even more so that everyone else in your group is also out. But it's a strange game. So push your scorecard pencil fairly deep and straight into the ground (with the pointed end down, of course), and carefully place your ball on the flat end (if there's an eraser, remove it, as it's probably not level and you'll find it difficult to balance the ball). Because the pencil is thicker than a tee, you might not be able to tell if the ball is at its normal height, so carefully check that it is aligned with the clubface the way you like. You may actually find you prefer a tall pencil if you play a deep-faced driver.

Many on- and off-course golf shops sell prepackaged emergency kits, such as those from Adventure Medical Kits (800-324-3517), or you can create your own. Be sure to include bandages, anti-bacterial ointment, bug spray, cortisone cream, aspirin, and a lighter. And always take a water bottle with you when you play.

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