Setting the Bar

Jeff Fisher
Director of Instruction
Fisher Bryan Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club
Mesa, AZ

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Golf can be a confusing and difficult game. There are so many ideas and theories about how to swing a golf club that it can honestly be dizzying for the recreational player. My goal in this column is to each month give you something that will make golf easier for you. This month I want to tackle goals and expectations.

Golf is the only game I can think of where recreational players measure themselves against what the best players in the world do. Weekend softball players do not presume to think they could hit a major league fastball and rarely do you see a 50 year old man on the basketball court trying to slam dunk like Kobe Bryant. But, everyday on the driving range there is an unlimited supply of golfers bashing away at driver after driver trying to be Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson! Certainly this is fun, but it truly is not helping you get any better.

There are approximately 25 million golfers in the United States and less than 1000 of them play on the PGA, Nationwide, LPGA and Futures Tours. That leaves 24,999,000 of us playing a different game than what we see on television! If we can help you set your goals according to your personal level of the game, then you can make your path to improvement a much easier one.

For the next 5 rounds you play, take accurate statistics during the round. Mark down how many fairways you hit, how many greens in regulation, how many putts on each hole and any penalty shots you accrue. These statistics will tell you quickly where you can get better in a hurry.

After the 5 rounds, sit down and look at the stats. If you have 3 putts, then the putting green is the first place you go. And, do not go set up shop 3 feet from the hole and try to make 100 in a row. The reason golfers three putt is less about the second putt and more about the first putt. Practice your lag putting from 20, 30 and 40 feet. When you can consistently roll the ball to within a foot of the cup, then you will eliminate three putts.

Then look at how many greens you hit in regulation. The fact is that this is not likely to be a high number. The median player on the PGA Tour only hits about 11.5 greens per round. But, do not run to the range and start practicing your iron shots just yet. Go to the short game area and practice your chipping and pitching. The fact of the matter is that the ‘greens in regulation number’ is only likely to go up slightly. The key is to be able to get up and down a majority of the time when you do miss a green.

When you are setting goals, do so with the help of the stats you collected. Remember to adjust the numbers up only in small increments and give yourself time to reach these new goals. Make your goals realistic to what you can reasonably accomplish and measure yourself only against yourself because that is all you can control.

With this new set of goals and expectations you are much more likely to reach them sooner and be able to raise the bar on a more regular basis.

Jeff Fisher is the Director of Instruction at the OB Sports Golf Academy at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona. Jeff can be reached at 480.414.9330 or