This guest feature was written by Arnold Aguilar (@thegrindtopar) and edited/proofread by Elison (@elisonwrites).
1% better everyday.
I first heard this quote years ago while watching a YouTube video. It always stuck with me and played in the back of my mind. However, I never thought it would one day become my driving source of motivation. That is, until golf came along…
A little about myself and my golf journey – my name is Arnold and I run the @thegrindtopar Instagram account. I had many opportunities when I was younger to start playing. My cousin Marco always asked me to go play golf with him, but I never did. If I had a time machine, it’s definitely one of the things I’d change.
My first round of golf was September 2020 at Arcade Creek. My brothers and cousins invited me to just come hang out. They told me, “you just have to hit off the first tee so the marshal knows you’re playing.” After surprisingly getting my first shot off the tee and sending it flying (into the other fairway), I wanted to hit another…and then another…and then another. When the round ended, I asked Marco if he had a second-hand set I could learn with. A few rounds later, I knew I wanted to document the learning journey and created @thegrindtopar. The main goal of the account was to share my love for the game with others, but ultimately it became to share my golf-learning journey and all of its ups and downs.
My original motivation was to get better at the game and contend with my cousins, uncles, and friends. I knew I had to put in the effort to get better every day. I spent a lot of time learning about all that goes into the golf swing—using different training aids (if there is one thing I recommend, it’s alignment sticks), working with Shaun Barnes, an instructor at Haggin Oaks, and recording nearly every swing with my phone and reviewing them as soon as I got home. The Haggin Oaks Driving Range has been invaluable for my progression thanks to their Toptracer technology, realistic short game areas, and long hours. With that kind of resource available, there is no reason anyone can’t get better. As I kept improving, I started to fall in love with the game, and this is when the quote started to really resonate with me.
I could go on and on about all the reasons why I love golf, but the biggest reason is it gives me a strong drive of progression that is ultimately up to me to put in the grind. Whether it’s working on Shaun’s drills on my backyard mat and net, mustering up the energy to hit the range after a heavy day at the gym, or even just working on swing feels while waiting for my girlfriend to finish shopping around Target—the accountability is on me. I have to get incrementally better nearly every day to reap the bigger reward of performing better on the course. Even when there are moments where everything is starting to ‘click’—my swing is feeling nice on the range or scores are starting to drop—these are the moments when you absolutely cannot get comfortable and let off the gas.
I spent most of 2021 learning how to swing. My goal heading into the New Year was to just to break 100 by the end of the year. As a result of my grind, I broke 100 just 15 days into January, much earlier than I had expected. I’ve continued to score in the 90s since and see gains in my game every time. My new goal now is to break 90 by the end of the year and honestly, I feel like it’s just right around the corner. My previous round was a score of 97, but aside from two penalties off the tee, I felt robbed of a handful of putts due to punched greens…but that is just me being a golfer and blaming strokes on something else other than myself.
If you’re looking to play better golf, or with any goal in life, it’s nothing to achieve overnight. It’s something you have to work towards, 1% at a time with discipline and consistency, to see improvement. Even when there are days where the game feels off, they are learning opportunities to keep you moving forward on the path of progress.
There is still plenty of work to be done on my grind to par. I plan to continue getting 1% better every day and you should too.