The past year, with all its trials and tribulations has probably given golfers a greater appreciation of the game we all love, and occasionally hate, so much. Every person who has golfed anytime in the past few decades or even never before, wants to play golf because, after all, what else could be a more outdoor, socially distanced, pastime.
Of course, as a golfer gets into playing more regularly, his/her expectations of the game increase and that is where the problem could begin. There is no guarantee that just because you have one good round, out of the blue, you have improved your game overnight. Here are some scientific suggestions borrowed from sports psychology on how to improve golf game.
Start with Goal Setting
Start with one long term goal, ideally a performance goal (e.g. “I want to cut 7 strokes off my score”) and not an outcome goal (e.g. “I want to win the club championship in my flight”). Then make specific short term goals that will help you climb the ladder to your long-term goals and hence to golf success. The first rung of the ladder is, naturally, to know where you are at present, with respect to both your full swing and short game.
To that end, the Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor is a great little tool, as it can baseline your current performance. You could start by baselining all your important clubs such as your driver, a fairway wood, a favorite hybrid, a mid-iron and some wedges. Say you hit 10 driver shots and they have an average directional spray of 50 yards and a distance spray of 30 yards. Suppose you play the Rapsodo closest to pin game and find you have considerable spray in accuracy there too. That is the starting point to goal setting.
Goal setting is one of the most important concepts used by sports psychologists to help a person improve in their sport. Goal setting should be for all aspects of your game – tee shots, approach shots, around-the-green (within 30 yards of the green) and on the green. It could also fan out to include your course-management, fitness, and nutrition goals but it all depends on how far and how fast you’d like to improve and how much work you might be willing to put into the achievement of your goals.
Set SMART Goals
Once you collect all the data that you need, you can set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based) goals. A specific driver goal could be to reduce accuracy issues by taking lessons twice a week for two weeks. A measurable goal could be to practice 30 yd, 40 yd, 50 yd and so on, and check occasionally for improvement using the Rapsodo MLM. An attainable golf goal is one which is not beyond your capabilities and the time you intend to devote to practice golf. Realistic, too, depends on being sensible and making a plan depending on time available. And finally, time-based means having some idea of how much time the goal should take to realistically achieve.
Thus, some practice and lessons based on scientific goal-setting is sure to go a long way towards meaningful golf game improvement.
Kiran Kanwar, Golf Instructor
MS and Ph.D. Kinesiology
LPGA Master Professional
National Amateur Golf Championship winner (India)