Why Scoring Goals Are a Mistake

A lot of golfers start their rounds with a target score, and I think this is a mistake. I'll explain why and give you an alternative.

If you tee off expecting to shoot a certain score, you already place too much emphasis on results. Golf requires a lot of patience, and it's tough to do that when you feel like every shot is taking you closer or further away from the score you want to shoot.

I played this way for a long time. Honestly, it felt like I had a noose around my neck (so to speak). It also started to ruin my enjoyment of the game because every day, I would be judged by whether or not I hit my imaginary "number."

Perhaps the largest problem I see with having a target score is that it can alter your:

  • Emotional state
  • Decision making
  • Enjoyment level

Every round of golf can be a bit of a roller coaster emotionally. I think that's part of what hooks us.

But constantly worrying about your score exacerbates this trend usually. Now, all of a sudden, you are reacting too strongly in both directions.

As this occurs, your decision-making starts to suffer. When golfers get upset and see the round slipping away, they become more aggressive and reckless. It's similar to a poker player on tilt.

Now, you're pouring gasoline on a fire.

Perhaps the most damaging part of an obsession with scoring is that it can ruin your enjoyment of the game.

How many golfers declare the day a failure after 6-7 holes because they think they blew it? Not fun!

So what should you do? I'm not suggesting *not* to care about your score. I care about mine.

However, approaching your rounds with a "neutral" mindset is way more productive for your enjoyment level and scoring ability.

Let me explain...

I don't have a target score when I start my round or even each hole. Of course, I would love to shoot in the lower range of my ability, but I know that's not possible every time.

No matter how good you get, your scoring will always look similar to this:

So, what do you think your focus should be? Well, it's not so different than the "focus on the process, not the outcome" advice you've heard your whole life. This is much harder to do because it requires a lot of discipline, but it works.

When I start my round, I try to commit to the following:

  • Having fun no matter what
  • Going through my routine precisely the same
  • Not altering my strategic decisions
  • Accepting the outcome of each shot and moving on

I genuinely believe golf is a series of independent decisions.

When you obsess over scores, now, all of a sudden, they all get tied together. That will make the game *so* much more challenging for you. Feeling the weight of expectations and results on each shot is exhausting.

Every golfer needs to come to their version of this. Many of you are playing with scoring expectations that are way out of line, which is one of the big things holding you back.

You must "let go" to gain more control over your game. Golf is counterintuitive!

Give this some thought before your next round.

If you like these ideas, you will love The Four Foundations of Golf. I look forward to bringing you more insights each week to help you with your game.

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About the Author
Jon Sherman

Jon Sherman is the owner of Practical Golf, a website dedicated to being an honest resource for the everyday golfer who is looking to enjoy the game more, as well as improve. He is the author of the bestselling book 101 Mistakes All Golfers Make (and how to fix them). Jon regularly competes in tournaments around the New York Metro region and is a scratch golfer. You can find him on Twitter here - @practicalgolf, where he is happy to chat about golf with anyone.