Why are you setting golf goals again? Are these not the same goals that you had last year or at the beginning of last season? You have been through this process before and it just does not seem like anything ever changes. You have not made any more putts, hit any more fairways and your scores did not get any better. All in all… you ended up frustrated.
I have done that too. I have been there and bought that t-shirt. I have done all of the work to go through the golf goal setting process and have not always seen the results in which I had planned. In retrospect, there was one main reason that I fell short.
Setting Golf Goals And Objectives
There are different types of goals that you can set. Many players just shoot for the outcome goals without setting any performance or process goals.
Outcome Goals – This is where many people go when setting goals for their golf game. Outcome goals are usually long-term goals such as winning a golf tournament or receiving a year-long award. Although these are the most popular goals to set, the bottom-line is that you are not in control of this goal.
Performance Goals For Golf – Can be short or long-term goals, however, you still do not have total control of what happens. A few examples of performance goals would include getting into top physical condition, improve your ball-striking, hitting ___ percent of fairways or improving your sand save percentage.
The most common example of this would be that even though you do not deviate from a prescribed diet to achieve top physical condition, you may or may not lose the amount of weight that you were expecting to lose this week.
Process Goals For Golf – Are short term goals that you DO HAVE CONTROL over. If one of your performance goals is to get into top physical condition, then a process goal would be breaking down your workouts for the week. You have control on whether you work out and will help you achieve your performance goals. You may have to wake up a little earlier or stay up a little later to make it happen but it is your choice.
SMART Goals For Golf
Being a business major in college, it seems like you could not take a class without the discussion of SMART goals. After deciding on my outcome, performance and process goals, it was time to make them smart. To make your goals smart, your goals must be…
S – Specific Goals – The challenge that many golfers have in setting their goals is that their goals are too broad and not specific enough. Many players say “My goal is to lower my handicap.” Great… Does this mean if you lower your handicap from a 25 to a 24 that you are done? A much better statement is to specifically state where you will accomplish your goal. For example, “My goal is to lower my handicap from 25 to a 20.”
M – Measurable Goals – Keeping with the handicap example, it is easy to “measure” your handicap. Your handicap is quantifiable and will either increase, decrease or stay the same. It is very important to keep your goals in quantities in order to be able to measure them.
A – Achievable Goals – This makes sense… right? Believe it or not, thinking this way can be a trap! Many players struggle with this and I am going to talk about it later in the article. You will want to make sure that you fall into the “Discomfort Zone.”
R – Recorded Goals – We have all heard about how important that it is to physically write down our goals. Not only is that important, it is also important to track our progress by writing it down as well. This also allows us to evaluate our progress which many times falls through the cracks. This is a very important step. How often you need to evaluate your goals will vary depending on your goals and how often you are playing or working on your game.
T – Time Specific Goals – An important part of setting goals is to have a “due date.” If your goal does not have a due date then where is the urgency to get it completed? This can be a self-imposed date or it could be the date of a golf tournament.
So… after running your goal through the SMART method, a performance goal may read…
“My goal is to lower my handicap from ___ to a ___ by December 31, 20xx.”
You would then have your process goals to back up what you are going to do in order to achieve this performance goal.
How Do You Determine A Golf Goal For Your Game
Obviously, this is going to be individual to each golfer. However, I think that we can lay down some guidelines that will help you create good goals for you.
When you sit down to set your golf goals, you need to brainstorm and think of what the realm of possibility is for your game. When setting any type of goal, it usually falls into one of three categories…
The Comfort Zone – If you set a goal in the comfort zone, let’s be honest you know that you can crush it when you write it down. It is not a challenge because… it is “the usual.” I think most of us at some point have completed a task and then gone and written it down on a to-do list just so we can then cross it off of our to-do list. I know I am guilty of it!
If you are a high school golfer and already practice three days a week for two hours, writing this down as a future goal is nice… but… you are already doing that. What or how are you going to change what you are doing in those two hours that is measurable for you to keep track going forward? Create process goals for your practice times.
Discomfort Zone – Do you have a goal that makes you a little nervous? Are you scared that you might fail? Does this goal bring uncertainty and doubt to you? If it is achievable, then this is probably a good goal to go after. Many great things happen in the discomfort zone.
One thing to keep in mind in selecting on of these goals is that they are a stretch and you will need to take different actions to achieve them. If you fall just short of one of these goals, it does not mean that you failed. It is then time to evaluate, make changes and set your new goal.
The Delusional Zone – These goals have to be avoided as that are not reachable and are just going to lead to frustration in the future. I once had a student show up on my lesson tee. This student had never played golf before and was invited to play in a Pro-Am the next day! They just could not understand how I could not teach them how to play all phases of the game in just one hour. Enter the “Delusional Zone.”
How Did I Fall Short Of My Golf Goal?
I came up with my outcome, performance and process goals. I ran them through the SMART process and they were considered to be in my discomfort zone.
I mean REALLY? How did I fail? I DID ALL OF THE WORK!
After a lot of retrospection, my “WHY” was not clearly defined. Ummm… What does that mean? It means that the reasons that I wanted to hit my goals were not strong enough to make me do the work to achieve the goals that I had set.
Using the example of health is commonly used to illustrate this point. Many people of all sizes say that they want to lose weight and get into better shape. (You already know that this is not a defined enough goal) Typically, if they do have success, it is fleeting for them and until they understand “the why” they are trying to get into better shape and then they end up frustrated for a while as they have not hit their original goal and then start the process over again.
It is only three little letters… WHY? For some of you, it will be the hardest question that you have had to answer in a long time. Tell us about your “why” in the comments.
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