Here we go again. It's that time of year when we all sit down, take stock of our game, and set our golf goals for the year ahead.
Whether you're still squeezing in a few rounds before the year's end or stuck indoors dreaming about your next round, your 2023 golf goals will not be far from your mind.
Goals that are right for you and your game - and that aren't as frivolous as the many New Year's resolutions we all make - can provide the platform for tangible golf improvement.
How to set golf goals for 2023
Real golf improvement is only possible with defined goals. They're our in-built golfing sat nav: without them, how will we ever find our way?
It may sound over-cautious, but it pays to keep your golf goals as realistic as possible. Many of us want to shoot for the stars, but SMART goals will feel more attainable and help to keep you motivated throughout 2023.
Before we move on, we're not saying that the odd lofty target has no place. Having one or two big outcome goals can drive home the need to practice, practice, and practice some more.
And when we say SMART, we don't mean intelligent goals (although that is important), instead, as many of you will already know, SMART is an acronym for:
What do we mean when we say your golf goals should be specific? Well, your goal should clearly state what you want to achieve, and you need to be able to track it (which we will come on to).
Many of your goals will need a numerical value: 50% of Greens in Reg in the next five rounds, drop five handicap points over the year, and so on.
Next up, measurable. You will need to have some way to quantify your progress throughout the year. That's where Hole19 comes in. The more rounds you save, the more data you will have to help chart your progress towards meeting your goals.
It can be very easy to set golfing targets which are not attainable. If you're a 25-handicapper looking to get down to single digits, it's a stretch to do that in 12 months. It's not impossible, we grant you, but it's a long shot at best for the average golfer.
Recognising the strengths and weaknesses of your game will help you set relevant goals. If you're already a bomber off the tee, but your short game sucks, why would you spend time chasing 5-10 extra yards? Improving your GIR %, your Recovery Performance, and your Putting stats (all visible on your app's Performance tab) would be far more beneficial.
Finally, by ensuring your goals are time-based, you can take stock at a point in the future and see if you have achieved your aims. Instead of waiting for success to arrive, you will be more likely to keep grinding and stay dedicated to your practice.
How to achieve your golf goals
Below we have listed some tried and tested ways to do everything to make your 2023 golf goals a reality.
Write them down
Something as simple as writing your golf goals down can significantly impact your golf improvement. There's something about putting pen to paper (or finger to phone) which makes it feel like you're forming a binding contract... with yourself.
Put your list of goals somewhere you will see them every day. Maybe your fridge or your phone's home screen. It can provide a powerful reminder when life gets in the way - as it invariably does.
Show commitment & work ethic
You will need to schedule time each week for off-course practice and, where possible, a round or two midweek before your weekend tee-time. Rather than waiting for a window to appear in your week, better results will follow if you stick to a pre-determined schedule.
Good times are ahead if you can make a genuine commitment to work on the different areas of your game.
Find what works
You will know what works best for you in terms of practice and your golf/life balance once you experiment a little. Whether it's a few evenings a week at the range when the kids are in bed, or finding an hour or two on your way home from work - just do you.
Get golf lessons
This one isn't exactly a prerequisite because some of you may prefer to find your way. With that said, one fundamental way to accelerate your golf improvement is to have a pro cast their eye over your golf swing.
If you've never linked in with a golf coach, the start of the year is the perfect time to take the plunge. Their valuable feedback can give you much-needed direction and shape your goals for the coming 12 months.
Having a buddy you often practice with can make the process more enjoyable. They can bring extra motivation and keep you accountable when improvement has been hard to come by.
You could pledge to both practice three nights a week together, come rain or shine. If you're a little mentally drained after your weekend round, you might need a gentle nudge to keep you honest.
When you've worked towards a target all year, and it finally arrives, it's essential to mark the occasion. Many successful athletes are clear on the need to give themselves some real kudos for hitting a target.
Feeling proud of your achievements can encourage further goal-setting and create a looping effect towards continued success.
But don't get disheartened
Getting frustrated when you don't hit a goal is only natural, but try not to beat yourself up too much. Your best-laid plans can come undone for various reasons; some may be outside your control. Sing when you're winning, and dust yourself down when you're not.
Remember, there's no such thing as failure; just a lesson learned. If you gave it your all, that's something to be proud of. If you didn't, you'll know why you missed out this time.