By Robert Bicknell

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October 15, 2006

I'm not superstitious...touch wood

Every culture has customs and superstitions. In Asia, it is generally understood that the number four should be avoided at all costs. Many Asian hotels don’t have a 4th floor, while in the West, its the number 13 which is shunned. In fact, Friday the 13th is so notorious that a whole series of horror movies have been dedicated to it.

I have never had bad luck on this date until now...

This week’s column, which was sent last Wednesday, mysteriously disappeared from my computer and also was never received by the newspaper either. So the bad luck for me is that I am feverously re-writing this column while my daughter celebrates her 2nd birthday party in the other room with her friends.

Naturally, I also forgot what the other column was about, so I have to start from scratch as well. Not a lot of fun while kids sing "Happy Birthday". I just hope they save me some cake.

Many professional athletes have their own personal superstitions.

I remember one baseball player who decided the team’s winning streak was due to his "lucky socks" and kept wearing them for every game. He was even afraid to launder them for fear the luck would wash out.

As the winning streak continued, the space around his locker became as barren as a toxic waste dump and even flies and mosquitoes wouldn’t come into the locker room because of those socks.

Suffice it to say that his team-mates weren’t too sad when they lost a close game to end the streak. If memory serves, the team assembled in the parking lot for a "sock burning ceremony".

One US Football player had the same feeling about his "athletic supporter". He became known for scratching himself in public but luckily, the football season is short and the team lost rather quickly.

Professional golfers have also been known to go through pre-round routines when they’re playing well.

Some will eat the same breakfast every day, sit in the same chair at the same table, dress in the same way (but with clean socks as they do have pride), practice the same way and even make sure that they have the same things in their pockets and golf bag as they did the day before.

I personally like to make sure I have three wooden tees in my right front pocket before I tee off. If one breaks, I replace it with another one to keep the number to three. I have no idea why I do this, I just know it became a routine for me at some time early in my career and now I’m stuck with it.

One famous joke involved a reporter asking Jack Nicklaus’s wife if "she kissed his balls for luck" before the round. I won’t repeat the punch line, but as far as I heard, she did occasionally do this and I can only assume that the same joke is now circulating but with Tiger Wood’s wife in the hot seat.

Davis Love III’s father, who was a top teaching pro, used to follow him around the golf course during his junior years. If "Trip" (nickname for DL III is "triple". Get it?) was playing well, his father would pick up a stick or a rock and keep holding it as long as the pars and birdies kept dropping for his son. If Trip bogeyed, the stick and rock were dumped. Once the son make another par or better, he’d look for a new stick or rock to hold.

He also had the habit of hiding in the trees, afraid that his son would see him and lose his concentration.

Davis Love III knew his father was there the entire time and it even became a standing joke in the family after a while.

It seems that as we get older, people tend to put less stock in superstition.

While I would like to think that it’s because we, as civilized human beings living in the 21st century, realise that superstition belongs in the dark ages and has no place in the world today. I must admit that it also might be due to Alzheimer’s...a disease which I have avoided so far...

Touch wood.

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