Breaking 75, how many golfers out there can actually say they have broken 75? Not very many in reality. Breaking 75 is hard, really hard. One of the hardest things to do in sports, without a doubt. If you’ve done it before, you are in pretty good company. If not, you certainly aren’t alone. I remember the first time I broke 75; it was a big deal to me. So how do you do it? Well, you focus a lot on scoring. You will make mistakes, so how do you minimize those mistakes, and how do you make the important birdies? How do you keep your score under 75?
I like to harp on consistency a lot, and that's because it is really important. It's important to not just break 75 once, but doing it regularly means you need to know where your ball is going. I am going to talk a lot about minimizing your mistakes a little later on, but none of it matters if you have no consistency and no idea where the ball is going to go. If you can’t control the ball going left and going right, then whether you make the right decision on the course or not, it won’t matter. You could easily still top it into the water, or snap hook it OB. In order to play smart, you have to know where the ball is going. The CTRL Swing Master is the best golf training aid to become more consistent and know where your ball is going to go. If I know where the ball is going to go every single time, I can minimize a lot more mistakes. With the CTRL Swing Master golf training aid, I can drill the exact swing I need every single time, so I’m ready to hit it when I am on the course.
What is a mistake in golf, really? Is a mistake not hitting the perfect shot? How many absolutely perfect shots can you honestly say you’ve hit? I’ve played a lot of good golf and I can’t honestly say I’ve hit more than maybe one or two absolutely perfect shots. I’ve hit a lot of great shots, but perfect? Perfect contact, perfect timing, perfect trajectory? That's hard to do, so I wouldn’t consider a mistake a shot that isn’t perfect, instead mistakes at this level are mental, and those are hard to limit while also limiting physical mistakes. A mistake at this level is course management based. You know not every shot is going to be perfect. Do you still hit the fairway, hit the green, two-putt? I consider these things mistakes, missing the fairway, that is a mistake that could lead you to either missing the green, or having a much further proximity to the hole than you want. It could lead to further mistakes. Sitting in the fairway 100 yards out and you miss the green, that is a mistake you can’t be making if you want to break 75.
No Stupid Stuff
Have you ever hit a shot, looked back, shook your head and asked yourself why the hell you would try to hit that shot in this situation? One way to eliminate your mistakes is to stop hitting the stupid shots. Sure, if they work out they are great, and they make for a great post round story, but if they don’t, you make a bogey, or a double bogey and that isn’t great. I remember this one shot I hit in my PAT (Players Ability Test to get your PGA Class A.) I was at Raven Nest in Huntsville, it’s Bearkat Course now. And I was playing pretty well. I was on a par 5, number 14 and I hit 3 wood off the tee and hooked it a little. I was on a sidehill lie, looking like I’m playing baseball with the stance I’m taking, I decide I am just going to snap hook it, hit an 80 yard hook off a sidehill lie with a 2 hybrid, over 2 creeks, a bunch of trees to the right, to get to the green. There were trees in the way, so I had to sling it way outright in order to get close to the green. I pulled the shot off, and ended up making a birdie, but, looking back it was one of the dumbest shots I had ever hit, I didn’t need a birdie in that situation and I could have taken a bogey and been fine, but a double or triple bogey would sink me in this kind of event. To pass the PAT you need to shoot under 160 in 36 holes in one day. To take a triple, in this event, would be stupidly hard to overcome. I’ve also tried to hit really stupid shots that have killed me. Last summer I was playing in a Texas State Open Qualifier, my first competitive round in a long time, and I hit a shot from the bunker that just killed me. I was sitting right at one over, and I hit my 4 wood into the bunker on the right side of a hole. There were some trees in the way. I didn’t have the best lie, but I was focused on making birdie. I tried to hit a shot to a back right pin over water. The wind took it after I hit it heavy and a groove too high. I landed short in the water. Had to take a drop. I ended up getting up and down from there and taking a bogey because I made a 12 foot putt thanks to my Caddy for a great read. That put more pressure on my game and I made another mistake on the next hole going for the pin. I ended up shooting 74 and missed qualifying by 2 strokes. Talk about killer mistakes.
Speaking of killer mistakes that caused me to miss qualifying for the Texas State Open, three-putts. I had 2 three-putts that round, which is absolutely killer. There is never ever a reason to three-putt. I don’t care how long the first putt is; lag it inside 3 feet and make that second putt. There is no reason to three putt EVER. If you have any three putts just go hit the putting green. It's a mistake that is always unforced. It’s pretty simple here. Nothing derails a great round like a stupid three putt. Do not do it! Go work on your putting if you want to shoot under 75 ever, and especially if you want to do it often. Some people are just gifted with being great putters and others need to work at it, but do yourself a favor and go work on putting more than you do.
No Double Bogeys
Another key element that falls with the last few, NO DOUBLE BOGEYS! Take double bogey out of your vocabulary. It is near impossible to shoot under 75 if you are making double bogeys. You can easily overcome a bogey. Don’t be afraid to make a couple bogeys, but stop trying to hit the perfect shot to avoid a bogey. Instead of trying to hit the hero flop shot, just hit a solid shot and if it rolls out to 10 feet, that's okay, give yourself a chance for par! Don’t always try to go for everything if you don’t have a shot. Play to your strengths!
This one is pretty simple too, I have got to make birdies in order to shoot low scores. 5 birdies a round gives you a lot of room for error. If you go out and make birdies, breaking 75 gets a lot easier the more birdies you make. That being said, making birdies is not the end all be all. I’ve had a round where I ignored that last point but made a ton of birdies. I shot 76 with freaking 6 birdies at BlueJack National. It was a pretty crazy round, but 4 doubles makes it pretty hard to break 75. You need to score on your scoring holes, par 5s need to be played under par, that is just a near must. You need to make birdies when opportunities present themselves. In order to do that, get great with your wedges, or hit the ball really far and have irons into par 5 greens and you can start scoring lower scores. Getting good with wedges helps on all holes though. One of the biggest tricks I can recommend, stop hitting full swing wedges. Instead of taking a full swing with your 60 degree, get fantastic at a knockdown with a sand wedge, or ¾ gap wedge, something you can control the spin with, and flight it down a little so you can keep it away from the wind. This will go a really, really long way in order to shoot lower scores, I promise.
Again, the most important thing you can do is get great at putting. Go check out the PGA Tour average make percentage from 5 ft, 6 ft, 7 ft, 8 ft, 9 ft, and 10 ft and compare yourself. It is rough. Keep in mind how much more difficult these greens are to putt on than your local muni with little undulation. These guys are putting on glass with feet of undulation and crazy breaks with the pins in some really really tough spots, and they still make everything they look at, or so it seems. Just go practice putting!
These are my keys for breaking 75. As far as practice goes, putting and wedge play are definitely the most important. Other than that, you need to work on course management and mental practice in order to get to breaking 75 regularly.