New year, new you right? Sure that sounds great, but when it comes to golf that anecdote could not be more wrong. You will still be the same golfer unless you set realistic goals and work towards achieving them. Unfortunately we haven’t found the magic wand that helps us improve our golf scores without a little practice. The top players in the world even set goals for themselves year in and year out.
Case in point- check out Justin Thomas’ goals from this past PGA Tour season, posted right before the Ryder Cup. At the start of the year, the 14 time PGA Tour winner Thomas plans out his goals for the upcoming season, then reflects on his performance when it’s all said and done.
Not everyone is a top 10 golfer in the world and should set goals like making the Olympic team. But the premise should be applicable to every type of golfer: set tangible goals for yourself and establish a game plan to reach those goals.
With the recent start of the New Year, what better time to start mulling over your golf goals to get a fresh start. Here are a few goal ideas to jumpstart your New Year of golf.
Related: Breathe New Life Into Your Game
Goal #1 Improve Your Performance On The Greens:
Decrease your average 3 putt per round number by a stroke. Look, sometimes a 3 putt is bound to happen during a round of golf but eliminating an extra putt here or there is the quickest way to shave down your score. How nice would it be if every time you had a 25 foot putt, you hit it to within gimme range? Here’s a drill to help with that feel on the green.
Place a club or alignment stick 3 feet past the hole. Place a tee 15 feet, 20 feet, and 25 feet away from that same hole. Hit 3 putts from each distance that finish past the hole but before the club or alignment stick beyond the hole. If you start to do this consistently and consecutively, try doing this drill with an uphill, a downhill putt, or start changing up the lengths of putts. You’ll start to feel better about lag putts wherever you are on the green.
Goal #2 Improve Your Performance Around the Greens:
Have positive Shots Gained in Short Game for your handicap. Seems lofty, but every shot truly matters when it comes to chipping and pitching. It may seem counterintuitive, but amateur golfers lose their strokes the closer that they get to the green. We all know that a great short game is so advantageous in golf, but even tiny improvements in short game can drastically change a player's success. Remember the 80/20 rule: practice your short game 80% of the time and your swing 20% of the time.
Take your normal set up to your chip shot, lift your back heel off the ground so that there is little pressure remaining on your back foot. Starting with smaller length chips, hit a few shots while keeping all of your weight on your front foot. As you have more success with this, continue to move back to longer pitch shots. This drill allows you to make descending blows on the ball, keeps your head still and centered, and also forces you to maintain balance in the chip shot.
Goal #3 Improve Your Distance Off the Tee:
It would be disingenuous to not discuss length and the benefits that some extra yardage can give you. We all have beared witness to the pursuit of distance that Bryson has gone on and that other players strived for, but just how much of a bonus is some extra distance? TPI did a study to answer that question. For every 3 yards gained, the 15 handicap can afford to be 2 yards less accurate. Doesn’t sound like much right? For another perspective, In the last 10 years, the amount of PGA Tour players who average 170 ball speed has tripled. Distance is top dog right now and all you’ll need is 3 yards- 9 feet.
Starting with a high loft club (9 iron or pitching wedge), begin with your feet together and the ball in line with the middle of your lead foot. As you begin your backswing, pick up your lead foot and take a step towards your target, similar to a softball or baseball motion and complete your swing from there. This stepping motion allows you to push off the ground harder, creating more ground force and better usage of your lower body in the golf swing.
Goal #4 Tailor Your Target For You:
Assess your Top 3 ‘What to Work On’ Insights in the Player Insights tab in your Arccos Caddie app, and select the one that you think will make the biggest impact in your game. This goal is up to you to decide on what needs to be prioritized in your game because it’s important to be able to troubleshoot and assess what needs the most work. This could also mean that it is time to visit your teaching pro for a tune up. There is no point in bringing your bad habits into the new year if you are truly trying to be a new golfer in this New Year.
Liz Breed, is a teaching professional at The Seawane Club outside of NYC, with a background in journalism as well as a lifelong love-affair with golf, she is passionate about helping make the sport more accessible and inclusive to those who don't appear the be the ‘traditional golfer’. You can follow her adventure on Instagram at @Shank.Haney (she could also moonlight as a comedian).