The most recent manifestation occurred this last week, when I went to the par 4 18th with an 81 on my scorecard. Par would be terrific; bogey still good; even a triple would finish a very satisfying round.
I topped the tee shot and went on to score a ten.
I trace the origins of the curse back to my first round of golf.
I had told a friend of mine that I was interested in playing the game, and he insisted on taking me out to a course near his boyhood home — the course on which he had learned to play the game. Its an old, but very nice course in a rural area. Nine holes: eight par fours and a par three.
When we got to the clubhouse, Frank, the owner/operator took our money and then said: “Watch out for the dead horse on the first tee.”
Not knowing all the ins and outs of golf lingo, I just assumed that a “dead horse” was some sort of golfing term.
Until I walked down the hill to the tee. And there, sprawled out between the markers was a dead horse.
The poor beast had apparently wandered from its corral out onto the nearby road where it had been struck by a Dodge Pickup (a piece of the grille was embedded in its side). The force of the impact had split the horse wide open, but it somehow had managed to stagger thirty yards or so to the tee, dragging its entrails behind it.
My friend insisted that there wasn’t anything to do but tee up between the parts of the dead horse. He had played lots of golf, so I believed him (although now I realize he was pulling my leg).
I topped the ball. And shot a 60 on the first nine.
Even worse: when we swung around for our second nine, the critter was still there. But by now, the corpse had started to ripen in the sun. The smell was horrible.
We teed up next to the dead horse again. And I topped the ball again. And shot a 70 on the second nine.
Since then, my game has vastly improved. I’m a 17 handicap and can get on streaks where I play very good golf, indeed. But always, lurking in the background, is Curse Of The Dead Horse. Just when I think things are going my way, I top a shot and my game falls apart.
I’ve started to consider getting an exorcist. The Curse may be the only thing between me and breaking 80.