Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Hard-Work Phase of the Off-Season

In my last post, I said that the term "off-season" can be a little misleading when used to describe my time away from competition. I don't like to take much time off, but this month I have actually done a really nice job of adding rest and time away from the golf course into my routine. Alicia and I have relished some lazy mornings from time to time here in December, and we enjoyed severel great days of Christmas-ing with both of our families. So I guess I have had something of an off-season, and I have really appreciated it!

With that said, I've also been getting after my golf game pretty hard, too. I took the week of Thanksgiving completely off from golf and the gym but have been back at both with quite a bit of energy since then. 

If you follow my blog regularly, you may remember me writing at the beginning of this PGA Tour season about replacing my Goal Board and the idea of big Outcome Goals with a more process-oriented Plan Board. Here it is:
That Plan Board is guiding my work. My Performance Goals and Personal Goals don't need a lot of explanation. My performance goals are simply statistical benchmarks for which I will strive thoughout the season. I did well in many of those areas in my five events of the Fall Series, but I can definitely continue to improve in all of them. As it says on my Plan Board, I want to continuously "work towards" my Performance Goals. My Personal Goals are simply statements about the character with which I want to live my life on and off of the golf course. I feel like if I am working towards my Performance Goals and living out my Personal Goals, it puts me in a great position to be successful. 

The part of this board that might require some explanation--and the part that is specifically applicable to the conversation of hard work--is my Process Goals. My Process Goals define my preparation. So what do "Practice 20, 20, 10" and "Fitness 25, 20, 5" mean? Simple. I have created for myself a Full Week Practice Schedule, Light Week Practice Schedule, Full Week Fitness Routine, and Light Week Fitness Routine. These schedules and routines simply lay out the practice drills and workouts that I will do during a full or light week of work. So, back to the 20, 20, 10 and 25, 20, 5. The 2015-2016 PGA Tour season--from the Fry' Open back in October through the Tour Championship in late September--covers exactly 50 calendar weeks. During those 50 weeks, I will complete 20 weeks of Full Practice Schedue, 20 weeks of Light Practice Schedule, and 10 weeks off from practice. Similarly, I will complete 25 weeks of Full Fitness Routine, 20 weeks of Light Fitness Routine, and 5 weeks off from fitness activities. Having my Process Goals structured this way holds me accountable to following a strong plan but allows me to have flexibility and rest when I need it, too. My Process Goals are really the basis for my success in golf. My improvement starts with following my process, and steady improvement is the reason that I have and will continue to achieve the things I want.  

As for what is contained in my Practice Schedules and Fitness Routines, I will just say that both are made up of a challenging but realistic set of expectations that work all areas of my golf game and my body. Following the Practice Schedules I have set up makes my practice fun because I am always trying to achieve goals and complete a task. It makes my practice very focused and intentional.  Similarly, following my Fitness Routines gives me extra motivation to get my work done in the gym and be prepared physically to be the best that I can be on the course. 

In the four weeks since Thanksgiving, I have completed my Full Fitness Routine all four weeks and have completed two weeks of Light Practice and one week of Full Practice. That is some pretty good work for the "off-season," and I am feeling great.

In addition to that work towards my Process Goals, I have also put in some really good work on my golf swing. I feel like my mechanics are continuing to develop and my swing is becoming more repeatable, more efficient, and more effective. It is cool for me to see how much working towards my Process Goals helps to integrate new swing feelings into my game quickly. Because I am always doing drills that require me to achieve some result, I am forced to balance "swing practice" with actually hitting shots to specific targets. Practicing in this way has allowed me to work on my golf swing without losing the target-orientation that has always allowed me to play well. The bottom line is that as my swing improves, I am improving my golf game right along with it. Though it sounds counterintuitive, those two do not always happen together. In this way, working on my Process Goals is helping me with the work that I am doing on my swing, too. 

I couldn't be happier with the way that I am following my Plan Board this off-season. That is the hard-work phase. Now, for just a minute, I get to have a little extra fun and enter the dream-big phase of the off-season. But, before I do, I want to make one thing clear: My Plan Board has replaced my Goal Board. I'm not into Outcome Goals. I want to play well; I want to win tournaments; I want to have a long and successful career at the highest level of golf. Those things are obvious. I don't need to write them down. Instead, I need to follow a great plan so that I can make them all happen. I have the great plan in place, and I'm going to follow it. The dream-big phase isn't about writing down specific outcome goals. It's more fun than that. It is day-dreaming about possibilities that are very realistic for me if I stay committed to my plan. 

Here are the things I day-dream about: 

Qualifying for and contending in major championships.
Climbing towards the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Winning the Fed-Ex Cup.
Playing on Ryder and Presidents Cup teams. 

See? Wasn't that fun? Now, here's the coolest part: I can make all of those things happen. 

That is the end of the dream-big phase of the off-season. It's time to get back to following my plan. That is the thing that is written down. That is the formula for success. That is the thing that I can control. It will bring me the results that I want. And, most importantly, following my plan is pretty darn fun, too!

Thank you very much for following me and for your support. The off-season is nearly over, and I'll be back in action next week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Keep it here for more frequent reports as I get back into the tournament schedule. 


  1. I honor your practice/PT goals but I notice you have little or no plans to work on the 5.5" course between your ears. Butch Harmon said, "In golf the mind is a terrible thing." What did Butch mean by that? You know the answer if you see how often your mind goes (and stays) in the past and or the future during a round. I share an ancient breathing technique of slowing the mind and being in the Now (aka the zone). Give me an hour and I will share it with you. Michael Shingleton -

  2. Federer--like composure, go for it !!

  3. Great Second round yesterday!! - Keep that positive attitude as nobody scrambles like you w/ that hot putter:)

  4. Your depth of thinking and enjoyment of the moment will carry you far. Peace and blessings to you and your family. It is a joy to watch you play.

    Brian Austin

  5. Hello Peter~ Truly enjoy watching you play and have become a fan. You have unlimited skillful talent matched with passion & a good plan. Best to you in 2016!

    Coble Thurman
    Denver, CO


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