Your tee time has been booked for days.
You can't wait. It's the highlight of your week, maybe your month. No kids. No spouse. No obligations.
Just thinking about your upcoming round has helped you survive the mood swings of your boss and that two-hour conference call that stretched to four.
Golf can be life's greatest escape. That is if everything goes according to plan. Nothing is worse than looking forward to a great day on the course, only to have the experience derailed by something that goes wrong.
In the spirit of Halloween, I present another 'Deegan's Dozen' - the 12 things golfers fear when they show up at the golf course. For your sake, I hope you never run into these problems, although they are quite common. Some of these issues are the fault of the course. Sometimes, it just seems like the golf gods turn against us. Have more fears to confess to us? Share them in the comments below.
You've paid rack rate. That's okay because it's a beautiful weekend morning. You hit your first approach shot pin-high and are thinking 'birdie'. Then, as you get closer, you notice some sand, and some dirt, and some holes ... Wait? What? All the greens have been aerated and nobody gave you a warning in advance.
I wrote about aeration issues when revealing my greatest pet peeves in golf. It's a necessary evil to achieve great course conditions, but when you're not alerted when you book the tee time, it's the worst feeling ever. Now you're forced to make a horrible decision: Should there be an automatic two-putt rule? Yuck.
No beverage cart
You're already nine over and it's only the seventh hole. You're ready for some swing oil. Where's the darn beverage cart?
When you finally reach the turn, you're told there will be no beverage cart for the day. Is it broken? Did the driver call in sick with the brown bottle flu? Doesn't matter. Buzz kill.
Bad pairing at the first tee
You pull your cart up to the first tee. It's judgment time. When you book a tee time as anything other than a foursome, you're gambling with your chances of a great day playing golf.
Most of the time random pairings work out fine, until you land that guy - the dude who gives out swing tips after every shot - or this guy - the one who talks on his phone the entire round. Or how about the dude who chucks clubs like an Olympic javelin thrower? The first time was entertaining. The seventh? Not so much.
Fear the fivesome (or worse)
The pace of play has been perfect. Your foursome cruises along through the first five holes without a person in sight. The rhythm of the round has you playing well. Then comes golf's version of a car crash. You turn the corner, and there they are on the green: A fivesome of golfers. Your momentum, and the round, screeches to a halt.
Often, if they're members in good standing, the course rangers will do nothing about it. Even if the fivesome keeps pace, the psychological impact is real. The round feels slow.
You book a tee time on a Tuesday afternoon thinking that's a nice slow day when everybody's in the office. Wrong. You show up at the course to a horde of people. It's the typical charity outing where only 13 percent of the participants actually play more than once a year. You're the first group off after the outing. Welcome to your worst slow play nightmare.
This one really stings. You're having the round of your life heading down the home stretch. The flat stick is feeling it. The driver - en fuego. That's when you discover the 16th and 17th holes are playing to temporary greens, the tiny ones placed in awkward spots. Even if you do make par, suddenly your great round doesn't feel so inspiring. There's an asterisk in the record books.
Suddenly, paying full freight feels like a rip off, especially since nobody from the course warned you in advance.
The weather forecast looked so good all week that you took the rain gear and umbrella out of the bag. Oops. By the third hole, the clouds have rolled in. The fifth hole brings the 15-minute deluge that leaves you scrambling for cover.
Wind storms and freak thundershowers can strike at any time. Mother Nature marches to her own beat. It sure is a bummer, though, when she picks your one day of golf to rage against humanity.
Cart path only
Nobody likes being told on the first tee that today will be cart path only.
The rule is not only a killer for pace of play but the pure enjoyment of a round. It brings up so many problematic scenarios: What's my yardage? How many clubs should I take to my ball? I need my 8-iron: Can you bring it to me? Who forgot the cart back there?
You're better off walking. The problem is most modern daily fee courses weren't built as a stroll in the park. Walking's nearly impossible, if not outright discouraged, at many clubs.
Where's my wedge?
You've striped your drive on the third hole, leaving a gap wedge in. You shuffle around in your bag. Where is it? Then it hits you. Your son borrowed it last week and it's still in his bag in the garage. Slightly annoyed, you decide to hit the hard sand wedge instead of the baby pitching wedge and proceed to blade one over the green into the pond. #%$&@*#@*@$!!!
Accidentally leaving a favorite club at home makes you feel like an idiot. You'll probably play like one, too.
You're serious enough to show up an hour before your tee time to hit a few range balls and work out the kinks from your last round, which was eons ago. Just your luck, the range is closed for who-knows-why. Or you're forced to hit off the mats. It's almost a waste of time and energy, right?
No thanks to the shanks
You haven't played in a while. The range is closed (remember?) and you have no idea what's about to happen for the next four hours. The first few holes go fine. You're happy with bogey golf. Then it happens. A shank. Dead right into the woods. You drop another ball. Ditto. Same thing again. Now you're spooked.
Just writing that word gives me the creeps. It brings back bad memories of that one time it happened to me. Every shot I attempted was a hosel rocket dead right or a worm burner. It was so unnerving I picked up.
Thankfully, a buddy I was playing with shared the perfect remedy. He told me to practice some chip shots off the green while the rest of the group finished the hole. He read somewhere that feeling the clubface hit the ball square at impact would help. I made a speedy recovery.
You've hit your approach shot into the bunker. No biggie. Sand doesn't freak you out. This time, it's different. The sand looks like cement mix. You try to chunk it out, but skull it over the green. Now you're ticked. Two holes later, you're trapped again. This time, though, the sand is fluffier than cotton candy. It takes you three swings to dig it out.
Bunkers are meant to be hazards, but come on! There must be some standard of decency. I'd say almost one out of every 10 courses I play has some sort of serious bunker problem, whether it be not enough sand, not enough maintenance, crumbling edges, rocks, poor drainage, sand too fluffy, etc.