Harnessing paranormal activity for golf improvement proves tricky

According to "Reader's Digest Universal Dictionary," a superstition is an unfounded belief that some action or circumstance completely unrelated to a course of events can influence its outcome. When it comes to golf, Ernie Els believes that there is only one birdie in a ball. Retief Goosen uses ball No. 4 in the first round and counts down ball numbers to the final round. Shigeki Maruyama never uses white tees. Tiger wears his red shirt on Sundays.

I'm just like most golfers. Maybe a little bit more out of round, but who's counting?

My idea started with my favorite television show on the Travel Channel a couple of years ago: "Ghost Adventures," starring Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin. They explore the existence of ghosts in some of the world's most haunted places.

My idea was further nurtured about a year later during a trip my wife and I took to Jerome, Ariz. Jerome was founded in the late 1800s. We knew Zak and his team from Ghost Adventures had investigated the Jerome Grand Hotel and found "evidence" of paranormal activity.

Built in 1926 as the United Verde Hospital, it was the most modern and best-equipped hospital in the western states at the time. A lot of people died there due to mining accidents in the mines surrounding Jerome. It was closed in 1950 and lay empty and decaying until brothers Robert and Larry Altherr bought the run-down structure in 1994 and renovated it, calling it the Jerome Grand Hotel.

That first stay was ordinary until the morning of our departure when a charging cellphone flew off the desk and thudded to the ground. We attempted to debunk what happened but could not come to a reasonable conclusion. Did we witness a paranormal activity?

Recently, with my golf game once again in the toilet, and another wind-down weekend in the offing, Jerome again was our choice. Great idea, indeed. I had an idea: Could I harness a paranormal activity for my golf game to improve it? To rid the demons from it? The plan: stay in the same room; mimic our trip from the last time; make contact with an apparition; invite the spirit to play golf and do paranormal stuff; and score the best score of my golf career. My wife and friends thought I had lost it.

The first step was to gather needed information. During investigations of the Jerome Grand, researchers reported hearing coughing, labored breathing, shouting, screams and disembodied voices. Researchers also reported smells such as dust, cigar smoke and whiskey. In addition, apparitions of two women seemingly appeared. Bingo, I knew I was on the right track. Sounds just like some of the 19th holes I have visited at local golf courses.

We booked the same room and went about being happy tourists. Shopping, wine tasting and great meals at the hotel in The Asylum Restaurant proved normal. Unfortunately, so did the nights. Despite trying to summon up whatever spirits might be lurking, as nothing materialized. It looked like I was on my own for golf the next day.

Pine Shadows Golf Course is located at the base of the Mingus Mountains, just down from Jerome and the hotel. It's a nine-holer and plays to a par-33. Best of all, on several holes, you could look up and see the Grand Hotel on the distant Jerome hillside. Pine Shadows was built in 1996 and plays through a couple of craggy canyons and topside of those canyons. Unfortunately, it was not built on top of an old cemetery, which would have assisted the cause.

On the first tee, a par-4, I challenged the spirits to join me in my game, glancing up at the hillside. Teeing off from an elevated first tee, I sliced my drive into a tree. It ricocheted right back into the middle of the fairway. A wedge to the green, a two putt, and -- bam -- a par. If only I had a mel meter, a Spirit Box or a full-spectrum DVR to prove paranormal influence. Wow, it worked.

However, that was all I witnessed from the spirits that day; the rest of the holes were played in bogeys and missed putts. All too normal for me. I contributed the play to tight fairways and difficult pin placements. For example, on the sixth hole, a par-3, 186-yard track, all carry was required to reach the green over a stony crevice. Give me a triple.

Sure, my friends thought I was wacko for the idea. So did my wife. But come closer. On a wind-down weekend with the wife, I still managed to play golf. How wacko do you think it is now?

Zak, I invite you and your team to play golf with me. That would really scare you!

John Asay is a longtime golfer and local freelance writer. Contact him at jasay@reviewjournal.com.