Even for a morning person, there is an inescapable drowsiness that hovers over the first tee of a golf course at dawn. No matter how well-caffeinated you are, your head and golf bag feel just a little heavier on your shoulders. That donut or breakfast sandwich you picked up and ate on the way is slowly turning the key in your body's ignition. The sun is still stretching its arms out over the landscape, warming away the haze. Why should you be fully awake, either?
There is an entire golf course in front of you, unsullied so far by other golfers and their baggage. This adds a ceremonial air to an otherwise common occasion. You get to be the first to give in to the sucker pin on six, the first to skull it out of the front bunker on 12, the first to birdie 17. With this honor comes responsibility: you are equal parts patron and pacesetter. It is your course, yes, but never completely on your terms.
Maintenance workers' feet and wheels leave meandering patterns on the wet turf, a collaborative land-art abstraction that will dissolve in a couple hours. Putt trails arc across dewy greens (the original Shot Tracer). You can't help but come up short at first. But that's okay. It's still early and you have a lot more golf to play.