Between the end of June and the beginning of August, I played five weeks in a row. A feat that I had never done before. Every week was filled with a lot of “new”. New state – new golf course – new hotel – new climate – new food. And what we are always seeking is new and improved results. However, amongst all the newness in every week, there remain many constants. 

After my five-week stretch, I had one week off at home to hit the refresh button on my mind and body. So when I returned to the tour this past week, I had a slightly different perspective. 

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Usually, when I arrive at the week’s tournament site, I am captivated by everything new. I like to recognize the new, so I can adjust and get comfortable. But, for some reason, this week I saw less of the new and more of the old. Like I said earlier, amongst all the differences of the week-to-week life on tour… a lot remains the same. 

So when I arrived on sight last week, I saw a familiar scene in an unfamiliar location. Some 144 of the same girls, give or take a few, scattered around the golf course and practice facilities grinding. Going through the same process from the week prior. Hitting the same golf ball with the same golf club time and time again. Writing down new notes in a new yardage book enclosed in the same book cover that’s held the “secrets” to more golf courses than the weathered leather can remember. Eating the same snacks and pounding down the same electrolyte drink in hopes of maintaining the same energy levels from the week prior. The same tournament staff is nailing signs on each tee box, spraying hazard lines on each hole, and creating pairings for each round. All in all, week to week, no matter how many things may seem new, it’s the same struggle. It’s the grind. 

I put the car in park in the golf course parking lot, and just like every player, I went through the same routine. Left shoe on first – golf bag out of the car – onto the pushcart – tournament registration. And then to the driving range to warm up for my first practice round. 

The driving range was an older, smaller one. One that sufficed for the players back in the day when ten balls were enough to warm up and head out. But not a range that prepared for the players of today searching for the security that the next swing will bring them. So I sat and waited my turn behind another player hitting the driver. I figured she had worked her way up to a driver and surely would be finishing her warm-up or practice soon. Thirty-five minutes and over 50 driver swings later, I was proven wrong. I sat patiently, praying that the next ball she teed up would be “the one” for both her sake and mine. The one that left her feeling good enough to put the club down and call it quits for the day. As the minutes ticked on, it seemed like that was never going to be the case. Before I knew it, another spot a few yards down opened up. I moved my stuff and left the girl there to grind. While she was now at my back, the image of her hitting ball after ball remained in the forefront of my mind. 

As I started the same process, I thought, why grind? Why do we fight so hard, struggle so much, and show up every day when only one out of the 144 girls there each week will win. Out of the 52 weeks in a year, there are only 22 weeks of opportunity. And golf, unlike most sports, you lose far more often than you win. And when you win, you receive many texts from family and friends congratulating you because that’s what they expected all along. But when you lose, when you fail, it’s just you. It’s me in the hotel room all alone right now. It’s the grind. 

I’m reminded of a lesson I learned in college from the head women’s soccer coach at UNC, Anson Dorrance. He spoke to our team the day before leaving for our NCAA Championships. He told the story of the gift he gave each player after they won a national championship. He’s won 22 of them. He gave them a rose. A rose symbolizes victory and the current moment of glory. But soon, the rose will die. And just like the rose, soon everyone will forget about your win. So what is left? The grind. 

So if victory is so few and far between and so short-lived, why grind? 

For hope

Hope that tomorrow will be the day that it all comes together. Hope that the value isn’t in the final destination, but who we are becoming in the struggle. Hope that it’s the impact we make in the journey that defines who we are. Hope that we are where we are supposed to be and are walking the right path to who we are becoming. Hope that while everyday brings something new, the true gifts in life, our family and friends, remain constant. 

While this story is told through the lens of a professional golfer, I believe it to be true in all walks of life. Everyday we are all faced with challenges and problems we seek to overcome. It is the hope that within the next day, month, or year we will overcome them. In the time between, we embrace the struggle and count our blessings on the true gifts that don’t waver from day-to-day. 

That’s why we grind. That’s why the girl never stopped hitting golf balls. She was filled with hope, and that led her through the struggle.