This is the time of year that we should be setting our golf goals for the year. The key to effective goal setting is to set goals concerning “the process” before you can expect an outcome.

Golfers must work on the things that are under their control. Assess where you are in your golf game, and set goals that can be attained if organized in a logical manner.

A great formula to use is called SMART.

S – Specific. Use exact dates, numbers and times in your goal setting. “I will practice my putting for a half hour two times a week.” Put this in your daily calendar for specific dates.

M – Measurable. You need to write your goals down. Pick a number you can achieve within a certain amount of time. “I will hit an average of seven greens each time I play by Aug. 1.”

A – Achievable. If the goal cannot be reached in a certain amount of time, you will get disillusioned and quit.

In order to achieve goals in golf, you cannot expect perfection. Expect success, but accept playability instead of perfection. “I will hit eight fairways a round off the tee by June 1.”

R – Realistic. Pick a goal that is challenging yet reachable in a certain amount of time. If you are a 20 handicap, don’t set a 5 handicap as your goal. Dropping 15 strokes in one year is not very realistic. “I will lower my handicap from 20 to 15 by July 1.”

T – Time Based. Set goals with an ending date to be achieved. You can set up short-term goals, and when achieved set another short-term goal. “I will lower my putts per round by 4 strokes by June 1.” When achieved, “I will lower my putts per round by 2 more strokes by Dec. 1.”

Finally, you can also set up golf goals concerning fitness. “I will increase my flexibility by doing 15 minutes of flexibility exercises four days a week.”

Enlist the help of a golf pro, fitness trainer or a golf partner to help you achieve your goals. It is always better to be accountable to another person when setting goals in golf.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Brown Golf Management courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris;