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The Tour Report
  • Mental Game: Adjust your goals

  • Jordan Spieth hits his approach to No. 18 to put himself in position for victory. (Cohen/Getty Images) Jordan Spieth hits his approach to No. 18 to put himself in position for victory. (Cohen/Getty Images)

When Jordan Spieth came to the 10th hole, he thought that winning the John Deere Classic was not in reach. He told his caddie that he wanted to make three birdies on the back nine to get a top-10 finish. Instead, Jordan pulled out six at TPC Deere Run -- including an amazing hole-out birdie on the 18th -- and went onto victory in a dramatic playoff.

Goals are essential to our motivation. Goals create the fire that drives our attention toward a specific target. Without goals to attain, our fire inside would be greatly diminished.

But more important than having goals, we need to adjust goals when needed. With Spieth, he adjusted his goals on the back nine to keep him motivated and inspired. Without that adjustment, he might not have been the first teenager to win a PGA TOUR event since Ralph Guldahl did it in 1931.

Here are my recommendations to you concerning setting appropriate goals:

1) Set realistic goals. Sometimes, young players will set unrealistic goals such as winning three AJGA events a year when they have not won any yet. While it is great to set challenging goals, keep them realistic or they will be demotivating.

2) Set goals that you can evaluate each month. Evaluation shows you whether or not improvement is occurring. If you are not reaching your goals, you may need to change your strategies.

3) Adjust your goals when needed. As Spieth did, you may need to adjust your goals to stay motivated. If you start a tournament with the goal of winning, but you play a poor opening round, you should adjust your target such as to finish in the top 10.

All successful players set goals, but most importantly, they have created a goal-setting program that keeps them inspired and improving.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer.  Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.