If any of you are keeping up with my blog, you know I have discussed breaking 100, 90, and now 80.The keys don’t change a lot between them. In order to break each of these scores you have to become more consistent than you were, you have to putt well, and chip well, but to break 80 consistently you also have to be able to manage the course, your short game needs to be on point, and you must be able to score. Breaking 80 means you basically get 7 mistakes (that lead to bogeys) before you need to start making birdies to make up ground. Birdies are tricky. There are going to be some days that you are just on and make several birdies, then there are some days where no matter what you do, you can’t get a birdie on the scorecard. So how do you best break 80? What are the keys?
I am always going to harp on consistency. The most consistent players tend to be the best. The hardest part about course management is actually hitting the shots you need to and not missing in the bad spots. Becoming more consistent and knowing exactly how the ball is going to fly when you take a swing is crucial. You all know what device I recommend for consistency. I rave about it. The CTRL Swing Master is the best golf training aid on the market, especially for improving consistency. Instead of hitting your best shot once out of ten shots, hitting it nine out of ten or ten out of ten will help a lot. Not only that, but CTRL’s stat page will help you know which clubs and shot types you can count on!
Course management to put it nicely is not my strong suit. I can manage my way around any course, sure, but I usually don’t even think about it. I typically just try to overpower a course by hitting the ball high and far, unfortunately there are a lot of courses out there that just don’t allow for that kind of golf, especially not from me! Some courses are just so hard that they require decent course management, and if you want to shoot as low as possible, you really need to know how to work your way around the course. This is really, really easy when you play a course all the time. If you don't, a practice round or two helps a lot! So where do you start with course management? Well, a big spot is to limit your mistakes to bogeys instead of worse. If you hit a ball into the trees, sometimes it is best to just punch out and take your medicine. Don’t make it worse by trying to go for the green and staying in the trees. You also need to understand your mistakes. Which way do you miss when you miss? If you tend to hit a hook when you miss, you should probably aim down the right side, hit it perfect you’re on the right side of the fairway, if you miss it you’re just in the left rough, easily recoverable, while hitting the ball OB is a double or worse and really knocks you off track. Another course management tip I have is to stop always trying to hit the perfect shot, because you will rarely ever hit the perfect shot. Don’t always pin hunt. Now if you are sitting in the middle of the fairway, perfect lie. YES, take a shot at the pin, otherwise don’t go for the perfect shot. Hit a shot that will work. The next part of course management is understanding where you can miss to. If there is water on the right side, aim left. If long is death, play to miss it short. This seems obvious with those examples, but take it to the next level. If the pin is on the front right of the green sand trap short, but you have a football field of short grass to the left, you don’t want to short side yourself. Play to miss it left! Short siding yourself puts a lot of extra pressure on your short-game that you don’t need. Off the tee, take a look at the green, if the pin is on the left side of the green and there is a bunker short left, aim to be a little right off the tee if you can give yourself a good angle into the green, take that sand trap out of play if you aren’t comfortable in the sand. Take costly mistakes out of play!
Short game is the key for shooting good scores all the time. If I get up and down 65% of the time or better inside 80 yards, I am going to shoot good scores. Short game is everything to my game. I can hit 5 greens and still shoot 72. I don’t need to hit greens to break 80 and you shouldn’t either. Let's do some math. If I get up and down for par 66% of the time, I hit no greens and I have no penalty shots, I will shoot 78. I got up and down 12 times out of 18 and made 6 bogeys. I broke 80. I don’t care if you hit greens or not, you can break 80. That should help you understand how important short-game is. I understand picture perfect situations like that are rare. You are going to make doubles; you are going to three putt, but a great short-game limits those a lot! GO WORK ON YOUR SHORT GAME! Become way more comfortable with a wedge in your hands, it can be a lob wedge, it can be a gap wedge, it can be a sand wedge, but it should be your favorite club in your bag if not your putter. My 58 degree wedge is without a doubt my favorite club in my bag. Hands down, it always will be because short-game is that important in my opinion. If I am not 100% confident in my wedge, I go practice with it until it is.
Scoring is a term often used, but some people don’t understand what it means. Sometimes you are hitting good shots, you played well, hit the ball well, but you just didn’t score well. You couldn’t make the birdies fall. To me, how I scored and how I played are not the same thing. To me, I can play bad, get a couple good breaks, make a couple putts at the right times and score well. For example, you may walk off a course and feel like you scored really well, but think back and realize you really didn’t play as well as you thought based on the score. So how do you score well? Making clutch putts at the right time and being really good with a wedge in your hand. What are your scoring clubs? Your wedges and short irons. To score well, you need to make birdies, that is just a fact of golf. To make birdies you need to hit the ball closer to the pin. A 4 feet birdie putt is a lot easier to make than a 12 foot birdie putt. You need to work on your scoring clubs, hit them inside 20 feet from the fairway and your scores are going to drop fast!
The next part of scoring is to have a yardage that you are throwing darts from every single time. For me, 85 yards for whatever reason is just an easy full turn pitch shot with my 54 degree wedge. It's hard to describe, but from 85 yards I feel like I just can’t miss, that I’m going to be inside 10 feet every single time. Once you have that yardage, or a couple of those yardages, play to them! On a par 5, lay up to your go to yardage and pin hunt from there!
Breaking 80 is hard, one of the hardest things to do in the world of sports. But if you’ve been reading my past posts, and follow that advice and add this, it's doable. The most important part is the short-game, a great wedge game makes up for a lot of mistakes. Birdies also make up for a lot of previous mistakes, as it turns out, it's pretty easy to break 80 if you have 3 or 4 birdies a round!