It’s so easy to say your golfing goals by number. I want to shoot X. I want my handicap to be Y. I want to hit Z greens in regulation per round. I want to reduce my 3 putts. But, how do you actually get there?
In reading Mastering Golf’s Mental Game: Your Ultimate Guide to Better On-Course Performance and Lower Scores by Dr. Michael T. Lardon, I was introduced to the concept of Process Goals vs. Results Goals. There is so much focus on results-based success. Golf club manufacturers aim most of their marketing towards this: gain X (okay, stop with the algebra shit, will you?!) yards, fewer miss-hits. Despite what the manufacturers want to sell you, you can’t just pick a club off the rack and get better. If you’re still buying clubs directly off-the-rack, that’s a completely different issue.
Instead, goals take work. But like anything else in life, work without focus and purpose is wasted effort. That’s where the Process Goals come into play. What are you going to work on (process) to achieve the desired result?
Goals must be realistic. To think you’re going to pick up a club and be a scratch golfer within a year is a bit optimistic. Likewise, saying you’re going to spend 10 minutes on the putting green when you already spend 9 minutes isn’t going to drop your 3 putts down.
Looking back on 2015, my main goal was to play respectably during an event I play in called The Midwest Mashie. Ryder Cup style, East vs. West; one round of fourball matches, one round of singles.
In 2014, I was physically and mentally unprepared to play in the event. Playing at Canterbury Golf Club, the aura of playing at a club that has hosted all five rotating men’s majors (U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, PGA Championship, Sr. U.S. Open and Senior PGA), plus the pristine conditions and ridiculously fast greens, was more than I could handle.
I worked on my mental game, reading 4 books related to the mental game. I applied various aspects of the books into my routines. I had focused range and short game practices. While scores of 114 and 95 may not sound respectable, the fact is I won 1.5 out of 2 points in my matches during the event and won a number of holes against my competition.
This year, I know I need to improve my approach shots and short game. I’ve been inputting my shots into the GameGolf Android app, and I can see how I stack against similar handicaps. Right now, my driving and putting is in line with where I need to be. My approach and short game; not so much.
On the physical side, I’ve recommitted myself to the gym; working with a personal trainer on core and flexibility. The only time that seems to work for me and the gym is when the 24-hour clock is at 05. Who said commitment was easy?!
At the same time, I have to keep things realistic. I work full-time. I have two young children that keep me plenty busy. I’m on the board of directors of my local Y camp. There is only so much time in a day and so much to do and think about.
Therefore, here are my game specific goals for 2016:
Short-Term Process Goal: Learn my distances with my wedges. Calculate 1/4, half, 3/4, and full shots with LW, SW, GW, PW.
Results Goal 1: Improve scrambling and sand-saves to 25%.
Results Goal 2: Re-read Your Short-Game Solution: Mastering the Finesse Game From 120 Yards and In by James Sieckmann. I highly recommend this book if you’re having troubles with your short game!
Medium-Term Process Goal: Focused range sessions hitting target greens with different clubs, shots.
Results Goal 3: Reduce handicap to 14.
Results Goal 4: Hit 9 GIRs a round.
Long-Term Process Goal: Play more competitive events.
Results Goal 5: Play respectably in Club Championship B Flight. The second place finisher in this flight shot a 241 over 3 rounds. That averages to 80.33 per round. I’m looking more for a 255 (or 85/round)
Results Goal 6: Win 1 point in Mashie against stronger competition. I want to rely less on my handicap for winning holes and more on my skill.
How will this play out? We’ll just have to see…