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I'll know it's heaven when I step onto one of those double greens

On Sports
Rochester Business Journal
July 6, 2012

Dreams. We all have them. Some of us wake up and don't remember them at all, or we remember just a little. For others, like me, a dream can be so vivid that we wake up thinking it is something that actually happened.
I have dreamed that I won the lottery, then rolled over in bed and realized I had not. I have dreamed that I overslept on the first day of school and was late to teach my journalism class at SUNY College at Brockport. Then I woke up and almost yelled, "Gotta get up, gotta get up! I'm running late!" And after three or four minutes I became conscious that it had been only a dream, sighed and thought, "What a relief!"
Then there are times when we have dreams that inspire us to accomplish something we've thought about but have never been driven to do. Whether it's fixing a golf swing or painting the house, we wake up and practically yell, "Yes! I'm gonna make it happen!" That's when it tends to become an obsession, when life can't go on without making that or some other dream come true.
Well, that happened to me recently. I dreamed I was on the 18th hole at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, and I hit a perfect drive, then crossed the Swilken Burn Bridge, strutted up to the 18th green and rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt to beat Terry, my brother-in-law, 1-up.
When I woke up, tears were still gently flowing down both cheeks and I felt as if I had just visited ... what, heaven? Well, definitely golf heaven. It has been that since the Old Course was built about eight centuries ago, give or take a decade or two. As I have said for years, Muslims go to Mecca and golfers go to St. Andrews.
Most of the time, such dreams pass and are forgotten, or we figure, "Well, maybe someday." But this one hit me between the eyes. No, make that in my golf heart. And hours after my coffee and breakfast I vowed that someday-and sooner than later, before I was 6-under for the first time-I was going to pack my sticks and head to golf Mecca.
It is no longer a question of whether it will happen but when it will happen. I must play the Old Course in the country where golf was invented a century before Christopher Columbus decided the world wasn't flat and sailed to North America. And if I have to swim the Atlantic Ocean to get to Scotland, so be it. Just have a towel and a bottle of scotch waiting for me, OK?
I can't wait to see what I have to do to get out of one of those deep pot bunkers, even if I have to hit the ball sideways, which is what even the best players in the world have to do. Otherwise, one could spend a whole day in it. And speaking of bunkers, the Old Course has 112 of them.
And how about all those double greens-seven of them in all? Each is one huge putting surface with a cup in it for one hole and another cup for a different hole, resulting in a total of 11 greens for the 18 holes. The course has only four solo greens, on holes 1, 9, 17 and 18. The double greens are humongous: 22,267 square feet, which is about a half-acre.
From what I've heard, only golfers who can prove they have physical disabilities are allowed to play the Old Course with riding carts. I certainly have a disability-my golf swing-but I don't think that counts. And I don't care, because my knees will be as excited as the rest of me. I want to walk the Old Course so I can soak up as much of its history as possible.
I want to play the Old Course while I can still remember doing it. I want to play it before someone asks me, "How was St. Andrews and the Old Course?" and I respond, "Where is St. Andrews, and what's an old course?" I want to hang some memorabilia on my office wall before I have to ask my wife, "Hon, where'd that come from?"
The bottom line is that I don't care what I shoot when (not if) I play the Old Course. All that matters is that I get there and play the course. No doubt it will be the only time in my life when I will smile after making a few double bogies.
At least I can say I was there. And I can't wait!
Rick Woodson's column appears each Thursday on the Rochester Business Journal website at His book, "Words of Woodson," is available at Listen to his weekly program, "The Golf Tee," at 9 a.m. Sunday on WHTK-AM 1280 and FM 107.3.7/6/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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