Outcome vs. Process
It may be the “off-season” here in the Northeast, but it’s not too early to set your 2024 golf goals. Ringing in the New Year is the perfect time to reflect on this past golf season (the successes as well as the things you could have done better) and put together a plan to make 2024 your best golf season yet. It is a good idea to think about what goals you might have for your golf game.
When setting your goals, divide them up between outcome and process goals. Some examples of outcome goals would be “I am going to win the club championship”, “I am going to win my flight,” or “I am going to break 100, 90, or 80 consistently.” These are typically what we think of as a good goal-setting process before the start of the season. But what we fail to realize is that the only way to accomplish these outcome goals is to have a process. Process goals would be “I am going to practice my putting using a drill given to me by my coach for ½ hour 4 times per week,” or “I am going to commit to staying in the present and going through my pre-shot routine before each shot consistently during every round.” Now how many times have you set that type of goal before the start of the season?
Improving at golf or any sport requires commitment to a process of developing and improving skills. If you become more skillful in the weakest areas of your game, ultimately over time you will improve and accomplish your outcome goals. So how do we really know what areas are “weakest links” when it comes to our golf game? You may think that you know, but until you assess and measure your results through keeping statistics your assessment may not be accurate. This is why you need an analysis of your game and a plan that a professional can help you develop.
That final step in the process called “transfer” is where we typically miss the boat. As a golf coach, I can tell you that I have heard it so many times…”I hit the ball great on the range, but I can’t take it to the course.” This happens because even though you may have developed a skill on the driving range, the golf course is a completely different environment. In order to transfer your newly developed skills to the golf course, we need to make training or practice more difficult than play. What I mean by that is practice needs to become transfer training. This type of training involves drills and games that will challenge you to accomplish a goal.
For example, the next time you are chipping from just off of the practice green set a goal of holing out one chip shot before you can leave the practice area. If chipping is not your strong suit, you will quickly be forced to narrow your focus (the hole) and you will be amazed at how close your chip shots end up even if they do not actually go in the hole. Eventually, you are bound to hole a chip shot...hopefully before it gets dark! This is just one example of a transfer training game that can really improve your confidence on the golf course. When faced with a similar chip shot on the course, you can now think back to the time that you chipped in!