Josh’s Tips & Tricks: Process Goals

Golf | 24 May, 2022


Hello golfers, welcome to this weeks tips & tricks. I hope you enjoyed watching the PGA. There was some great golf played all week, until the 72nd by Pereira. If you didn’t see it he hit it in the water hazard off the tee and doubled the 72nd hole. This meant he did not even make a playoff after a 1 shot lead heading into the last. It was painful to watch but made my think about how he could have handled the situation differently. I can’t even begin to imagine what’s going through your head with a 1 shot lead going into the last hole of a major. All I know is that he had a major lapse in concentration and didn’t trust his usual process. Therefore this week we are going to look at some ways to improve your game mentally.

Goal Setting

Actually writing down your goals isn’t for everyone. Almost all of us have goals when it comes to our golf. For some it’s break 100, for others it’s break 80. Some people would like to get to 18 handicap, others scratch. These are classed as outcome goals and not process goals. These large goals can often be scary and seem miles away but breaking them down into bite sized pieces makes the learning process a lot more enjoyable and manageable.

When competing against others in golf you have no control over what they are doing and therefore little control over who actually wins the tournament. What can be controlled are the process goals (behaviours). If a player focuses on what is in their control, often what is outside of control works out nicely.

Process Goals

The object of process goals is to focus your energy on the process of scoring and not thinking about scoring. It doesn’t matter what level you are now, to challenge your “personal bests” you have to change your way of thinking. Creating and focusing on Process Goals, embracing the process of scoring and not just hitting the golf ball around without a plan is much more conducive to steady if not rapid improvement.

Here are some examples of process goals that I have used and still currently use on the course;

  1. On every shot, I will trust myself and my swing. I do not have absolute control of where the ball goes, but I do have absolute control of whether I trust myself.
  2. I will execute my pre-shot routine on every shot and take a deep breath whilst lining up.
  3. The present moment is where I live, I won’t speculate in mid-round what my score will be, or where I stand in the tournament will refrain from critiquing or analysing the shots I have taken. I will focus on each shot as it comes, and that will be the only shot I will care about. When that shot is over, I will see how I did.
  4. On the course, I will refuse to allow anything that happens on the course today to bother me or upset me. Bad breaks and mistakes are part of the game; I will accept them and be tough in adversity. Today I am going to be in a good mood and a great state of mind for the entire round. I will enjoy playing.
  5. I will trust my instincts, be decisive and committed as I play.
  6. As the round goes on, I will be freer, looser and more confident, resisting the urge to get tighter, more careful and doubtful.
  7. I will love my wedge and putter today.
  8. I will maintain a constant, ideal level of intensity on every shot.


Within one of the previous examples of process goals in pre-shot routine and breathing. Golf is often described as “a good walk spoiled” but is often a lot more physically and mental taxing than just a walk in a field. Becoming anxious changes your heart rate, walking up steep hills changes your heart rate, excitement changes your heart rate. If you want to play “consistent golf” you need to learn to manage breathing. Taking deep breaths as part of your pre shot routine can help get oxygen to both the brain and muscles improving performance. If you have just made a 3 putt triple bogey and then had to walk up a steep hill to the next tee, the likelihood is your head is spinning. Your brain and muscles need oxygen. Take some deep breaths and clear the mind. Trust me, it works.

Have a look at the following video of my pre-shot routine and see if it changes for each type of shot.


Before every shot one of my process goals is to take a deep breath. If you take anything from this weeks piece, it’s breath. We do it autonomously all day every day but focusing on it whilst playing golf can help clear the mind. Just make sure you’re not thinking about whether you breath in or out at the top of your backswing! That’s a golf swing killer.

Next time you are down the range or on the course try to set yourself a process goal. It will help you keep a level head and you will feel a lot more accomplished for doing it.

If you would like any help with the mental side of the game I’m here to help, even if it’s just a minute chat on the range. I have a BSc in sport psychology and have experienced almost everything there is to experience on a course (other than leading a major coming down the stretch). I can help you understand your game better and improve quicker.