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From 90 to 80 - How Many Months?


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11 hours ago, Nave said:

Hi all

I wonder how long after breaking 90 you broke 80?
Is it exponentially faster (than breaking 100) because you are you more motivated and practiced more often after breaking 90?

I broke 90 last month and I have a clear strategy on what to improve to break 80 (putting mainly).
My goal is to break 80 within 12 months from today.

Here is the effort I am currently making in in terms of numbers:
- Field: Playing three times a month with scratch golfers
- Range: Once a week
- Backyard practice: three times a week (swing net, putting green, chipping/pitching targets)
- Occasional sessions with a coach

Thank you,
Nave

 

Unless your putting is as bad as mine, and maybe not even then, that's probably not why you aren't breaking 80.

I first broke 100 in July of 2007.  I first broke 90 in April of 2008.  I first broke 70 in July of 2019 (not a typo).   Did the last one in a tournament, too! :-)  The key wasn't putting, although I putted well that day -- it's that I hit 11 GIR and two more fringes that day.  That helped :-) 

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48 minutes ago, Shindig said:

 

Unless your putting is as bad as mine, and maybe not even then, that's probably not why you aren't breaking 80.

I first broke 100 in July of 2007.  I first broke 90 in April of 2008.  I first broke 70 in July of 2019 (not a typo).   Did the last one in a tournament, too! :-)  The key wasn't putting, although I putted well that day -- it's that I hit 11 GIR and two more fringes that day.  That helped :-) 

Wow, you have me beat!  Maybe someday I’ll break 70 but not yet! (I have shot 70 on the nose a couple times)

I honestly don’t specifically remember when I hit any milestones. I was breaking 100 and 90 both sometime in high school I’d imagine.  And first broke 80 I’m thinking in college. So I guess perhaps a year or two between each milestone for me?

And if I ever break 70 it’ll be well over 20 years to accomplish from regular breaking 80. 🙂

Edited by Golfingdad
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16 hours ago, Nave said:

I wonder how long after breaking 90 you broke 80?

I think this is a really interesting question.

For me breaking 90 was difficult it took around 36 months (3 years). Breaking 80 took about 4 or 5 times as long, around 160 months (13 plus years).

By extension IF I'm going to break 70 I guess I should expect it to take 700-800 months (60-65 years)? 

In a way, that's kind of depressing. 

Kind of makes me envious of all of you coordinated, athletic, gifted folks out there who break 90 the first month you play and then break 80 a year later. I'm looking at you @Rippy_72 and others. 

16 hours ago, Nave said:

Is it exponentially faster (than breaking 100) because you are you more motivated and practiced more often after breaking 90?

My evidence would indicate exactly the opposite. Of course, that's a sample size of one. 

With golf like with anything how far you can advance will depend upon how much natural talent you have, and then what you do with that talent. i.e. How good is your plan, and how diligently you execute it. 

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9 hours ago, Shorty said:

I've seen guys should 80 on easy courses and seen them unable to come close to breaking 90 on difficult courses from the back tees (which they have no choice but to play in competition)

 

I think I got raked over the coals saying about the same thing somewhere online but I almost agree.

The difficulty of a Royal Melbourne or an Oakmont or Winged Foot or Merion setup for tournament conditions is not reflected in the CR or Slope.  A 10 Hcp player might break 80 on an open, shorter course with slow, flat greens but might not break 100 on one of the aforementioned courses setup with deep rough, narrow firm fairways, and fast, hard greens.  I have seen it dozens of times.   Solid players getting annihilated. OTOH, few regular amateurs break 80 on those "tracks" under difficult conditions

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15 minutes ago, Rippy_72 said:

I think I got raked over the coals saying about the same thing somewhere online but I almost agree.

The difficulty of a Royal Melbourne or an Oakmont or Winged Foot or Merion setup for tournament conditions is not reflected in the CR or Slope.  A 10 Hcp player might break 80 on an open, shorter course with slow, flat greens but might not break 100 on one of the aforementioned courses setup with deep rough, narrow firm fairways, and fast, hard greens.  I have seen it dozens of times.   Solid players getting annihilated. OTOH, few regular amateurs break 80 on those "tracks" under difficult conditions

I see what you are saying. But, I don't think that's really what the OP is asking in this case. 

I think the OP is just trying to gauge how long each milestone will take to break. All things being equal (which we know they aren't) if it takes this long to break a certain milestone, then when might someone expect the next milestone to fall? 

I may never play a Royal Melbourne or an Oakmont or Winged Foot or Merion setup for tournament conditions. However, I were to play a round of golf with you, it would take you almost no time at all to make a judgement as to my ability. And you might think "Oh, that guy is an 80's golfer." or "That guy won't break 90 anytime soon." ... Something like that. 

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23 hours ago, Nave said:

Hi all

I wonder how long after breaking 90 you broke 80?
Is it exponentially faster (than breaking 100) because you are you more motivated and practiced more often after breaking 90?
 

I'm a highly unusual case in that I broke 80 with a really freakish round about three months after first breaking 90. But the reality is that once I broke 90, I was pretty much doing it all the time whereas it took me four years to improve enough to break 80 with any sort of regularity.

My experience was that I broke 90 while focusing on my short game and thereafter saw several strokes of fast improvement. Somewhere in the mid-80's (score, not decade), it became harder to improve. Thereafter I would guess it became about 2/3's long game, 1/3 short game in terms of improvement.  Today it's even more skewed towards the long game.

About the time I broke 90 for the first time, there was a Golf magazine article called "How to Break 80 in 6 Weeks." Dumbest article title ever - but it was really good about what the skills are that are needed to play at that level. It became my road map on how to improve and I still track stats manually to see how I'm doing on these key skills. 

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7 hours ago, Rippy_72 said:

I think I got raked over the coals saying about the same thing somewhere online but I almost agree.

The difficulty of a Royal Melbourne or an Oakmont or Winged Foot or Merion setup for tournament conditions is not reflected in the CR or Slope.  A 10 Hcp player might break 80 on an open, shorter course with slow, flat greens but might not break 100 on one of the aforementioned courses setup with deep rough, narrow firm fairways, and fast, hard greens.  I have seen it dozens of times.   Solid players getting annihilated. OTOH, few regular amateurs break 80 on those "tracks" under difficult conditions

True.

My point - which some seem not to get because I may have phrased it poorly - is that the "milestone" might not be a milestone at all.

There are golfers who could break 80 at the Old Course in benign conditions but would not break 100 at Oakmont or Bethpage Black in average conditions.

For me it all comes back to the beginner attitude of "I shot 78 which makes me almost as good as a pro because I saw that someone famous shot 76 yesterday."

When I was in my teens I was a member of by far the hardest course in the district - one of the best courses in Australia - and we had an annual 36 hole tournament where guys off single figures would come and talk about how crap they played because they didn't break 90 in either round. They just couldn't handle a tough course with the opportunity of losing a ball on your first and second shot on all but about two holes.

 

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On 2/23/2021 at 11:22 AM, Darkfrog said:

I am hoping to break 80 this year

Good luck! Let's ping each other by the end of the year again. I see that you that you also worked on your putting and short game. Good to have stretch-goals. 

On 2/23/2021 at 11:28 AM, StuM said:

Curious why you are choosing to work on Putting?

My golf coach guides me. Before I met him I practiced my iron game so much and completely neglected putting over that period. Genuinely, my iron game is quite accurate and the iron (short, long) distances I shoot are above average. However, I often end up doing 3-4 putts and my driver shot goes barely over 200 yards and is not accurate either. If I can shave some off those putts that could be 5-7 strokes right there.

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On 2/23/2021 at 11:28 AM, klineka said:

What is your strategy based on? Do you track your stats?

Thank you for the stats chart, that's worth gold! Yes, I have a golf coach and I keep a hand-written log in my scorebook. I am embarrassingly bad at putting (3-4) and my driver shot is not accurate and the distance is well below my age. However, my iron game is above average in terms of full swing mechanics, distance and accuracy - that was pretty much the only thing I practiced until I met my coach. The goal is to reduce by 5 putts in the short term.

On 2/23/2021 at 11:40 AM, saevel25 said:

progress really matters on improving all aspects of the golf game,

Thank you for your feedback. Yeah, Iooks like if I improve my putting and driving (among other aspects) to the same level as my iron skills I could be a more consistent 90s player.

On 2/23/2021 at 12:42 PM, iacas said:

frustrated ugh GIF by Equipe de France de Football

Come on! The putting struggle is real and tracked in my book.

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On 2/23/2021 at 1:19 PM, Rippy_72 said:

It depends on your age and ability.

I went from breaking 90 to 80 as a young lad.  It was easy.  Less than 2 years.

I am just over 40 and I used to be quite athletic (2nd league pro in another sport). Besides my humble brag here, I feel the athletic stance and have the 4-5 hour cardio and mental focus - however my putting and driver technique cause me at around 10 extra strokes together.

On 2/23/2021 at 1:47 PM, Shorty said:

79 on shorter courses with few penalty areas, slow greens and no OB in play is not as good as 89 on some courses.

If someone says they broke 80, you want to know where, and in what conditions.

What I am getting at is that if your friend broke 80 somewhere, he might have played worse than you did on a day you shot 85.

Yeah, I basically break 90 now:
- OB driver shots, and barely over 200 yards
- Above average iron shots (short and long) - making up for my driver; quite accurate and distances are by the book
- 3-4 putts (messing up my score)

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22 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

So I guess perhaps a year or two between each milestone for me?

Thanks for your story. Seems like a realistic timeframe for me, too - as I read that in other posts as well. Maybe I am too optimistic to achieve that in only one year.

16 hours ago, Rippy_72 said:

I think I got raked over the coals saying about the same thing somewhere online but I almost agree.

The difficulty of a Royal Melbourne or an Oakmont or Winged Foot or Merion setup for tournament conditions is not reflected in the CR or Slope.  A 10 Hcp player might break 80 on an open, shorter course with slow, flat greens but might not break 100 on one of the aforementioned courses setup with deep rough, narrow firm fairways, and fast, hard greens.  I have seen it dozens of times.   Solid players getting annihilated. OTOH, few regular amateurs break 80 on those "tracks" under difficult conditions

I see. That's another factor which I will have to face. I broke 90 on my home course. I will probably get a reality check after I play more on other, perhaps more difficult courses. Thanks for your input!

10 hours ago, gbogey said:

hereafter I would guess it became about 2/3's long game, 1/3 short game in terms of improvement.

That is very interesting. I like the breakdown of what worked for you. My coach and I are working on a playbook for me and have set out specific goals to shave off strokes in particular areas of my weakness. Thanks for sharing your story.

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10 hours ago, Nave said:

My golf coach guides me. Before I met him I practiced my iron game so much and completely neglected putting over that period. Genuinely, my iron game is quite accurate and the iron (short, long) distances I shoot are above average. However, I often end up doing 3-4 putts and my driver shot goes barely over 200 yards and is not accurate either. If I can shave some off those putts that could be 5-7 strokes right there.

I understand the desire to improve your putting.  I 3-putt @ 25% of the time which is @ 4-5 strokes per round.  I will be taking a AimPoint Express lessons to help with my reading of the greens however I do not expect it to cut 4-5 strokes off my rounds.  Even pros will 3-putt from longer distances and no matter how good of a putter I become the odds say that I will 3-putt from longer distances, maybe not all of the time but the odds indicate there will be 3-Putts.    My hope is to reduce 3-putts to @ 10% on average which which assuming all other things being equal may cut 2-3 strokes, not 4-5 strokes.  I will ask you a question I was asked.  Are your 3-putts from long distances or close?  If from long distance then even with better putting it is not likely that you will cut 5-7 strokes off your round.  

I may be misinterpreting your comment on "my iron game is quite accurate" but if your 3-Putts are related to a lot of long putts maybe your irons are not as accurate as you think and possibly you should also work more on your approach shots.  Accurate approach shots typically result in fewer long putts which may cut more strokes off your round than improved putting.  Even getting more nGIR vs GIR to allow shorter chip/pitch shots may reduce average putting distance which would reduce the odds of a 3-Putt.

I am not saying to ignore putting or green reading as that is a skill and is a part of the game.  However, one thing I  am learning from TST is that some of my long-held beliefs, such as "Drive for Show, Putt for Dough" are not what I once believed.

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5 hours ago, StuM said:

"my iron game is quite accurate" but if your 3-Putts are related to a lot of long putts maybe your irons are not as accurate

Hey, thank you for your thorough feedback - you make valid counterpoints. My 4 feet average is 3-putts, and I am scheduled to participate in a series of putting workshops 😐 My iron accuracy is questionable it seems - you are right. It may be based on rescuing my terrible driver shots out of the roughs and bunkers and accurately getting me to the fairway and/or green. Even when I hit an e.g. 140 yard iron shot straight to the green, I walk the green with fear of 3-4-putting. If the ball is more than 4 feet away or at the fringe, then I am done.

Once, and only that one time, I was lucky with a long 1-putt and that earned me my first eagle on a par 5 hole.

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37 minutes ago, Nave said:

my first eagle

* I mean my first birdie.

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51 minutes ago, Nave said:

My 4 feet average is 3-putts,

I am curious if there is a typo in this.  Are you saying you average 3 Putts on putts of @ 4 feet in length?

 

15 minutes ago, Nave said:

I mean my first birdie.

Congrats on the birdie.  I still remember my first birdie.  It was a Par-3 and I got a very lucky kick off the edge of a greens-side bunker to @ 1 foot from the pin.  I'll take that luck and be happy with it.

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1 hour ago, Nave said:

Hey, thank you for your thorough feedback - you make valid counterpoints. My 4 feet average is 3-putts, and I am scheduled to participate in a series of putting workshops 😐 My iron accuracy is questionable it seems - you are right. It may be based on rescuing my terrible driver shots out of the roughs and bunkers and accurately getting me to the fairway and/or green. Even when I hit an e.g. 140 yard iron shot straight to the green, I walk the green with fear of 3-4-putting. If the ball is more than 4 feet away or at the fringe, then I am done.

Once, and only that one time, I was lucky with a long 1-putt and that earned me my first eagle on a par 5 hole.

Keep in mind that the professional golfers only make about 50% from 8' and about 10% 3 putt from 40' on average.  Make sure your expectations are realistic.   I'm not saying 3 putts are good, they're not, but if you are going to work on your putting, work on speed.   

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I love putting and I'm generally considered to be a good putter, so a few things that might help:

  • At the level you are trying to play, shooting 80, a median miss should be about 10% of distance (a tour pro is 5%). So from 40 feet you should be within 4 feet at least half the time, from 20 feet you should be within two half the time. So, and I'm making this up a little bit, if you are regularly more than 6-8 feet from 40 feet or more than 4 feet from 20 feet, you should work on your lag putting.
  • As someone else said, make sure you're realistic. I spent a winter practicing 30 foot putts in my basement. I got better at them. I make more, but not enough to ever notice in my score.
  • I spent another winter hitting, and I do not exaggerate, thousands of 7 foot putts (that's the amount of carpet I had to work with). My make putting got better and I could see it in my scores.
  • For me I think of an 8 footer (3 steps) as a make putt, maybe extend to 10-15 feet for an easy uphill putt and shorten to 5 feet on fast downhill putts. Everything else is a lag where it's a bonus if it goes in.
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On 2/24/2021 at 8:14 PM, Nave said:

Good luck! Let's ping each other by the end of the year again. I see that you that you also worked on your putting and short game. Good to have stretch-goals. 

Good luck to you as well.

I did improve my putting and short game, but full swing is where the majority of my improvement came from. I take a lesson every month, mostly full swing instruction. I have done one putting lesson, but everything else has been focused on full swing. I practice daily, but I needed to learn the 5S of good practice to make my practice effective. I probably spent 6-9 months not practicing very well, which stalled my progress. The 5-minute daily practice thread is nice for accountability in practice.

My strokes gained stats show that I lose most of my strokes on tee shots and approach (full swing), so that is where I commit most of my time.

Short Game: I might practice short game once a week. Off course, I did three things to improve my short game:

1. I used this drill to work on improving chipping technique.

2. I used this drill to work on improving pitching technique.

3. I learned the distances for all of my partial wedge shots; 25%, 50%, 75% with LW, SW, GW and PW, and practice these shots. The percentages are just "what feels like X%", they are not actual percentages of a full swing. This is a tip from Lowest Score Wins (LSW). It really helps with shots inside 100 yards. For example, I know a 50% GW goes on average 75 yards, so when I have this distance, I know I have a shot that I can use.

Note: You've probably heard about LSW on this site by now - it's a fantastic book that is basically guaranteed to improve scoring. Highly recommend grabbing a copy.

Putting: I practice putting in my living room, usually once or twice a week. Mostly doing a "bead" drill with a yardstick. Place the ball on the yardstick, and try to hit it down the yardstick without it rolling off. Like you, I was a pretty terrible putter; my aim/start line was terrible, and my distance control was terrible. I had lots of 3-4 putts. This is what I did to improve my putting:

1. I asked my teacher for one lesson with focus on putting. We spent maybe 30-40 minutes out of the hour on putting. As far as mechanics, my stroke was okay. Turns out the reason my aim/start line was so bad was that I wasn't setting up to the ball in a good way and hitting everything right of where I thought I was aimed. A few simple changes really helped me iron out start lines.

2. I improved my distance control with some mental concepts from my teacher. These may not work for everyone, as I expect this is kind of like a personal feel. For example, on downhill putts, I pick a point short of the hole based on the slope/speed of the green, then I imagine the green is flat, and try to hit a putt that gets to the point I selected (opposite concept for uphill putts). This works really well for me. It is not particularly technical with regards to length of the putting stroke. Just a thought/visualization that helps me.

3. I got fitted for a putter. This probably had the least amount of impact on my putting, but it's nice to have something built for my size/setup.

Eventually I may take an Aimpoint green reading class, but for now full swing is still where I need the most improvement.

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