May 02, 2022

While his father works with David Leadbetter, Joshua Grenville-Wood is happy finding his own way 


By Kent Gray
Joshua Grenville-Wood is a modern-day, real-life version of one of those old-timey Jack-in-the-Box children’s toys.

Ask him to sit quietly in a corner and study a page of text, for example, and well, his attention span quickly loses the fight with his well-documented and stubbornly patient ADHD. Something stirs within though when he puts a careful over-lapping grip on a golf club.

Crank gently on the handle and Grenville-Wood pops out of his “still misunderstood’ Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder box with razor-sharp focus.

“I found at a young age it was just a way for me to relieve all the stress," Grenville-Wood says. “I can go hit balls for four or five hours and it’s just me and I don’t have to worry about what people are trying to tell me because I can just do what I want to do.”

The 24-year-old, Dubai-domiciled Englishman has been doing what he wants rather well lately which is timely as he approaches the Beautiful Thailand Swing, four $75,000 events co-sanctioned by the Asian Development (ADT) and MENA Tour starting Tuesday at Laguna Golf Phuket.

Grenville-Wood is tied fourth on the ADT Order of Merit (OOM) after earning an identical position at the circuit’s season-opening Gurugram Challenge last month. He’s still looking for his professional breakthrough but with his performance in India and a fourth runner-up finish as a professional at a EuroPro event on the Isle of Man last September, Grenville-Wood is knocking on victory’s door. Loudly.

“Personally, I think it is the best I’ve ever seen it,” Grenville-Wood offers when asked for an assessment of his game on the eve of the Laguna Phuket Challenge.

“I’ve done so much work with my short game which has always held me back. My go-to was always if I could putt it, get out and putt it no matter where it is. To actually have some confidence now and the ability to hit a good wedge shot, to hit a good chip, it’s huge. There was a bit of it in India but the last five, six days [practicing in Dubai before he flew to Phuket] have been huge for my game.”

After tripping back and forth from the UK for a few years, Grenville-Wood finally decided to make Dubai his permanent home at the end of last summer. It made sense as he'd been working with Joe Marshall out of the Claude Harmon Performance Academy at the Els Club, Dubai for the past three years.

Now his apartment in Dubai Sports City is “like a four-minute walk to the range”, a luxury after a lifetime on the road. Recently, much of his practice time has been devoted to honing the aforementioned wedge tips, mostly shared via video link-up due to pandemic travel restrictions, by UK-based short-game specialist Alex Buckner.

Grenville-Wood is used to adapting on the fly. He spent much of his childhood traipsing around the U.S. as his father built his reputation coaching golf coaches to the point where Gavin Grenville-Wood works today as one of David Leadbetter’s “right-hand men”.

Joshua went to the University of South Carolina Beaufort – after going through his teenage years where Dad’s counsel on matters golf suddenly started to wear thin. It was all part of growing up, an even more difficult journey when you’re struggling to comprehend ADHD.

“I got to that typical teenager phase, 13-14, you know, typical Dad-son relationship, just clashing all the time. It was a mutual agreement, we both knew it was time to find someone who could help push me forward.

“Dad still helps out from time to time, he knows little things…but he’s slowly becoming more use to the role of being Dad and supporter, not Dad the coach, the pushy man.”

Fast-forward to the present and Grenville-Wood’s game is in good shape and his goal for 2022 simple, if not easily achieved: maintain his position in the top-seven on the ADT OOM and a “pretty amazing” Asian Tour card for 2023 will be his.

He's experienced Asian Tour and DP World Tour competition before but has never had a consistent run at the elite level to get comfortable. Missed cuts at The Singapore International, The DGC Open and last year at the D+D Real Czech Masters is evidence of that, although a visa “nightmare’ entering India didn’t help at the Delhi Golf Club Open. His T-4 position at the ADT event the following week showed he can quickly adapt to adversity too.

Indeed, Grenville-Wood is confident good things will follow with a decent run of events - especially with all the incentives borne out of the MENA Tour’s new strategic alliance with the Asian Tour. It’s a sentiment echoed up and down the Laguna Phuket Challenge start sheet which is littered with opportunity-starved players.

“The pandemic has been really tough,” said Grenville-Wood. “As a person who's had mixed status, my opportunities during COVID have been one event here and there, whether it’s playing in a Challenge Tour event, I played one European Tour event last year, and you get the occasional Asian Tour event, it’s all over the place. It’s hard to get into a groove when you just play one event and you fly back home and wait two months to play the next one.

“I’ve had to get a bit of help from my parents financially wise, sort of to get through it. Now things are starting to get back to normal, it’s just great to compete again….to have these four events in a row is a lifesaver for us. I absolutely can’t wait.

“History has shown for me, if I can get two, three events in a row, good things happen. So for me to sit here and think I’ve got four events in three weeks, I’m absolutely buzzing to get out there and play.”

A three-putt on the final hole at the Gurugram Challenge “left a sour taste” while Grenville-Wood also did some tough self-analysis after finishing 20-under-par for the 54-holes at Castletown Golf Links in September, only to be denied a maiden EuroPro win by an astonishing four strokes as Scotsman Callum Fyfe impressively rattled off three successive 64s.

“That was so frustrating but I had three bogeys throughout the week and two of them were on par 3s, so there’s something to work on.”

Grenville-Wood knows it’s the little details that count towards big results, especially now given the elevated OWGR status – and by association increased competition – generated by the “fantastic” ADT-MENA Tour alliance.

“The MENA Tour’s been huge for my development and now with the partnership with the ADT… to be able to work towards something like that and if you get a nice little reward after the four weeks, that pushes you on a bit…I’ve definitely upped what I’ve been doing the last few weeks since I got back from India.”

The rewards Grenville-Wood mentions are for MENA Tour members set to finish their Journey to Jordan OOM race after the four events in Phuket. They include additional ADT starts, exemptions to Asian Tour Q-School and, for the overall champion, a start in one of the Asian Tour’s new $1.5 million-plus International Series events.

Grenville-Wood knows ADT players will feel a mutual appreciation when they get to experience tournament golf in the Middle East.

“I mean the EuroPro’s a competitive tour, but it’s not …I don’t find it really elevates all parts of your game,” Grenville-Wood says. “You play the same golf courses week in and week out and to be honest, they’re not really good golf courses, they’re pretty bog-standard, you play like £40 to go play it and you wouldn’t rave about it to your friends or rush to get back. But the MENA Tour, you’re playing really good golf courses and you’re playing different types of courses and they test most parts of your game. I think that’s been good.”

Something else that has been encouraging is the awareness he’s been able to bring to the often silent challenges experienced by those diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Grenville-Wood sports the ADHD Foundation logo on his Vessel bag and is justifiably proud of his association with the UK’s leading neurodiversity charity.

“I suffered from being bullied, misunderstood, discriminated against and even excluded from learning at school. I still come across instances like this now. Having ADHD isn’t something that has gone away, it is something that I became more aware of, learned how to deal with and turned into a strength,” Grenville-Wood explains on his website profile. 

“I’m still learning; I’m still largely misunderstood, and the real me only becomes apparent once people have spent a good deal of time with me.”

What is unquestioned is Grenville-Wood’s happy place.

“Golf is my future. It’s the vehicle I can use to achieve all of my goals and dreams.”

The vehicle is golf, the latest launchpad the Beautiful Thailand Swing. Golf’s Jack-in-the-Box is ready to pounce.


Photo: Adam Wang