Here are Golf’s resolute promises

Tommy Snell
Tommy Snell

Chances are week-old resolutions have already been broken, shattered by superior marketing or inadequate self-control. Golf offers the opportunity to etch a resolution into a tee marker that will last most of the year if not all year. Making a pledge that will last for 365 yards can be as gratifying as a drive that travels as far.

Before resolutions can stick as fast as balata on soft bent grass, they have to meet the standards of the golfers decreeing the promises. Face it! High handicappers and scratch golfers probably won’t dictate the same specific goals for 2018, but every golfer who tees off wants to improve or play better. In which category do you fit?

Hacker-MiMi Golf defines a hacker as “a slang term which describes someone who is not very good at golf.” Derogatory? Not at all, unless the golfer is normally a 5-handicap. Disparaging? Only if you play golf every day and still shoot 110.

Mr. Average-Golf Digest’s math wizard Dean Knuth suggested that the average golfer shoots over 100, while the USGA stated that the average handicap in its system is 15, translating to an average golfer shooting 90 since most golfers shoot three strokes over their handicaps.

Scratch Golfer-no arguments here. Scratch golfers have 0 handicaps, and if calculations are correct, they will shoot par every fourth time they play. Throw in professionals who have +5 handicaps, and you have an extremely small percentage of linksters.

Back to 2018’s resolution. Only one! Improve your score. What handicap is in your wallet? Goals, and in this case resolutions, should be made, but golfers must hold themselves accountable for results if they want to reach their objectives. With that in mind, this reverse-overlap promise of refining your game is not only pragmatic but also attainable for every golfer if you follow these tried-and-true steps:

▪ Focus on your goal and implement a plan. Seem simple? It is, but few are willing to adhere to this proven proverb. Mr. Hacker might focus on a 10-stroke improvement, while the scratch golfer would set a goal of improving one stroke. The entire focus would be on that goal and nothing else.

▪ Implement a plan, whether it is to see a PGA professional or to hit one more bucket during each practice session. Hold yourself accountable. If you miss a lesson or quit the practice session early, punish yourself by wearing Loudmouth clothes or making yourself play with the guy or gal you detest. Walking 18 holes is not penance since it is good for you.

▪ Evaluate your progress and the process. After two months, where are you? Is it working? If your goal is to reduce your average by 10 strokes, have you reached an objective of two strokes in two months? Evaluate your focus. Are you spending enough time on the practice green? Are you focusing on your instructor’s lesson? Good luck, and good golfing.

Tommy Snell, golf coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, writes a column for the Sun Herald.