Golf Tips Newsletter - Issue 278 - January 1st, 2014
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Prepare to play your best golf by doing something now!

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In This Issue  

- Tom's Featured Tip: Forget Goals and Resolutions for 2014 - Do This Instead
- Tom's Bonus Tip: Putting - Tour Averages
- Lesson Comments: What Students Have To Say
- Sponsors: Batavia Country Club   Chestnut Hill Country Club 
Plum Creek Driving Range and PGA Golf Simulator 

Click here:  INDOOR GOLF LESSONS  for details on how to improve your game over the winter.

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Tom's Featured Tip:
Forget Goals and Resolutions for 2014 - Do This Instead

For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties .... well, you know what to do!

In the course of my life before I became a Professional Golf Instructor in 2005, I've had a variety of wonderful experiences including a civil service career, and building and selling several successful small businesses.

I've always been interested in entrepreneurial and motivational books and research. And I've always tried to keep an eye open for ideas from different disciplines that could apply to whatever I'm currently engaged in.

The idea for this tip came about as a result of information I obtained while I was researching motivation and training material for another business that I've been building part time for about eight months. I'll talk more about that business in an upcoming issue, because it's enabled me at - age 67 - to maintain a low single digit golf handicap by keeping me healthy and strong through judicious use of quality supplements and a revised fitness system.


The answer is profoundly simple - yet simply profound.

In the past - like many of you - I've set goals for my golf game, my personal fitness, my personal life, and my business endeavors.

I think I have discovered a better way after reading an article in Entrepreneur Magazine by James Clear.

It all comes down to the difference between goals and systems. Whatís the difference between goals and systems? Let me explain it in a golf specific environment, but realize that it applies to all areas of your life.
  • If youíre a golfer, your goal is to win your club championship . Your system is how your fitness, practice, and playing time schedule is systemized.

  • If youíre a golf coach, your goal is to improve your students playing ability . Your system is how you structure your lesson plan for your student.

A good question to ask yourself is "if you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you get the results?"

I think the answer is definitely yes. I believe 100% that if you focus on your system and the process instead of your goals, that you'll reach your benchmarks and beyond - without undue pressure or stress. It's a profoundly simple concept that I buy into - hook, line, and sinker - and here's why.

  1. Goals reduce your current happiness.

      When youíre working towards a goal, you are essentially saying, "I'm not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal."

      The problem with this mindset is that youíre teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. "Once I reach my goal, then I'll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I'll be successful."

      SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.

      Choosing a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders, and we do this to ourselves all the time. We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lower our handicap, win a tournament, get in shape. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big goals.

      When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.

  2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.

      You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long-term, but thatís not always true.

      Consider someone trying to win their club championship. They work hard for months, but as soon as they reach that goal (or don't reach that goal), they reduce their practice efforts. Their goal was to compete in and win that tournament, but now that the tournament has come and gone, that goal is no longer immediate enough to motivate them to continue their practice at the same level as before. They allow their skill level to deteriorate temporarily instead of building on what they've established.

      When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal or event, what is left to push you forward after the event has passed or the goal has been achieved?

      This can create a type of "yo-yo effect" where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one. This type of cycle makes it difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.

      SOLUTION: Release the need for immediate results.

      I was working out in my basement last week and I was doing my first set of a heavy rowing exercise. On my first rep, I felt a small twinge in my right lat muscle. It didn't feel like an injury, and for a second or two I thought about trying to get the rep again. Then, I reminded myself that I plan to do this for the rest of my life and decided to move on to the next exercise.

      In a situation like the one above, a goal-based mentality will tell you to finish the workout and reach your goal. After all, if you set a goal and you don't reach it, then you feel like a failure.

      But with a new systems-based mentality, I had no trouble moving on. Systems-based thinking is never about hitting a particular number, itís about sticking to the process and not missing workouts. This is in stark contrast to a goal based mentality that produced an injury when I tried to force some heavy reps in a deadlift a couple of years ago and injured myself.

      Of course, I know that if I never miss a workout, then I will get stronger and fitter in the long-run. And thatís why systems make more sense to me than goals. Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process. In the end, process always wins.

  3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.

      We can't predict the future, but every time we set a goal, we try to do it. We try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way.

      SOLUTION: Build feedback loops.

      It's pretty easy for fitness and weight training, just keep a log and monitor it. Of course there are efficient ways to train and inefficient ways to train, and that will be addressed in another issue.

      It's a little more challenging for golf, because to really do it correctly you need to track metrics each time you play. Don't be lazy if you are serious about improving your game. Keep your golf spreadsheet current, and adjust your practice sessions according to need. Here are the metrics it should include:
      • date
      • course name
      • rating
      • slope
      • your score
      • fairways hit
      • greens in regulation
      • three putts
      • one putts
      • birdies on par five's
      • up and down percentage
      • weather conditions
      • bogeys or worse
      • birdies
      • eagles

      Feedback loops are important for building good systems because they allow you to keep track of many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything. Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.

      None of this is to say that goals are useless, here's how they should be used.

      A goal should be used as a benchmark objective that is the basis for the components of your system, hot a timed, end result deadline.

      You should, however, have a deadline for setting up your system and implementing it.

      After you have the system in place, work it religiously. Don't stop when you hit the goal that was the basis for the system, continue working past that benchmark to continue to make more progress.

      Slow down, systemize, and make consistent, methodical progress - rather than chasing great sounding goals for a few weeks and then flaming out.

      Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.

      Fall in love with systems, you won't get jilted.
Love your practice, enjoy your golf, own your swing,


Tom's Bonus Tip:
Putting - Tour Averages

For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties .... well, you know what to do!

The very best ball strikers on the PGA Tour might only have a few birdie attempts inside of 15 feet in any given round, but they often capitalize and make the putt when given the chance. Build your confidence on these putts when you practice and play by trying to roll in three of four putts (75 percent) from 5 feet, two of four (50 percent) from 8 feet, and one of four (25 percent) from 14 feet. By doing this you will be making putts at what is the tour average.

Love your practice, enjoy your golf, own your swing,


Golf Lessons

I conduct lessons at The Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
there's a link for Plum Creek info here:

Lessons are available for all ages and skill levels, please contact
me - Tom Tucker - at (716) 474 3005 or email me at
for more information.

Outdoor Lessons Details and Rates:

Indoor Lessons Details and Rates:

Driver Fitting Rates:



Plum Creek Driving Range and Simulator  Outdoor range and play indoor golf on any of our 40 Simulator Courses. Call 585-993-0930 or email Mark at to reserve time for simulator play or practice!

Batavia Country Club   Pro Shop at Batavia CC open 9am - 4pm daily for memberships, gift certificates, merchandise, apparel, and equipment. Phone orders accepted as well.

Chestnut Hill CC   Great rates, 20 minutes East of Buffalo, NY .

All the best,

Tom Tucker
Teaching Pro, Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
WGTF ' "Top 100 Golf Teacher"
USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
Cell: (716) 474-3005

"There are no substitutes in the quest for perfection!"
~ Ben Hogan