Every golfer has goals, but very few golfers have good goals. Why do good goals matter? Because, to paraphrase the Cheshire Cat, “If you don’t know where you want to end up, it doesn’t matter which way you go.” Without good goals, your practice is purposeless and improvement is unlikely. In this lesson, I’m going to explain what good goals are and how to create them.
This Lesson Is For You If:
Your game is stuck in a rut
You’re unsure how to improve
Short Term Goals – Get SMART
Let’s think of an average golfer’s short term goal.
“I want to improve my putting.” – Golfer Who Isn’t Going to Get Better
This is the opposite of SMART, it’s dumb. It’s not specific or measurable, so it can’t be achievable or realistic, and it’s not time-bound.
Let’s make this goal SMART. “I’m currently 3-putting twice per round. By the end of the month, I want that to be less than once per round.” This goal is specific and measurable, and it’s probably achievable and realistic if this golfer is willing to practice. It’s also time-bound.
Can we make that goal even better? Yes. “I’m currently 3-putting twice per round, and I know that it’s because my lag putting is poor. By the end of the month, I want to go an entire round without a second putt longer than 3 feet.” This checks all the SMART boxes, but it’s even more specific.
Make a Plan – Stay SMART
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Specific – “I’m going to go practice putting” is garbage. How are you going to practice? What drills are you going to do? How do those drills relate to your goals? “I’m going to do the Around the World drill with 4-footers until I make 50 putts,” is a specific plan.
Measurable – Chart your performance in practice to add pressure and to see if you’re improving. The first day you may take 75 putts to make 50. Try to beat that on day two.
Achievable & Realistic – “I’m going to practice for six hours every day!” is a recipe for failure and disappointment. We have jobs, spouses, kids, houses…we are busy! That doesn’t mean you can’t practice, it just means you need to set up a routine you can stick to. Make it easy on yourself. If you want to practice putting, get a little putting mat for the house so you can hit ten putts a day rather than skipping days where you can’t drive to the course.
Time-Bound – Figure out how much time you can and want to commit to practice, and do that. “I’m going to practice four days a week for thirty minutes each time until the end of the month.” At the end of the month, check on your goals and your progress, and make a new plan.
Long Term Goals – Stretch
SMART goals drive improvement, but the big picture goals drive us. This is where you can pick a big, audacious goal – just be specific. “By the end of the season, I want my handicap to be under 10.” “I want to crack 110 MPH of club head speed.” “I want to shoot one round in the 60’s.” These big picture goals will guide your SMART short term goals.
Make the Commitment
Taking steps to commit yourself to your goals is a huge part of accomplishing them. If they only exist in your head, they’re easy to forget or ignore. If you make a real commitment to them, you’ve already taken the first step toward accomplishing them.