Golf and Sacred Numbers

Roybob’s Book on Golf: The Hucks, A Golfer’s Divine Comedy, and a Religious Philosophy of Golf

The Golf Gods: Towards a Religious Philosophy of Golf

Golf and Sacred Numbers

Most religious traditions have sacred numbers, numbers that connote something beyond a mathematical sum. In the Judeo-Christian tradition the numbers forty, twelve, ten, seven, and three are all sacred numbers. Forty, twelve, and ten connote completion or fullness. Seven, of course, is a number indicative of perfection, the union of three and four. Four is the number of the earth (as in “the four quarters of the earth”). Three, in the Jewish tradition, is symbolic of the power, wisdom and love of God; and in the Christian tradition, three, of course, points to the Holy Trinity, the union of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus lived thirty-three (33) years. Seven, then, is the union or harmony of the world with God. God completed the creation of the world with a seventh day, establishing a perfect period of time. Six, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is one less than seven and is, therefore, a number of imperfection. Three sixes, 666, as in the Book of Revelation (13:18), indicate the height of religious perversion or the perfection of imperfection.

For Native American tribes six was actually a sacred number, representing the Six Grandfather Spirits, one for each direction (east, west, north, south, up [sky], and down [earth]). For Black Elk these were “the Powers of the World,” which were united as one.

For the Baha’i faith nine is a sacred number, representing completion or perfection as the largest unit number. Nine is also the numerical equivalent of the word “Baha’i” in Arabic. So, nine and its additives (such as nineteen or twenty-nine) are special numbers. Baha’is build nine sided temples, and the Baha’i calendar is comprised of nineteenth months, each composed of nineteen days for a total of 361 days. The Baha’i insert four or five intercalary days, depending on the year, in order to maintain pace with the solar calendar.

The religion of Golf also has its scared numbers. One is perhaps the most sacred of numbers, as in the highly sought after “hole in one.” Two is good. Three is good, as it is for the Judeo-Christian tradition. Four and five are not necessarily bad numbers. Most golfers would be very happy with eighteen fours on their scorecard. Six and higher can be bad numbers. Just as in the Judeo-Christian tradition, a series of three sixes on a scorecard represents the mark of the beast, a demonic eruption of poor play.[1] Seven in Golf, unlike in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is not a perfect number. It represents a multiplication of bogeys (double, triple, or quadruple). Nine in Golf, as in the Baha’i faith, is a complete number, but less complete than eighteen. Nineteen, for the golfer, as for the Baha’i, is a number with religious significance. Regardless of the outcome of the round, the nineteenth hole represents rest, relaxation, the end of one’s journey, and, possibly, passage to an alternate reality produced by intoxicants. Hindus had their soma juice. Native Americans had their “holy water” or their peyote. Catholic Christians have their wine that is transformed into the blood of Jesus. Golfers have their own sacred juices that enable them to find their peace of mind. Thirty-six for golfers is both the proper number for two complete rounds and the proper score for nine holes. Seventy-two is both the proper number for four complete rounds and the proper score for eighteen holes.

The sacred numbers for golfers are complete and perfect numbers, indicative of good play, great accomplishment, or a chance to recover. With regard to score, lower numbers are better than higher; with regard to the number of holes played, higher numbers are better than lower.



[1] Bert Yancey, a professional for whom I caddied a couple of weeks, once told me, however, that 666 in golf represents the perfect pin placement for tournament play: six easy pins, six medium pins, and six difficult pins.

Roybob’s Book on Golf: The Hucks, A Golfer’s Divine Comedy, and a Religious Philosophy of Golf

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