Break 90 Without Changing Your Swing

Regularly in the 90’s? Lower your score without changing your swing.

It’s my fifth year playing golf and I’m ready for the season to begin. Currently, I have only one score in the 80s (an 84 at Dunwoodie Golf Course). Usually, I miss that “89” by a shot or two, scoring 90-92 regularly. I believe this is a mental block, so my goal, this season, is to score in the 80s every time.

From my observations at the local publinks, I realize that most golfers struggle to break 100, let alone 90! Statistics from the USGA show that the average male golfer’s handicap is 16.2 and the average female golfer’s handicap is 29. Fifteen years ago, handicaps were exactly the same! American golfers have not gotten any better! In spite of all of the advances in golf equipment, golf scores have not improved… so is it the equipment or is it the golfer?

Most of the golfers I see are hackers who tell me they rarely practice at a range. These are usually the same inconsiderate golfers who don’t replace their divots or fix their ball marks on the green. How can anyone improve their game if they don’t bother to practice or learn the basics?

Practice makes perfect: learn by doing. Go to the practice range and use all of your clubs. Start with the sand wedge and work your way up to the driver, teeing it up at the height you will use on the course. It should be easy for the average golfer to hit a ball off of a tee. The golf ball isn’t sitting in deep grass or in the sand, it’s teed up! The golfers who whiff their shots the most often take out their oversized driver and swing away as hard as they can. It’s funny watching these “golfers” swing so hard that they not only miss the ball entirely, but almost come out of their shoes trying to make contact. I try not to snicker, but maybe a 3-wood would be a better choice?

Poor club selection usually lands the golf ball short of the green. Bad shots are compounded by equally poor recovery shots. Taking three putts becomes all too common.

I have put together a few basics for consistently breaking 100 and 90. I intend to put these ideas to good use in my own game, hoping that my handicap will reflect the changes I’m making.

  1. Improve course management. Aim your shots away from trouble.
  2. Consider where the ball will land so that your NEXT shot will have a good look at the green
  3. Get the ball back in play before trying to “go for the green.”
  4. Your practice time at the range should focus on shots that get you out of trouble
  5. Sand saves, lob wedge shots and chipping can drop your score like a lead balloon.
  6. Practice your putting as often as you practice using your driver. More shots are given up on the putting green that anywhere else on the course. Drive for show, putt for dough!
  7. Visualize success. Remember past successes. “I know I can hit that 5 iron out from under the trees and get it back in play” (and when I used that 5 iron in the past, the results were terrific!)

Thinking about shot and club selection during a round of golf is as important as going on “autopilot” when you pull the trigger. As the golf season gets into full swing, picture your shots and practice the shorter wedge shots to naturally lower your scores on the golf course.

4 thoughts on “Break 90 Without Changing Your Swing”

  1. Relaxing is a big key as well. My lowest score, 94, was one where I relaxed and just let the clubs do the work! It is very true about the putt! I probably lose 10 strokes (or more) per game “on the green” as getting to it! 😆 Thanks for the article!

  2. Having been a 13 handicapper who has just come back to the game after 12 years (knee probs), I fully endorse the suggestions made.
    Plan for the “next” shot and work on your short game.
    It also would appear that three simple steps will make you a better golfer.
    1. Hit the fairways.
    2. Learn to pitch and chip.
    3. Be good at “lagging putts”…get them close, dont leave a lot of 4-6 footers.

    As regards shots that land in the rough or bunkers…it is not bad luck. You put the ball there, so make sure you get yourself back in play.

  3. I agree with your list but would like to add “mental and emotional control” as well. I’ve been golfing for 3 years and up until a year ago I could not break 100 because I would have 1 or 2 “blow-up” holes (8 or higher). Now, I pray before every round of golf and since then I have not only broken 100 but I recently broke 90 four months ago at Canoa Ranch GC south of Tucson, AZ. Since then I have been breaking 90 fairly consistently with my lowest round being an 86 at Blanchard GC on Davis-Monthan AFB. I dont necessarily hit a good shot every time but I keep myself “in the equation” by limiting the amount of balls I hit out of bounds, taking less risks, and not making the game harder than it has to be. I’ve stopped attempting low percentage shots and I try to stay with the clubs I feel most comfortable with. I dont hit my FW woods very well so I stick to my hybrids because I can hit them 210-220 yds consistently anyways and the swing plane is more like an iron and less like a wood which benefits me greatly. Another big improvement I have made is slowing down my swing, keeping my head down, and concentrating on just making clean contact. One last thing, I stopped getting upset after I hit a bad drive. Bad drives are recoverable and the sooner you get that drive out of your head the sooner you can step up and hit a solid second shot to set up a par. After all, 75% of the game is played within 100 yards of the green.

  4. Very good advice, I’d chuck an amendment into point 1. “Improve course management. Aim your shots away from trouble.”
    I’ve started hitting shots which I know will leave me short of trouble if I don’t hit the shot as true as I’d like.
    Golf course designers know how far the average Joe hits their driver.. so they build trouble into the course at around these lengths to punish people who try and get too greedy…
    So, take that out of the equation.
    An example would be at my local course where, off the tee there is a fairway bunker around 215 yards away.
    All of my woods will typically reach it (Driver would, normally carry it with no problem)… but with a strong gust of headwind or a slight mishit I’ll be right in the middle of the bunker. So, I’ll hit my 5 or 6 iron. I’ll be guaranteed to end up, at best 15 yards short of the trouble. This leaves me a nice second shot that I can layup, then short chip and 2 putts (for a bogey)…

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