I have heard all kinds of statistics about what percentage of golfers are scratch, break 80, etc. I play a lot of golf and I play quite a bit as a single or with my dad as a twosome. In the 15 or so years I have been playing golf I have never been paired up with another golfer that broke 80, not once. This doesn't mean I haven't played with someone that broke 80, I just haven't gone to the course and randomly been placed with a stranger who broke 80. That's hundreds if not thousands of people.
Plus, most people shoot much higher scores than they think they do.The rules of golf are complicated and most weekend players use them "loosely". So that average score that most people say they shoot should probably be taken with a grain of salt. For exampIe, I played with a guy on Sunday that hit 3 balls out of bounds, lost two others, gave himself several putts in the 5'-6' range, and took his fair share of mulligans. He never hit a provisional ball, he just dropped a ball around where his got lost and played. He was a really nice guy, but when he announced on the 18th green that he had just shot 86 I had to laugh (to myself of course). Personally I don't mind, we were not playing against each other and he can think he shot under par for all I care, but there is almost no chance, had he played within the rules, that he would have broken 100. Like I said the rules are complicated, and for the average recreational golfer they are not that important and could even be somewhat of a downer.
Surprised at the first paragraph. I bet I don't play nearly as often as a +0.9, but I almost always play as a twosome so get paired with two strangers, and over the past 4 years I've been paired with 3 people I know shot mid 70s (legit!) the day I played with them and at least another half dozen who shot 78-79, also legit as far as I was paying attention.
The ignoring of OB and lost ball penalties among people who recorded a score in the 80s I agree is quite common. The picking up of a 5'-6' putt and counting it as a gimme I must say I've never seen. Definitely I've seen liberal 2'-3' gimmes, but the only people I've seen pick up 5'-6' putts are old guys who generally start taking holes or halves of holes entirely off by the end of the round or serious hackers for whom that 6' putt is their 4th putt on the hole for a 10 and they just give up, but aren't claiming anything close to an 86 at the end of the round. Maybe they're claiming a 115 when really they shot a 130, but who's to begrudge them that?