Grind out more pars: How to post good scores on bad days

February 15, 2017

You’re missing every fairway and green. If your game was a rocket launch, NASA would abort. Hang in there. When you’re having one of those days, fighting for pars and “good” bogeys is important. It helps build character, and it’s also part of becoming a real player. Good golfers know how to grind. (Besides, if you dashed to the 19th hole every time your game went a little haywire, you wouldn’t finish many rounds.) How you handle adversity defines you just as much as how you handle success. Use these three swing-management tips from new Top 100 Teacher Gary Weir. With his help—and a little grit on your part—you’ll see that an off-day par can feel like a birdie. So get ready to rewire your mind and learn how to grind.


Golfers tend to speed up when they struggle, hoping to either end the suffering as soon as possible or to quickly implement the next “fix.” Either way, rushing ruins tempo. It also means you’re not giving your preshot routine the attention it deserves. Think of the process of visualizing the desired shot while smoothly yet systematically settling into your stance as being in a safe space—a place to relax, ensure success and focus on the given task. Try my preshot routine below, or experiment with your own. The important thing is to have one. Without it, your swing is lost at sea, lacking direction. Let familiarity be your lifesaver.


STEP 1: Stand directly behind the ball.
STEP 2: Aim the club through the ball and your target.
STEP 3: Visualize the shot you want to hit.
STEP 4: Make one good practice swing. Focus on one swing key and the shot’s shape.
STEP 5: Take a final look at the target and start back, simply repeating your practice swing.


A quick way to make a big number is to drive into trouble. If the big dog is misbehaving, keep it in the bag. Trust me—you can still score. Tiger Woods famously pulled driver only once en route to winning the 2006 British Open at Hoylake. And after triumphing at Muirfield in 1966 for his first Open victory, Jack Nicklaus confessed, “I was forcibly struck with how much more precision counts in golf than power.” Emulate the greats. When grinding, tee off with a club you know will find the short grass, even if it’s an iron. If it’s good enough for Tiger and Jack…


1. Accept that you don’t have your “A” game—and that you can live with that.
2. Watch your temper. Getting angry won’t help; it’ll only annoy your foursome. Stick with your routine, and know that one good shot can turn things around.
3. Be your own Tony Robbins—the good mojo will fuel you through rough patches. So laud every success, no matter how small (“That backswing felt better”). Like you, pros “miss” more shots than they flush, but they’re quick to celebrate all the small victories, which keeps the positivity flowing.


Most rounds start with solid selfbelief and a sense of anticipation (“This might be my day!”) Then, reality: a loose shot here, a lost ball there, and that positivity erodes with every misstep. A good attitude is huge. The moment you lose that, your round is over. Grinders don’t get down—they stay positive, at all costs. The steps above will help.