Goals for the Green: Setting a Plan for Success

Mariah Swigart Mariah Swigart
7 minute read

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin

We’ve all been there before, at the range or on the putting green, repetitively hitting the golf ball at the yardage sign or the hole. Though we may think we are putting in the time to improve our game, are we really taking steps to shave strokes off our score? Or, are we simply trying to make ourselves feel better and hope that all this practice pays off?

While any effort to improve is commended and is (in most cases) better than nothing, the goals we have for the course can be more attainable with a plan of action. As with any goal, having a plan can help streamline the process and aid in tracking measurable results. 

If you would like to create a game plan for increasing your efficiency on the green and lowering your score on the card, then follow along with the steps below.

Detect Your Data-Driven Weaknesses

We all have to start somewhere! If you are anything like me, those bad days on the golf course can leave me frustrated, overwhelmed, and without the desire to make a game plan of improvement. Some days it may seem that so much of your game needs help that you can’t choose just one area to work on.  Or, perhaps you just picked up a golf club today, and have no clue where to start honing your skills.  A great starting point is to track your game. Shot tracking is the perfect foundation for making a plan for improvement that is specific to your needs. 

By looking over your data, you can see patterns of weaknesses as well as patterns of strengths. Both the strengths and weaknesses that you notice play a tremendous role in improving your game. While the common strengths tracked in your game will help boost your confidence and assist with your mental game, the weaknesses are going to be the target for your improvement plan.  These common areas of weakness that you identify (through shot tracking) will shed light on the areas you will want to focus on in walking through the remainder of the steps below. Click here to read more about shot tracking and how to incorporate shot tracking effectively into your game. 

Plan Backwards

Now that we have an idea of the most important area of improvement, it is time to set up a plan. You may have heard the term “plan backwards.” It is a common phrase in business and education worlds that points at an effective way of reaching goals. If there are no steps in place to reach the goal, it is unlikely that said goal will be reached. In the same way, if the steps to reach the goal are not in line with the end goal, it is also not likely that the goal will be reached. By planning backwards, one can set small goals toward the larger goal. Below is an example of working backwards to achieve a goal for putting. Coincidently, putting is my biggest area of weakness, and this plan is what I am currently working on!

Goals for your Game 

Here are a few ideas of specific and measurable goals, you only need to decide which one is most attainable for you at the moment. Every golfer is unique. Customize these goals, or create your own to what your game is focused on. Of course, once you reach one goal, pick out another to keep improving.

Putting

  • Hole 10 three-foot putts in a row (increase this number each time you achieve the first goal) 
  • Finish a round with no three-putts
  • Reduce the average number of puts per round from 45 to 35
  • Putt only 2 three-putts per round 
  • Miss 0 putts within 2 feet 
  • Make under 5, 3-putts per round. (lower this number of 3-putts as you improve) 
  • Make at least 90% of your putts from 3 feet
  • Make at least 80% of your putts from 5 feet
  • Make at least 70% of your putts from 7 feet
  • Make at least 60% of your putts from 10 feet

Chipping

  • Make 10 out of 10 chips within 3 feet of the hole.  
  • Hit 25 chip shots with more carry, and stop them within 3 feet of the hole. 
  • Hit 25 bump and run shots within 3 feet. 
  • Hit 25 chips shots over a bunker and land within 10 feet. 
  • Get up and down from 15 yards 90% of the time. 
  • Get up and down from 30 yards 80% of the time. 
  • Get up and down from 50 yards 70% of the time. 

Other Goals

  • Hit 90% of shots on target 
  • Play a round without chunking a shot or hitting it thin/ topping it
  • Learn your yardages with every golf club
  • Play a full round with the same ball
  • Get down in three inside 75 yards every time during one round
  • Break your next scoring milestone (example under 90, or under 80)
  • Par 9 holes in a round. 
  • Make 5 Birdies over 2 months
  • Play in a tournament or open competition

Set a Schedule

Creating a schedule will help you stay on track in achieving the goals you set for yourself. Here is an example of a practice schedule for someone working on improving their putting (this is my own personal schedule).

Monday - Practice at home on the carpet or putting mat- putt from 3 feet, 6 feet, 8 feet, and 12 feet to a sticky note or piece of tape on the floor - Make 5 for each distance

Tuesday - Make a game of par two holes at the putting green

Wednesday - Practice at home using alignment sticks, books, or a putting mirror to work on consistency in bringing the putter back and forward straight 

Thursday - Work on lag putts on the putting green- putt from 12-20 feet out and choose a target that is makeable on the second putt. 

Friday - Putt to a golf tee placed upside down and try to knock the tee over. When you have dialed in that distance, back up and do the drill again to work on accuracy

Saturday -  Hit 50 Putts from 3 feet, 50 putts from 5 feet and 50 putts from 8 feet.  

Sunday - Play a round of golf or take the day off 

Reflect, Reset, and Read

On top of reflecting on your goals while on the course, think about your game off the green. No, I’m not talking about your pickup lines at the clubhouse. I’m talking about reviewing new drills and tips to use on the course. Tools such as the Quick Reference Cards are perfect for reviewing at home. You can also practice the tips or drills in your living room or garage to help you “chip away” at your goals. It may be as simple as stretching while watching TV or completing a workout tailored for golfers. Embrace the goal as a part of your daily routine and it will show on the course. 

As with any goal, it takes time and effort to achieve. Stick with your scheduled practices, keep working on those smaller goals, and don’t throw in the towel on shot tracking. You’ll start to see improvements with time. All of the steps in this article are important in setting and keeping your goals for the green. Reflect on your game and adjust the goal when needed, but most of all, have fun and never stop trying!

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