Got the golf bug, broken the 100 barrier, but struggling to get your score under 90?
You’ve come to the right place.
Follow these 6 tips and you’ll be signing a card with a lovely looking number in the 80s in no time.
Ready? Let’s get started!
What Does It Take To Break 90?
It’s pretty straight forward really. On a par 72 course, a score of 90 is bogie golf. That means to break 90, you’re going to need to hit 17 bogies and 1 par.
Joking, not easy.
Because as you well know, the minute a 6,7, or 8 goes on your card the pressure will be on. That double, triple, or worse, means you’re going to need an extra few pars to get into the 80s. Yikes.
In the simplest form, a bogie (on a par 4) is:
- A tee shot
- A missed approach shot
- A chip onto the green
- 2 putts
So what’s the plan?
1. Get Your Tee Shot In Play
If you’re looking to lower your score, you’re going to have to leave your ego in the clubhouse.
Which, I’m sorry to say, means if your driver gets you into trouble you’re going to have to leave that in the clubhouse too.
You just can’t afford to be 3 (or more) off the tee. It puts too much pressure on your next shot.
So what’s your most reliable club from the tee box? Your 3 wood? Hybrid?
Even if it’s your 7 iron, you’re better to be 150 yards on the fairway, than 250 yards and out of bounds.
The target on most holes is nothing worse than a bogie.
2 x 7 irons will get you 300 or so yards, leaving you a short iron away from the green on most par 4s.
The caveat to the above:
Sometimes the driver can be the right choice as long as it doesn’t cost you penalties. If you can hit your driver 200 yards+ but might be in the left or right rough (not out of bounds), then it’s probably better to be closer to the hole.
Avoid penalty strokes.
2. Take Your Medicine
Hit driver, and found yourself in the woods?
Take your medicine.
Sorry, but you’re not Bubba Watson. And that controlled hook round the tree is not going to come off for you.
So, punch it out back onto the fairway.
You’re there in 2, and still have a shot at getting on the green in regulation +1. Which keeps you on track for a bogie, or maybe even a par.
3. Aim For The Middle (Or Safest Part) Of The Green
We all want to knock down flags.
But, if that flag happens to be tucked on the left side of the green behind a bunker, then it’s probably not the right play.
Choose the safest part of the green, then aim there. Generally, that will be the middle, but if there’s a hazard on one side then you might want to aim for the other one.
Again, a caveat:
If you have a consistent shot shape then play for that.
So, let’s say you hit a left to right fade most of the time. The safest option in that case would be to aim for the left side of the green.
If the ball fades, you’ll end up in the middle. If it goes straight, you’ll be on the left side.
Aim right and it fades…
Well, you’ll be in trouble. So play for your shape.
4. Know Your Yardage
I can’t stress this enough:
It’s really, REALLY important to know how far you hit each club.
It takes the hassle out of club selection.
The best way to get an accurate yardage for each club? Use a golf GPS with shot measurement built in.
If you don’t have one yet, I put together a list of the best golf GPSs in 2019 here.
Use your own clubs, your own balls, and hit off grass, not mats. Range balls tend to fly a little shorter than regular balls.
Hit 10 shots with each club, measure the yardage for each shot with your GPS, then work out an average for each club.
Then when you’re out on the course, use your GPS to get an accurate yardage to the green.
Pick the right club, then swing with confidence, knowing that a good strike is going to get you on the putting surface.
5. Work On Your Chipping
Here’s the thing:
You’re going to miss greens. Even the pros only hit an average of 11.7 GIRs per round.
So when you do, it’s important to at least get your chip within 2 putt range.
If you can get up and down, even better. But what you don’t want is either:
- To flub your chip and end up chipping for a second time to get on the green
- To chip on, then 3 putt
Do either of the above, and you’re looking at a double bogie at best. Which puts pressure on the rest of your round.
So work on developing a consistent chipping stroke that will always get you on the green, and within comfortable two putt range.
There are a few chipping techniques, so you’ll have to choose which is right for you.
Probably the easiest method of chipping is to use a variation of your putting stroke.
You can even try chipping with your hybrid.
Find something that works for you, then practice until you’re confident of getting within 2 putt range consistently.
6. Work On Your Lag Putting
Just as you can’t afford penalty strokes, you really can’t afford 3 putts.
If it’s going to take you 3 shots to get on the green most of the time, then you’re going to need to 2 putt for a safe bogie.
What you need to work on?
You want to make sure that your first putt gets you within 3 feet of the hole.
A good analogy is to think of the hole as a dustbin lid. Make sure your first putt is within the lid, and a 2 putt should be reasonably safe.
And you know what?
Sometimes those first putts will go in.
Optional: Play Par 3s As Par 4s
Par 3s might seem the simplest holes. But they can easily become card killers, particularly if they are 200 yards+.
So if you’re faced with a difficult par 3, the safest play can often be to just play it as a par 4.
Get your tee shot in play. Chip on. 2 putt. Walk away with a bogie.
Remember, you have 18 holes to get the single par you need to break 90. And on a tough par 3, scoring a 4 is just fine.
So most of the time, the best play will be a conservative one.
Ready To Break 90?
Follow the tips above and your scores should quickly start beginning with the number 8.
Yes, it’s a bit of a cautious approach.
But if you’re serious about getting your handicap down, it’s the one you’re going to have to adopt while you develop consistency.
I’ll finish with some good news.
Golf is a bit of a mind game. And part of breaking 90 is that psychological barrier in your head.
How often have you been close going into the last couple of holes, then had a blowup hole that ruined your card?
Once you break 90, that barrier (and self pressure) is no longer there, and I guarantee you’ll start to see yourself as an 80s shooter.
The next step: