In most of my dreams about golf, I am playing an ordinary round on my local course. Those dreams remind me of one I had in which I played a full game of solitaire, patiently flipping card after card, then shuffled the deck and began to play again. When I told my friend Jim about my golf dreams, I said, “You’d think that I could at least dream about playing someplace exotic, like St. Andrews or Pebble Beach.” Jim said, “Yeah. After all, it’s free.”
I’ve had a few golf dreams that seemed surreally anxiety-ridden in the standard dreamlike way. In one, I was getting ready to tee off on a 193-yard par-three on a fancy country-club course that I knew nothing about. The first player to hit used a nine-iron. His ball cut low between two big maple trees, threaded its way through a partly opened wrought-iron gate in a high stone wall, and landed pin-high on a green the size of a mattress. There were some cars parked near the green, and, in fact, the green sometimes seemed to be situated in an empty parking space on a crowded city street. It was now my turn to hit, and I felt embarrassed that I was going to have to use a three-iron after the first player, whom I didn’t seem to know, had used a nine. I had a great deal of trouble finding a place to tee my ball, because half a dozen golfers were sitting in large armchairs arranged haphazardly on the tee. They were laughing and talking loudly, and paying no attention to me. As I moved anxiously among them, I was also somehow crawling near the green, and I found several balls hidden in some thick rough. I seemed to know that one of these balls belonged to the first player, and I believed that by studying it closely I would learn something that might help me with my own shot. I was having trouble concentrating, because I was worried about something the first player had done before teeing off. He had teed his ball three club lengths behind the tee markers, a distance he had measured with his club, and while I crawled among the big chairs I tried to decide whether I should inform him that the rules of golf permit teeing the ball no more than two club lengths behind the tee markers. I was worried that my concern about his violation of the rules would affect my ability to hit my own shot. My struggle seemed to go on for a very long time. Before I got around to hitting my ball, I woke up.