They reward us with lucky bounces, and punish us with nasty breaks. They lift our hopes with a Birdie on the 8th, and dash our spirits with a Triple Bogey on the 9th. They discipline us with 17 holes of pure rubbish, then taunt us with a miracle par on the 18th – thus ensuring we return for another beating next Sunday. They are, of course, the Golf Gods, the reason why we fervently love – and passionately hate – the game of golf.
But just who are these Masters of Disaster; these Harbingers of Hope?
Here’s a quick guide:
King of the Golf Gods, ruler of the Links, and overseer of the game itself. Augustus oversees all shots at all courses at all times, and he has the power to overrule all other actions. He rules over the distribution of Aces. He is in charge of overseeing that the Golf Rules are strictly adhered to. Break any rule – or even worse, overtly cheat – and his retribution will be swift and forceful.
Bribes & Offerings: Show respect to the game, call penalties on yourself, and encourage others to play. Oh, and turn off those mobile phones.
Wife of Augustus, and Goddess of the course and etiquette. She demands that all players treat the course with care and reverence. Her punishments are severe, but her rewards are grand: she has the power to reward a golfer with Eagles, Albatrosses and miracle shots a-la- Phil Mickelson’s pine-straw-through-the-trees-over-the-creek-to-two-feet stunner at the 13th at Augusta National.
Bribes & Offerings: Treat the course as Hallowed Grounds, and leave it in a better condition than you found it.
God of golf weather: A playful sort, this god is the reason why it always rains when you don’t have your raingear, or why the rain stops the moment you put your raingear on (at which point, if you remove your raingear, then he will bring the rain back). He will also change the wind direction mid-shot, just for laughs.
Bribes & Offerings: Always pack your raingear as a sign of respect.
In charge of Bunkers, wastelands and dry hazards. It’s best not to anger him, lest he deliver the dreaded “Adolph” (two shots in the bunker).
Bribes & Offerings: ALWAYS use the rake. Except in WA.
In charge of bounces, kicks, ‘Tree-bounds’ and all lies in the rough. In the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry, Tom Watson was the unfortunate receiver of a bad bounce on his approach at the 18th hole, which cost him victory. Kickleftus is to blame.
Bribes & Offerings: As Kickleftus resides in the rough, be sure to keep motorised golf carts on paths and fairways only. No exceptions.
Water goddess, and mother of the rivers, ponds, lakes, water fountains and casual water. She is a wily one, and is solely responsible if your shot is either an “O.J. Simpson” (got away with it) or a “JFK Junior” (Didn’t make it over the water)
Bribes & Offerings: She takes her own, whenever she damn well feels like it.
God of Fairways and Tee Boxes. He determines if your ball lands on a nice patch, in a divot, in a plug mark or disappears mysteriously. He is responsible for ensuring that a provisional ALWAYS goes straighter and further than the first lost ball. He has also been known to cause the old “Circus Tent” (A Big Top).
Bribes & Offerings: He provides buckets and sand on the first hole – use them! Except in WA.
God of Greens. He is prone to wild mood swings, as he can whimsically change the break of a putt at any time – even in mid stroke. In charge of lipouts, horseshoes and “James Joyces” (i.e. impossible reads). He has been angry of late, and made worldwide news when he dropped a leaf in Phil Mickelson’s putting line at the Masters, while also causing Robert Allenby’s “Cuban” (needed one more revolution) on the 17th green at Sawgrass.
Bribes & Offerings: Repair all pitchmarks (yours PLUS another). No exceptions.
Twin brother of Pin-hi’. He is the god of the Yips, twitches and other putting maladies. He most often takes the form of a snake or serpent, and is thus the inspiration of “holding the snake” when you three putt.
Bribes & Offerings: unknown, though many believe that he can be exorcised by continually waving a holy flatstick known as a Putterus Broomstickus.
God of all golf wagering, both on-course and off-course. I’Press has developed special “arrangements” with the other gods, and can influence any worldwide golfing event, from a weekend $1 Nassau to a PGA cut line.
Bribes & Offerings: Every lost wager is an offering. Deal with it.
The son of Augustus, Mulligan rebelled against his father, stating “Golf should be fun” and “There are too many rules”. He was quickly shunned, and is now only allowed to appear during Corporate Golf days or social rounds.
Bribes & Offerings: Simple: make your Mulligan count!
God of the “Outerworld”, Oob reigns over all things beyond the rough, including shrubs, trees, paddocks and the cabbage. Banished from the fairways due to his exploits with Rand’a, Oob feeds off sorrow, anger and frustration, and thus he lures golf balls (and their golfers) into his domain via the old “Sonny Bono” (straight into the trees)
Bribes & Offerings: He feeds off frustration, so sate his appetite by hitting BAD shots at the range prior to a round (If you start hitting good shots, stop practising immediately.)
God of duck-hooks, banana slices, shanks, skulls and mis-hits. In historical times, he would be known to hide on the clubface itself, which explains a golfer’s innate instinct to quickly frown at a clubface to see if Phor is there.
Bribes & Offerings: Phor is insanely egotistic, so the customary tradition is to shout out his name after poor shots. This ritual can also work wonders at the carpark, in the clubhouse, in the showers or whenever you need good karma.
God of equipment. Believe it or not, your sticks DO have feelings. Treat them unfairly, and Niblix may retaliate with a “Danny Devito” (way short), “Kate Winslet” (a bit chunky), or the old “Rodney King” (overclubbed)
Bribes & Offerings: Keep your sticks clean. Avoid chucking them, or slamming them on the side of the buggy. And don’t embarrass them with obnoxious headcovers, lest Niblix remove their “Mojo”
Golf Ball “representative”. While each ball technically has a mind/spirit of its own, Ballatas acts as a type of Union Rep to make sure that their needs are met, thus avoiding work stoppages or strikes.
Bribes & Offerings: Always keep your golf balls clean, and NEVER order a ball to “get in the hole!” – instead, a gentle suggestion can often do the trick, like: “Um, pardon me, Mister Ball, but I would be most grateful if you could have a rest in the bottom of the cup. I love you.”
God of lost balls. Castratus likes to collect brand-new balls, and he will stealthily pilfer your new Pro-V1 from a nearby bush and replace it with three dirty beaters circa 1975.
Bribes & Offerings: When faced with a tricky par-3 over water, resist the urge to swap your new ball with an old rock (especially one that Castratus gave to you on the previous hole!) Show him respect by courageously teeing up a shiny ball.
Goddess of Leave Passes (Men only). Cross her, and she will ensure that an event like a wedding, birthday, anniversary or school fete is scheduled on exactly the same day as your annual golf weekend.
Bribes & Offerings: Nothing can make her happy. Learn to live with it.
God of golf injuries – responsible for Golfer’s elbow, back strains, muscle cramps and even the man-flu . He reports to Nix, and thus ensures that the worst injuries will occur if a golfer finds a loophole in a leave pass denial.
Bribes & Offerings: At the first tee, perform a small ritual of toe-touches, leg-lifts and weighted swings.