I usually take my vacation in August. However, I always leave a couple of my favorite past columns to be published while I’m away. Following is one that appeared in the El Paso Herald-Post on May 31, 1984. Hope you enjoy it.
YOU THINK racegoers are superstitious? Try golfers.
Lee Trevino always wears black trousers and a red shirt on the last day of a tournament because those were the colors he wore the final day of the 1968 U.S. Open, which he won.
Sam Snead for years played with the number “0” printed on his golf balls and had to have them specially made since zero balls weren’t sold in golf shops then.
Hal Sutton, last year’s Rookie of the Year, refuses to play with a ball marked with the number “2.”
Jack Nicklaus, one of the greatest golfers of all time, had great success when his caddie, Angelo Argea, handed him three white tees at the start of a round and then on the second tee, would say “Good luck.” Nicklaus has his caddie do that all the time now.
THOSE SUPERSTITIONS came to mind this week with The Herald-Post City Golf Championships about to begin.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that Frank Redman, a seven-time winner of the event, will always mark his ball with a dime. And the face will always be up. “I can’t stand a nickel,” Redman explains. Why the face up? Redman couldn’t say.
Redman has been in golf for a long time, and he’s played with people with other strange habits.
He notices that Gene Fisher, another outstanding El Paso amateur, always plays with his golf shoes untied.
WEIRD? HOW about Tony Zuloaga? He’ll always use a Titleist ball when hitting with the wind at his back and a Top Flite when hitting into the wind. Does it help? Zuloaga said he didn’t know then pointed with a finger at his head and said, “I guess it’s all up here.”
Right and left hands get their share of attention. Redman played quite a few rounds with Frank Stranahan, an amateur who used to play on the pro circuit. Right-handed golfers always grip the club with their left hand first. Not Stranahan. He’d always grip it with is right hand. Why? “I still haven’t figured that one out,” Redman says.
Tom Weiskopf has a different superstition. He always carries not one, not two, but three dimes to mark his ball.
And how about Phil Rodgers? He’s a short-game wizard but he never chips with anything but a 7-iron.
Dave Marr never played with a ball with a “3” on it because it reminded him of three-putting. Marr, incidentally, recalls a pair of gray slacks he considered lucky and wore only on the final day of a tournament. Those pants eventually wore out and that was when, Marr says, he decided to retire.
I PLAY OFTEN with a good friend by the name of Hawley Richeson. He goes through the same ritual every time it’s his turn to hit the ball. He bends over and tees up the ball. Then he addresses it as if he’s about to hit it. Suddenly, he’ll straighten up and move behind the ball to see where he wants to hit it. Then he’ll go back to address the ball and swing away.
ME? I’M NOT superstitious. I mean, just because the lettering on my ball has to face the direction on which I’m trying to hit it, just because I must take one and only one practice swing on each stroke and just because I’ll use only one type of ball …
I mean, they’re not superstitions. I could stop doing those things anytime. And I would, too, if I weren’t afraid of playing worse if I did.