As I watched the final round of The Players Championship, I was reminded of an important lesson about playing competitive golf. As Lee Westwood struggled in most areas of his game, he demonstrated a moxie that should inspire most players. I watched him hit poor shots, then respond with clutch recovery shots. He hit his ball into the pond or a sand trap only to respond by working his magic to reduce the damage. Westwood showed that as a professional golfer, actually any golfer, it is important to never stop grinding during a challenging round.
If you are wondering if Westwood’s efforts were worth anything; his birdie on the 18th hole to take sole second place was worth $500,000 USD. He actually won $800,000 more than third place, but after sharing the monies equally if he did not make the birdie, the difference was a half a million dollars. But that is the financial side of playing golf at the highest levels of professional golf.
So, why is it important for amateurs to take a page out of Westwood’s play manual and continue to grind it out after a very poor start. The most obvious aspect of grinding out a round would be pride (ego). But, it is more than than; responding to a terrible start helps train our mind to respond positively to challenging times on the links. We train ourselves that anything is possible from any swing and at any given time our fortunes can change. I have had rounds of golf where I shot 4 over on the front and 4 over on the back. The drastic difference is that I kept playing and my fortunes changed.
As you are reading this article, I bet the first question that comes to mind is: What actually does ‘grind’ mean in golf? For me it is very simple concept, it means staying disciplined and stay focused on our swing, course management, and positive mental processes. This is a very challenging thing to do when times are good, but when we are struggling it is an understatement to say it is a tremendous challenge. When my rounds are faltering, I revert to processes where I almost become an automaton. I let my practice, experience and engrained swing processes take over. I focus on being positive, mentally because this is where my ‘grind’ is rooted. This might sound easy, but pushing the negative thoughts out of my mind when I am playing poorly is difficult at best; this is where my pre-shot routines play a big role in my successes. Grinding is following my swing processes when things are not going well.
5 thoughts on “Never Stop Grinding During A Challenging Round”
I was grinding all day for other reasons. First it was really windy out. Second, I had my one length 3 hybrid extended an inch earlier in the day and that worked so well I started the day eagle/eagle and just had to go into ‘how low can you go’ mode. And last, I lost a tooth this morning. Maybe I’ve been grinding too much. 😂
In the end I shot 6 under today thanks to that awesome start. My best round yet on this course. And I saved a trip to the dentist to boot. A twofer.👍
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Well that was some day! Congrats on thenlow round, great score. As far as the dentist, well, congrats is in order. 🤔
Jim, learning to grind elevates a player’s game to the next level. I forget if it was Tiger or Brooks Koepka who said that it was easier to win a major because the field of contenders shrunk below most other tournaments because most other players couldn’t contend with the pressure or wouldn’t grind. . .something of that nature.
It’s so true and reminds me of a club championship I was playing in during 2019. A fellow competitor and I teed off in the final round tied and we both made double bogeys on the first hole. He mentioned on the next tee that he, “didn’t feel like grinding,” and I knew I had one less player to contend with. It takes a level of intestinal fortitude to never give up, and that’s what Westwood did.
Great post, thanks!
I agree that learning able to grind on the golf course is an important skill. I also think that it comes from experience and being place in pressure situations. Lastly, it takes a conscious effort to develop this skill and one where players need to step up, accept the hard knocks, and eventually succeed. I do not think there is a short cut to this process. Do you?
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Jim, definitely no shortcuts. Some of the behavior is learned, but much of the “don’t quit” attitude is innate. Some people are just better and concentrating and maintaining the steadfast determination to grind.
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