Fear … uncertainty … frustration … anger … desperation.

These are the overriding emotions we’re dealing with now as we wage war against the unseen enemy known as COVID-19, aka the novel coronavirus. Ironically (and perhaps a bit strangely), these are the very same emotions many golfers experience on the golf course.

  • Fear of coming up short on approach shots over water.
  • Uncertainty of what club to hit when your distance is between clubs.
  • Frustration at missing ridiculously short, arrow-straight putts.
  • Anger watching other players make birdies aplenty when you can’t even make par.
  • Desperation leading to a willingness to try anything to fix your golfing woes.

We’ve all been there. Hell, I’m still there. My game is a yard sale of unwanted items — at discounted prices, no less! Think I’m lying? Ask my wife. In the midst of this crazy social distancing home quarantining campaign, I set up a driving net in my living room. Before you ask, no — Hell no! —my better half was not happy about that decision, and the negotiation that followed resulted in my agreeing to sponsor her shopping spree at the Rodeo Drive store of her choosing if and when society returns to normal.

So here I’ve got this massive driving net in the center of our home and, wouldn’t you know it, I still managed to slice a ball around the net and obliterate an antique lamp. Granted, I freakin’ hated that lamp — it was a wedding gift from my wife’s uncle and uglier than Ron Jeremy after a 24-hour bender — but be that as it may, how the hell do you miss a driving net? Exactly. You don’t. And yet, I did. So the next time you break down in tears about the sorry state of your golf game, gimme a ring and I’ll play the world’s smallest fiddle for you. I don’t do violins.

Where am I going with all this, you wonder? I thought you’d never ask.

Half a decade ago, I was sent to Miami to hang out with “The Voodoo Squad” — the moniker given to the janitorial team at the Miami-Dade Criminal Courthouse, otherwise known as the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building. The cleanup crew’s nickname came about on account of all the voodoo- and hex-related objects these sanitation professionals are forced to remove from the premises on a daily basis. Trust me when I tell you, their job is not for the faint of heart.

There have been some truly bizarre occurrences over the years — from walls collapsing, to desks falling through floors, to a wide variety of medical mishaps (bloody noses, seizures, fainting spells, teeth falling out, heart attacks, strokes), all suffered by individuals who had no previous health issues whatsoever. Many believe these are just coincidences. Random unfortunate happenings. But those in the know — those who believe in dark powers, and the curses and spells that go wand in hand with them — insist these potentially tragic events were fully intended, with malice aforethought. 

As I learned during my stint with The Voodoo Squad, all inanimate objects are capable of being cursed. According to the experts, golf clubs are in the Top 10 (surprise, surprise, they rank 4th, right behind cars, motorcycles, and cell phones).

Blown away by this revelation, I dug a little further, hoping to reveal the secret to determining if your golf clubs have fallen victim to spiritual vengeance. What I discovered shocked me to the core.

Putters — Heard of The Yips? Of course, you have. Who hasn’t? But what I bet you didn’t know is that The Yips have absolutely nothing to do with nerves or any other emotional disarray. According to The Voodoo Squad, when a golfer is afflicted with The Yips, it’s the club (in this case, the putter) not the duffer who has been infected. 

What’s worse, the source of The Yips — the bastard who put the hex on your $300 short stick — is or was within the visual range of that club. It could be your playing partner. A passing golfer. Maybe even your kid or spouse before you left for the course. Someone wanted you to fail — miserably — and they decided to mess with the mojo of the most important club in your bag to make that failure happen. 

So snap that club over your knee or chuck it in the lake and get another. Pronto! Problem solved.

Short Irons — Nobody, not even Charles Barkley, can skull a short iron multiple times in a row. I mean, they can, but the odds of hitting multiple worm-burners with a wedge or the like on the same hole are roughly the same as Steven Seagal winning an Oscar. Simply ain’t gonna happen. 

So if you’re suddenly besieged by a rash of mishits using what are generally perceived as the easiest clubs to hit, step back, take a breath, burn some sage, do a bunch of umbrella steps, mumble a prayer — and then do something that will actually fix the problem: lay the offending clubs flat on the ground, on a north-south directional, and repeat after me: 

“You do not own me, I own you!” (If you happen to have the receipt from when you purchased them, take it out and show it to them!) If the problem persists, sorry to say, those clubs are fucked. Time to get new ones!

Long Irons — I’m about to give you some inside information that’s never been shared before. During the filming of Tin Cup, when Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy (played by Kevin Costner) was on the driving range prior to the start of the first round of the U.S. Open, he developed a horrible case of The Shanks. This was not in the script; writer/director Ron Shelton did not conceive it. Pro golfer David Simms, the film’s villain (played by Don Johnson, a well-known practical joker), invoked the evil spirits courtesy of his little-known Haitian roots and cursed every club in McAvoy’s bag. Those chili dippers Tin Cup continued to hit proved so hilarious the film’s script was rewritten to showcase them. 

Now, if you suddenly come down with The Shanks, once again, this is not your fault — your clubs have been sabotaged. But fear not, because The Voodoo Squad has given me a surefire fix: vodka. While gin or tequila will work in a pinch, vodka is the go-to intoxicant. Buy the cheapest bottle on the shelf — the one with the dumbest name and silliest logo — empty it into a bucket, and then put your clubs (blades first) in that bucket. Don’t worry if you get some booze on the shafts, this will not be an issue. The liquor is an offering, and apparently long irons prefer vodka. (Don’t ask — I didn’t!) Let them sit for 24 hours, dry them thoroughly, and then have at it. 

If the problem continues, there are clearly some very powerful dark forces at play, and you might need to bring in a mage or sorceress to assist you. I’d use Yelp to find one in your area. (Word to the wise: Only choose someone with three stars or better!)

Drivers/Woods — Everyone knows that if you start a hole with a substandard drive, more than likely you’ll be scrambling to make par. Birdies and eagles are usually off the table when your drive goes awry, and bogeys, double-bogeys and other over-par results are what most golfers will be writing on their scorecards. It’s for that reason that drivers and woods are the most cursed clubs in the bag. When your enemies want to screw you up, that’s where they concentrate their wicked efforts. 

If you’ve been consistently smoking your drives on the range, but then it all goes to shit the moment you tee it up for real, once again, you are not the problem. Your “Big Dog” has been compromised. Soul-hacked. Fucked with! Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. But what’s even worse, we know the culprit: the golf club manufacturers. Yes, you read that right. They are all in cahoots, working together to force golfers around the world to buy their latest offerings. It’s retail revenge at its finest. In an effort to dig deep into your wallet, not only are most major golf club manufacturers employing talented club designers and engineers, but they also have witches and warlocks on their payrolls, focusing on sinful incantations that will result in full-blown curses after a couple of hundred swings. And just like the coronavirus, as of this writing, there is no cure. 

According to The Voodoo Squad, this is the one curse for which you just have to bite the bullet. Their advice is to apply for another credit card and, the moment your current driver starts to reveal it’s true self, dump it like the plague it’s infested with. Think of it like torture: sooner or later, everyone talks. So spare yourself the agony of having your fingernails ripped out and just talk from the jump. Same deal here. Instead of trying to fight an unwinnable battle, ditch the bad, bring in the good. And if your significant other isn’t cool with the purchase, use that new credit card to buy them some lovely burlap lingerie or a snazzy new watch. All’s well that ends well, and the demons will move on to their next victim — for a while anyway. And when they return — they always do, usually when there’s a hot new driver on the market — just shrug your shoulders and watch-rinse-repeat. With any luck, you’ll be able to sell your old cursed driver on eBay for 40 cents on the dollar and make it someone else’s problem!

On a serious note … To all Stick and Hack’s loyal members, we wish you and your families safety and health in these scary and uncertain times!

Adam Rocke

Adam has dived for pirate treasure in the Caribbean, hunted for poachers in Africa, played poker with cartel kingpins in Juarez, scouted for UFOs in the Sonora Desert, raced in the Baja 1000 and the original Gumball Rally, swam with great white sharks sans cage, jumped out of planes sans parachute, and taken part in Sasquatch safaris, Chupacabra expeditions and many other “crypto-quests” around the world. Or so he says.