How to Set Smart Goals for Golf

Setting Effective Goals

Dreams vs. Goals In Golf

What were your goals for last golf season? Did you accomplish what you set out to do?

Many golfers talk about their goals for the season yet are consistently disappointed after each season because they feel they didn’t reach their dreams.

Having a dream is not the same as having a goal. Every golfer has dreams but few take the time to sit down, write out specific goals and make a plan to achieve them.

Dreams define no specific target and provide no direction, instruction or feedback.

Dreams are passive images while effective goal setting includes road maps to achieve certain objectives.

If you want to emulate elite golfers, follow the example of Rory McIlroy. At the start of the season, McIlroy wrote down his seasonal goals on the back of his boarding pass to Abu Dhabi.

After winning the DP World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai crown to finish his season on a high note, McIlroy talked about his seasonal goals.

MCILROY: “There were a couple of goals [for this season], I always put down a couple of goals that are not golf related, just things in my life that I would like to do better, as a person. There are a couple things I’ve been able to tick off that list. But on the golf side, I guess just one, one thing I was able to tick off, which was this [Dubai Crown]. Obviously I wanted to win majors. I wanted to improve in certain areas of my game, and didn’t quite do that, but these things happen.”

McIlroy has several helpful ideas on goal setting:

  • Write your goals down – Written goals are similar to signing a contract. This can increase your commitment to accomplishing your objectives.
  • Create some personal goals – Golf should not be your entire life. Being well-rounded reduces the amount of pressure you feel to succeed.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments – Give yourself credit for taking the necessary steps to reach your goal.
  • Make some process goals – Identify areas of your game (putting, chipping) that need improvement and can help propel you to greater accomplishments.
  • Adjust your goals when necessary – Unforeseen incidents happen, such as injuries. You need to be able to be flexible with your goals and roll with the punches. Equally as important, McIlroy understands that it is necessary to take some time off to assess your season.

Your end-of-the-season evaluation will provide essential feedback when creating next season’s goals.

MCILROY: “I really feel, even though I’ve had a few weeks off over the summer, I need that off period just to reflect on things, re-evaluate how I want to go forward.”

Tip for Setting Effective Seasonal Goals

Many golfers attempt to set too many goals for the season. Too many goals will divide your focus and effort in too many directions.

Choose 1-3 specific goals and create a plan of attack on the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals.

Anyone can dream but successful golfers plan and go after their goals.

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