How to Set Your Golf Goals for the New Year

January 3, 2022

by Nick Bockenfeld, PGA

With the end of the year coming fast, it is really important to set goals for the new year of golf coming up if you want to get better.


One of the most important parts of getting better is to set realistic scoring goals, then to set sub-goals on how to get there. You will need to know your stats, or start keeping track of them as well as do a little bit of golf math to figure out where to put your practice efforts in order to get better with less effort. It's a smarter not harder kind of thing. Follow this guide and you’ll know how to use your CTRL Swing Master to practice!

SMART Goals

Everyone in business has been grilled and grilled on smart goals so I won’t spend too much time on them, just go over what it means, and then discuss what it means in regards to golf.

S

Specific. A smart goal is specific. Simple, sensible and significant. When you create a goal you need to have a very specific goal. For golf I like to incorporate my goal into a handicap. What handicap do I want to be at the end of the year?

M

Measurable. A smart goal is measurable, meaningful and motivating.  something that you can look at and say yes, I hit that goal objectively. A goal you can look at and get pumped up about what happens when you hit that goal. This can be something like handicap as well, the measuring system is easy to understand and keeps track of how good you are no matter where you play.

A

Achievable. This tells you to make a goal that you can actually hit. Take into account how often you want to practice, how often you are going to go out and practice, how often you are going to go out and play. If you are a 20 handicap and you are only going to practice an hour a week, you aren’t getting down to a 5 handicap, it's just not attainable. Set a goal closer to a 15 handicap. Don’t get me wrong, if you put in the work it would be possible to get down to a 5, but that is a lot of work.

R

Relevant. Your goal needs to be relevant to golf if it is a golfing goal. Weight Loss is a great goal, it doesn’t really have anything to do with your golf game so create a different weight loss goal category. This one is pretty simple, keep it relevant to getting better at golf.

T

Timebound. This one is easy! Make sure your goals have a time to be completed by. For these goals they are to be completed by the end of the year! They are time sensitive for sure.

Sub-Goals

The score goal that you are trying to achieve is going to be your big goal, but you will also have milestones and sub-goals in order to hit your big goal. These are going to revolve around stats that you should be keeping track of. So if I want to have a scoring average of 72 or 0 handicap then I will know exactly what I should be doing with my stats in order to get there. We will use 72 as my goal so I can explain but you will need to get to the final numbers on your own for stats. The game is always easier from the fairways so I need to hit 70% of fairways. So if I play a round and I don’t hit that number or better I know I need to work on that in order to get better. Let's take a look at Greens in regulation or GIR while being realistic with myself hitting 100% of GIR is just not very realistic. Instead I am going to aim for 60% of greens in regulation, this is pretty close to the pga tour average and has me hitting 11 greens per round which is pretty good. If I’m hitting more than that then I don’t need to spend much time on the range. The next part is short game, chipping and putting. To track these we track putts per round and up and down percentage. An up and down is 1 chip, 1 putt for a par. If you have 2 chips it isn’t an up and down. The average up and down percentage on the PGA tour is 59% so we will call it 60% for me as my goal. That means I will get up and down about 4 times on the 7 greens I miss. So I’ll make 3 bogeys which means I need 3 birdies to shoot even par. So 7 one putts are needed. So my goal for putts is 29 putts per round. That is how I can shoot 72.

So my sub goals are:

Hit 70% of fairways in Regulation or FIR

Hit 60% of Greens in Regulation or GIR

Get up and down 60% of the time

Have 29 putts per round.

No penalty strokes

If I do each of these I should shoot around 72. Setting sub-goals in order to hit your scoring goal is imperative, it's a must because now that I know my goals I can set them against how I played yesterday.So yesterday I shot 75, I hit 6 fairways so way under what I needed, I need to work on hitting fairways. I only hit 7 greens so I really need to spend time on the range! I got up and down 6 times out of 11 missed greens. This means I had 54.5% of up and downs so that's pretty good. Then I had 28 putts so I really don’t need to work on putting all that much.

Practice Schedule

Taking my stats and sub goals into consideration I can see what I need to work on. I need to work on my mid irons and my driver. I didn’t really get into trouble off the tee but I also didn’t set myself up for many birdies. I only made one birdie and an eagle so I really need to be in better positions off the tee for scoring. I also need to work on my tempo and consistency with irons because I felt off all day and it showed since I only hit 38% of my greens. It was windy and being off tempo hurt my iron play a lot. Since I have two hours to work on my game this week, I am going to work an hour on tempo using my CTRL Swing Master! This will help with Driver and irons. Then I will work on putting for 30 minutes because I always work on my putting, and then I will work on my chipping so I can get up and down more often.

To Sum it Up

Setting goals and sub-goals to hit those goals are essential to getting better at anything, and golf is no exception. This year take some time to sit down, set realistic SMART Goals and then set your subgoals in order to achieve your goals. Your sub goals do not need to match mine, but they should be easy to track and obtainable. Then set your practice schedule each week based on your subgoals and how you played the last time you played! Remember to use your CTRL Swing Master to help track your consistency while you practice as well!