One of the most common dreams, supposedly, is something exam related; be it turning up late, under-prepared, or even, apparently, naked. This is generally explained by some sort of underlying anxiety.
I had a very lacklustre finish to my schooling in which my A level in economics came to a rather abrupt end when I ran out of things to say 25 minutes into a three-hour exam.
I strongly suspected that this might result in a ‘U’ grade and, for once, I was right. Yet this low point in my life never seems to register when the shutters come down at night.
What I do manage to obsess about, even when asleep, is my inability to get the club away due to a bench blocking my backswing. This, more often than not, happens on the 15th tee at Wimbledon Park and I’m playing with Seve or Greg Norman, sometimes both.
My most recent golfing dream had a different slant, this time I was on the bag of Nick McCarthy and he had reached Final Qualifying for The Open proper. The difference being that, in my comatose state, this was taking place in his dad’s back garden and I couldn’t give him a yardage for a shot that had to be played through a back window of a house. Having got it though the window he was then stymied behind a settee.
The plan had been to collate some of my favourites and sit down with a dream interpreter to reveal our different levels of anxiety and unease but this didn’t seem to add much to things. Instead it seemed more amusing to just sit back and enjoy our inner workings in all their glory, both through some golfing mates, who I know to be enormous wrong ‘uns, and a few tour pros who I hoped would, metaphorically speaking at least, let their hair down a bit.
The strange world of golf dreams
Let’s start with a friend, Graham, who from the outside looking in, has no golfing demons. He plays off 6, has a remarkably repeatable fade and he has the short game of a wizard.
But when the lights go off he’s often in a world of hurt…
“The most recurring factor is a howling left-to-right wind, into. I play anywhere up to 40 shots effectively heading in a wide clockwise pattern, using every hole on the course, except the one I’m meant to be playing until I eventually approach the tee again, from behind, at which point I mercifully wake up.
“The other one involves a miraculous and rare round of one-putts until the 18th where, needing a four to win. I hit my second pure to a blind green, I know I’ve hit the green and just need two more putts. As I crest the hill and the green comes into view, I can see windmills, gnomes fishing and all the usual crazy golf paraphernalia when I head straight to the clubhouse.”
Another friend, from the same collection of basket cases, has a recurring sleep-filled delusion that he can’t swing the club on the 1st tee and has to call various groups through without ever hitting a shot before getting DQd.
Something which is shared by Nordea Masters champ Paul Waring.
“I can’t hit a tee shot because the back sponsors boards are too close to the tee boxes so I can’t take it away or swing it down without hitting the boards. My two playing partners are first on the tee though and manage to hit their tee shots just fine, then it was my turn and I just couldn’t hit it with everyone watching!”
Another tour winner asks not to be included for the sake of his own mental health but assures me that he has “enough stories to fill a small book”. Another wakes up when he gets DQ’d for anchoring his belly putter.
But there was some good, if slightly worrying, feedback from Jamie Spence, who starts off slowly with the regular tour pro stuff – a tree, bush, advertising boards getting in the way of his backswing – before getting into his stride.
“The recurring one is not being able to get to the course. Traffic lights, roadworks, diversions halting the journey, car park full while all the time being able to see the course. When I get there I have no laces in my shoes, can’t find my clubs or get to the tee! My caddie has disappeared. All stuff like that.
“The most annoying thing is there is never any conclusion to the scenario, it just goes on and on and you never get to hit the ball or get to the tee.”
But the best/most worrying is saved until last and Spence’s former tour peer and now fellow Sky Sports analyst Andrew Coltart.
I had quite high hopes for this reply and I wasn’t disappointed..
“It’s not restricted to one person or one dream I’m afraid. One of mine, I have several, is that I’m at Augusta. Playing nicely, up at the top of the leaderboard until on one par 4 I’ve hit my ball in a rhododendron bush. But the ball is suspended head high in this bush and to reach it I have to use my driver.
“I put a good swing on it and I make solid contact but, because the ball was above my feet, it flies left through the opened front window of a lovely, little white colonial style cottage that, in this dream anyway, borders the course. The real bad news though is when I see how it’s lying. Somehow it has ended up in the top drawer, now closed, of a chest of drawers in the front room of this house.”
For the record Coltart never played in the Masters.
“I usually around this time wake up in a cold and delirious sweat when, after several failed attempts to chop down on this set of drawers with splinters flying around the room, I realise that I’m not going to remove the ball from this top drawer.
“My one and only chance of winning the Masters has eviscerated with each chop of my sand wedge but my chance of now making the cut has gone up in flames too. I never do get the ball out of that drawer.”