Top golf coaches say that the best players to work with are the ones who are willing to set long-term goals and stick to them. There’s nothing wrong with just going out and golfing over and over again to have fun. But if you want to see real improvements in your game, you are going to need a direction to work toward. And pretty much every effective strategy includes a bit of planning and somewhere to start, no matter how modest.
Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu that goes, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” Yeah. What he said. Here are a few ways to set strategic goals and see them through.
Have you heard of goal-setting theory?
Researcher Edwin Locke discovered that, over time, study participants that set specific, difficult goals performer better in reaching them than those who set easy, general goals. What’s the theory behind why this happens?
If you set a very general goal, like “I want to get lower scores,” then you haven’t really given yourself a clear path to attain that goal. If, on the other hand, you give yourself a more specific goal like, “I want to learn to take fewer strokes on the green,” then your goal comes with something of a built-in outline on how to attain it.
You can then decide what working towards fewer putt strokes looks like (i.e., taking more time to line up your shot, spending more time reading the lines and break, or hitting the practice green at the range every weekend day). So basically, just the act of setting a more specific goal gives you a greater chance of achieving it.
How to set effective goals
Effective goals all have a few things in common. They are clear, specific and challenging enough to get you motivated to work. They are time-based and include some component of commitment. And lastly, they include some system of receiving feedback.
For instance, a coach or a friend who is a talented golfer could be called upon to give you feedback on how they think you’re improving (or not) at the end of a set time. It’s extremely helpful to be held accountable this way.
The S.M.A.R.T. system
If you’ve ever done training in business, or read a self-help book, then you know this acronym:
Specific goals for improving your golf game might look like this: “I want to reach a putting average of 30,” versus, “I want to become a better putter.” A measurable goal might be “I want to spend at least two hours per week at the driving range,” versus, “I want a longer drive.” An attainable goal should be difficult enough to motivate you to work, but realistic enough that you can actually accomplish your goal within the set amount of time. For instance, you might say “I want to beat my dad in a round by the end of the season,” and not, “I want to be a scratch golfer by summer tournament time.”
A relevant goal should be a micro goal that will directly contribute to your overall aim of being a better golfer. For instance, if you’re already an amazing driver, and are losing most of your strokes on the green, then a relevant goal would refer to your putting, not the area of your game where you’re already killing it.
And finally, give yourself a time-specific and appropriate goal date to give yourself a kick in the pants. A good length of time for a technique-based golf goal is three months. That’s enough time to allow for real progress, but not so far away that you lose focus on what you want to achieve.
Did we miss anything? Comment below and let us know your goals for 2017 and how you plan to achieve them. Play well!
— C. Pedroja