Beginning in Golf – Top 5 Considerations to Break 100 for the First Time

Golf is possibly the most rewarding yet maddening sport in the world. It is a game that can be played for a lifetime and getting started in it will be a lifetime pursuit of improvement and hopefully achievement.

As a beginner player, the game can seem borderline impossible at times. While better players who score under par make it look so easy, beginner golfers struggle to simply finish holes.

When getting started in golf, it is vital to set goals for improvement that can realistically be met. Since score is the biggest way that your skill level is judged in golf, setting a scoring goal to work toward will be the fastest path toward improvement.

The first of these these scoring milestones is playing a full eighteen-hole round shooting a score under 100. In this article, we will talk about the top five things to consider when trying to break into the 90s for the first time. With a little bit of practice, consistency, and passion, you will get there in no time.

If you can already break 100, make sure to check out our tutorials on how to break 90, 80, and 70.

Breaking 100 – A Realistic Timeline

If you are a newbie to the golf world, your first question probably is; How long will it take me to achieve this milestone of breaking 100?

While the answer to that question can vary significantly from person to person here is our best guess at an accurate answer.

Assuming that someone is playing a normal difficulty course, with a course rating between 70-72, and that they are playing/practicing twice a week they are looking at anywhere from 1-2 years before they break 100 for the first time.

This may seem like a long timeline but the fact of the matter is, that golf is an extremely difficult and nuanced game. However, by focusing deeply on the below considerations and following some of the tips, this timeline can be sped up significantly.

1. Learning Solid Contact – First Things First

For many beginners, the most daunting aspect of golf is mastering the ability to consistently strike the ball solidly on the clubface.

To break 100, players need a basic level of proficiency to hit the ball consistently, get it airborne, and somewhat straight toward their target.

If you’ve never swung a golf club before, simply making contact with the ball can be a major challenge.

The best approach for beginners is to spend the first 2-3 months exclusively at the driving range rather than heading straight to the course. This allows you to focus on getting comfortable with your swing and learning to make consistent contact with the ball.

Start with a wedge or short iron (PW-8 iron) and practice making half swings, aiming to hit the ball 50-100 yards. Focus solely on making solid contact with each shot. As you become more comfortable and consistent with your half swing, gradually increase the length of your backswing to generate more distance.

One of the most championed golfers ever, Ben Hogan, provides an excellent example of this drill for beginners in the video below:

Once you consistently hit five shots in a row with decent contact and trajectory, progress to your longer irons (7 iron-4 iron) and woods. Apply the same technique, focusing on solid contact and gradually increasing swing length.

To accelerate your progress and establish a strong foundation for your golf fundamentals, consider booking lessons with a local teaching professional at the course you frequent. They can assess your swing mechanics and help you develop a repeatable golf swing tailored to your abilities.

2. Getting Off of the Tee – Strategies to Keep Big Scores off Your Card

Now that you’ve developed some consistency in hitting the ball, it’s time to take your game onto the course and begin your quest to break 100. Your first challenge will be getting off the tee successfully.

Many new players struggle to break 100 because they have difficulty keeping the ball in play off the tee. While some may find success with the driver, for most players, the quickest route to shooting under 100 is to leave the driver in the bag and opt for an iron off the tee.

It’s important to remember that to break 100, you don’t need to hit every fairway or reach every green in regulation. A key strategy is to focus on making bogeys, taking no more than 7 doubles, and limiting yourself to 1 triple.

This means it’s perfectly acceptable to play par 4s as three-shot holes and par 5s as four-shot holes to reach the green. The priority on the tee shot is to advance the ball forward and keep it in play.

While this strategy may feel conservative or even boring to some, for the majority of beginners, it’s the most effective way to avoid big numbers and break 100 as quickly as possible. By focusing on consistency and keeping the ball in play off the tee, you’ll set yourself up for success by limiting big numbers.

3. Navigating Approach Play – Stay in the Hole

With your ball safely in play off the tee, it’s time to focus on your approach shots. Following the conservative strategy outlined above, you have the choice to either aim for the green or play a shorter iron to set up an easier third shot.

When deciding how aggressive to be with your approach shots, consider two main factors: your confidence in hitting a wedge onto the green for your next shot and the trouble surrounding the green.

If the green is guarded by water or hazards, opting to lay up is usually the best choice. This keeps you in the hole with a good chance of avoiding a double bogey or worse.

On the other hand, if there’s minimal trouble around the green, go ahead and aim to hit a mid to long iron as close to the green as possible. This increases your chances of making a par or an easy bogey.

Another factor to consider is your proficiency with wedge play both around the green and on full shots. If you’re confident in your ability to hit an 80-100-yard wedge shot onto the green, laying up is generally the best option. However, if these shots are a struggle for you, pushing the ball closer to the green will help ensure an easier bogey.

Whether you’re attempting to hit the green in regulation or laying up, the key takeaway for approach play when aiming to break 100 is to do whatever you can to eliminate scores worse than bogey from play. This means prioritizing accuracy and minimizing risk to keep yourself on track to achieve your goal.

4. Short Game Consistency

Crafting a consistent and functional short game is the next crucial step toward shooting below 100 in golf. At this level, the focus around the green should be on developing shots that you can execute reliably.

Fancy flop shots and spinners can wait until you’ve further honed your skills and gained more experience in the game.

The primary focus for beginners aiming to break 100 should be on low point control, which means hitting the ground in the same spot consistently.

You can practice this initially without a ball. Using the big muscles, work on making a chipping or pitching motion with the goal of the club hitting the ground in the exact same place each time.

Once you’re comfortable with hitting the ground consistently, incorporate basic pitch and chip shots into your practice routine. The objective is simple: get really good at getting the ball onto the green in a position to two-putt.

You’re not aiming for anything fancy; your goal is to achieve consistent results that allow you to advance the ball toward the hole with each shot.

The same thing can be incorporated out of the bunker as hitting the sand in a consistent spot is key to consistently getting the ball onto the green into a position to two-putt.

By mastering the basics of low point control and focusing on getting the ball onto the green in one shot, you’ll build a solid foundation for your short game. This consistency will help you save strokes and ultimately achieve your goal of breaking 100.

5. Putting – Get Down in Two

Once you’ve reached the green, the top priority for breaking 100 is to consistently two-putt. Achieving this requires mastering two key aspects: speed control and making putts inside of 6 feet.

As a beginner, it’s important to establish a consistent setup to serve as a baseline for speed and direction control. Here’s a simple setup drill:

  1. Hold the putter out in front of you at chest height with your arms outstretched and the shaft in a straight line with your arms.
  2. Keep your forearms and shaft in a straight line, and tuck your elbows into your ribcage.
  3. Hinge at your hips to bring the club down to the ground.
  4. With this setup, you’re ready to rock from your shoulders to putt.

With your setup dialed in, you are now ready to work on speed control and short-putting.

To work on speed control, practice hitting different length putts on the practice green with the goal of stopping the ball 1-2 feet behind the hole. Vary the lengths of putts and practice up and downhill to develop a proper feel for different slopes.

Short putting is straightforward to practice on the green. Since you’ll feel pressure on the course, it’s important to incorporate pressure into your practice.

One effective method is to aim to make a certain number of putts in a row. As a beginner, this might mean making 5 putts in a row from five feet, but as you improve, increase your target number. The goal should be challenging but achievable.

By improving your speed control and short-putting, you’ll significantly reduce your number of three-putts, which is crucial for breaking 100. Most players shooting below 100 consistently two-putt, so focusing on these aspects of your putting game will pay dividends on the scorecard.

Key Takeaways

  1. Golf is a lifelong pursuit of improvement and achievement, but it can feel daunting for beginners who struggle to finish holes while better players make it look easy.
  2. Setting realistic improvement goals, especially focusing on scoring milestones like breaking 100, is vital for progress in golf.
  3. To break 100, focus on mastering solid contact, especially off the tee, and avoid big numbers by playing conservatively and strategically.
  4. Developing a consistent short game, focusing on low-point control, and getting the ball onto the green, is essential for breaking 100.
  5. Prioritize two-putting by improving speed control and short putting, aiming to eliminate three-putts and consistently get down in two strokes on the green.
Patrick Stephenson
Patrick Stephenson

Hello, I’m Patrick Stephenson, a golf enthusiast and a former Division 1 golfer at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. I have an MBA degree and a +4 handicap, and I love to share my insights and tips on golf clubs, courses, and instruction through this blog.

Here are clubs that I rely on when I play golf:

Driver: Ping 425 Max
3 Wood: Titleist 917
Hybrid: Titleist 818
4-7 Iron: TaylorMade 760
PW-8 Iron: TaylorMade 7MC
58, 54, 50 Wedges: Vokey SSM9
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red S

Articles: 47

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