Your Annual Golf Evaluation

Very few golfers get better by shear fluke. Whether it be an implicit or explicit process, all successful golfers follow the same process for getting better each year:

Do ~ measure ~ reflect ~ plan

Getting better at this simple process will speed up your development as a golfer. I’m about to sit down with a Pro, who is just off the main tour in Europe, for our end of year catch up.

I thought I would share how we go about this process to help you improve your own evaluation and planning for your coming year of fun on the golf course.

Grab a pen, paper and a coffee and get planning for your next year of golf. I’ll remind you at the end, but it’s a good idea to pin this plan up somewhere visible.

Plan your dream year

Step one is to plan some awesome stuff you would like to achieve. This might be to win a certain competition, achieve a set handicap, or to shoot ‘x’ around your home course. These are called outcome goals.

The tricky thing with outcome goals is that they can be out of your control (for example winning the club championships (gross or net) – someone may just be on fire that day). For this reason it is a good idea to set 4-6 outcome goals. Each should be a goal that would really make you smile if you do achieve it.

Pros example:

  • Top 5 Europro going into finals
  • Win Order of Merit
  • Make cut at Q school final school stage
  • Win 2 pro events

Performance goals

Next up, you need to set some performance goals. These tend to be good estimates of how you need to play to achieve the above.

Start by setting a scoring average you wish to achieve for the following golfing season. Despite the simplicity of scoring average this is the key factor to success in golf.

If you don’t believe me just check out data from the past two years from the Race to Dubai where I’ve plotted scoring average against end of year finish position for every player on Tour.

Scoring average on European tour versus finish position 2017 and 2018
Please note in 2018 the European Tour seem to have cut off the finishers over 190, this is why we are missing the tail end of the data in the bottom figure.

Average under 70.0 on the main tour and you will finish in the top 15. Similarly, if your stroke average is continually lower than your handicap you will win amateur events.

Once you have your desired stroke average you need to construct some basic metrics which will lead to that outcome. If you would like more help on this front check out this post on how to get better at golf.

Pros example:

  • Stroke avg: -2  (<70.0)
  • Fairways 68% (less than 0.5/round can’t get to green)
  • Greens: keep above 70%
  • Up n downs > 60%
  • Putts/round < 29.00
  • Par 3 = 3.0
  • Par 4 = 4.0

Golf Insider tip: If you’ve never done this before you may be surprised by the metrics you need to achieve a given goal.  Start with the number of bogeys, pars, birdies needed. Work back by thinking about how many greens you need to hit and putts would equate to that outcome. Then factor in fairways, up and downs etc… With Pros we tend to look at more in-depth metrics, but these really still form the foundation of our analysis.

Golf notebook golf practice routine
The Golf Insider Performance Diary allows you to track your practice and play in one place. It is also full of useful practice ideas.

Spot the difference

The third step is to pick out the differences between your current play and your target metrics. If you already keep your stats this is an easy process. If not, you may need to guess where the biggest gaps are in your performance.

Systems and processes to achieve your goals

The last step is to build a set of weekly processes and systems to help you develop the key areas you have highlighted. I’m quite happy with this article I wrote on systems and processed for golfing excellence. Please check it out for the basics and ideas on building your own weekly systems and process.

Coupled with this I have some further thoughts to help you develop your golf for the coming season.

Find easy wins

Very few people are able to dedicate the amount of time they wish to improving their golf. Try to find ways to fit in 5-10 minutes extra practice at home.

Set up a putting matt in a dark corner and make 10 putts each time you walk past. Create a mini golf club to practice swing changes at home (I’ll try to write an article on how to build one soon). Even without a golf club you can practice swing feelings, your set up and posture drills.

Just 15 minutes short game practice before or after your weekly round really will add up over the course of a year.

If you have free couple of hours, fit in this short game challenge once a month.

Break down the problems

Having two less putts a round sounds simple. However, I can tell you from experience of working with elite players, this is dam hard in reality. Once you have your main areas to work on try to break the big goals down into smaller easy wins.

For our putting example consider, what are your conversion rates from inside 3, 6 and 9 feet? Do you miss these a certain side in practice and play? Do you hit your second shots or chips close enough? Write some additional notes on where you need to focus your efforts.

If you don’t hit enough greens what are the troublesome clubs, and what direction do they miss? Or do you not hit it far enough off the Tee?

If distance is a problem start with the easy wins, put some felt tip on some practice golf balls and see if you are hitting your Driver out of the centre. You should check this out before you invest in a new Driver or decide to hit the gym.

Your golfing master plan

Your end product should be a one page piece of paper you can put somewhere you will see on a daily basis. It should be in your face as a constant reminder. The piece of paper (or screensaver) should look as follows:

Outcome goals
4 – 6 great goals you wish to achieve
Performance goals
Good estimates of stroke average, GIR, FIR, putts, Up & Down %
Systems & Processes
The skills games, technical practice and playing time you need to achieve the above. Feel free to add in coaching, gym work and any other key practices.

Looking at this plan should inspire you. But it should also give you a set of simple weekly processes you need to complete to reach your goals. Golf can sometime seem complicated,. However, stripping golfing performance back to its raw elements should keep you focused on what is truly important.

If you would like more articles like this one emailed to you come join the golf insider weekly post.

Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider

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A PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. I currently spend my time lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and working with elite athletes. In my spare time I build Golf Insider UK.

2 thoughts on “Your Annual Golf Evaluation”

  1. Hi Will,

    Good read and an interesting thought exercise when thinking about what I need to do to meet my target scoring average! 6 Bogies and 12 Doubles on average is 100% achievable and has definitely made my consider a new mindset going into next year!

    Being realistic I’m aiming for 102 which should include a few 100 breaks while also allowing for a few worse rounds and compared to this year is just cutting out half my penalties, topped shots/chips and 2 less puts on average which I feel is very achievable!

    Quick question about tracking GIR as a performance goal, my average this year was 5% and I have set it at 10% for next year. Is it worth me tracking a ‘Bogey GIR’ meaning I can set a loftier goal or use normal GIR as my hardest performance goal? I’m not sure which way would help me more. Any thoughts?



    • Hi Andy, thanks for leaving this comment – good questions.

      Yes, in short. Keeping any number that is meaningful and personalised to you has great value, as long as it ties into your plan, as you describe above. I would keep bogey GIR’s then after each round make a couple of quick notes about how you achieved your good holes vs bad holes.

      Looking at where you miss greens should also help with your course management and practice aims. Many golfers have consistent patterns, with short and right misses being the most commonplace. There is nothing wrong with practicing to improve your golf, then playing within your abilities on the golf course. For the example above this would involve taking an extra club or two and aiming at the left side of the green during play.

      I hope that helps and all the best with your golfing progress.



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