I've spoken before about how I think managing expectations is one of the most important parts about becoming a better golfer. In this article I will talk about how you can strategize to consistently break 100. The first step is changing what you expect of yourself on the course. Breaking 100 probably looks a lot different than you think it does.
Watching pro golf has warped many of us into thinking that we should be making birdies and pars out on the course. This is why I think so many golfers end up over 100. They are going for broke on most shots, chasing a score that is not reasonable for their ability level. If you are struggling to break 100, you should leave this mentality behind. Shooting in the 90s does not require you to hit a bunch of greens, and sink putts left and right. It won't necessarily look pretty, and it's more about limiting your blowup holes. Remember, there is no style column on the scorecard. We are going to think our way through this, and develop a plan to breaking 100.
Let's do the math for a second. I'll use shooting a 98 as an example, or 26 over par. This is what your scorecard can look like:
- 2 pars
- 8 bogeys
- 6 double bogeys
- 2 triple bogeys
Most of you would not think this looks like a spectacular round of golf, but it got the job done. The key here is to stop having nuclear blowup holes where you are scoring a triple bogey or worse. As such, you need to shift your focus from thinking that you are trying to make par on every hole. When you think par is the goal, then you are opening yourself up for some big disappointments when you hit those occasional shanks and chunked chips, which will be the case if this is the level of player you are. Accept the fact that it's OK to be hitting these errant shots; they will not prevent you from shooting in the 90s if you keep your eye on the prize.
Bogey is my friend. Repeat it again…bogey is my friend.
This may not be what you want to hear, it will be a tough pill to swallow for most. Bogeys are over par. Most people hate when they make bogeys! Well not you, because you know that every bogey you make brings you closer to your target score. So now that we have swallowed our pride, and accepted our strategy, how does this look on the golf course?
In order to make bogey on most holes you don't need to be on every green in regulation. In fact, you don't even need to hit one all round! Your goal is to be somewhere around the green after your approach shot. If you get on in regulation consider this a bonus. Knowing this, you don't need to be aggressive off the tee anymore. Your focus is to keep the ball in play, that's it.
The driver is likely your worst enemy for breaking 100. If you are taking it out on every hole, and trying to kill the ball, please put it away. This will result in way too many major mistakes. Additionally, your temper will probably go through the roof, and you'll be on tilt…that's when things can get ugly quickly. On most par 4s you will only need to get the ball 175-225 yards off the tee in order to have a second shot to get you around the green. Start playing clubs less than driver more often.
Now that you have kept your tee shot in play, and have left yourself a somewhat reasonable distance in to the green, you can start thinking about your approach shot. That thing in the ground with the flag hanging on top of it, you're not even looking at it. I repeat, DO NOT LOOK AT THE PIN. You are not good enough to be aiming at the pin yet, so just forget it even exists.
I remember reading about an experiment that was done with golfers where they had them play a round of golf with pins on the greens, and then another without the pins. I can't recall the specifics, but the results were pretty dramatic. The average score dropped significantly when the pins were gone. The point here is that aiming at pins is a quick way to get yourself into trouble with your approach shots, and you should stop doing it.
You are looking at the green, and the area surrounding it. In most cases you should be aimed to the center of the green. If there is trouble left, favor the right side. If there is trouble short, think about taking an extra club. You are trying to eliminate the really big mistakes. The goal is to leave yourself with a reasonable short shot that will allow you to easily get on the green so you are two-putting for your bogey. If you hit the green, that's great, but you are not that upset if you miss.
Short Game, the Real Key to Breaking 100
This is an area where golfers who struggle to break 100 lose most of their strokes. Usually they are trying to get the ball closer to the pin than they need to with their chips or pitch shots. You should not be trying to pull off that amazing shot that will land you within 5 feet of the pin. Think about trying to leave yourself with a 30-35 footer at worst. This will give you a large target around the hole to aim at, and remove the pressure of trying to pull off that great shot.
Bonus Content:Be sure to check out my complete guide to putting.
On most holes, if you can leave yourself 30 footers for par, you are going to be well on your way to breaking 100 consistently. So when you take a step back, and break it down, it's not that complicated! Of course you are going to have to put in the practice to help your consistency on the course, which will help prevent those "big mistake" shots.
I think many of you already have the ability to break 100; you are just stepping on the course with the wrong strategy. If you want a real path to breaking 100 and beyond, then check out what our Insider Membership has to offer.