Who me, superstitious? Don’t be silly

Danny Freels examines the odd ways that superstition goes hand-in-glove with golf

When I was a brand-new player, learning the game alongside my big brother, Jerry, for a reason I don’t remember both of us decided that using a red tee was bad luck. We never used them and if we saw one lying on the ground, we would either walk way around it or laughingly try to flick it with a club at the other guy. Just being touched by one meant doom. All these decades later, I still never use red tees.

Oddly enough, though, I always ID my ball with a red dot on either side. Not navy blue, which is my favorite color, but red, which is my least favorite. Go figure.

Another super … uh, oddity of mine is to always mark my ball on a green with the coin tails up. If — due to my increasingly poor eyesight — I notice that the coin is heads up, there’s no chance I’m going to make that putt. Not even from a foot away.

Speaking of that … as a right-handed player, I keep my coins in my right front pocket. Strangely, there are right-handed players on the PGA Tour that keep their coins in their left front pocket, and lefties that keep them in their right front pocket. The great Tom Watson, a rightie, always teed up his ball with his left hand. No doubt that was the reason he only won eight major championships.

The even greater Jack Nicklaus, later in his career, always wore a yellow shirt during the final round of a tournament. The reason was because a young fan of his — who was fighting a serious illness — wore a yellow shirt on Sunday to bring Jack luck. In 1986, when Nicklaus was “over the hill” at age 46, his final-round 65 won him his sixth Masters Tournament. He was wear-
ing a yellow shirt.

One other thing … lately, for some reason, I’ve noticed that when I use a ball with a high number — 26, 37, 44 — I’m less intimidated than when I use a ball with the more traditional 1, 2, 3 or 4. The low numbers make me feel that I have to play like a pro; the high numbers don’t. But then … I have been playing better.

Probably just a coincidence. Right?

Do you have superstitions on the course? Let us know! editor@golftimemag.com.