Last week I gave you my blueprint for goal setting for golfers. This week I’m going to apply that same blueprint to setting my golf goals for 2016. Hopefully these examples and my further explanation of the process will help you set meaningful and achievable goals, which in turn will help you reach your potential as a golfer. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Write your long-term vision
This is you in 10 years. Please refer to last week’s post for a further explanation of how to write your long term vision. Here’s mine:
“I am 41 years old. Today I am playing golf with my 3 kids. It’s a beautiful, warm summer afternoon and we are having a blast together. I am playing, but it’s a relaxed round and I am not keeping score. I usually play a few holes with my kids twice a week. I play an additional 2-3 times a weekduring the season, which includes a round of speedgolf every Saturday morning before the first tee time. I practice once a week for a couple hours after my speedgolf round. I have reached scratch and my handicap is never higher than 3. I have competed in the Oregon Amateur and I did well, advancing through several rounds. Every year I play in at least one competitive tournament and every year I travel somewhere to play a course on my golf bucket list. I’ve played Pebble Beach and several top courses in the U.K., and I play at Bandon Dunes several times a year. When I play golf, I am focused on the present moment and the next shot – always. I’m not distracted by thoughts of the past or the future. I don’t swear and I don’t get angry when I hit a bad shot. Regardless of the circumstances of the day, I always have fun.”
Step 2: Benchmark Yourself
Benchmarking honestly is critical to goal setting because it improves your self-awareness and will enable you to set relevant goals.
First, take the key elements from your long-term vision and benchmark them on a scale from 1-10 (1 is cringe-worthy terrible. 10 is saintly).
With that said, here are the elements present in my vision and the corresponding benchmark:
- Golf with kids – n/a (too young)
- Frequency of play – 2
- Frequency of practice – 1
- Speedgolf – 5
- Handicap – 3
- Competitive golf – 5
- Travel golf – 1
- Mental game – 3
Next, benchmark your current skill level in the following areas:
- Mental game (psychology, positivity, focus, mindfulness, etc.) – 3
- Mastery of fundamentals (grip, stance, ball position, etc.) – 9
- Rules/Etiquette – 7
- Fitness – 7
- Putting – 2
- Chipping – 7
- Pitching – 6
- Bunkers – 4
- Ball striking – 7
- Driving – 8
- Accuracy – 8
- Distance control – 9
- Course Management – 8
- Creativity – 6
- Decision-making – 7
- Scrambling – 5
Feel free to add your own, and if you think I missed something please leave a comment and let me know.
Do you see any patterns in your benchmarks? These should point you to creating relevant golf goals that help you focus on key areas that need work.
Step 3: Set SMART Goals
Once you have your long-term vision and you have benchmarked yourself, the actual goal setting is easier than you might guess, because you will have a very good idea of what you want your goals to be.
To determine the golf goals that will excite you and motivate you most, I want you to follow this exact process:
First, set a timer for 20 minutes, sit down, and free flow write a list of your goals. You need to let the crazy and exciting ideas flow like a frenzied torrent out of your head. Even if it sounds weird or stupid or unachieveable, write it down.
Next, review your list. You may have 10-20 goals written down, but you are going to select the 5 goals that are most important to you AND are consistent with your long-term vision. Don’t pick more than 5 goals. It will dilute each goal’s importance, so don’t do it or I will come over there and punch you in the arm!
I started with 12 goals. Here are a couple that didn’t make the cut:
- Play one of the courses on my bucket list
- Train for speedgolf and start playing in June
These are important to me, but they were just outside the top 5. If I end up doing these things, that would be great, but there are some other goals that are more important and relevant to me in 2016, so those are the ones I will focus on.
Finally, refine your goals to comply with the SMART criteria:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
For example, one of my goals is to “play competitively”. That’s a good start, but now I need to take steps to further define this goal. For several years, I’ve been wanting to play in the Oregon Coast Invitational at Astoria Country Club. I don’t want to play in a bunch of competitive tournaments, but having at least 1 or 2 on the calendar helps me stay focused, and motivates me to practice more.
With that in mind, I will refine my golf goal of “play competitively” to: “Compete in the Oregon Coast Invitational and my club championship”. This goal is specific (I’ve identified 2 tournaments to play) and measurable (I can measure success simply by playing in the tournaments identified). My golf goal is certainly attainable (As long as I show up I will have accomplished my goal). It’s relevant (You need to ask yourself if it’s consistent with your long-term vision. In my case it is, so I can confidently say that my goal is relevant). Lastly, the goal is time-bound (These tournaments are scheduled for specific dates, so it’s easier to meet this criteria compared to other goals that may be more vague).
Golf Goals for 2016 – My Final List:
- I play golf twice a week (April-October).
- I listen to Bob Rotella audiobooks in the car for 1 hour/week
- I take lessons twice a month, and practice twice a week (March-September)
- Compete in the Oregon Coast Invitational and my club championship
- Attend the Pelz short game school in Atlanta, GA in April to improve putting and short game
Step 4: Take the first step
Sometimes, the hardest thing is just getting started. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a project or a goal, especially if there are many parts. You can help set things in motion by determining and, if possible, taking action on the first step.
Now that you have all of your goals, write down the first thing you need to do for each goal:
First Step: Buy a Bob Rotella book on Audible (Goal – I listen to Bob Rotella audiobooks in the car for 1 hour/week)
First Step: Complete online form to apply to the OCI and mark the dates on my calendar (Goal – Compete in the Oregon Coast Invitational and my club championship)
Step 5: Review Your Vision and Goals Regularly
Read your long-term vision and your golf goals every morning. Seriously! You can’t just write this stuff down, file it away, and then go about doing everything you were doing before. Store it on your phone. Paste it on your bathroom mirror or stick it to your computer at work. It will take you about 1 minute to review your vision and goals, so just do it! You need to continually internalize your long-term vision and your goals to be successful.