I've always thought that these apps that we upload our scores to (Golf Shot, Golf Logix, Tour Caddie, Swing By Swing, etc) should do a better job giving us analysis tools. They have TONS of data. They know exactly what it takes people to score 82 on a par 72 course, for example. They can spit out the average FIR, GIR, putts per hole, as well as birdie/par/bogie distribution, for any given score. The screenshot below is from Swing by Swing when I used that tool. I found that the data was suspect, however. In the example, I doubt it takes 66% FIR to achieve an 82- doesn't seem common sense.
GolfShot has a companion product with Paul Azinger that told you for your handicap where you stood for FIR, GIR, putts, recovery, etc. That gave you a sense where you were lacking compared to others who shot similar scores, so it helped you to focus on a weakness. For me, that was putting and my recovery numbers being low compared to others who shot the same scores.
But anyway, my answer to your question is more mathematical:
I've always thought the key was to limit the damage from bad shots. If you give yourself 2 double-bogey holes max: either on the green in 3 and 3-putt or on in 4 and 2-putt, then you can still make 10 over par.
For the other 16 holes, you just have to be on or an easy pitch to the green in regulation. You can't afford to blow too many drives and approaches, but you don't need great ones either. I'm amazed at how ugly a par can be sometimes. The tricky thing is also how quickly a double- bogey can creep up on you. You just need to make solid contact on all of those drives and approaches. Something to be playable.
And for the 16 holes where you're on or near the green in regulation, you need to par at least 10 of them. Decent short game, obviously. That'll give you 10 over par, considering you shot 4 over par on just 2 blowup holes, and 6 over par for the remaining 16. Throw in a nice birdie putt or an approach to kick-in range and there's a little buffer.
I'm still a mid to upper-80s player but I had maybe 5 low 80s scores last season. Those low 80s scores were just very consistent ball-striking with a birdie or two thrown in. Here's hoping for a better 2014, so it helps to noodle this out as the season starts.