Prior to starting my first lesson with a new student, I have them fill out a new student information form. One of the questions on the form asks, “What do you hope to achieve by taking golf lessons?” My purpose in asking this question is to discover the student’s goals for his or her golf game. Most people give fairly generic answers to the question such as “get better at golf” or “be more consistent.” These are great goals, but to actually achieve them, one must be more specific.
I recently had a student who was becoming quite frustrated with his game. He would take lessons and we would make improvements, and he would always leave hitting it better. The problem came when he took it to the course. He would hit some good shots, but inevitably would have some really bad shots that ruined his round. After discussing the situation with him, I discovered that he wasn’t keeping score or tracking his progress in any way. He admitted to occasionally keeping score, but when things started going south he would stop. He felt like he could never put a round together. This really confused me because his goal was to improve his game and be at a place where he was proud of his game. He had obviously improved, because when we started he could barely complete 18 holes. His unspecific goal was obviously accomplished, but in his mind had yet to accomplish anything. The problem wasn’t his swing or overall ability, it was that his goals were too vague. He wasn’t trying to get better; he was trying to play the perfect round. Ask anyone who has played golf for awhile and they will tell you that there is no such thing as a perfect round. No matter your skill level, you could have always hit one shot better or made just one more putt.
It is very important to set real, achievable goals if you are looking to improve. It is like that scene in Caddy Shack where Judge Smails asks Ty what he shot that day. Ty tells the Judge that he doesn’t keep score. The confused Judge replies, “Then how do you measure yourself with other golfers?” This is very true for those players who are unsatisfied with their game. Now, if you are like Ty and are completely content with your game, then no goals are needed. Unfortunately, most of us are not that easily pleased. Most of my students are competitive and have that family member, friend, or someone else they are dying to beat. To do this, you must have a plan with real goals. If you are reading this, I want you think of your broad, nondescript goal and think of several little goals that will help you achieve it. By doing this simple task you will find yourself practicing with a purpose, competing harder, and ultimately achieving the satisfaction you are looking for. What lots of players don’t realize is that there is a lot more to golf than having a good swing. You must learn to score and compete against the course. The only way this is possible is if you have something ACHIEVABLE and REAL to work towards. Thanks for reading and see you on the lesson tee!!