One of the best things about golf is that every round could be the day. It could be the day you make a hole in one or the day you shoot a new personal record. Every time you tee it up, there’s a chance something special happens. There’s a chance you reach a new milestone.
Breaking 90 is a special achievement and we believe we can help you get there. You don’t need a perfect golf swing to shoot in the 80s. Below we’ve laid out the steps you need to take to learn how to break 90. We want to help you shoot lower scores and decrease your golf handicap.
You can do it. There’s no time like the present. We aren’t talking about a bunch of swing tips. Our “how to break 90 in golf ultimate guide” will share the things great golfers do to keep their scorecard looking good. How they prepare, how they play, and how they assess their performance following each round.
The next time you get asked at a party, “What do you shoot?” won’t it be fun to reply with, “typically, I am in the 80s!”
How To Break 90 In Golf: Let’s Look At The Numbers
Golf terminology can be tricky. Let’s get started by defining what it means to break 90. The basic definition would be “shooting an 18-hole score of 89 or less.” Sounds simple enough, but what does actually mean?
The majority of regulation/championship golf courses have a total par of 72. In order to break 90, you need to shoot 17-over or better. This means that you need to average only slightly better than bogey golf. In theory, you could only make 1 par (and 17 bogeys) and you’d achieve this goal. Seems pretty straightforward.
Of course, achieving this milestone won’t be that easy. If you’re currently pursuing this goal, we assume that you typically shoot in the mid-90s. What’s the difference between an 88 and a 95? The answer is 7 strokes, but that isn’t our point. What causes those extra 7 strokes? How can you eliminate these extra strokes? We have some answers.
Now that we’ve defined the challenge, let’s get started on the solution.
How To Break 90 In Golf: 7 Things You Should Start Today!
You won’t see things in our list like “get a lesson” or “improve your stance.” Both of these are good investments in your golf game, but not the intent of this guide. We hope you find these ideas helpful.
1. Short Game, Short Game, Short Game
You can’t talk about learning how to break 90 in golf without starting with your short game. Even if you struggle to hit the golf ball if you become a great chipper and putter breaking 90 will be relatively easy. Your short game can cover up the rest of your game.
How many times do you get up & down when you play? Learn to hit different types of chip shots. Practice from the fairway, the fringe, the rough, and the sand. Focus on trying to chip balls within 10 feet of the hole. This gives you a great chance for a 1-putt and if you miss, should leave you a manageable second putt.
Once you’re on the green, you simply need to be a solid putter. Eliminate 3-putts by working on your ability to lag the ball near the hole. To learn how to break 90 you don’t need to make a bunch of 20-footers, but you do need to consistently 2-putt. Your short game is truly the secret to breaking 90 and having more fun on the golf course.
2. Review Your Equipment
We don’t think that you have to spend thousands of dollars to learn how to break 90, but you do need to assess if your golf clubs are holding you back. Does your golf equipment support how you play the game? How much do you know about your golf equipment?
Let’s start with your clubs. Your driver should be relatively new. If you’d like to save a little cash, buy last year’s model. As long as it was made by a major golf brand (PING, Titleist, Callaway TaylorMade) and was made in the last five years, you’re good. The same is true with your irons, but learn about the type. If you’re trying to learn how to break 90, you don’t want blades. Make sure your irons were designed for a player with your skill level. Typically, they’re referred to as “game improvement” irons.
Finally, beg, borrow, or steal (don’t steal) the golf accessories you need to be successful. This will vary by player, but we recommend at a minimum you have a golf towel, a golf umbrella, and a golf glove. Look for other accessories that’ll either improve your game or improve your experience when you play. Happy golfers shoot lower scores - it’s a scientific fact!
3. Course Management: Focus On Pars & Bogeys
To learn how to break 90 in golf simplify your approach to the game. You don’t need to make birdies to achieve your goal so that shouldn’t be your goal. If you can consistently score pars and bogeys, you’ll easily shoot in the 80s.
This idea should impact your course management. If you find yourself in trouble (woods, deep grass, etc.) play smart. Get your ball back to the fairway and try to make an “easy” bogey. You don’t have to try the “hero” shot. Breaking 90 has nothing to do with making a bunch of birdies. It’s all about avoiding the double bogeys, triple bogeys, and quadruple bogeys!
Know your limitations and think your way around the course. Don’t try to execute shots you haven’t practiced. If you don’t feel good about a shot, don’t risk it. Layup in the fairway. Low-stress golf is a great way to enjoy your afternoon.
4. Eliminate Penalty Strokes
Penalty strokes kill your scorecard. Your ball goes in a hazard (penalty area) or even worse, out of bounds. It’s very difficult to save a bogey once you have a penalty stroke. If you make a triple bogey or higher, we bet that score included at least one.
If you aren’t careful this can happen with any club in your bag (probably not your putter), but your driver is probably the main culprit. Wild tee shots just seem to find trouble. In fact, golf course designers do this on purpose. They want your sliced drive to find the lake or your hooked 3-wood to go out of bounds.
Be careful with your tee shots. Always pick a club that’ll find the fairway. If your driver is getting you in trouble put it in “time out.” There’s nothing wrong with hitting a 3-wood or a long iron off the tee. When learning to break 90, accuracy is better than distance.
5. Assess Your Golf Fitness
It’s easy to overlook, but golf is a physical activity. Improving your physical conditioning can be the difference between a 95 and an 88. What’s your current level of fitness? Do you get tired near the end of your round? Do you struggle to finish rounds, making high scores on 15-18? Be honest.
Tiger Woods started the golf fitness movement and now athletic trainers get certified in the process of helping golfers improve their bodies. There are exercises that are specifically designed to help your body perform better during your swing.
If you’re serious about learning how to break 90, you need to take your conditioning seriously. Design a workout program that’ll help you reach your goals. Learn to finish strong on the course!
6. Commit To Practice Time
Yes, we’re talking about practice. We know that grinding on the driving range isn’t always fun and hitting practice putts can get boring, but it’s critical if you want your game to reach the next level. The more you structure your practice, the better.
We recommend you build a plan. It should include several different elements. First, how much time per week or per month will you spend practicing? Make a commitment and hold yourself accountable. Second, define how you are going to spend your time. Determine the time you’ll spend on the driving range, on the chipping green, and on the putting green.
Once you have your practice plan, make sure you follow it. Every couple of months re-assess your plan and make changes as needed. Learn how to enjoy your practice sessions and you’ll be on your way to breaking 90!
7. Track Your Game - Where Are You Losing Strokes?
The more you understand your golf game the better. With this in mind, we recommend you track some basic stats when you play. Use your scorecard to document your # of putts, # of penalty strokes, # of fairways hit, and # of greens in regulation. A green in regulation is anytime you have a birdie putt. If you prefer, you can find a phone app that’ll help you track this data.
Following each round review these stats and look for trends. How often do you 3-putt versus 1-putt? Are you hitting fairways off the tee or living in the woods? Do you get a few birdie putts every round?
You can use this data in a couple of different ways. First, if you understand your strengths and weaknesses, you can make smarter choices on the golf course. Second, you can use this data to design your practice routine (see #6). Spend your time where you’ll experience the most improvement.
The more you know about your golf game the easier it’ll be to learn how to break 90!
How To Break 90 In Golf: Frequently Asked Questions
What percentage of golfers can break 90 consistently?
Approximately one-quarter of amateur golfers or 25% will break 90 consistently. A much higher percentage (45%) average over 100 when they play.
Is a 7 handicap good?
A 7-handicap golfer will typically shoot between 77 and 82 on a par 72 golf course. This is much better than the average player, who shoots in the upper 80s. You have a ways to go to become scratch, but you’re definitely a good golfer.
Is a 12 handicap in golf good?
The average male golfer has a handicap of ~16. With that in mind, a 12-handicap player is 4 strokes better than average. It’s fair to say that a 12-handicap is a good golfer.
What’s a bad golf score?
Golf scores are relative to the player’s skill. A 75 is a bad golf score for a professional, but is a great score for a 10-handicap player. In general, we’d say any score over 100 on 18 holes is a bad score.
Before You Know It You’ll Be Working To Break 80
Golf is a marathon, not a sprint. You may not break 90 today or tomorrow, but if you continue to work on your golf game, you’ll get there. Learn to enjoy the grind. Take pride in your practice and celebrate small successes.
Do your best to stay positive. Don’t look at scores in the 90s as failures. Look at them as opportunities to learn. You’ll get there. You’ll exceed your goal and then it’ll be time to set a new one. That’s the great thing about golf. You can always get better. Every day brings a new challenge. Enjoy your time strolling the fairways!