Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

The Grind

I tracked an entire year of golf dreams and the results were, um, interesting

December 20, 2022

In the fall of 2021, I spoke to an expert to try to uncover the meaning of a recurring golf nightmare I shared with many others. It turned out I, well, we most likely had a fear of failure that kept us from hitting that ball. And one that probably extends far beyond the golf course. Fun stuff!

It’s probably not a coincidence, however, that since opening up about that dream—and working with a clinical psychologist this year as part of a golf training program—those visions have popped into my head much less frequently. But that doesn’t mean golf hasn’t continued to play a major role in my dreams.

It makes sense. After all, I love to play golf. I love to watch golf. And golf is literally my job. So it’s no surprise I still see golf-related things when I close my eyes at night. And as an experiment, I decided to try to keep track when I awoke from a golf-related dream for this entire year. When I could remember what happened during the night, I’d type a note into my phone before going about my day. And now it’s finally time to go through the list and reveal the ones that stand out.

Why did I do this? I’m not really sure, but I thought it might make for a fun year-end post in lieu of a regular installment of The Grind (Which recently turned 10 by the way!). These are dreams about golf, after all, not about all the other awful stuff going on in the world right now. And again, I’m not looking for any deeper meaning here. But if you want to try to decipher some of them, be my guest.

Jan. 14: "Colt Knost gives me a putting lesson." I don’t remember any other details about this, but hey, the guy won the U.S. Amateur once upon a time. You could do a lot worse for a putting coach. And it stood out enough to get me to start tracking my dreams for the rest of the year. So . . . thanks, Colt?

Jan. 26: "Tiger Woods presser, frustrated by fans asking questions." OMG I remember this one well! Somehow a few fans had gotten into Tiger’s press conference and asked a few questions. He was not happy. Anyway, if the PGA Tour ever considers doing this, I wouldn't include Tiger.

Feb. 3: “Doing George Gankas shallowing drills.” I watch way, way too many swing tips on Instagram so this one checks out.

Feb. 14: “Playing Rock Ridge with Arnold Palmer.” This was a good one, although I’m not sure why we were playing at Rock Ridge, a nine-hole course and frequent site for company outings. It’s a nice spot, but we’re talking about a round with The King! How were we not playing somewhere like Augusta or Oakmont?! Anyway, I’m sure my wife would love to know I was dreaming about a dead golf legend on Valentine’s Day.

Feb. 21: "Got emailed to caddie for Bill Haas—forgot to reply." OMG talk about a nightmare! There are few things that would provide me with a bigger thrill than looping for my former Wake Forest classmate.

March 15: “Interviewed Greg Norman—and forgot to ask about LIV Golf.” Another nightmare! If this ever happened, I would get reamed by my bosses, and even worse, dragged across Golf Twitter!

April 10: "Got to eat at the White House with Golf Digest co-workers." I wish I remembered more about this dream from Masters Sunday. Sounds electric.

April 23: “Got smoked by Fotch in the championship match of HGGA Championship.” The biggest nightmare of all. Although Fotch, a high-handicap golf buddy, wound up challenging me in an opening-round match of our annual golf trip a couple months later, I beat him on my way to claiming a green jacket. Phew. Guess I’m not clairvoyant.

April 27: “Mom on the phone with Bob Harig about Phil.” This is right around when I talked to Harig about his upcoming book on Phil and Tiger for an episode of Golf Digest's Local Knowledge podcast, but. . . wow. Just wow. That’s a (particularly) weird one.

May 14: “Playing a tournament on Pelham streets.” Pelham is the town I grew up in, and my best friend and I used to do this, whacking wiffle golf balls from yard to yard on his street. And this was right around the two-year anniversary of his death. RIP Kiffy. Those were fun times. Oh, and apologies to his neighbors for making some divots.

May 22: “Tiger and Kuchar on a cruise with Tiger taking the top bunk.” I mean, they’re friends and all, but there’s no way 15 majors wouldn’t earn you the bottom bunk in this scenario.

June 1: “Rory McIlroy struggling in a putting contest in our old office.” This one was really believable! Especially because that Jack Nicklaus design was trickier than it looked.

June 13: “Getting my new clubs.” Not surprisingly, I was dreaming about the pair of fairway woods I had recently ordered. Sadly, supply-chain issues kept them from me for months, but I got them. Eventually.

July 8: “Davis Love III says hi to me like we’re best friends.” DL3 and I have had a few nice chats over the years, but we’re definitely not best friends and I doubt he’d remember my name. But who knows? Maybe he’s had a dream about me saying “Hi” to him. If I’ve learned anything from this exercise, it’s that dreams are really weird.

Aug. 3: “Steve attends wedding with Natalie Gulbis.” Another wild one. To be clear, all the Steves I know are happily married. And so is Gulbis for that matter. Although, as Season 2 of The White Lotus tells us, you can never be sure. But seriously, this might have been the craziest and most random dream of the year.

Sept. 15: “Forgot to embed everything before publishing The Grind.” Another nightmare. A.) Because this would look really bad if people clicked on that link without all the embeds, and B.) Because that meant I still had to embed everything and that’s the worst hour of my week. I'm sure I woke up in a cold sweat from that one.

Oct. 7: “Met Tom Kim and begged him to come on our podcast and told him about the song I made about him. He wrote down my name and the name of my song.” This was the longest description because I wanted/needed to make sure I got it all down. I LOVE me some Tom Kim and I’d love nothing more than to know he enjoyed “The Ballad of Tommy The Kid.”

Oct. 31: “Played with Doug Ferguson, who accidentally hit my golf ball. Then didn’t think it was a big deal.” I remember adding some detail to this as well because although I’ve never played with the legendary Associated Press golf writer, I always imagined him to be a real stickler for the rules. I mean, he talks about carrying a 1-iron! Anyway, not exactly a spooky Halloween dream, but still a puzzling one.

Nov. 16: “Hit a drive off a tree that bounced backward 200 yards and into a hazard.” I vividly remember this one and it would be the worst break in the history of golf. Also shows what sort of mindset I was in on the eve of the annual Golf Digest Seitz Cup. Not surprisingly, Jerry Tarde and I lost our match the following morning. On the bright side, nothing like that happened, and I didn’t even lose a ball off the tee. Silver linings.

Dec. 9: “Something about Paige Spiranac and a goose.” Absolutely no clue about this one. All I know is I’ve been doing this job way too long.