Breaking 100 for the first time seems like a long time ago. I have been through breaking 90, then breaking 80 and one day it would be nice to finally break 70 (but I am not holding my breath!) This being said, it can be easy to forget the struggles of getting a score with 2 figures rather than 3 on the card. And to be completely honest, I am sure I am not the only single figure golfer out there who has those horror days when we think that it might happen again! So whether you are a newer golfer or just someone who is generally nearer to double bogey than bogey, here is something that might help. A guide to golf how to break 100.
How to Avoid Disaster Holes
Of course, it would be easy to say something like “just keep the massive scores off the cards and you’ll be fine.” This is self-evidently true, but doesn’t help the kind of golfer who is struggling to break through the 100 barrier. It is like saying to a poor putter “just lag it up to a foot.” What do you think they are trying to do? So rather than simply telling you to avoid blow-up holes, let’s look at a few concrete things you can do to make it happen.
First of all, a little bit of maths. This is going to be course-dependent and slope dependent, but in order to score in the 90s, something like 9 bogeys and 9 doubles should be good. Of course, it is unlikely to work out exactly like this. There will probably be at least one triple on there, but there might also be a par or better and this tends to even out. So the first pace of advice is going to be to look at the course and the score card and decide exactly what we are aiming for on each hole.
Some might say that you should simply play for par because even if you miss it by a shot (or two) you are still on target for under 100. I don’t think this is good advice generally. Playing for par often means taking on shots that the average three figure shooters has no business looking at and potentially bringing a huge score in to play. It is going to be very difficult to score 99 or less if there are holes with quads and worse on them.
Plan Your Way Around the Course
So let’s start with the score card and your course knowledge. I think the first thing to do is to add a shot to every hole. This means that a par 3 is now a par, 4 a 4 becomes a 5 and a 5 is a 6. Why do this? Two reasons. Firstly, it lowers expectations and takes away pressure. If that 400 yard par 4 is a par 5, we don’t feel like we have to bomb it as far as possible down the fairway. This might well lead to a less forced swing and finding our ball in play.
Secondly, it is going to help us with club choice and eliminating danger shots.
Let’s take a concrete example. The first hole on my course is a longish par 4. From the yellow tees where the average 25+ handicapper will be, it is going to be playing around 400 yards/360m. The fairway is quite open, but there is out-of-bounds both sides. The second shot is a slight dogleg downhill to a large green with water on the right and rough/bunkers behind and left.
Normally, I would play this hole from these tees with driver and then a mid to short iron in. But what if I were a little bit shorter? If I ht my driver maybe 180 yards, I am landing it on the narrowest part of the fairway where the dogleg comes into play and the out-of-bounds is closest. I will leave myself another 180 yards into the green. Given my driving distance (from this example) of 180 yards, I will be hitting the longest club I can hit off the deck if I aim for the green. Given it is a bit downhill, my three wood might do the job.
That’s fine, but what are the chances for me as a 28 handicapper say hitting the green with a three wood? Even if I hit it well, I am more that likely to hit a little fade that will head to the water and suddenly I have gone from the middle of the fairway in one to playing my 4th shot from the rough by the green. My very best result from there is probably a six. No disaster, but I have already used up one of my double bogeys. Realistically, this six could even be a seven. Or worse still, my forced drive has gone out-of-bounds and I am reloading three off the tee!
Choose the Right Club
What if we looked at this hole a little differently as a gentle par 5 to ease us into the round? Now off the tee, I am hitting the longest club I feel confident with. Maybe it is a hybrid that puts me 160 yards onto the fairway, short of the real trouble. The green is still 200 yards away and so I don’t even think about going for it. So what do I do? I simply pick my favourite distance to hit into the green. Maybe I am very confident with my pitching wedge. Fine, I will hit this pitching wedge 100 yards and then have 100 yards left into the green with the same club. I am very likely to find myself on the green with a putt for par and a better than average chance of making a solid tow putt birdie.
Or maybe I really like hitting this hybrid and then pitching on from 40 yards. That works out well too. In either scenario, 5 is probably the most likely option. Of course, I might three putt for a six, but 6 would have been the worst case scenario this time rather than the best if I had to drop from the water. More times than not, I am getting my bogey.
Of course, we aren’t always going to be able to get bogey. Look at the card before your round or think about the course if you know it well. There are going to be a few holes where we can actually aim for double bogey right away. We want to leave ourselves a little bit of wiggle room, so we won’t aim for double on 9 holes, but there are probably 4-6 more difficult holes where we won’t even think about bogey in out hole by hole plan. Maybe there is water or another hazard, or the green is really tough. No problem, our par 4 is now a par 6. I bet that if we plan this tough hole as a par 6, there is a better chance of actually making it than if we try to play it in 4 or even 5 and potentially have a blow-up hole.
Do you Need Driver?
Planning your own way round the course like this is really smart golf. Nobody says you have to hit driver off the tee. If you don’t hit it well, play hybrid or whatever. This fits in with the second part of our strategy. We want to be hitting a lofted club into all the greens. This is for a few reasons. Loft is our friend. If you are struggling with a slice, I bet it isn’t an issue with a wedge, is it? Hitting a short club into greens gives us a very good chance of missing green side trouble and this is good because things like bunkers and thick rough are generally a disaster for higher handicappers. Rather than taking three in the bunker, let’s try to remove any chance of finding ourselves in there in the first place.
This bunker issue is also important for the score because the other area where we can really take away those big numbers is around the green. Generally avoiding risky tee shots, planning your way around the course and hitting shorter clubs into the greens will find even a 30 handicapper on or near the green in regulation plus one a lot of times. Hitting hybrid/hybrid/wedge is a great way to play stress-free bogey golf which gives us a few shots to play with.
However, a 25 handicapper can sometimes waste a lot of shots around the green. This isn’t always true. I do know some higher handicappers, especially older gentlemen, who have great short games. There are also some lower handicapper (yes, me!) who are occasionally embarrassing when green side.
However, let’s assume that the person trying to break into the 90s has a short game that is about the same as the rest. So the key here is to play the percentages. For example, the first rule would be to use the putter if possible. Putting off the fairway is fine. If conditions are good and there isn’t any rough between the ball and the green, reach for the putter. You can practice hitting those flop shots on the short game area, but when the score counts, take the easy option. It is often said that a bad put will be far better than a bad chip and this is true for virtually every golfer I have ever known.
Should you Use a Chipper?
If you can’t putt, use as little loft as possible. I know that using a chipper is a taboo subject for many, but it is a fun club that can make life easier and more enjoyable for many. If you are part of the anti-chipper brigade, try using something like a seven iron and getting good at the bump and run.
Just using a putter or a lower-lofted club will reduce scores by taking away the thin across the green or the fat that goes nowhere. It will also lead to more putts being sunk because the first putt will inevitably be shorter.
Of course, you might still find yourself in a really tricky situation. Perhaps it is in a bunker or thick rough. The key here is not to compound an error. If you are short-sided in a bunker, the only thing that matters is getting the ball out. This could mean playing backwards or to the fat of the green away from th flag, it doesn’t matter. For every time a 20+ handicapper knocks it stiff when short-sided in the bunker, you can bet there are 5 times, when the ball stays in there or flies out-of-bounds over the back. Don’t let a six become and eight or worse.
Golf How to Break 100
It is tempting to say that breaking 100 is easy. This isn’t the case, even for better players. I know a couple of people who play close to single figures who have shot over 110 in competition more than once! However, it is doable by any golfer who can play to double bogey level or more. It doesn’t need a new swing or lessons (although these might help in the longer run) it just needs you to follow our plan for golf how to break 100.