Get SMART to improve your game in the New Year

By Tasha BrownerDecember 29, 2014, 4:00 pm

What are your New Year's golf resolutions? Do they include the common ones, such as lose weight, hit it farther, join a gym, lower your handicap, make more putts, etc.? And why are resolutions so hard to attain?

When hearing the most common resolutions, I can't help but notice that they set people up for failure. Not only do these goals lack specificity, they have no deadline or accountability for the people who set them.

Before you set your New Year's golf (and life) resolutions, make sure you know how to actually achieve them.

The key to reaching your goals is to make them SMART -- specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time targeted. In other words, this is the what, when, why, and how when it comes to achieving your goals.

To get started, make an honest assessment of the state of your game and then divide your goals into the game's four most important parts -- technique, course management, golf fitness, and mental game.

Here are some examples of SMART golf goals, and how to reach them, as it relates to the four specific parts of the game mentioned above.

Specific example: "Improve my performance on uneven lies." This is a specific course management goal. If this is your resolution, you would be practicing on downhill, uphill, and sidehill lies. When you have a specific goal like this, you create an excellent focus for your range and course practice, although you may need to enlist a PGA/LPGA Professional to help you reach your "specific" goals.

Measurable example: "I want to hit 75 percent of the fairways." This is a measurable technique/course management goal, and there are tools to help. One such tool that I have used is called GameGolf. This sensor system clips onto your belt and clubs, and it easily tracks your golf statistics to help measure your goals. Remember, it is critical to have something to measure, and with all of the technology available, it is simpler than ever to track your goals.

Achievable example: "Repeat my pre-shot routine on every shot." This is an achievable mental game/course management goal that can be practiced on the range or the course and will make a big difference in your performance. Made famous by Vision 54's Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, a pre-shot routine or "think box/play box" is the time before you hit where you separate where you do the thinking from where you do the playing of the shot. On the course, instead of keeping score, you can use the scorecard to tally how many times you execute your routine.

Realistic example: "During my two practices a week, I want to improve transferring my game from the range to the course." This is a very common problem and a realistic course management/mental game goal that takes time commitment. Most people practice their technique on the range but fail to incorporate "course-like" training. Also, golfers make goals that they don't have time to achieve. One simple way to transition your swing to the course (without spending hours at the course) would be to play "holes" on the range by switching clubs and targets on every shot.

Time-targeted example: "By the time the course reopens on March 15th, I want to increase my flexibility." This is a time-targeted golf fitness goal that allows for the creation of a short- and long-term plan. When you have a time-targeted goal, you and your fitness professional are able to set the frequency and difficulty level of your fitness sessions. Start with trying different types of fitness to help your flexibility, such as Yoga, Pilates, daily foam rolling, etc. Then make a long-term goal of having a permanent one-on-one appointment with a fitness professional and an at-home workout to help you reach your flexibility goals.

In addition to identifying goals, write them down and post them somewhere that you see them often. This is a critical step in goal setting so you are accountable.

When making your New Year's resolutions, set SMART goals, write them down, and reevaluate and measure your progress often to truly take your game to the next level.

Best wishes in 2015!

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Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.

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Sergio leads by 4 entering final round at Valderrama

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 9:26 pm

Sergio Garcia closed with three straight birdies to shoot a 7-under 64 on Saturday, taking a four-shot lead into the third and final round of the Andalusia Valderrama Masters.

The tournament, which Garcia has won  twice (2017, 2011), was reduced to 54 holes because of numerous weather-related delays.

With his bogey-free round, Garcia moved to 10 under, four shots clear of Englishman Ashley Chesters, who shot a 1-under 70.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

"Hopefully we'll be able to play well tomorrow and get another win at Valderrama," Garcia said. "Hopefully I can finish it in style."

Chesters, however, is conceding nothing. "There's always a chance," he said. "There's not a lot of pressure on me."

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''

Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."