Breaking 80 – Five Tips to Reach this Elite Milestone

Congratulations on surpassing the milestone of breaking 100 and breaking 90! As you continue to elevate your game, reaching the elite achievement of breaking 80 is the next obvious challenge on the horizon.

This feat not only demands skill but also strategic mastery and mental fortitude.

In this article, I’ll give you five indispensable tips to help you conquer the elusive barrier and consistently shoot scores under 80:

  • Make par easy
  • Aim for the safe side of the green and consider the best miss
  • Learn to get up and down from easy to medium spots
  • Become a pro inside of 7 feet putting
  • Focus on the process of playing and not score

Each suggestion is formed from my experience of playing with others and getting better myself. With these five tips, you’re well-equipped to tackle the challenge ahead and join the small percentage of golfers who’ve achieved the prestigious milestone of breaking 80.

Let’s dive in and elevate your game to new heights!

Breaking 80 – A Realistic Timeline

I want to preface this article by making sure you know that breaking 80 is an accomplishment the majority of golfers will never achieve as only about 3% of players ever get there.

By venturing into the 70s, you are traveling into the elite territory of golf and to get there it is going to take time, patience, hard work, and strategy.

For someone new to the game it is at least a 3-5 year timeline to break 80 for the first time. If you recently broke 90 for the first time, I think you are 1-2 years away from getting your first round in the 70s.

With that time frame in mind, let’s jump into my top five tips to shoot that elusive 79.

Make Par Easy

To fire a round in the 70s, making a lot of pars is extremely important.

Previously, when aiming to break 90, the primary goal was to minimize double bogeys while occasionally securing a par. To break 80, the focus shifts to not only avoiding doubles but also making a higher number of pars.

I believe in keeping things simple, especially when it comes to making par. I often recall what one of my college teammates used to say: “Make Par Easy.”

This may sound cliché, but it holds true when striving to keep bogeys off your scorecard. Here are some practical strategies to implement on the course, as making birdies isn’t the key to shooting in the 70s; it’s about avoiding doubles.

Take an Easy Wedge Shot if the Course Lets You

By now, you likely have a good handle on your wedge game. If you encounter a short par 4 where you can tee off with an iron and approach the green with a wedge, seize the opportunity.

This strategy often leads to an easy par, bringing you one step closer to your target score.

The same principle applies to par 5s. If a hole allows for an easy layup to a wedge distance, go for it.

You can even extend this strategy to the tee shot on a par 5 by playing the hole with two long irons and then a wedge.

Keep it in play and make par easy.

It is OK to Leave Birdie Putts Short

Over the years, leaving putts short has garnered an unwarranted stigma.

Some players believe that hitting a putt 3-4 feet past the hole is preferable to leaving it short, but when aiming to break 80, that’s not the case.

For birdie putts of any length, the goal is obviously to give the ball a chance to go in. However, once again, it’s much better to leave a putt six inches short than to run it four feet past. Keep it simple and make par easy!

Stressing over short putts for par all day after putting for birdie is no way to go about attempting to break 80.

Aim for the Safe Side of the Green and Consider the Best Miss

As you progress in golf, you’ll quickly realize that shooting a low score depends as much on strategy as on hitting the shots themselves.

To break 80 for the first time, your approach play strategy is crucial, and selecting good targets can make the difference between achieving your goal or not.

Breaking 80 requires making par as often as possible and avoiding bogies. Always play away from trouble or difficult up-and-downs.

A straightforward strategy is to add five yards to front hole locations, subtract five yards for back hole locations, and aim for the center of the green on left or right hole locations.

However, this approach isn’t always optimal if it brings you closer to a bad miss or a hazard. Generally, aim for the center of the green on left and right pins, but if that direction leads to a worse spot than a short-sided miss, go for the pin instead.

Learn to Get Up and Down from Easy to Medium Spots

Breaking 90 required you to be able to get up and down most of the time from easy spots but to progress to the next level, you are going to need to be able to get a few balls up and down from what I would consider medium difficulty locations.

The best way to improve at this is through practice. I like the following drill:

  1. Around the practice green hit and putt out 9 easy chips, 9 medium chips, and 9 hard chips.
  2. Easy chips can be defined as any shot that you would be upset to not get up and down, medium is a shot that you feel that you are able to get up and down about half the time, and hard is a shot that you would be excited to get up and down.
  3. Set a goal for each location of number of up and downs to get. I like to start with 6/9 for easy, 4/9 for medium, and 2/9 for hard.
  4. Once you reach you goal from each location, up your number by 1 and run the drill through again.

A lot of learning to get up and down is through practice and self-discovery so use this time to truly figure out what works for you while dealing with the pressure of meeting your goals.

Become a Pro Inside of 7 Feet Putting

Short putting often goes unnoticed in the pursuit of shooting lower scores as most players think they are better from close range than they really are.

I can not stress this enough, WORK ON YOUR SHORT PUTTS!

Consider how often during a round you face a 4, 5, 6, or 7-footer to save par. At your current golf level, you are likely to encounter 8-12 of these crucial putts per round, which can be the defining factor in your performance.

To break 80, you are going to need to learn to make at least 70-80% of these putts inside of seven feet. To work on them, I like the following drill:

  1. Put four tees around a hole on the practice green at 3 feet.
  2. Going through your entire routine, putt a ball from each tee with the goal of going around the circle 5 times without missing.
  3. Once you have made 20 in a row from three feet, move back to 4 feet and go around the circle 4 times without missing.
  4. Once that is complete go back to 5 feet which would require 3 full trips around, 6 feet would require 2 trips, and finally 7 feet would require one trip.
  5. If this is too hard or easy, feel free to either add extra trips or allow yourself some misses. The important thing is feeling the pressure and figuring how to make a good stroke under pressure.

As simple as this drill is, it is extremely effective. Make it part of your regular routine and you will start to see most of those short putts go in.

Focus on the Process of Playing and Not Score

Have you ever noticed how focusing on your score and outcomes affects your performance?

For most golfers, fixating on the score has likely caused a promising round to fall apart more times than they’d like to admit. Getting too caught up in the numbers often pulls you out of your process and undermines your game.

To break 80, you need more than just skills and course management; mental toughness and control over your thoughts are crucial. Instead of obsessing over your score, concentrate on the process of making good swings and smart decisions. Embrace and enjoy this process even more than achieving a low score.

Here are some examples of focusing on the process:

  • Choose a target before every shot and focus intently on it as you prepare to swing.
  • Visualize your ball’s flight path before making a shot.
  • Acknowledge your feelings during a round and embrace nervous thoughts.
  • Learn to be satisfied with a well-executed putt, even if it doesn’t go in.

These practices exemplify what it means to follow a good process on the course. By prioritizing this approach over your score, you give yourself the best chance of breaking 80.

Key Takeaways

Make Par Easy

Focus on minimizing double bogeys and increasing the number of pars. Simplify your strategy by taking easy wedge shots when possible and aiming to keep the ball in play. Remember, consistently avoiding big mistakes is more critical than making birdies.

Aim for the Safe Side of the Green

Strategic approach play is crucial. Aim for safer areas of the green, avoiding difficult spots or hazards. Adjust your targets based on hole locations and always consider the best miss to avoid trouble.

Master Getting Up and Down from Various Spots

Develop your short game skills by practicing easy to medium-difficulty chip shots. Set and meet specific goals for up-and-downs during practice sessions to improve your ability to save par from different situations on the course.

Excel at short-putting

Practice and improve your proficiency at making putts inside seven feet. Use specific drills to build confidence and consistency under pressure, aiming to make at least 70-80% of these critical putts during your rounds.

Focus on the Process, Not the Score

Concentrate on making good swings and smart decisions rather than obsessing over your score. Embrace the process of playing well, including visualizing shots, acknowledging and managing your emotions, and being content with well-executed putts, even if they don’t go in.

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: 49

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