Road to Scratch Update: Goal Setting for the 2016 Golf Season

I recently wrote an article for Offcourse Golf — Goal Setting for Golfers 101 — which kicked me into high gear to set goals for the 2016 season.

Approaching a new golf season is the best. We’re all full of optimism and think to ourselves “THIS IS THE YEAR”. The year that everything comes together. I can’t think of a single golf season where I didn’t feel that way headed into it. Optimism is a great start, but it’s tough for optimism alone to turn another average season into a great season.

For a lot of years I thought everything would sort itself out and all I needed was optimism. It took me a while to see the value in setting goals and having a plan. Goal setting has encouraged me to learn more about myself, my golf swing (with the help of an instructor), network with more like-minded people, and has further motivated me to improve. Progress doesn’t always show up on the scorecard immediately, and that’s okay. There will be ups-and-downs, but that’s part of the fun.

Like most things, the more you set goals, the better you get at it. I’ve learned a lot from my past goals — what motivated me, what produced results, what didn’t, and what I’d like to change. So here we go.

End of season goal: Reduce my handicap index from 5.1 to  2.5 or less before the end of September. A handicap will always ebb and flow, but hitting 2.5 or less would mark a new low for me (previous low was 3.3). This would be good progress towards the big picture goal of being a scratch golfer.

My handicap won’t be on the forefront of my mind throughout the season or when I’m playing. It’s a source of inspiration to sculpt out short-term process goals which will help me improve.

With the official start of Alberta golf season typically in April sometime, there is still some off-season time to get ready for the season.

Pre-season process goals:

  1. Continue with strength, stability, and speed workouts from DM Golf Performance every second day, along with daily stretching, muscle rolling, and corrective exercises.
  2. Start practicing twice per week beginning in March.
  3. See my instructor, Fred Teno, for a lesson by mid-March.
  4. Re-read Dr. Bob Rotella’s book “Putting Out of Your Mind” before the end of March – I had my best stretch of putting last season (particularly from short range) right after reading this book, without changing anything but my thought process.

Golf season process goals:

Summer can be a busy time. Between getting rounds in, making a living, traveling, and trying to maintain a social life, it doesn’t always feel like there’s time left to practice and stay fit. However, when there’s a will, there’s a way.

  1. Strength, stability and speed workouts a minimum of twice per week, and continue with daily stretching, muscle rolling, and corrective exercises.
  2. At least two short game practice sessions per week — they don’t need to be long, grueling sessions. Quality over quantity.
  3. At least one long game practice session per week (warming up before a round doesn’t count) — similar to the short game, a focus on quality practice with a purpose.
  4. Play in at least 4 competitive events — this can include club events such as Club Championships and match play events which don’t implement handicap strokes.
  5. Read at least one more book on the mental game.
  6. Track statistics from every round using the Offcourse app to monitor where I need to improve the most, and adjust practice sessions accordingly.

There you have it. I’ve spewed my goals onto my blog for everybody to see. I can’t promise results,  but I can promise a relentless pursuit.

Setting goals for 2016

What are your goals for the 2016 season?

Happy golfing!




27 thoughts on “Road to Scratch Update: Goal Setting for the 2016 Golf Season

  1. Wow. That’s an awesome handicap and your approach is definitely one that will take you to scratch. I am applying the same principles working back to single digits. My issue like yours is time to dedicate to the goals. I will try and carve out more time.
    I love your goals and I am inspired to follow it as a template for myself.
    Good luck and train hard for 2016.


    1. Hi Linley,

      I’m happy to hear I inspired you! Sometimes finding time can be the hardest part, but, if we have a plan it makes it a bit easier. Good luck to you as well, I have no doubt you can get yourself back to single digits!


  2. Very nice Josh! What I like most is that you’ve articulated your goals as process goals. Your only outcome goal was a long term goal, which sets you up for success. Your goals are measureable and have timeframes. Excellent! We have redefined what our mental game analytics platform is since you last looked at it and it has taken many strides forward, including an official launch at the PGA show last month. Would you like to take a look at it now that the season is nearer? Let me know – would love your feedback. Jay

  3. No off season here in San Diego, but love setting goals. Goal to have a zero in front of my index (my low was 1.1 last year, currently 1.8). Just got fitted for a new M1- it’s pretty sweet so excited for that. A hole in one is a goal too- never had one! (More fun than skill there, but still would love to enter that club). Would like to break 70 as well. Thanks for making me write a couple goals down! If you come to SoCal this year, hit me up. @CdubGolf

    1. Hey Craig,

      Awesome goals my friend! I should add a hole in one to my list, I’ve never had one either, and maybe having it in writing will bring some good luck!

      Will definitely hit you up for a round on the next trip to SoCal. Good luck with the goals!


  4. Hi Josh,

    I don’t really care about my handicap so much as I travel and play all over so it is difficult to reduce or be consistent however I do want to break 90 this year. I think this is achievable.

    I would also like to have played 100 courses around the world. After this weekend I will have played 59 so I am giving it a good nudge.

    I look forward to being home for the summer on PEI so I can practice and play and train. Let me know if you come to PEI this summer and we can tee it up.

    Cheers Tiff.

    1. Hi Tiff,

      Wow, 100 courses around the world, what an awesome (and fun) goal to strive towards. Sounds like you’re off to a great start!

      Will definitely let you know when plan to make it out to PEI, would be great to tee it up.


  5. Josh – this is an excellent plan in that it covers off process items. I may have to borrow from your list and adapt them to my goals for the season. You may have to spot me a few strokes this spring if we can tee it up when I’m in Calgary. I’m playing off 8.8 with a goal to get to below 5 for end of season. My PEI trip had me not scoring my best but overall I feel I had my best season overall last year and with renewed lessons and a new fitness regime, I too hope that this year can improve on the success of 2015. Thanks for sharing, there’s great information here.

    Cheers, Mike

    1. Mike,

      It wasn’t long ago that I started a season with an index of 8.5 with a goal to reach 5 or better, and got there. There is no doubt it’s achievable for you!

      Best of luck this season, and still hoping we can tee it up in Calgary.


  6. Awesome goals Josh. I find that I practice less now and focus on playing, but my goals have shifted to trying to enjoy the experience more. Also, I focus my golf on traveling so I just try to make my swing as repeatable as possible. It’s tough sometimes!

    1. Hey Jimmy,

      Thanks a lot my friend. Nothing wrong with focusing on playing, especially when you have a lofty goal such as playing Top 100’s! I think as long as our goals make it fun and help us enjoy the journey, we can’t go wrong.


  7. Aloha Josh,

    An impressive and detailed plan buddy. One that I suspect will get you to your handicap goal – specially with Beth pushing you.

    I haven’t been playing (bad weather and life) but I’m taking some folks up to the Makai Course at Princeville tomorrow. I’ll get back on track soon.

    A Hui Hou,

    1. Aloha Wayne,

      Thank you! Beth sure knows how to light a fire under me! Regardless, it’ll be a fun season and that’s the most important thing.

      Glad to hear you’ll be back on track soon. Bad weather, in Hawaii?! I never witnessed such a thing.

      Play well and have fun!

  8. I like the plan of putting your goals in writing. Goals last year helped me strengthen my swing, add distance to my shots and get my handicap down to 7.

    This year the goal is to get my first eagle (I still can’t believe I don’t have one!), get my handicap to a 4 or better, and work on my strength – but maybe more importantly – my flexibility, especially in my back. I have specific goals to get my handicap down that mostly revolve around my short game, some swing tweaks, and strengthening my mental approach.

    Looking forward to checking back on these goals at season end!

    1. Matt – awesome stuff! Hard to believe you don’t have an eagle yet, but it’ll come! From what I’ve seen these goals are very achievable and beyond. I’m sure our ongoing money matches will help with motivation 😉


  9. Josh

    What can I say that the others have not already stated! You approach is awesome and I think your plan is reasonable, focused and achievable! I look forward to reading about your successes in 2016!


  10. Josh looking good with those goals and the Rotella putting book is a great read and re-read as you have figured out. Best of luck in 2016; love your approach!


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