Setting Goals
Posted: 3/20/2017 by Kyle Wolfe

With golf season just around the corner, it is a good time to set your goals for the 2017 season and beyond. This is a vital process in skill development and will challenge you to become the best golfer you can be.

Before we get started setting our goals we need to understand the difference between process and outcome goals. Let’s start with outcome goals as those are the ones people are most familiar.

An outcome goal has a clear and measurable result attached to the goal. For example, an outcome goal would be to make 1st Team All-State or finish in the Top-5 of a tournament. The goal is tied directly to your performance and is not completely under your control.   

A process goal is one that is not tied to a certain result but instead, is tied to a certain behavior or effort. These goals are completely under your own control and can be achieved regardless of the actions of other individuals. A process goal often relies on the player to self-grade and be their own critic. An example of a process goal is keeping a positive attitude regardless of the outcome of each shot you play, or it might be to commit to practicing 30 minutes per day on putts inside 10 feet. Process goals work towards mastery of a subject instead of focusing on the end result or outcome.

A great way to distinguish between the two types of goals is to reflect on the statement below from the legendary basketball coach at UCLA, John Wooden.

“You can lose when you outscore someone in a game, and you can win when you are outscored.” (Ted Talk)

The point of setting goals for your golf game is to become a better golfer. The result is not always indicative of your progress or your current skill. By focusing on process goals you are engaging in developing your skills as a golfer regardless of the outcome. A common misconception is that our goals need to lead to a certain outcome or result. This is far from the truth.

It is important to have a balance of both process and outcome goals because they help reinforce each other and help achieve preferred outcomes. Your process goals and the effort put forth in following them will lead to achieving your outcome goals. In his book, Practice to Learn, Play to Win, Mark Guadagnoli recommends a 3:1 ratio of process to outcome goals.

There are many methods of setting goals, one of which is the SMART goal approach.

Your goals should be SMART goals. When forming your goals you need to consider each of the letters below.

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Time Sensitive

Getting better at golf is not specific enough. You need to focus the goal on a certain part of your game. For example, you may want to improve you shots wedge shots from 75-100 yards from the hole. How are you going to measure the goal? In this example, I would measure it by proximity to the hole. If my goal is to hit 1000 wedge shots from 75-100 yards each day is that achievable? Given the time constraints of school and the unpredictable Michigan weather, I would say it is not. You would want to adjust this. Is setting a goal to average inside 10 feet from 75-100 yards realistic? As of March 15, 2017, only one player (Greg Owen 8’11”) on the PGA has an average of inside 10 feet from shots 75-100 yards from the hole. You will need to adjust this based on your current skill ability and your averages in previous years. Your goal needs to be time specific to hold you accountable. For example, my goal of improving my wedge game to an average proximity of 20 feet or less from the hole will be achieved by September 1st.

Now it is time to set and USE your goals for the 2017 season and beyond. Remember goals don’t work unless you do! Make sure all of your goals are SMART goals and that you have a balance of both process and outcome goals. If you have any questions or would like to discuss please contact Kyle Wolfe at kwolfe@gam.org or 248-978-9132.

To view the last edition of Developing a Junior Golfer click here. The next topic to be covered in the series will be selecting the appropriate tournaments for a junior golfer. 

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