Getting Better During the Winter!
By Snyper on 1/17/11
Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

In the first part of this series (READ PART 1 HERE), I suggested that you make a list of the strengths and weaknesses in your game. The object of that list was to do a quick evaluation of the areas that need improvement and also to note the things that you are comfortable with. Using that list, I recommended that you chose one or two of your weaknesses that you would most like to improve. High handicappers were encouraged to choose things that will help them to enjoy the game more. I suggested that more accomplished players focus instead on the weaknesses that cost them the most strokes per round. Now that the areas for improvement have been selected, it is time to move to the next level of progression.
Giving yourself this type of a smaller goal within your round can be vital to helping you stay focused despite a bad hole or two here and there.

It is now time to formulate a plan for improvement. Your plan, like any good plan, should be based on specific goals. If your targeted weakness is hitting greens in regulation, then you should pick a number of greens as your goal for each round. For example, “My goal is to hit 6 or more greens in regulation every round”. Now, as I’m playing my round, I know that as long as I hit one green every three holes, I will achieve my goal. Giving yourself this type of a smaller goal within your round can be vital to helping you stay focused despite a bad hole or two here and there. If your targeted weakness is more detailed, then you should set a more detailed goal. Perhaps someone has a more definite weakness, like greenside bunker play. An appropriate goal for that player would be to hit every bunker shot within 10 feet of the hole. The idea here, whether the goal is more general (hitting a green) or precise (exact distance from the pin), is that it needs to be specific, realistic, and also easily measurable. These are important keys that will allow you to quickly and easily evaluate your success rate during your round. If your goals are vague, the evaluation phase is a lot more difficult. A goal like “hit more greens” is not going to get the job done. You need exact numbers to determine success or failure. Specific goals also lend themselves very nicely to formulating a plan of execution.
As you begin to hit your targets and achieve your goals, the process of improving your game will become as enjoyable as the game itself.

Now that your goals are set, you can begin to list the steps of your plan to achieve said goals. These are the things that you are actually going to do, not just talk about doing, which are going to make the difference between last season and this season. Again, if you’re really going to follow this plan, your steps have to be realistic. If step one of your plan is to practice 20 hours a week, unless you’re single and unemployed, your plan has failed before it even started! Besides being realistic, you need to keep your steps goal-oriented. If your goal is to lower your number of putts, instead of listing steps like “practice more often”, you should write, “focus at least 30 minutes of practice time on putting per week”. While practice and play more often are rather obvious and seemingly all-inclusive steps, there are also on-course steps that you should consider. For example, if you are trying to hit more greens, a great step for you would be to aim for the center of the green instead of at the flag, or perhaps to try and focus laying up to certain comfortable yardages for your approach shots. These types of steps that are executed during play can be just as valuable as practice time. Remember, these steps are the answer to “What am I going to do to ensure that I achieve my goal”. A good plan is much easier to execute than a poor one. So, make sure you lay out a plan with goal-oriented, realistic, and specific steps to guide you towards success.

While a plan in and of itself can’t make a difference, it is an extremely important piece of the puzzle. Your execution of your plan is what is going to make you a better player. However, if your plan isn’t realistic, detailed, and goal-oriented, you are going to be much less likely to execute it thoroughly. So, put together a relevant plan that you know you can implement with a reasonable amount of effort. As you begin to hit your targets and achieve your goals, the process of improving your game will become as enjoyable as the game itself.

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.


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