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How to Set Goals in Golf (Realistic Ones)

How to Set Goals in Golf

Do you have goals for your game of golf? Do you set goals for your golf game? Or do you just wish for the best every year?

If you’re like most golfers, you likely skip this step each season. While you might set goals for your weight, body fat, income, or something else in life, it’s easy to skip out on golf.

But after reading this article, I’m sure you’ll change that quickly.


Because setting goals can help to shoot lower scores than you thought possible.

Because they help you see what you want, goals are essential. As personal development author Earl Nightingale said, “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”

Whether you’re a PGA Tour player or a golfer who shoots in the 100s, setting goals can help you lower your handicap. But not all goals can be achieved equally.

Continue reading to find out more about goal setting in Golf so you can achieve the golf of your dreams.

How to set golf goals

Most golfers don’t set goals and then wonder why they don’t improve each year.

Goals are great because you have something to aim at and they can keep you motivated. Maybe you should, too, if the best players make them.

Justin Thomas is a great example for why you should set goals in golf. He showed the world his goals in golf on his iPhone during the FedEx Cup press conference after he won it a few years back.

JT had a clear set goals for the 2016-2017 season. He had goals like:

  • Win a major
  • Win at least once
  • Tour Championship
  • Top 30 in scrambling
  • Top 10 in half his starts
  • Scores below 70
  • Sunday: Be in the last two groups of a major

High goals are certain. He accomplished a lot of these goals in that season, which is not surprising. While he didn’t achieve all of them, he advanced his PGA career significantly that year.

JT made it to Tour Championship. He also won the thing (nice little 10M pay). Plus, he won a major, made the President’s Cup team, and averaged less than 70 each round.

Justin Thomas sets goals every year and isn’t afraid of sharing them with the world either.

Hopefully, you will see this potential and be inspired to set goals.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you sit down and map out your goals.

Process Goals

As I said, not all goals are created equally. That’s why I like to divide them into two different categories; Process and final goals.

The first type of goal is called process goals. These goals can be described as process goals. They are linked to outcomes or results, but they do not have to be achieved.

One way to achieve great process goals is:

  • Take one lesson per month.
  • Take a trip to one course on your bucket-list.
  • Speed training sticks should be used 3 times per week.
  • This year, you should take at least three new courses.
  • Play 18 holes at most four times per week
  • Three days a week, I work on my short game.
  • You can hire a trainer to train you at least three times per week.
  • You can only use one day per week to fill a large bucket with wedges.

It is important to be specific and measurable when setting process goals. When you have numbers with them, it’s easy to tell if you achieved them or not.

Outcomes Goals

The other type of goal is called an outcome goal. These goals will hopefully be achieved with your process goals.

Here are some great examples of golf outcomes goals:

  • Win a tournament.
  • Break 75 for the first-time.
  • Finish top 10 five times in men’s club.
  • Increase your swing speed by at least 5 mph
  • In competitive rounds, the average putt is less than 30

Outcome goals are a way to have a clear vision and a long-term goal for the next year.

But there is one thing I learned from a mental coach that’s stuck with me in terms of setting outcome goals. He said, “Never make it a goal to win a specific tournament or advance in a specific qualifier.”

It seemed to me like it was against everything I knew regarding goals. He clarified that goals are specific tournaments (ex. Club championship) is too pressured. This extra pressure usually makes it harder to score well as you’re pressing the issue.

While it’s okay to have goals like “Win a tournament”, just don’t put too much pressure on one event. In fact, if you look at JT’s goals, you notice that he says “Win a major” instead of “Win the Masters or US Open.”

Ideas for Goals Golf

I recommend that you divide your goals into practice goals and playing goals in order to make it easier to set goals.

Practice goals

Here are some ways to make the most out your practice sessions.

  • Each week, make 100 3 footers.
  • Three mental game books should be read this year.
  • Do 2x as much work on the short game as you do the long game.
  • To build your confidence in the sand, take a bunker lesson.
  • Perform a complete pre-shot routine, with each ball in a small bucket once per week.

On Course Goals

Here are some great goals to help you stay on track.

  • Don’t throw any clubs.
  • Eliminate negative self-talk.
  • Always practice a preshot routine.
  • After blowing up the hole, take three deep, big breaths.
  • Warm up for at minimum 30 minutes before every round.
  • You can track your stats using an app to analyze your performance after each round.

Next, set goals for your outcome. Don’t be afraid to dream big and challenge yourself either. These can be short-term goals or long-term ones.

Goals to Avoid

Although you should have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, there are some goals that I recommend you avoid.

Here are some examples.

  • You can drive it longer. Bryson had made us all want bombs to explode, but a better goal might be “Average 275 off the tee.” Then, using a GPS watch or stat tracking application, you can measure your results.
  • Play more frequently. We all want it, but is it consistent? Instead, focus on average score, number fairways hit and total putts.
  • My long irons are more powerful. What is “better?” This is another vague goal that is hard to measure. A better goal would be “Hit 50% of greens with my 4-6 irons.”

The more specific and concrete your goals, the greater.

Bonus Goals: Eliminate Double Bogeys & Three Putts

I was captivated by Tiger Woods’ comments during a Golf Digest special. When he gets in trouble on the course, he said it’s his biggest goal to avoid double bogey at all costs. This is crazy to me because I feel like I’ve never seen him have a double or triple.

This is a clear indication that his strategy is working. He knows that doubles are bad for momentum and that they need several birdies in order to make up for it. A bogey is easily redeemed with just one birdie.

Many golfers lose the fairway and end in trouble. We try to make the miraculous shot. Chipping out or laying up is the smart play to save par. If it doesn’t go in, at least you make a bogey and can make it up pretty easily.

Tiger said that it is a good goal to have no doubles or more than three putts for each round.Your game will improve dramatically if you avoid these two things.

Best Strategies to Help You Reach Your Goals

These are some easy steps to increase your chances that you achieve your goals.

  • Note them. Don’t just think about your goals, write them down or type them in your phone to get clear on what you want.
  • Review your goals regularly. The more often you keep them top of mind, the more often you’ll remind yourself of what you want to achieve.
  • Schedule time to reach your goals. What doesn’t get scheduled, usually doesn’t happen in our lives. If you have practice goals, schedule them every week.
  • Take responsibility.You can have a goal buddy to hold you accountable for reaching your goals.
  • Never attach your worth to the end goal. While it’s important to strive for greatness, don’t let not hitting a goal get you down and frustrate you.
  • Reward yourself for achieving the goal. Don’t forget to celebrate either!

Final Thoughts on Goal Setting for Golf

Remember, most golfers don’t set goals and then wonder why their handicap is the same every single year. To improve in any field, you must have clear goals that will help you get outside your comfort zone and set a vision.

You want to be able to achieve both process goals and outcomes in golf.

Remember that process goals are something you control and can easily measure. Outcome goals are bigger, long-term goals that aren’t in your control but hopefully, become reality from your process goals.

Once you have set your goals, make sure that you:

  • Review your goals regularly.
  • Evaluate your progress and update as necessary.
  • For process goals, schedule time in your calendar.
  • Find a buddy to help you stay accountable and celebrate when your goals are achieved.

Finally, make sure you don’t attach your worth to goals. Sometimes, you’ll do all that you can, but the golf Gods might not let it happen. You can make them happen if you stay positive and keep moving forward.