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Hugh Jars

Course Management Strategies to Break 90

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This is an interesting topic for me as I just became consistent at breaking 90 and now break 80 on occasion.  For breaking 90, I would recommend the Level 5's strategy.  Treat every hole like a Par 5.  Yes, to break 90 you will need to drop 1 stroke eventually but this approach can help you mentally if you have a decent swing.  Nothing makes me swing easier on a par 3 than knowing I can double bogey this hole and still be right on track.  Chances are I'm more likely to bogey the par 3 (than double bogey) which will give me an extra stroke for the Par 5's.  A lot of this game is mental and anything that can take pressure off of you has to be helpful.

As a quick aside from 'strategy', I would agree with the folks that say you don't need to have a perfect swing.  I do think you need to strike the ball consistently though.  If you're hitting more than 2-3 iron shots fat per round or your driver is wildly inconsistent then you're going to struggle.  At the end of the day, avoiding blow up holes is what it comes down to for breaking 90 (at least for me).  I've had days where I felt like my ball-striking was poor but because I avoided double-bogeys I would look up and see my 'ugly' day resulted in an 84.  Good luck.

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On 9/5/2019 at 12:10 AM, David in FL said:

 

But regardless, yep, decent ball striking with no more than a very average ability at the rest of that “stuff” breaks 90 consistently.

Surely not serious.

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23 hours ago, iacas said:

Golfl Sidekick is pretty terrible, really.

Want to break 90?

Hit it better. Follow the GamePlan ideas in LSW.

The end.

LSW - I cant seem to find a book in my country. Doesn't seem to available on ebook or audiobook either. Frankly, that doesn't give me a lot of confidence that its worth buying if no one else is.

 

3 minutes ago, David in FL said:

Completely.

So not being able to get out of a bunker for 3 or 4 strokes, skimming and chunking chips, having no clue how to play within 100 yards and little confidence to make putts inside 5 feet, yet alone lagging putts to that distance doesn't matter. Mate you are clueless.

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4 minutes ago, Hugh Jars said:

LSW - I cant seem to find a book in my country. Doesn't seem to available on ebook or audiobook either. Frankly, that doesn't give me a lot of confidence that its worth buying if no one else is.

 

So not being able to get out of a bunker for 3 or 4 strokes, skimming and chunking chips, having no clue how to play within 100 yards and little confidence to make putts inside 5 feet, yet alone lagging putts to that distance doesn't matter. Mate you are clueless.

Please read what I wrote.  Not being able to “get out of a bunker for 3 or 4 strokes” and “skimming or chunking” a high percentage of chips doesn’t qualify as “average” for someone on the verge of breaking into the 80’s consistently...

Hit the ball better, and you’ll break 90.

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3 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

So not being able to get out of a bunker for 3 or 4 strokes, skimming and chunking chips, having no clue how to play within 100 yards and little confidence to make putts inside 5 feet, yet alone lagging putts to that distance doesn't matter. Mate you are clueless.

What really bothers me is that at my age and with a bad shoulder my drives are around 200 yards.  If I was able to hit my drives 240m/260yds I would do whatever I needed to fix my swing to pick up the extra yardage.  If you spent half the effort on that rather than on this post, you wouldn’t be asking about breaking 90.

But to follow your approach, play Par 3 courses with 70m-120m holes.  You have to be able to shoot par, actually a 26 over 9 holes.  This is basically what you are professing with 2 (3 on par 5’s) 180m shots and a wedge.

Going to a range helps to groove a swing, but nothing works like having to stop a ball in the right spot on a green.  Those 2 putts might be tougher than on a practice green.  And you can’t get any bogeys and you need one birdie.

If you can do this consistently, then leave yourself 100m on a regulation course and play it like a Par 3.  If you are never able to consistently shoot 26, you won’t ever consistently break 90.  It’s pretty simple stuff.

John

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It’s quite amusing to see the extent of some people’s cognitive dissonance as they attempt to justify not working on their short game and course management verses focusing on full swing mechanics and hitting for distance.

No wonder chipping and putting practice areas are so empty at most golf courses.

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8 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

Mate you are clueless.

Yea, the 6.7 handicap player is clueless. I'm sure he doesn't know anything about breaking 90 🙃

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2 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

It’s quite amusing to see the extent of some people’s cognitive dissonance as they attempt to justify not working on their short game and course management verses focusing on full swing mechanics and hitting for distance.

No wonder chipping and putting practice areas are so empty at most golf courses.

I don't think anyone suggests NOT working on short game and putting, they suggest that a majority of improvement in scoring for most players will come from full-swing improvement.  If you truly suck at any facet of the game, that should get the most attention, but if you're kind of average at everything, work on the full swing will yield the greatest improvement.  For most people, putting can be improved quickest, but there's a limit on how good you can get.

And full-swing work isn't necessarily about distance, although improved swings usually do result in longer shots.  Full-swing work is really aimed at improving consistency of contact, consistency of ball flight, consistent distance control, decreasing the number and severity of really poor shots.  All of that will lead to lower scores.

All that aside, going back to the original question about course management.  Learn your own patterns, understand what your variability is likely to be with each club.  Then, on every single shot, try to get as close to the hole as you can without taking on significant additional risk.  

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2 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

It’s quite amusing to see the extent of some people’s cognitive dissonance as they attempt to justify not working on their short game and course management verses focusing on full swing mechanics and hitting for distance.

No wonder chipping and putting practice areas are so empty at most golf courses.

Actually, I see the opposite. Guys with terrible swings who just go to the putting green. Then they think they played lousy because they missed putts and chips and not because they were on the green in 4 on a par 4.

No one here is saying that the short game in not important. All strokes are important. And improving your short game can and will certainly help your scores. But improving your ball striking is a bit more important. Greens in regulation are the best way to improve your score. And you achieve that by being better off the tee and with approach shots. This is what David was saying about ball striking. Folks who break 90 get more GIR than those who shoot higher.

If I get the ball in position off the tee, then on the green in regulation, I will almost always par the hole. If I miss by a bit (a near GIR), then my pitch/chip and putting have to be on point to par the hole. If I miss the fairway, have to punch out, I will not par the hole. If my approach shot goes awry, or I go in a bunker, I will most likely not par the hole.

It is simple for me. Spent 65% of my time on full swing, 30 on short game and 5 on putting. I break 90 most of the time.

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3 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

It’s quite amusing to see the extent of some people’s cognitive dissonance as they attempt to justify not working on their short game and course management verses focusing on full swing mechanics and hitting for distance.

It's not cognitive dissonance. No one is having inconsistent thoughts or beliefs here. We have formed opinions based on statistical facts.

Also, most golfers who go to the driving don't actually work on anything other than clubface control to path. They try to hit ball after ball until they hit some good shots in the row. They are not actually working on their swing path, but just working on clubface timing.

In the end, the stats are the stats. Here is a table from Mark Broadie's research. It shows shots saved or lost versus a scratch golfer over 18 holes.


image.png

Full swing has the biggest impact on the golf game. You can take a golfer who shoots 100, give them the short game and putting of a PGA Tour player and they would only lose 13 strokes off their score (Am 3 to Pro2). You give them a Pro2 long game and keep the rest of their game at A3 and they will lose 22 strokes!

No one is saying don't work on your short game or putting. They can be a glaring weakness. If you are hitting 50% of your GIR, and you blade and duff short game shots, then go work on your short game. If you 3 putt every hole then go work on your putting. When you hit 10% of your GIR, go get a lesson and work properly on your long game.

Course management is easy, advance the ball as far as possible towards the hole taking into account hazards based on how good you hit the ball. If you spray the ball all over the place then take the correct action in adjusting your target. It maybe the best option is having a 50FT putt or chip versus having your ball end up in a bunker or water hazard. It's pretty easy to remember. Just be ready to accept that a good percentage of your shots may end up in the rough. Ending up in the rough could be considered a good result depending on the hole and how much you spray the ball.

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Golf Sidekick's strategies are not for me. Even if they worked and, knowing how I play, they wouldn't work anyway. I haven't broken 90 yet but I will and it won't be because I hit only my 6 iron, SW and putter or because I teed off from the kid's tees or any other contrived method to lower my score. It'll be because I continue to work on it and because my skill at golf is improving. It was a long time before I broke a 100 - now I do it regularly. Eventually I will break 90 and also begin doing it consistently. I'm quite happy with my progress, slow as it may sometimes feel to me, but I know I will get there and, when I do, it will be because I have earned it.

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12 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

Surely not serious.

He's serious, yes, as am I.

12 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

LSW - I cant seem to find a book in my country. Doesn't seem to available on ebook or audiobook either. Frankly, that doesn't give me a lot of confidence that its worth buying if no one else is.

Yeah, because a book with tables and charts and images makes for a great audio book.

We've sold nearly 20,000 copies (a helluva lot in golf, particularly since we've resisted and kept it in paperback-only format), including a few hundred to Australia, and several thousand throughout Europe, despite being based in the U.S. and shipping from here.

https://lowestscorewins.com/buy - International Orders are at the bottom of the page. Given some of the other comments you've made here, it'd be a very worthwhile investment.

6 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

It’s quite amusing to see the extent of some people’s cognitive dissonance as they attempt to justify not working on their short game and course management verses focusing on full swing mechanics and hitting for distance.

No wonder chipping and putting practice areas are so empty at most golf courses.

Other people have responded, but the hits are:

  • Nobody here is saying "don't practice putting or your short game."
  • The truth is, those parts matter much, much less.

Hell, most PGA Tour players would break 90 if they three-putted every hole in which they GIR'd and never got up and down (two putts after each short game shot).

Spoiler

Let's say they average 70 now, with 30 putts per round. That means they've hit 40 "other" shots." They miss about six greens a round, so that's 40 + 6*2 + 3*12 = 88.

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On 9/6/2019 at 4:59 AM, Hugh Jars said:

So not being able to get out of a bunker for 3 or 4 strokes, skimming and chunking chips, having no clue how to play within 100 yards and little confidence to make putts inside 5 feet, yet alone lagging putts to that distance doesn't matter.

Pretty much shot 84 doing exactly this. The eagle and birdies helped. 😁

 

20 hours ago, Hugh Jars said:

It’s quite amusing to see the extent of some people’s cognitive dissonance as they attempt to justify not working on their short game and course management verses focusing on full swing mechanics and hitting for distance.

No wonder chipping and putting practice areas are so empty at most golf courses.

No one said don’t work on the short game at all. They’ve just been putting emphasis on getting to the greens.

Seriously, breaking 90 is pretty easy to do with a decent swing alone. If it’s really decent that is...

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I am at a point where I have started to consistently break 90. I had a few areas of focus which helped.

90 is 17 bogeys and 1 par.

Get as close to GIR on every hole as possible.

Avoid penalties and 3-putts.

I used to get really disappointed in carding bogeys all the time and it caused me to attempt shots which led to penalties and 3-putts. Once I figured out that I could get close to the green in regulation and chip and 2-putt and still break 90, it made shot selection much easier. It also made me realize when I made two or three pars, I had a double in the bank when it crept up.

As many here have said, the full swing is the path to low scores. I spend the lions share of my training on my full swing, especially my driver. When I get off the tee well, I tend to par more often than not, and even get the odd birdie.

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2 hours ago, Sean_D said:

I am at a point where I have started to consistently break 90. I had a few areas of focus which helped.

90 is 17 bogeys and 1 par.

Get as close to GIR on every hole as possible.

Avoid penalties and 3-putts.

I used to get really disappointed in carding bogeys all the time and it caused me to attempt shots which led to penalties and 3-putts. Once I figured out that I could get close to the green in regulation and chip and 2-putt and still break 90, it made shot selection much easier. It also made me realize when I made two or three pars, I had a double in the bank when it crept up.

As many here have said, the full swing is the path to low scores. I spend the lions share of my training on my full swing, especially my driver. When I get off the tee well, I tend to par more often than not, and even get the odd birdie.

Excellent advice. I would add the tip of the l less loft the better for around the green shots. Get the ball rolling! 

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7 hours ago, Sean_D said:

I used to get really disappointed in carding bogeys all the time and it caused me to attempt shots which led to penalties and 3-putts. Once I figured out that I could get close to the green in regulation and chip and 2-putt and still break 90, it made shot selection much easier. It also made me realize when I made two or three pars, I had a double in the bank when it crept up.

Yeah, and sometimes you don't need the second putt and you've got that par :-) 

I had the most ridiculous 85 the other day at my home course.  Ten bogeys to start the round, a double on 11, and then played six of the last seven holes in even par.   I think I hit 4 GIR that day, so not a great ball striking round for me. 

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