Aimless practice and casual golf rounds are not the ticket to reaching the goals you have for improving your golf game. Improvement, and finally being able to break 90, takes focus and laying out an appropriate plan that works. If you want to find the path to lower scores, you can start with the 10 steps below.
- Start with the Stats
If you don’t already, track your shots when you play. Specifically keep count of how many shots you take within 100 yards. As well as any shots that cost you a stroke. For example, drives that get you into trouble, or duffed chips, and three-putts. Write these stats down so you can reflect on them after the round. They can be tracked on the scorecard, via golf apps, or simply recorded on your phone. Whatever data collection method you choose, be consistent in recording your information. Once you have data from several different rounds of golf, look for patterns. Common themes and patterns provide you with an area of improvement to focus on. For example, if you notice that you chipped more than once per hole throughout the golf round, that is a pattern that should be noted. Click here to read more about how to track your shots most effectively to improve your game.
- See Big Picture Improvements
While it feels great to hit the shots you feel comfortable with, focus on the weaker elements of your game. If you are awesome at driving the ball, do not worry about spending hours on the range hitting your driver. In the example above, if you are missing the green on the first chip shot, then it is time to focus on chipping. You will have an idea of what part of your game needs the most improvement from your data collection mentioned in the first step. Notice the area in your game that could use the most improvement overall, before honing in on the specific drills needed to see improvements.
- Set Measurable and Attainable Goals
Now that you know what part of your golf game you want to improve, it is time to set a goal. The key to setting any goal is to make it measurable and specific. It is easy to want to go from a 20 handicap to a 15 handicap, but the more specific you are in setting your goal, the more attainable those goals will be. First, remember to focus on what needs the most improvement. If your focus area is chipping, then use your data to create a measurable goal to work towards. For example, if you averaged just 50% of your chip shots hitting the green, then your goal for your next round can be to land at least 75% of your chips on the green.
Here are a few ideas of specific and measurable goals, you just need to decide if they are attainable for your game at the moment. Customize these goals, or create your own to reflect your focus. Of course, once you reach one goal, pick out another and keep improving.
- Hit 75% of drives in the fairway
- Putt only 2 three-putts per round
- Miss 0 putts within 2 feet
- Reduce the number of putts per round from 45 to 40
- Practice with Purpose
Now that you have a goal, how will you achieve it? The end goal can only be reached by completing smaller tasks. Imagine these tasks as rungs to a ladder, which enable you to climb and reach your goal. Begin by identifying and conquering these tasks, which will likely take the form of drills and exercises. Continuing with the example of improved chipping… you can identify three different drills that involve chipping accuracy. Think of these as mini goals that will help you ultimately hit your big overarching target you set back in step three.
- Forget the Ideas of Playing for “Fun”
Golf should be enjoyable. Why else would you want to invest time and money into a hobby that you do not enjoy? However, if you want to improve your game, a mental adjustment must be made. One way to instantly take your golf game more seriously is to continue tracking your shots. Not only will the tracking continue to help you identify and improve on your game, but it will also help you stay focused on the round. When you must take the time to write down every shot, it’s harder to simply walk away from a duff.
- Consistency is Key
As you are practicing, notice what works for you… then continue to do that motion. While there are movements in the golf swing that are more effective than others, sometimes it comes down to what works for you and doing that consistently. Keep working on that same goal until you see improvements. Be sure to give yourself a chance to reach each goal, and do not give up too soon when the improvements don’t come. If you are not getting closer to reaching your goal on the golf course, reassess the goals you set at practice. It can be tempting to throw in the towel and change up your swing and approach completely. However, when you hit a great shot, dial in what motions you made and hold on to that. You need to figure out what motions are working for you and stick with them. Through consistency, you will make that motion or movement second nature, and successful shots will come more often.
- Slow and Steady
Patience is a virtue. While everyone wants instant improvement, breaking habits and creating new ones is a process. It takes time and practice to see improvements. If you do not have access to a course due to weather or location, get creative in the back yard or even indoors. Practice can happen anywhere. While driving the ball may be an unwise decision inside, you can work on specific movements within the golf swing. Take the time to strengthen the muscles that you want to target for reaching your goals. You can also stretch and care for those muscles that are working so hard when golfing. This sport involves the whole body and mind. There is no shortage of exercises and drills that you can do to fine tune your game.
- Reward Yourself
Seeing your golf game improve is a great reward! On top of the feeling of success that comes with a great round, it helps to reward yourself with tangible treats as well. Wait to spend the money on that nice course, or those new shoes until you reach one of your goals. By creating these incentives, you will be more motivated to reach your prescribed target. Then you can go ahead and reward yourself for completing the goals you set.
- Get Support
The power of community is strong. Include your buddies in your improvement journey. You may even inspire them to create goals of their own or join you in the goals you have set for yourself. Having the support of friends around you will help you reach those goals and prevent burnout in the process.
- Continue to Be Inspired
After you see improvements in that first focus area of your game (and you will see improvements), don’t just stop there. Continue tracking your stats to see where you can improve next. If you are stuck in what to work on, get inspiration from our Swing Reference Cards. Use them as a checklist for dozens of trouble shots that you can practice anytime. You are now well on your way to consistently being able to break 90!