Road to Scratch Update: Setting Goals for the 2018 Golf Season

While there is still a grotesque amount of snow on the ground here in Calgary, the days are getting longer and people are starting to agree with me that Tiger is going to win The Masters, which means spring is in the air and it’s time to get fired up for the season.

I’ve been writing these annual goal-setting posts for several consecutive years now, and while I’ve had mixed results, it always help me learn something about myself and what makes me tick. We’re never going to reach each and every goal we set out for ourselves. However, even when you fall short, it’s likely that the goal pushed you further than you would have gone without it in place, so in that sense it was still a productive process to set it.

Golf is Mental kananaskis

Some of the biggest things I’ve learned about how I respond to different types of goals are:

  • Lofty time commitment goals never work — as a working stiff who doesn’t get paid to play golf, I always have less time to practice than I think will, and it has taken me a few years to learn this.
  • Health always needs to be top priority — it’s hard to achieve much or have fun when you’re injured, so keeping the body fit and healthy should always be the #1 priority.
  • The simpler, the better. It’s good to revisit goals throughout the season to remember what you’re working towards, but they’ve slipped my mind at times. Keeping them simple will make it much easier for them to stay in the forefront of my mind.

With that, here are my 5 main goals for the 2018 season:

  1. Keep fit. The most frustrating thing is playing golf with pain and knowing your body can’t do what it’s capable of. Our fitness classes with Shannon at DM Golf Performance this off-season have been helping a lot. We’re going to continue with those into the season to keep some structure and discipline in the fitness routine.
  2. Have fun. I’m taking a page out of Wes Heffernan’s (A Casual 9, Episode 9 guest) book. It kind of sounds silly because playing golf is inherently fun, but at times it’s easy to lose perspective after a stretch of bad holes or a bad round. A quick reminder of how fortunate I am to be playing golf is all it can take on a tough day, and embrace the challenge of getting the most out of what I have each and every round.
  3. Practice once per week. I’ve set lofty practice goals in the past and it never happens. I always underestimate how much time life and work and stuff takes up. In addition to playing, a quality practice session once per week seems achievable, whether it’s a range/short game session, or getting out for 9 holes on a weekday evening and working on some shots. Short game will always be weighted more heavily.
  4. Stop giving a f**k. Getting too worried about whether my playing partners are having fun, or if they’re playing slow, or worrying whether an opponent’s ego can handle a bludgeoning in a match have thrown me off my game in the past. None of that is my problem and all I can control is my own game, emotions, and level of fun I have on the course. If someone else is miserable or can’t handle the heat, that’s their problem.
  5. Putt right-handed. Hahahaha. What?! So I’ve been trying something sort of crazy. For those who don’t know, I play golf left-handed. At the end of last season I was messing around with Beth’s right-handed putter on the course, but maintaining a left-hand low grip. I couldn’t miss inside 10 feet, so I have decided to give it an honest go. I rescued a used Scotty Cameron, tossed a fresh Ping blackout grip on it (just like Tiger, obviously), and I’m rolling the ball much better. I tested it out over 5 rounds in Palm Springs (I boldly left my left-handed putter at home) and in general saw a lot of improvement in my roll. I had a tendency to over-read putts with the better roll and slightly more aggressive pace. It’ll take some adjustments and getting used to, but I’m looking forward to the experiment. It’s actually not that weird. It’s the same way Jordan Spieth putts, except the rest of his clubs are also right-handed.

Scotty Cameron putter

While I didn’t mention it directly as a goal, it’s kind of a given that swing improvement and maintenance is always a work in progress. Are you even a golfer if this isn’t the case? I haven’t stayed healthy enough the past few seasons to put in an honest effort on this, so if my first goal is achieved, it will help this fall into place.

I had an awesome lesson with Fred Teno last weekend, and we shored up a simple setup issue, and a couple other simple things to work on in my swing. Between this and improving functional strength and movement patterns through our fitness training, I’m seeing some promise of turning myself into a golfer.

I’d love to hear what your goals are for the season or what you’re working on — if you need a forum to hold yourself accountable, feel free to leave a comment below.



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15 thoughts on “Road to Scratch Update: Setting Goals for the 2018 Golf Season

  1. First time reading the blog and am already a big fan. Golf goals this season are. 1. Practice one weekday, play every weekend 2. Go to shot=cut 3. 50% GIR 4. Avg. 32 putts 5. Single digit handicap

    1. Fields,

      I appreciate the kind words! Love your goals…definitely the start of the road to a single digit handicap. Thanks for chiming in and keep me posted!


  2. Hi Josh,
    It’s interesting after a long winter how incredibly overconfident I get about my game. Maybe it’s watching from the couch all winter and feeling, ‘I could hit that shot’. And I start the season and my 10 handicap swing and game come out. I say this because, like you, more realistic goals are important for me. I especially like #4. Focus on what you can control. I joined a new club last year and it seemingly took me all season to settle in and be comfortable. I was worried about fitting in with a new group, playing up to my capacity (which I didn’t) and maintain a good attitude (which I am proud I was able to do). This year is going to be more relaxed, more fun, and like you, focused on myself (not in a rude or negative way).
    As for the right handed putting, good on you mate! I have a golf buddy who’s opposite of you – plays right and putts left. Mind you, it’s the weakest part of his game, but he’s been consistent with it and on distance putts it seems to help him more lag the ball up well. I hope it works out for you and it sounds like you have the foundation set for a fantastic season.
    I wish you good health all year and look forward to updates as you chase Scratch!
    Cheers, Mike

    1. Mike,

      I hear you! Went I first became a member at the CGCC the competitive events were a mental hurdle being the ‘new kid on the block’…the social aspect of finding your place to fit in, getting to know people, etc, can have a significant impact on your game…I expect you’ll be much more settled this season! Look forward to hearing some insights on that and how it ends up comparing to your first year.


  3. Hey Josh

    Sounds like you are right on track with your goals! I see that most of your goals are life-style centric and I think that is a great approach. Through in there some sideline golf goals as you have and your game will reach new levels. Good luck this year! I hope your season meets all your expectations!


  4. Josh, some good process oriented goals here. The title of your article is ‘Road to scratch. . .’ so my only concern is are your goals measurable? Do you have any performance based metrics you’re using to keep you focused on getting to scratch?

    As for myself, last season my only goal was to average 10 GIR. I missed and hit 9 and a fraction but through lessons, practice, and improvement, I tried to reach my goal and managed to knock a stroke and a half off my handicap. I have a lesson Sunday and will formulate some goals for this year after dialoging with my instructor.

    Way to get the ball rolling!


    1. Brian,

      That’s a solid point…I’ve tried focusing on stats and stuff in the past but it didn’t seem to work for me. I suppose my measurable metric is my handicap to see whether this process works or not to get it closer to scratch. I love your approach of focusing on GIR, which is clearly measurable, but I just never feel like those things motivate me. We will see!


  5. That “stop giving a f***” goal speaks to my soul. I’ve taken that to heart for a few months now. Half the time I’m not even keeping score when I’m out there. It’s so liberating. I’ve realized that no one is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to golf, so why would I not want to just enjoy it as much as possible. Even when not keeping score, I still am aware of what I need to work on and use that knowledge to take to any practice sessions. My goal this year is to focus on practice putting more. With work and two young daughters, I don’t get to practice as much as I’d like, and when I do I usually just stick to the driving range. I’ve had some deep putting struggles the last few months so getting my confidence back on the greens will go a long way to improving my game

    1. Ryan,

      That’s exactly it…you have to do it on your own terms and how it’s fun for you. I love your goal of focusing on putting…and putting a premium on quality of practice over quantity can make a big difference. Improving your putting can free up your whole game! Keep us posted!


    1. Hey Bron,

      It’s kind of funny how sometimes the less we care the better we execute on the course. It’s a fine balance! Thanks for chiming in and good luck.


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