Today I had a student ask somewhat common question – “Should I set a score before I play a round or not?” The is an interesting question because many of you are trying to shoot a lower score for your personal best or beat your last round. But my answer is always “No”. Here’s why.

Golf is really NOT about score.  

This might sound contradictory to most of you since the game is measured, and we compare a measure ourselves against others by score. But if you closely examine a round, what is more important is that you play each shot to your best ability – and that’s it. You simply add the number of times you hit the ball at the end. Whether you should set a goal of a score is more of a “mental” game question and not a goal question. In my experience golf is more fun when you just “play” and see what happens.

There are uncontrollable variables that affect your score such as weather and course conditions. Some days the wind is calm and the holes are placed in the center of the green where the course plays “easy” and the next day the wind blows and holes are placed behind every bunker making the same course play five or six shots harder. In this example, the same course with different conditions greatly affects your score. My recommendation nonetheless is that you still play the “hard” course or “easy” course the dame way, One-Shot-at-a-Time (OSAAT).

Golf is not about a score, its about a process. The result of the process is the score.- Todd Graves

I would rather get involved in the process because I can control what happens in the process. I cannot, however, control what happens in the outcome. I can recall numerous rounds where unforeseen events steered my score into both favorable and unfavorable directions. In once instance, my drive struck a tree saving it from heading out of bounds – saving me from making a double bogey or worse. The tree saved my score. In another situation, I hit a perfectly struck iron shot that struck the flag sending the ball into the green-side bunker costing possibly one maybe even two shots – on a perfectly struck iron shot. But in either case, the process never changed. The process is simply to play one shot at a time in every condition and in every situation.

So on your next round, eliminate all of your expectations of any possible score. If you want to set a goal, make your goal be to simply play stay in the process of playing OSAAT.