Golfing rituals and superstitions

Golfing rituals and superstitions

The build up to the first major of the year is at a fever pitch and it’s the majors that mean the most to the players.  Ultimately at the end of a player’s career they are judged by how many major wins they accumulated.  To this day there are many column inches dedicated to whether Tiger will overhaul Jack’s haul of 18. 

It was interesting to hear Bubba Watson say in his pre Masters press conference that he was in awe of the Masters Champions both past and present at the Champions Dinner last year.  That got me to thinking do the pros have any rituals or superstitions when playing golf to keep them relaxed?

Starting off with Tiger we all know that he always wears a red shirt on the final day.  Woods himself actually replied to a fan who contacted him through his website asking him why he always wears red on Sunday. 

Woods replied by saying that "I wear red on Sundays because my mom thinks that that's my power color, and you know you should always listen to your mom."  Red is a colour associated with aggressiveness, which is why you should never use a red tee.  Keep calm and serene by teeing up with a green or even yellow tee…   Keeping on the subject of golf tees did you know that Jack Nicklaus would never use his own tees on par 3’s, he’d always find a broken one to use.

How about the infamous quote from a TV commentator in the 1960’s who quipped about one of Arnold Palmer’s pre round rituals: “One of the reasons Arnie is playing so well,” he said, “is that, before each tee shot, his wife takes out his balls and kisses them…” Oops!

Have you heard the superstition that Ben Crenshaw doesn’t use any golf balls that are numbered higher than four. The reason being is that he doesn’t want a score higher than that on any hole.  Or how about Retief Goosen who only uses a ball with a number four in the first round, down to number one in the final round. Vijay Singh goes in the opposite order.

 Did you know that the karma Gods don’t like you using balls that you found during your round?  Put them in your bag and use them on the next round otherwise you could end up with the same fate as the original owner…

The most superstitions associated with golf though has to be with the use of ball markers.  Jack Nicklaus still famously carries three coins in his pocket when he is playing golf.  The denomination doesn’t matter and there’s no preference — as long as there are three coins in his pocket at all times, Nicklaus is good. 

Jack isn’t the only one to have superstitions around ball markers.  Chi Chi Rodriquez took it to the next level.  He would mark his birdie putts with a quarter, his eagle putts with a buffalo nickel, and if things weren’t going his way, he’d switch to a gold coin.  That’s a lot of change to have rattling around in your pocket!

Golf is often said to be 30% mental and 70% skill, this was actually proved  when in a  recent German study they actually tested and measured “luck”. One group of golfers were given “lucky” golf balls, while another group was given “just the same golf ball as everyone else”.

Would you believe the group with the lucky golf balls sunk 30% more putts than the group that did not. It just goes to show how significant the mental game truly is or more to the point the huge fear of bad luck that affects golfers of all levels.

By Dan Cole

Return to blog