If this is the season you have decided to see how good you can get, the first thing I would recommend is setting goals. Goal setting sounds incredibly simple, “I want to get better at golf.” That is certainly a goal, but one of my favorite quotes is, “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” I have yet to come across a student in a lesson that tells me they just want to stay the same. Everyone wants to get better, the question becomes, how do you get better?
“I want to get better,” is a great starting point. To set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals however, the first thing we must do is evaluate where we are. The two easiest things to look at are handicap and average score. I put both for a reason. Handicap is only measuring your best 8 rounds of 20, it is showing your current potential on a good day. It is very possible to lower your average score, without dropping your handicap. A goal of a lower handicap or average score are both great goals and would be positive progress. Now, how do we do that?
I break the game into 4 categories: driving, approach play, short game and putting. Each of these areas can be broken down in different subsets. Driving, for instance, would include speed, distance, accuracy and consistency. You may not need to improve all 4, the important part is knowing what needs work. To create SMART goals, we need to know where we are. I’ve attached an evaluation/assessment form that you are welcome to use. Be honest when doing your assessment as this will guide your practice time.
To get even more specific than your assessment, the best thing you can do is keep track of your stats. Good stats do not lie(I will get more into good stats in the next article). As golfers, I think we have our own views of our games, stats tend to show a much more honest picture. There are plenty of great stat tracking apps and technology. Programs like DECADE golf, Golf Metrics, Arccos golf and others give you a breakdown of where you are, and where you can get the best value for your practice time.
If you are limited on time for practice, which most of us are, getting the most out of your time is critical to shoot better scores. The more detailed the stats you have, the more specific you can be in your goal setting. Attached are some of my statistics for my tournaments over the summer(I use the DECADE app). In going over my year, there are a few key areas I need to improve to get the results I want. My overall goal for next year is to bring my scoring average in tournaments from 74 this year, to below 72 next year. To do this I need to: Improve make % of putts from 3-4 and 4-8 feet by 10%; Reduce holes with penalties to below 1%; Increase GIR % from 100-150 and 150-200 yards by 10%. These goals are very specific, I have a benchmark to measure progress and they will dictate how I spend my time practicing.
By setting specific goals that you can measure and track, you can create your plan, whether it be technical or skill work, and monitor progress. The greatest value I find in doing this exercise is that it creates a purpose when I practice and helps me make the most out of the limited time I have. If you have result goals for this season, give yourself the best chance of achieving them by doing an honest evaluation, tracking your stats and then creating a plan. If you want any help going through an assessment or creating a plan, reach out and we can set up a time for an evaluation.
I will be sending out an article every other week for the rest of the season. Each article will focus on a specific area of game improvement. If there is a specific topic you are curious about, let me know and I'll make sure to write about it.