in golf, a good game requires lots of practice and lots of luck. since most of us eschew practice as if it were a rot- ting trout, it’s the second part of the formula that we rely on most heavily: luck.
the same is true in every sport. even if a player oozes talent and
practices hard, he or she often works harder still to get lady luck
on their side. pistol pete marovich, for example, the late, great
basketball player, was known to wear the same pair of socks night
in and night out if his team was winning. one can only imagine
what pistol pete’s locker smelled like.
baseball players are known to be particularly supersti-
tious. You see pitchers make a point of stepping over
the foul lines—never on them—on their way to the
mound; and batters flipping, twirling and wagging
their bats in the exact same manner before every
pitch, all in mortal fear that if they varied their rou-
tine in the slightest, their game would immediately
slip into the seventh circle of hell.
some baseball superstitions are more obses-
sive than others. former major league baseball
pitcher greg swindell, for example, was known to
bite the tip off one of his fingernails before each
start and hold it in his mouth the entire game for
good luck. Wade boggs, who starred for the new
York Yankees and boston red sox in his career, ate
chicken before every game and took exactly 150 ground
balls in practice. slugger larry Walker was known to be
fanatical about the number 3: setting his alarm for 33 minutes
past a given hour, taking practice swings in multiples of three,
wearing no. 33 on his jersey and getting married on nov. 3 at
3: 33 p.m. he even has 3 kids.
golfers may be a little less obvious about their superstitions
and lucky charms, but admit it…you have a few, don’t you? per-
sonally, i carry a polished, rose-colored stone in my pocket when
i play. When i need a little extra juju on a shot, i reach into my
pocket and feel the smooth, cool surface of the stone. this has a
calming effect, and also reminds me that even if i miss the shot
the sun will still come up tomorrow.
i also practice what some might call hypnotherapy. my pre-
shot routine involves lightly pressing the thumb and forefinger
of my right hand on the grip of whichever club i’m using and
simultaneously letting a glacier blue color layer wash over my
thoughts. i’m thus able to block out any distractions. now, peo-
ple talking behind me, blaring car horns in the street, screaming
sirens...none of it pierces my bubble of bliss.
some golfers get a whole lot goofier than that. my friend guy
carries an acorn in his sock and is convinced it protects him from
the wrath of the golf gods. every now and then squirrels show
a little too much interest, but guy considers that a lucky sign.
When walking to a tee box, guy will never approach from the
front or the back...always the side.
my friend steve, on the other hand, is more a be-
liever in good vibrations. his tool of choice: a q-link
pendant that is worn around the neck. advertised
as “an advanced personal energy system…that acts
similar to a tuning fork…and interacts with your bio-
field,” steve said his q-link was his “rabbit’s foot,” until
one day he lost it.
“did your game go down the tubes?” i asked him. “Well,
not really,” he admitted, hesitantly, perhaps running an in-
ternal diagnostic on his biofield. he did mention he had
just ordered a trion Z bracelet, which he was convinced
was going to help him accumulate more “minus ions.”
he wanted to see if that helped his putting.
i know a number of players who, if they are having a
good round, will refuse to clean their golf ball fearing their
luck will change. and speaking of change, Jack nicklaus is
said to have his lucky charms in the form of three coins he car-
ries to appease the golf gods. Works pretty well for him!
many professional golfers use coins minted in the 1960 to
mark their balls on the green. the thinking? the coin will help
them shoot a round in the 60s.
sometimes even underwear is important. Jesper parnevik, the
edgy swedish golfer, whose diet at one point in his career con-
sisted solely of lava ash, revealed in a press conference a couple
years ago that his wife bought him five new pairs of underwear
just prior to a tournament…and he won. “maybe that will be my
new thing,” he said.