No matter how much you play this game called golf, there is always more to learn. All it takes is one swing thought or one adjustment on the putting green to start playing better golf.
The key is to make sure that you learn so you don’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. You don’t want to miss out and forget these kinds of tips, or you risk the frustration of not getting the most out of your game.
So what’s the solution to long-term success?
A golf journal.
A journal specifically for your golf game can do wonders to your physical and mental game. It allows you to keep everything golf related in one place and can help you improve faster than ever.
If you’re tired of not getting the most out of your game and practice sessions, this tool might be the best golf “gadget” of all time. Plus, it costs almost nothing, unlike everything else that costs a small fortune to improve your game.
A golf journal is a place to keep all your thoughts about the game in one organized place. It’s a safe place to recap rounds, ask yourself questions, and most importantly, not forget important lessons. This can be a physical journal where you write your thoughts or a digital version as well.
A journal for golf is not necessarily a place to track your stats. While you can do that, it’s a little bit clunky trying to do this in a journal vs. a program or app that calculates things for you. Plus, golf stat tracking apps make it easy to compare your rounds and spot trends so you can practice more effectively.
Instead, I would leave the stat tracking to a computer and use your journal as a place to reflect and learn from your rounds. Here are some of the biggest advantages to logging notes in your golf journal.
As golfers, it’s easy to get in our head with the million things that occur during a round of golf or any given practice session. We are constantly thinking about:
- Swing thoughts.
- Mental game advice.
- Short game tips and tricks.
- Golf Tips we read, hear, or listen to online or from friends.
- Moments or specific shots that happen on the golf course (both good and bad).
Simply put, we’re bombarded with information and oftentimes holds us back from greatness on the links. While the internet is a good thing (in general), it can lead to way too much golf stuff that is taking up space in your brain.
Let me tell you, it’s nearly impossible to play a great round of golf with 100 swing thoughts. Instead, the best rounds happen when you’re able to go unconscious and just play.
But the only way to do that is to get all that “junk” out of your head. The best way to do that is to physically get it out by writing in a journal. As Albert Einstein said, “Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to thinking.”
While I’m all for thinking about ways to get better and improve your game, it won’t happen unless you declutter your mind. Arguably the biggest benefit of this journal is to free up mental space so you can start playing better golf.
I don’t care how good you are at golf, you will always want to get better at golf.
Perhaps the best example is Tiger Woods changing his swing in the early 2000s. To us mere mortals, he was playing possibly the best golf ever. Yet, he made some drastic swing changes to get better. While most people thought he was crazy, it worked and won tons of events.
The point is that regardless of who you are, wanting to get better is part of the game. But when you have a journal to log notes and track your game, it’s easier to get to know your game. The more that you become aware of your swing and your misses, the easier it is to play more consistently.
A journal will allow you to write down swing thoughts that are working, ones that aren’t, and identify tendencies in your game. This self-awareness can help you a ton as you take your game from the practice tee to the course.
If you ask any golfer what their goals are, chances are they’re something like:
- “Hit it further.”
- “Hit it straighter.”
- “Make more putts.”
- “Play more consistently.”
- “Shoot lower scores more often.”
All these goal statements have one thing in common – they’re vague! Which means they probably won’t actually happen. Because, as best-selling author Jack Canfield said, “Vague goals equal vague results.”
But with a journal, you can specify what it means to hit it further or play more consistently. It’s a good place to identify what you truly want from your game and get clear about what you’re working towards. Otherwise, it’s easy to get frustrated and feel like you’re practicing for no reason.
Clear golf goals make it easy for you to practice more efficiently and actually improve your game. Don’t forget, get super specific so that you’re more likely to turn your goals into reality.
One of the best things you can do after any round of golf is to log your best shots.
After each round (even the bad ones), I force myself to write down at least three shots from the day. This makes me reinforce them into my mind instead of dwelling on the bad ones. Plus, it forces me to think optimistically instead of dwelling on the inevitable bad shots.
When you write down the good ones, I encourage you to get into detail as well. Write about the exact shot, what you were thinking, where you were aiming, etc. Remember if you had a club twirl, a fist pump, or a positive comment from another player.
Doing this will help make the memory more real and easier to recall in the future.
While a journal is great for remembering your good shots, it can also help you learn from the bad ones as well. The important thing to note here is to not go into much detail about how bad the shot was, as you don’t want your mind to remember it. The faster you can get over bad shots, the better.
Instead, the goal is to detect why you hit a bad shot.
Were you rushed? Did you not pick a target? Were you thinking in the past or future?
When you take some time and really get clear about what was going on before the shot, you can learn a ton. Then, you can use that to improve your practice routines and next time you’re on the course.
One of the hardest parts about golf is carving out time from your schedule to practice. Then, when you do get out, making sure the time spent on the driving range or short game area is useful and not a waste of time.
To make the most of each session, simply look at your journal before leaving your house.
Review your thoughts after the past few rounds before going to practice so you know what to work on. Whether it’s a specific club, shot, or even your routine, it can make each session that much more useful.
Then, after your session, log more notes in your journal, sort of like a brain dump. You can focus on all kinds of things like:
- Notate what went well in the practice session. Maybe you were focused on staying loose, sticking to your routine or had a good playlist that got you pumped up.
- Learn what happened on bad swings. Maybe you forgot to pick a target or were listening to the guys next to you instead of focusing on your swings. While bad shots are of course part of the game, it’s important to note why you hit them so you can spot trends. A journal might help you realize that you over club on wedges or try to hit tee balls too hard, etc.
- Notice your behavior during practice. Do you have a focused attitude, or are you just going through the motions? Are you applying yourself on every swing, or do you zone out from time to time? Do you only practice with specific clubs, or do you mix it up?
Brain dumps after practicing and rounds is a great way to gain clarity and make adjustments quickly.
Another perk to using a digital version is that you can keep all your favorite pieces of golf content in one place. When I find a useful drill for my swing or short game, I make sure to add it to the right folder so I can pull it up during practice.
I also like to store specific articles that might feel relevant to my swing or about solid fundamental techniques. That way, if I revert to old habits in the future, I can easily go back to useful tips and drills that helped me get back on track.
Finally, a journal for your golf game is a great way to improve your mental game. Because no matter how good your swing is, your mental game can’t be good enough… ever! As Steve Elkington said, “The mind is your greatest weapon. It’s the greatest club in your bag. It’s also your Achilles’ heel.”
So let’s make your mental game a weapon, not your demise. A golf journal will help with the mental side of things as you can:
- Get out of your head.
- Write down positive thoughts.
- Remember, in detail, your best shots to improve your confidence.
Now that you can see some of the amazing benefits of using a journal for your golf game, let’s get into the best ways to get started.
The first, old school way to use a journal is a physical notebook. This can be something simple that you buy at the dollar store, or it can be a specific golf themed journal like the ones that are listed below.
Physical journaling is great because it makes you write down your thoughts more slowly than typing. Plus, studies have shown that when you write things in your own handwriting, your subconscious mind picks up on it quicker.
But the downside is that of course you need to carry your journal around with you. God forbid, if you lose it, then you’re back to square one. Plus, a lot of people are 100% online, so you might not like the old school physical notebook.
The other main way to get started is to ditch the pen/paper and log everything in a golf journal online. You can do this in a variety of different ways…
- Microsoft Word or Google Doc: An easy and cheap way to log your golf events is using the stock document on your PC or Mac. You can keep this journal in a running format or create a new document for each month or event (depending on how much you play). You can also use a new document for just practice sessions or even lessons that you might have with a golf coach.
- Use an organization software: Since I play in a ton of competitive events, I like to keep each tournament’s notes in organized folders. To do this, I use Trello and create boards for each tournament. Inside each board, I do post round recaps for each day and it makes it easy to look back on specific events and past years thoughts too.
- Journal apps (free or paid): Finally, don’t forget about journaling apps in the App Store and Android Marketplace. These make it easy to log and review notes across multiple devices and keep everything organized.
The best benefits of digital journaling is that you can review them whenever you want. Whether you’re on the subway commuting to work or on the range, it’s always there for you.
Not to mention, your notes won’t vanish as everything is stored online. Ultimately, the choice of physical or digital journaling is up to you and your habits. Just make sure you pick the one that you’re most likely to use on a regular basis.
Regardless of which method you choose, it’s essential to set yourself up for success by making it a habit. If you’re sporadic with entering notes, you won’t get the most out of these incredible tools.
For example, before you leave for your round, make sure to put your journal somewhere close so when you walk in you’ll remember to do it. Or, if you use a digital journal, set an alarm on your phone for after the round to make sure you don’t miss out on the post round recap. Or, you can even take it with you if it’s small for your practice sessions.
Do you have more questions about how to use a golf journal to start playing better? If so, we’ll answer them in the frequently asked questions section below.
The best place to find them is on Amazon, as there is a huge selection for any type of golfer. Here are some of our favorites to buy for yourself (or as a gift, too):
- Rustico Leather Golf Log Book: This book is made of top grain leather and comes with 23 pre-printed pages for a total of 46 rounds of golf. It’s small and easy to take with you to the course, too.
- Golf Engraved Leather Journal: This is a blank notebook that has lined pages for any type of golfer. It’s a total of 112 pages and comes with a black stain bookmark so you can easily find your last entry.
- Golfing Lovers Notebook: This simple journal has a great golf theme on the front and blank lined pages inside. It’s 6” x 9” and comes with 120 pages total.
Personally, I like writing in a physical journal more and it might actually be more effective too. It’s been said that seeing your goal written in ink, on paper will have a powerful effect on your subconscious mind. Unfortunately, it’s not always as convenient as a digital version, though.
In a digital age, a lot of people will prefer to use an online version instead. A digital journal is more convenient and easier to go through your notes, too.
Regardless of which method you choose, make sure to stick with it. The important thing is to make sure you stay consistent so that you get results, just like any new swing tip in golf.
A golf journal is not a diary.
This is not something you should use to vent about how bad your game is or how much you want to quit after a poor day. That’s not helpful and might actually be counterproductive.
Instead, your golf journal should be a place to:
- Recap your rounds. That includes remembering the best shots and studying the not so good shots to practice better.
- Remember your good shots. This will help you use positive imagery when you’re on the course and remember all the awesome shots you hit. Plus, it’ll force you to find the positive in all rounds (even the ones where your score isn’t ideal).
- Improve your mental game. Golf is a hard sport to play with a head full of swing thoughts and other mental chatter. A journal can help you brain dump everything on to paper so that you can focus on playing with clarity.
The Golfers Journal is a membership for avid golf fans. There are three different memberships you can buy (or gift) to other fellow golf enthusiasts. It’s much more than another golf magazine and instead has special events, gifts, and more.
There is no one way to fill out a golf log. Some players like to write about their round or practice, others like to ponder the game, and others do a combination of both.
Unlike stat tracking, writing in an informal golf log is a great way to clear your mind and learn more about your game. Don’t feel compelled to do it the same every round and instead, write what comes to do… the important thing is to just start!
While there are a ton of benefits and seemingly no downsides, the key is to make sure you get started. Then, make it a habit so that you can reap the benefits of a journal.
I’ve found that the sooner after the round you can log notes, the better. The longer amount of time goes by after the 18th hole or practice session, the easier it is to forget specifics and not get the most out of your journal.
Now, I’m at the point where the first thing I do after each round is walk in the door and recap. Specifically, I’ll log my best shots, what worked, what didn’t, my thoughts, mood, energy, and anything else that comes to mind.
This will make it so much easier to get the most of your journal so that you can play better golf. I’ll also do this after useful practice sessions so I can always look back on what worked in case I find myself in a slump in the future.
Whether you use a physical or digital journal, remember to just start and do your best to stay consistent. Don’t let a busy mind keep you from playing your best golf.