Golf is one of those games where there is always opportunity for improvement. If you think your game can’t possibly get any better than where it is now, be honest - you know better. This applies from the pros all the way down to the beginners.
There is always room for improvement in golf. Let’s talk about some strategies you can employ to make 2022 a great golf year for yourself.
Types of Goal Setting for Golfers
According to psychologists, broadly speaking, there are two types of goals: They call them:
They apply perfectly to the game of golf.
External Golf Goals
These are the types of goals you set for yourself which lie outside of your mind, and largely out of your control. They apply to your surroundings, and where your golf game might fit into them. They are generally more physical in nature, but not in the sense of mechanics, such as your swing or grip. You may, for example, set the external goal of:
- Winning a specific tournament
- Lowering your handicap
- Gaining recognition in your golf community or circle
- Gaining an endorsement
External goals are tougher to achieve, because they are, by and large, beyond your influence. You won’t know, for example, how strong the field may be in a specific tournament - there’s no way to assure that you will win it, over and above playing your very best on the day, and practicing hard before it. Setting a really ambitious external goal such as this puts a lot of extra pressure on you, both physically and mentally. The end result may be counter-productive. Everyone would love to win a tourney, but if it means you practice too much and wind up injuring yourself beforehand - well, that’s not good. The whole thing could backfire on you.
Internal Golf Goals
By contrast, internal goals are almost entirely within your control. These might include focus on:
- Staying calm, especially under pressure
- Improving your focus on the course
- Building your self confidence
- Developing a practice regimen that you stick to
Internal goals such as these are readily attainable, and not at the mercy of outside influences. You get to choose what you want to achieve, as opposed to the external goals which you have little to no say in - like winning that aforementioned tournament.
Internal goals tend to be more mental in nature. We all know that the game of golf is a unique mix of the mechanical and the mental. Sometimes, the mechanics of the game - the stance, the grip, the stroke - can be mastered, through lessons, practice, and repetition. The mental game is something else altogether. Reliably duplicating your consistency on the course, game after game, requires far greater mental mastery of your surroundings than, say, casually hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range.
That’s why setting and attaining internal goals can be a real golf game changer. They don’t have to be monumental, either. Taking a look at the short list above - for example, learning to deal with pressure, and staying calm - can be achieved in incremental, baby steps. Accepting before you even hit the links that it’s not going to be a perfect game, that you will land the ball in tricky spots - this is a realistic internal goal, which you can set for yourself and readily achieve, as long as you make the decision to work toward it well in advance, and keep reminding yourself of it, before, during, and after the round. Even if you wind up with a rotten score, the fact that you didn’t freak out over nine or eighteen holes can be counted as a win - one worth repeating the next time out.
Mental Golf Goals for 2022
We’ve discussed goal setting, both external and internal. It’s pretty clear that your enjoyment of golf will likely be enhanced from achieving internal goals - although they might not always show up on the score sheet. Let’s have a look now at some mental aspects of the game, and how they can be worked into your objectives for this year.
Preparing to be successful - this has absolutely nothing to do with mechanics. It’s more about thinking in advance about what might help you before your game. It includes ideas such as eating properly, stretches and warmups before swinging the club, etc. Perhaps the routine of a few practice putts and chips beforehand; all these can help mentally prepare you for the course ahead.
Be aware of your limits - it’s important to remember that par equals a great score in golf. Chances are, you will never play at pro-level, even though you may achieve some fabulous outings this year. Recognizing where you are as a golfer, as an athlete, while taking your age and physical condition into account - all these aspects bring reality into focus - your personal reality. Learn to enjoy playing within those limits.
Develop your self-confidence - you know the mechanics; you’ve made great shots before; you’ve golfed your way out of jams in the past; you’ve got decent equipment. These facts tell you that you are capable of playing the game, probably at a level higher than you typically achieve. Strive to trust in your abilities and experience. Believe in them; since you have been able to do it before, you should be able to do it again.
Simplify - when you’re at the tee, try to eliminate all the thoughts and actions which could impede your chances at making a good shot. This is one of the keys to consistency - the ability to tune out all the distractions before and during your swing. A good idea is to adopt a pre-swing routine, one which takes the simplicity factor into account - and stick with it, for every shot. Simplicity should lead to better consistency.
Consider the whole process - because it’s not just about what winds up on the scorecard. A game of golf is as much a contest against yourself as it is with the others in your foursome, or in the tournament. Try to work towards improving the entire process, including all the points mentioned above, as a primary golf goal for 2022.
Best of Luck with Your Golf Game in 2022!
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