Game Planning for Success

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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One of my favorite quotes is, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. This quote can be related to many things, especially golf. I still haven’t met anyone that wants to play worse golf. How are you going about the process of improving? Below I lay out specific steps needed in order for you to truly improve your golf game, once and for all.

Step #1 – Record your short and long term goals. An example of a short term goal would be no 3 putts during the next round of golf. An example of a long term goal…shave 5 strokes off your handicap over the course of the next calendar year. Goal setting is very important and can be result oriented. How we obtain these goals is what I will call the process.

Step #2 – The process is everything you do day to day or week to week that will allow you to accomplish your goals. The first step in the process is to establish a practice schedule. Time is a commodity, I get it, but carving out 1 hour a week for practice is important. If you can do more that is great. Before you set out on your practice session, establish what it is that you want to achieve. For example, maybe you want to practice the full swing in order to refine a recent lesson. Once completed evaluate how well the session went. Did you stick to your plan?

In addition to creating and sticking to your practice plan, it is vitally important to warm up properly before you play. I know many golfers that get to the course 5 minutes before the starting time and head straight to the first tee. No wonder it takes 6 holes before the game kicks in. Hitting warm up balls and putts is vital in establishing good tempo and timing for that day. Give yourself at least 20 minutes on the range and 10 minutes on the putting green before venturing off to the first tee box.  

Finally, every month or so evaluate how well you are sticking to the process. Are you practicing and warming up properly before you play? Golf is a very difficult sport that can be so rewarding at times but brutally frustrating during others. If you set goals and work properly on obtaining those goals you will improve. There is no question about it.

John Stahlschmidt, PGA is the Director of Instruction at the JW Marriott Camelback
Golf Club is Paradise Valley, Arizona. To comment or to schedule a lesson, email John at