Superstitions give golfers a feeling of luck based on their past performances. Some golfers believe superstitions help them to avoid bad luck and that their performances would fail without them.
What will the pros who are superstitious think and feel about playing Augusta National Golf Club on Friday the 13th?
Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day and the most feared date in history. The second round of the 2020 Masters will be played on Friday the 13th. If the Masters had been played as usual in April, the only other Friday the 13th in 2020 would have been avoided as it was in March.
In addition to the fear of playing on the 13th, there is the Masters superstition jinx that if a player wins the Wednesday Par-3 Contest, he will not win the tournament as no one has won both in the same week. in 2009, Tiger played in the Par 3 contest at the Masters. He was 8 under par and hit balls in the water on 9 and 10 to make sure he wouldn’t win the Par 3 contest and jeopardize his chances of winning the Masters. Angel Cabrera won in a play-off against Kenny Perry that year. And in 2004 Tiger withdrew from a three-way playoff just in case the superstition was real. He finished tied for 22nd.
With the Masters Tournament just two weeks away, the committee just announced cancelation of the Par-3 Contest because of the lack of fans due to Covid 19 restrictions. The fear of the jinx is gone for this year.
This got me to thinking about how professional golfers view superstitions. I had always heard about tour pros repeating rituals when they were winning. They would drive the same car to the golf course, wear the same shoes, the same clothing, go to the same restaurant, eat the same food, and use the same number on their balls. Since their livelihood depends on their ability to play consistently, it is understandable that they don’t want to change anything when they are playing well. However, some of the pre-game rituals they use make me wonder if they have convinced themselves that it will really affect the outcome. A ritual is an action an athlete takes with the belief that it has the power to influence their performance.
Why do golfers believe in superstitions?
When a golfer has an exceptionally good round, s/he usually goes over the round to figure out how it happened. What did s/he do to “cause” it? In addition to reviewing their swing mechanics, they might notice what they wore or ate, and anything that might be unusual. The success of the round is then attributed to one of these “causes” and the golfer will then try to recreate the same situation.
I remember hearing of a high school team who won their first spring match when everyone was wearing their team sweaters. They didn’t want to “jinx” their success, so they wore their sweaters even when the temperatures climbed into the 90’s. Does this make sense?
Superstitious beliefs on the Pro Tours
The Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionary defines superstition as “an unfounded belief that some action or circumstance completely unrelated to a course of events can influence its outcome.” Here are some examples of superstitions that world-class professionals believe will make them perform better.
Bubba Watson eats one or two burritos every day while playing the tournament. He won twice there.
Tiger Woods always wears a red shirt for power in the final round of a tournament.
Paula Creamer changes her shirt to pink for the final round of a tournament.
John Cook marks his golf ball with the quarters that have state pictures where he played well in tournaments.
Doug Sanders considered white golf tees unlucky and refused to play golf with them.
Tom Weiskoff said he never teed off without 3 tees and 3 cents in his pocket. He will only tee off on a par-3 hole with a broken tee.
Paul Azinger always marked his golf ball with a penny, with the head of Abraham Lincoln looking at the hole for good luck.
Christina Kim doesn’t step on the edge where the fairway meets the green, as she believes this will bring bad luck to her golf game.
Jesper Parnevik always marks his ball with the tails-side up.
Jack Nicklaus always played with three coins in his pocket.
Ernie Els changes to a new ball after every birdie because he figures that ball’s luck is all used up. He also believes the number 2 is unlucky.
Retief Goosen starts the 1st round of a tournament with a ball with number 4, number 3 in the 2nd round, number 2 in the 3rd round and a number one ball in the final round.
Davis Love III only uses white tees and marks his balls on the green with only 1965 or 1966 pennies. Any coin minted after that will bring him bad luck!
Zach Johnson’s wife made him a ball marker that contains biblical phrases and verses that he reads during the round.
Vijay Singh uses balls in the reverse order.
Ben Crenshaw only played low number balls to keep his score on a hole to four or below.
Davis Love III marks his ball with a 1965 or 1966 penny.
Stewart Cink who stays clear of all superstitions because, he says, all they do is bring him bad luck.
Graham DeLaet grew the traditional Canadian playoff beard and applied it to golf. He grew a thick beard for the FedEx Cup.
Lee Trevino, a former U.S. Marine wouldn’t play yellow tees because yellow is the color of cowardice.
Some players do not play number 3 balls because they think it is a jinx for 3 putts.
Golf balls with a number higher than four are often associated with bad luck and are hardly made anymore.
Fear vs. Luck
Would it affect your luck if you did not act on your superstitious beliefs? Does it bring you luck? I believe there is a certain amount of luck in the game of golf. I also believe that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.
To have consistent results in the game of golf, it is necessary to have a consistent pre-shot routine. The rituals listed above are routines that are not needed. Golfers practice superstition routines in the hopes of bringing success, or to keep away the fear of bad luck. Fear is always a belief conjured up by the individual that keeps the mind emotionally engaged. If the golfer forgets to do the ritual, the fear of creating bad luck takes over.
Golfers always want to have more control on the golf course. Practicing superstitious rituals gives away your power as it occupies the mind with thoughts that have no relevance to preparing for the shot/putt. Visualization and mental imagery are mental routines that recreate successful past shots and feelings as if they are happening in the present moment. Prepare your mind with these useful mental skills and forget about the rituals based on an irrational belief. Put your trust in yourself, your preparation, and in your abilities.
The secret to success in your golf game is NOT in having what you want but in being grateful for what you do HAVE. Having an “attitude of gratitude” on the golf course brings you into a higher vibration that moves you past any negative situation and attracts more of the best in your game. Remove your expectations from all outcomes of attachment to how you want things to be. Enjoy the process of being in the present and PLAYING this wonderful game of golf.
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