1. Have fun :-) and relax, it's just a game.
We sometimes forget the next one:
2. Get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible.
The magazines and Golf Channel certainly distract us from this. Often, we are urged to buy new equipment- "You will magically hit the ball farther!" I agree with using new technology. Today's equipment does make the game easier.
It is a good idea to take inventory of our games. What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses, what do we want to improve this year, for instance? If are honest, our practice sessions consist of repetitive bashing of a bucket of balls, mostly with the same three or four clubs, to the same target. I am guilty of this myself. What if we changed clubs and targets more often? A great exercise to use at the driving range is to "play a round of golf." Have a golf course you know, in mind. Tee off, using driver, then use the appropriate club for the second shot on the golf course you are playing in your imagination. Continue until you "get to the green."
Another idea during practice sessions is to get more creative and try using a club differently. Left handed. Hit the ball as low as you can with a seven iron. Hit the ball as high as you can. Hook the ball a little. Hook the ball a lot. Slice it. Hit it with no wrist, hit it with lots of wrist. See what happens. How does the trajectory of the ball's flight change?
A great challenge, next time you go practice, is to hit each ball to a different target, with a different club. This does take discipline- I admit I need to do this more too!
Work on being creative in your practice sessions so that when you get on the golf course, you can put the ball in the hole in so many different ways.
If you truly want to improve your scores though, two thirds of your practice must be spent on your short game. And there, is a topic for a future blog.