I’m sure you have heard of the old adage by Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu that go’s “the journey of a thousand leagues (miles) begins with a single step?”
What this encourages us to understand is that dreaming about something you want is important, but actually taking the walk towards it is even more advantageous.
In golf this is exactly the same. You can dream about becoming a successful amateur or professional golfer as much as you like, but without consistent and thoughtful effort in the most important parts of your game all you have is a good idea and no real way to get to it.
And I strongly suggest that if you’re contemplating the achievement of a worthwhile goal, then you’d better have a pretty good idea of where your target is.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the repetitions without having a clear idea of what you’re actually doing it for.
One of the biggest challenges we all face as golfers is in deciding exactly what we want from our game. This seems to be a continually challenging condition of almost all golfers.
And balancing the destination with the route to get there is the key to successfully achieving your goals in golf. Too much of one element in the formula and you’ll more than likely miss hitting your mark.
"It’s so easy to get caught up in the repetitions without having a clear idea of what you’re actually doing it for."
Golf Goal Setting Formula
But here’s an important part that is quite often missed when discussing goal achievement. Being dedicated to your goal may be the most challenging aspect of the process. Many golfers start on a journey of change only to fall back into their old and reliable habits.
So goal achievement must be driven primarily by your perceived value in the goal and also your ability to actually achieve it.
In our opinion goal achievement is hugely influenced by the following important factors;
1. The importance of your goal or outcome
2. Whether you think you can actually achieve it
This following formula is the one we use at Pro Tour Golf College with our students which seems to express it pretty well;
Dedication to your Goal = Value of your Goal (importance) x Attainment of your Goal (knowing how to get it)
You see you have to truly believe that your goal is achievable before you can truly commit yourself totally to it, regardless of how important it may seem.
You will be more committed to valuable and achievable goals; however, if the value of your goal or your ability to achieve it becomes low on the level of importance scale, then your dedication to achieve it will soon disappear.
Just One Important Goal at a Time
You see every goal you attempt begins with the thought of what it would be like if you had it, and then whether you believe that you have the ability to achieve it. Therefore the key to achieving your golfing goals is to develop a strong sense of accomplishment over your most important goal.
Start with just one important goal at a time. Remember the journey begins with a single step.
And the goal will have to be very important to you to maintain the consistency of effort required to achieve it. The goal you choose should be realistic, which means that even with a big stretch you could actually achieve it.
Notice I said stretch? There’s a fine line between a goal that helps you and one that hurts you. It will be helpful for you to choose a goal that forces you to operate on the edge of the “uncomfortable zone” which is the space between comfortable and uncomfortable.
Remember a little hurt (Stretch) can take you a long way, but a lot of hurt will send you flying backwards.
It is very easy to get discouraged and drop your goal if you make it too hard (Hurts) to achieve within a reasonable time frame and the majority of golfers we've worked with tend to stretch to unrealistic zones that put them under the type of pressure that stalls their growth.
How to Choose Your Important Goal
So I guess the question that arises is how do you choose your most important goal? Of all the things that you could achieve with your golf in the ensuing year which goal would be the one that would give you the most satisfaction?
Is your goal going to be one of these five?
1. Golf stroke improvement goal?
2. Golf shot-making skill goal?
3. Golf score goal?
4. Golf mind improvement goal?
5. Golf body improvement goal?
These are the most popular types of goals that golfers look at to decide on the most important one for them. The idea here is that you might need to improve some aspect of your technique to hit better and more consistent shots that would eventually lead to lower golf scores.
Or by improving the way you think about your game you could improve your swing, shot or score. Then again if you were more flexible would that help your technique which in-turn helps your shot-making and score?
The image below shows a simple way to assess the importance of your golf goal types. Now we know that there are many approaches that you can take to develop your goals but consider that the starting point must be carefully thought out.
In other words you need to look at the cause and effect nature of your golf game carefully to understand which aspect of your game you will decide is the most important part to improve first.
Start in the wrong place and you’ll almost certainly take a lot longer to achieve your most important goal.
Here's a good question to help you to start in the right direction and decide on the best element of your game to improve first.
To reduce my competitive stroke average by 2 shots from 76.3 to 74.3 by November 30 this year the skill that I would need to improve the most to give me my best chance of achieving this goal is ___________________________________
Chunk It Down
Remember that the skill/s that you choose to improve will improve your potential for achieving your goal and will be the highest in value (Importance) but also achievable with a stretch. To improve your competitive score average the two strokes of improvement in the following example requires a simple plan to break the 2 strokes down into manageable chunks.
If you had 12 months to achieve the goal of 2 strokes improvement then you could easily chunk your goal down into 4 smaller-more manageable sub-goals. To improve your score average by just .5 in 12 weeks will seem a lot easier to achieve than trying to improve 2 strokes over 12 months. It is the same goal just represented differently so you are more motivated to stick with the goal.
It is the same principle used by trainers to reduce weight on people. The person may be motivated to lose 20 pounds and the trainer will suggest that this could be achieved by chunking it down to more manageable units. 20 pounds divided by 40 weeks = half a pound a week.
So once you have chunked it down you need to decide on a practice program for actually improving your score average by .5 in 12 weeks.
This is where you need to look closely at your practice routines and decide how they will change to lower your average within the specified time period.
Remember keep it simple! You don't have to go to outrageous lengths to achieve your 1st sub goal, you just have to manage your effort in such a way that the outcome is very gradual improvement.
Which golf skill or skills will have the biggest impact on your golf score average?
In your first 12 weeks choose the most important skill/s and practice them 70 percent of the time. What this means is if you chose putting and sand play as the two skills to improve, then design specific practice routines that guarantee that the skill will improve with consistent effort.
And if you don't know how to design effective practice routines that lower your golf scores in competition then you will want to join our online program The Elite Golfer Improvement System because we will show you exactly how to build your own personal golf improvement program from the ground up.
Do you want to know more about this unique golf improvement program? Click on the image above to find out how this program can help you to reach your performance goals sooner rather than later.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
The Professional Golf Tour Training College for Serious Amateur Golfers