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Goals in golf, what do you mean?

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“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Tony Robbins

With the summer heat firmly in place, golf has been awash with both returning players and a mass of new players, making the game more popular than ever. But however long you’ve been playing, the big question for us all remains the same; no, not “how many balls did I really lose today” but actually “how can I improve my game?”.

I’ve previously mentioned the importance of goal setting within golf, but how exactly do you go about creating beneficial goals, and more importantly go about achieving these goals?

The first step to understanding and implementing goals into your game is to read the first blog (yes, a shameless plug!) to understand the different types of goal (process, performance, outcome).

Once you’ve done that, and are ready to start implementing goals into your game you must set yourself an overall goal. Then create multiple smaller goals that will help you attain this. For example, if your overarching goal is to get your handicap to a certain figure, your smaller goals must help you attain this such as X amount of greens or fairways in regulation.

The goal setting steps

When creating your goals, there are numerous factors you must take into account in order to get the most from them. By understanding and utilising the SMART guidelines you can create goals that will help you get the most out of your game.

  • Specific
    • Goals must be specific and outline exactly what you want to achieve. For example, achieve a handicap of XX
  • Measureable
    • You must be able to track your progress throughout. For example, keeping scorecards with strokes and stableford points
  • Attainable
    • Although challenging, your goals must be reachable. For example, instead of trying to be a scratch golfer overnight, aim to reduce your handicap by 4 or 5 strokes
  • Realistic
    • Be honest with yourself, you know what you’re capable of you! You have to feel like you can reach the target. For example, similar to the above goal, aiming to reduce your handicap as opposed to becoming a scratch golfer
  • Timed
    • Don’t give yourself all the time in the world! Set a certain time period to achieve these goals. The bigger the goal the longer your time period. For example, if you’re a novice golfer, reducing your handicap by 3 shots in 3 months.

Helping the process

By setting smaller goals across your rounds you can help make the goal seem more manageable, increasing your confidence and motivation. If you break down the goal of reducing your handicap into parts; for example, hitting X fairways in regulation, hitting X greens in regulation and hitting X putts per hole, you can work your way up to the ultimate goal. By tracking these statistics on a scorecard you can view your progress and adapt your game accordingly.


Goal setting is a proven method of improving your performance, and it’s benefits go beyond just this. Goals can be a factor not only in getting better, but also increasing motivation. As you achieve your goals, your drive to play will be increased as a result! However, to make the most of your goals you must constantly track them, otherwise their effectiveness is reduced greatly.

To find out more

For more psychology resources visit this psych-chek. To know more about the use of goal setting to enhance performance in not only sport but exercise, have a read of this book chapter that expands on the important principles behind goal setting!

About the Author

Luke Vidler

An amateur golfer and recent graduate of Chichester University. I have both a BSc and MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology and am keen to utilise my knowledge in practical situations, even if I can’t help myself!

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