Why we play the game is the most important ingredient to our success in achieving your goals. I believe it is critical for you to know yourself first and set your goals according to your golf game and not someone else’s. There are countless ways to get the ball in the hole from tee to green, a variety of ways to learn to play, many different types of equipment, thousands of golf courses to play, and the list goes on. Imagine all the possibilities of combinations from the preceding list. Golf allows you to be unique and there is room for us all. If you want to enjoy this game there are many ways to do it and it can be done in accordance with proper etiquette and playing by the rules of golf.
The first step of goal setting is, knowing “WHY YOU PLAY THE GAME” and aligning your goals to that purpose. There are a variety of reasons for playing golf: spending time outdoors, being with friends, developing confidence, competition, experiencing new challenges, and exercise to name a few. No matter what your reason is, it is a good one and it is your foundation for improvement. This is what will motivate you and this is where your goal setting begins.
As an example, let’s look at the goal of playing more golf. You have decided that joining a league will give you the opportunity to play more golf. All leagues are not created equal and you need to pick the league that fits your playing style. If you are competitive and join a social league, your purpose and the leagues are not in alignment and frustration can occur. Worse, you may decide to give up on leagues all together or even worse give up on golf. If we back up to our critical question of why you want to play more golf and find a venue that supports that reason you will have a much happier golf season. League’s come in all shapes and sizes: couples, learn to play, competitive, social, women’s, men’s, juniors, seniors, mixed etc. Take the time now to find out what golf league will suit your needs best. Ask your friends or call your local LPGA or PGA professional for their guidance.
The second step in goal setting is finding out what it will take to achieve your goal. What are your benchmarks for attaining your goal? How much time, effort and money will you need to commit to your goal? Typically when golfers are asked what they want from their golf game most will say lower scores, more distance off the tee, or to win a specific tournament. Many feel that the image of the tour player is what they should emulate to be playing correctly. Few however, are willing to do the work to achieve these goals. Frustration occurs when what we want and what we are willing to do to reach our goals is disconnected. Be realistic here and adjust your goals so you can be successful and happy with your golf game.
If your schedule only allows time for 18 holes of golf on the weekend, an occasional lesson and 30 minutes of practice a week you have to adjust your goals accordingly. Keep in mind your progress belongs to you. Do not compare yourself to others who might have more time to play, take lessons on a regular basis and practice frequently. Everything is relative. Even though you may not have the time you would like, some effort is better than none, it just might take you a longer, but you will get there.
Third, make your plan and commit to following it. Give yourself specific dates and times for working on your goals. Mark these times in your calendar in INK! Many people know what they need to do, but very few actually take this very important step of committing to do the work. If you make it a priority it will happen. Other things will come up but they can get scheduled in with those things you write in with pencil. Golf is in ink.
Keep in mind it isn’t how many steps you take on your journey or how fast you go, it is that you start and keep moving forward to your goals. The key to being successful in golf is knowing who you are and how you can play your best golf. It is critical that you are being realistic. Each goal requires a commitment of time and effort on your part. You must be willing to do the work. If you are not able or cannot do the work for your goal it is time to make an adjustment that creates success rather than having an unachievable goal resulting in failure. In setting your goals keep in mind they should be challenging enough for you to reach beyond your current limits but not so far beyond your reach that you cannot obtain them.
Knowing your reason for playing, what it will take to pursue your goals and committing to this pursuit will make golf a rewarding part of your life for many years to come. Golf is a game for a lifetime and is ever changing just like you! Setting goals at the beginning of each season to reflect your personal needs for the season will help you enjoy the great game of golf even more.