Golf is undoubtedly one of the most challenging games to master both technically, physically, and most definitely mentally. It’s a beautiful game that allows you to challenge yourself, have fun with friends and get fit, but aside from that, golf can be incredibly frustrating.
But let’s look at that as a positive; golf is frustrating, so you’ve got plenty to learn about the game. Whether it’s getting the most out of your swing, improving your putting, or boosting your physical strength, golf is more than a sport; it’s a teacher; and a good one at that too.
Improving your golf game and learning new aspects of the game is rewarding, but it can be pretty tricky to keep track of all the data you’re gathering on your game. Keeping stats on your fairways hit, greens in regulation, and three-putts is no easy task.
Enter the golf journal. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to track your data and metrics and keep them all in one place is by keeping a golf journal. There’s not one PGA Tour pro who doesn’t own a golf journal; in fact, many of them have several for different game components like fitness, nutrition for golf, and swing dynamics.
This article will look at why you should be using a golf journal and then the type of information you should keep in your journal. As a professional coach, I can tell you right now that keeping a journal WILL help you significantly improve every aspect of your golf game.
Let’s get started.
What Is A Golf Journal?
- 1 What Is A Golf Journal?
- 2 Helps You Understand Your Game
- 3 Helps You Make Clear Long-Term Golfing Goals
- 4 Tracking Your Strengths
- 5 Tracking Your Weaknesses
- 6 Time To Ramp Up your Practice Time
- 7 What Type Of Golf Journal Should You Keep?
- 8 Old-School Physical Golf Journal
- 9 Create Good Habits
- 10 The 18th Hole
A golf journal is basically a diary. Just as in a diary, you jot down all the relevant information that happened during the day, the golf journal serves the same purpose. A diary helps you improve your life choices, and a golf journal helps you improve your golf game.
Golf journals come in handy for a number of different reasons, but first and foremost, the fact you can keep all your metrics and critical data in one place is certainly convenient.
You can track your golf progress in an old-school physical journal, or you can embrace technology and take advantage of one of the many apps designed to track your golf stats. Personally, I love the old-school journals, and there have been several studies showing that when you “physically” write down your stats, your ability to retain the information is significantly enhanced.
Now I’m not saying there’s not a time and a place for tracking your stats on your computer because there is. For example, I keep all of my golf rounds and results in a spreadsheet which is definitely much more manageable than jotting them down in a golf journal.
So let’s dive deeper into what golfing metrics and data you can track and why and how it helps improve your game.
Paralysis By Analysis
There is an adage in sport; “paralysis by analysis.” As the saying suggests, athletes can become so consumed with analyzing and dissecting every little part of their game that it leads to an overload of information, and its this overload that leads to paralysis.
Players have so much information and data at their disposal that they don’t even know where to begin. Golf and tennis players, in particular, have this debilitating mental disorder because of the technical nature of the swing and the tactical nature of the game itself. As my dad says, “golf can do your head in.”
Golf can bombard you with data, but most club-level golfers don’t understand that the vast majority of that data is irrelevant and can do more harm than good, if you let it.
Having a notebook helps you categorize your essential golfing data, making it a lot easier to stay out of your head.
Some of the crucial data you can track are:
- Thoughts on your swing
- Mental performance
- Short game data
- Putting data and
- Swing mechanics
Helps You Understand Your Game
Regardless of how good you think you are, you always have areas of your golf game that need improving; whether it’s your putting, your long game, your bunker play, or your mental approach to the round, components of your game can continually be improved.
In my twenty-plus years of coaching, I’ve seen countless athletes literally transform their careers because they understood the importance of knowing their games.
Tiger Woods is perhaps one of the best examples of this. In the early 2000s, Tiger completely revamped his entire golf game, including everything from his fitness and nutrition program to his swing mechanics and putting stroke. As the saying goes, “the rest is history” Tiger, along with Jack Nicklaus, are renowned as two of the greatest golfers of all time.
Helps You Make Clear Long-Term Golfing Goals
If you’re like any other club-level golfer, you’ll have some goals out on the golf course that you want to achieve. Setting goals is critical to your success not only on the golf course but in your business, family, and social life.
The most challenging aspect of creating a list of goals is that it’s difficult to know which goals to prioritize, how much time you need to dedicate to each goal, and when your goals need to be achieved, a deadline. Keeping a golf journal will help you prioritize your goals and make them easy to track.
Every golfer has different goals, and that’s the beauty of the game of golf; you’re competing against yourself and the course, not other golfers. Whether you want to improve your driver or bunker play, keeping a golf journal plays a critical part in determining the outcome of your success in the game.
Some examples of golfing goals are:
- Improve and increase driver length off the tee
- Improve chipping and putting
- Boost confidence and improve focus
- Dedicate more time to short game practice
- Increase physical strength and conditioning
- Put time aside for stretching
Now while the goals above are good examples, they are vague. A golf journal lets you go deeper and jot down much more detailed information about each goal. So increasing your length off the tee now becomes, “I want to increase my length off the tee by 15 yards before year’s end.”
Having clear goals and deadlines in place makes them achievable and helps you prioritize which goal means the most to you and which goals will immediately impact your game.
Tracking Your Strengths
Tracking your strengths is one of the most critical aspects of “leveling up” your golf game, and a golf journal helps to make this exercise simple and effective. Far too many high-handicap golfers focus all their attention on improving their weaknesses, and while this is a good idea, neglecting your strengths only leads to more weaknesses. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You can keep track of your strengths in great detail by keeping a golf journal. After each round or practice session, you can jot down:
- Which clubs you hit well
- What distance you hit them from
- The shape of the shot
- The flight of the ball and
- How you felt while addressing each shot
The beauty of keeping a golf journal is that it allows you to get as detailed as you want, and when it comes to your strengths, you really want to hone in on exactly what they are. Weaknesses are also important to track, but we’ll get to them next.
Depending on the goals and metrics that you’re tracking, you’ll need to keep notes during the round. Now, you can either keep notes in a separate golf journal/notebook, which is what I do, or you can jot your notes down in the one journal. I prefer to scribble my notes in a separate journal and then transfer them over in more detail after the round.
Doing it this way, I can take my time after the round, and it also helps speed up play; no one wants to be waiting around on the green for you to scribble down your data before moving on to the next hole.
Tracking Your Weaknesses
Tracking your weaknesses is just as important as monitoring your strengths, but knowing which one to focus your attention on can be tricky. Far too many golfers focus solely on their weaknesses and completely forget their strengths, assuming they’ll just “take care of themselves. ”
Similar to how you went about tracking your strengths, tracking your weaknesses requires you to get as detailed as possible. It’s simply not good enough to say, ” I need to improve my putting.” what exactly about your putting do you need to work on? Is it your short putts from inside three-feet? or maybe your lag putting? The fact of the matter is that without details on your weak points, you’ll be like a ship without a rudder, and your game will go in circles.
Scrutinize your game and analyze if there are recurring patterns, such as flubbed chips, snap hooks off the tee, or even nerves on the first tee. Many club-level golfers struggle with nerves on the first few holes, so pay particular attention to how you feel. Are your hands shaking? Is your heart racing at 100mph? Jotting down these feelings helps you confront your nerves and, more importantly, develop a plan to mitigate or eliminate them.
You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn about your technical, physical, and mental game just by taking 5 to 10 minutes after each round to evaluate your play and make a few notes. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s worth between 5 to 7 shots off your handicap; now, that’s not bad for a few minutes of your time.
Time To Ramp Up your Practice Time
Ok, so by now, you should have some pretty detailed information on your strengths and weakness; now it’s time to formulate a practice program to ensure you get the most out of your golf journal.
When developing a practice program, you first need to evaluate and then prioritize which of your strengths and weaknesses you’re going to dedicate the most time to. This is the most critical phase of the development plan, and if you get it wrong, you’ll end up wasting hours and hours on the practice range working on aspects of your game that won’t improve your score.
A golf journal is an excellent way to help you improve your game but let’s not kid ourselves; it’s not a silver bullet. To improve and lower your score, you will have to work hard on the practice range and green.
If you’re struggling to track and evaluate your golf game, I highly recommend taking a few lessons with your local PGA pro and getting his opinion. An experienced coach can develop a training plan for you centered around your strengths and weaknesses and your time.
After all, most of us have full-time jobs and are time-crunched as it is, so dedicating hours and hours each week to practice is probably not an option for most golfers. This is why honing in on precisely what areas of your game need improvement is critical.
What Type Of Golf Journal Should You Keep?
Now you know what to write in your golf journal, the next question you need to ask is what type of golf journal should I keep? There are really only two main options, an old-school physical journal or keeping track digitally.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of both these methods.
Old-School Physical Golf Journal
There’s no rule of thumb as to how detailed or extravagant the inside of your golf journal should be; in fact, you can buy a simple notebook from your local dollar store. That being said, if you’re serious about improving your game, a dedicated golfing journal is definitely your best option.
- Built to last: Handcrafted with premium, US-sourced top grain leather. Watch it develop its own unique patina with time and use.
- Refillable: Built for endless games on the green. This log includes one Golf Log Notebook with 3.5” x 5” pages. Features 23 pre-printed pages for 46 rounds of golf.
- Compact size: Fits great in back pocket or golf bag. Dimensions: 3.75” x 5.25”
- Simple closure: Keep it simple. The elastic wrap securely holds the notebook in place.
- Great gift idea: Makes a great gift for the avid golfer in your life.
Dedicated golfing journals come with detailed columns and data entry points that allow you to enter and track your metrics easily and quickly.
Its also been shown that writing down your notes significantly improves your brain’s ability to retain critical information; simply put, you learn more when you write it down. I prefer to use this old-school method when tracking and writing down more detailed information; it forces you to think.
One downside of having a physical notebook is that you have to carry it around, but providing you didn’t buy one as big as an encyclopedia, it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.
Keeping Track Digitally
If you’re a tech nerd, then no doubt tracking your golfing metrics will be much easier for you with your phone or computer in hand.
Microsoft Word and Google Docs offer excellent ways to track your golfing progress. You can keep them in a running format or make new sheets for each event, but that’ll depend on how much you play. You can keep new or separate docs for practice sessions, practice rounds, and even your tournament play.
Other organizational and time management software like Trello and Monday can also come in handy. To be honest, using Trello makes perfect sense because you can create new boards for each tournament, and it’s easy to go back and check tournaments or practice sessions from months or years past.
Keeping a digital journal is perfect for those golfers who are comfortable with tech, but if you’re at all unsure about this method, then stick to the old-school way of writing in your golf journal; after all, the last thing you want is to track your progress digitally only to realize you’ve lost it all.
Create Good Habits
Good habits help build and create success; without them, your golfing journal becomes a waste of time. Make sure you take the time to sit down and evaluate every practice session and round of golf you play.
It takes 10 to 15 minutes of your time, and when you think you’ve just spent 4 hours out on the course, what’s another 10 minutes? The best way to think about your golfing journal is that your round or practice is not complete until you have filled out the necessary data.
Breaking old habits takes time and energy. The best way to move forward is to create new habits and focus your attention on maintaining them.
The 18th Hole
If you’re serious about improving your golf, you should keep a golfing journal. As a coach, I recommend that all my athletes and clients maintain and keep their journals; it’s a non-negotiable.
The quicker you can start tracking your strengths and weaknesses, the faster you can improve your game. Whether it be physically, technically, or mentally keeping a golfing journal is critical to your golfing development.
And don’t forget, you must make a habit of jotting your thoughts down after each and every practice session and round.