Instead of taking a break from golf this time of year, take a page from the PGA Tour’s new wraparound season and rededicate yourself NOW to pay dividends in 2016.

By Jon Levy

Well, that sure didn’t last very long.

After all, with Jordan Spieth’s incredible run at major history, Jason Day’s torrid late-summer hot streak, and a surprisingly-dramatic Presidents Cup, we’re just now mentally processing what the 2015 season gave us, so it can’t be next year already … can it?

Well, yep, sure is. In terms of the official 2016 PGA Tour season, at least.

Oceanside golf course
The famed 7th hole at Pebble Beach, longstanding site of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

That’s right, as the Tour took just a few days of “offseason” with its recently-adopted wraparound model, this week marks the first PGA Tour event of the ’16 campaign, the Frys.com Open, which means they’ve started the running-clock again from scratch and wiped the slate clean for stats, money earned, status … the whole enchilada.

Of course, as adoring fans we’ve already eaten up this new “year” and welcomed the likes Rory McIlroy at the Frys with open arms, but in terms of our own golf games, these crisp fall days are often just the onset of our offseasons, meaning most are ready to throw the sticks in the garage for hibernation until spring. And with more baseball and football than we can even handle right now, odds are this is your favorite time of year to just observe instead of participate, so no argument here for taking the vacay from golf instead of the golf vacay.

But, I digress to say, wait! Don’t put the clubs away yet, because there’s still time to IMPROVE before the end of the year!

With some targeted effort in three key areas, you’ll be on your way to – here it is again – IMPROVING before the calendar flips to 2016.

  1. ASSESS your season to date with a snapshot of your success.

Season PerformanceWhether you’re a current GolfTEC client who’s already created a thought-out Game Plan, or just someone who’s set general goals of improvement this year … how did it go? Did you shoot lower scores? Hit the ball better, longer? Perform better on and around the green? Become the on-course mental warrior you wanted to be?

We’ll get more into goal-setting in a moment, but, for now, just think about a general snapshot of the feeling you’re left with (i.e. “extremely pleased,” “content,” “somewhat displeased,” “disgusted,” etc.) and you’ve found a great starting point to specifically and objectively break down what’s led to it, and therefore identify what you need to work on moving forward.

2. REFOCUS on new goals using your assessment.

Granted, No. 1 has some strong hints of Captain Obvious since most of us intrinsically know what we like and dislike about our games (i.e. I’m a good ball striker, but struggle with putting.), but the real takeaway is to assess the specific factors contributing to the overall picture.

For example, if you were to say, “I’m very happy with my year, but never quite got that three-quarter, flighted iron shot down the way I wanted to,” then you know honing in the three-quarter, flighted iron shot is a specific factor that can contribute to your improvement, instead of just thinking you didn’t hit your irons the way you wanted to.

Set Goals For The OffseasonOnce in place, ideas like this are the groundwork for new goals, which can be continued from previous or created from scratch, depending on how your assessment broke it down.

We posted an offseason article back in January that highlighted the SMART goal system (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Based), which can be a very useful platform to organize your objectives in this regard.

Using a system like this, you may create a goal of:  By January 1, 2016, I will have already improved the trajectory, distance-control and accuracy of my three-quarter iron shots by committing to practice at my local GolfTEC at least twice a week, so that by the time my 2016 season starts in March, I am confident in this shot on the course, and it will lead to an average of two more greens in regulation for the entire season.

Even with just more general goals of improvement, though, the more targeted you can pinpoint the improvement the better, because then you’ll at least know you need to work on that three-quarter iron shot, instead of overworking the full iron shots you’ve already got nailed.

3. RE-ENERGIZE from this new focus and accomplish your goals!

Whether you live in Miami, where your season may just be revving up, or Minneapolis, where your days outside are numbered and your local GolfTEC bay may be the only option, take your new goals and throw in a shot of espresso to accomplish them!

PGA Tour player, Shane Bertsch, recently sat down with GolfTEC to explain what he does during his own offseason, and we couldn’t say it better as to why a little effort with your game now can go a long way come springtime:

“The offseason is when I take a full assessment of my game and compare my performance to the game plan I built at the start of the season … what went well, what didn’t, and where I need to see improvement,” said Bertsch.

Professional Golfer Shane Bertsch
PGA Tour member, Shane Bertsch

“I take that assessment to drive an offseason plan, because it does make a difference, and it is needed if you’re looking to actually take your game forward.

“I see so many amateur players who simply stop everything during the winter months, and when the courses reopen they’re totally unprepared, having lost any momentum from the previous season. This doesn’t need to the be the case, as golfers of any skill level can actually improve during non-golf months if they just remain dedicated and stick to a plan.”

Paralleling Bertsch’s sentiments, the bottom line is that by putting in some effort NOW toward assessing, refocusing and re-energizing instead of letting the clubs gather dust until spring – or, participating in your own “wraparound season” – it could yield a running start for your game next season that you never previously saw coming.

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A former Instruction & Equipment Editor at GolfChannel.com and guest author for PGATOUR.com, Golfweek and others, Jon Levy is an accomplished golf writer. His extensive golf experience also stems from a competitive background in college (Iowa State Univ.) and on the mini tours, and nine years as a college golf coach at the University of Colorado, Scottsdale Community College and Paradise Valley Community College. In 2007, Jon was named the NJCAA National Coach of the Year after leading Scottsdale to the NJCAA National Championship title.

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