Counting sheep

Jack Nicklaus’ golf nightmares include not getting to first tee, needing bathroom

April 20, 2023


It doesn’t matter if you’re a hacker trying to survive at your local course or the Golden Bear winning yet another Masters, your golf dreams and (more importantly) nightmares are going to be equally surreal and unnerving. The phrase winning tournaments in one’s sleep has never been more apt.

“Years ago I used to dream about my swing,” Jack Nicklaus said on Wednesday at the Legends Luncheon, hosted by the Memorial Tournament. “If I was having trouble with my swing I’d give myself lessons quite often when I slept. Then I went out the next morning and tried it and it worked and I’d put it in.”

These detailed dreams oftentimes came during big tournaments and were critical in giving him some perspective that he ultimately used to win events.

“I went to the practice range after I played, which I did most of the time, and couldn’t quite figure out what it was,” he went on to admit. “Then all of a sudden it would hit me while I was sleeping. It’s the perfect time to think. You don’t have anything else to do.”

Now, usually, the layman’s golf dreams turn sour. It’s less about fixing a form error and more about waking up in a cold sweat. A missed shot, forgetting something crucial. Jack’s right there with us as well despite his winning ways.

“I haven’t had it recently, but I used to have a dream all the time that it was my time to get to the first tee and I could never get there,” the 83-year-old said. “No matter what I did, somebody ran into me and kept me from getting to the first tee. I never quite got there, and I always woke up before it was my tee shot.

“I’d know the courses, usually, and know how to get to the first tee, but I’d … have to go to the bathroom; I don’t have a ball; I couldn’t find my caddie – just so many different distractions. Not getting to the first tee is a nightmare.”

Now, that’s relatable content from the 73-time PGA Tour winner. It just goes to show you that despite our differences—millions upon millions of dollars and six green jackets—Nicklaus and whoever’s out there reading this have a lot in common. You’re just one good sleep away from becoming a major champion.

Pleasant dreams!