THE PHANTOM passed his icy hand over my eyes. In an instant we were transported to a treeless tract under a flawless blue sky. Three teenage boys in jeans and T-shirts watched a girl in shorts and a halter top chip from weedy fringe grass onto a small, flat circle of oiled sand that had a flagstick at its precise center.
"Sand greens!" I exclaimed, my spirits soaring. "Back to the Future! Minimal cost, easy maintenance, zero demand for water, and for a pittance you can put one in every small town in America. That's how we'll grow the game!"
The Ghost of Golf's Future seemed to have exhausted his store of small talk. He simply pointed down the hill to a tangle of brush and cactus. Amid the desert growth stood a cockeyed cornerstone of crumbling stucco, upon which was affixed a tarnished plaque. "Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point," I said with trepidation, "answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only?"
The Spirit made a wobbling gesture with his hand, as if to say it could go either way. "Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends," he intoned. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change." Still fearful, I leaned forward and squinted. In the sun's glare I could just make out the words on the blackened metal: TPC SCOTTSDALE.
I moaned, but in that instant, the scene began to burn from the center out, like a leaf ignited under a magnifying glass. I awakened to find myself sitting bolt upright in my chair and gasping for breath. Seeing sunlight pouring through the plantation shutters, I fell back and heaved a sigh of relief. "A dream is all it was," I said to myself, fighting an impulse to run across the room and throw open a window.
It wasn't until the following evening that I noticed the second pewter cup on the mantel. The inscription read: ROLEX MEDIA CUP TEAM WINNER, NEWPORT, SOUTH WALES, SEPTEMBER 28, 2010. It was then, and only then, that I made my vow: that the shadows of the things that would have been shall be dispelled.
They will be. I know they will.
For more of John Garrity's ghosts, go to GOLF.com/garrity.