10 Oct 2023

How to Break 90 in Golf – The Ultimate Guide

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Golf is full of personal milestones. Your first set of clubs, your first proper round, your first par, and your first birdie; some of the memorable moments most golfers experience. Another is breaking 90, but it’s a goal that’s far more difficult to achieve.

The problem is that golfers are never satisfied. You shoot the best round of your career, and you’ll want to go lower, you make your first hole-in-one, and you’ll immediately start hunting for another. It’s this burning desire to improve and shoot ever-lower scores that hooks us in and makes us keep coming back for more, no matter the weather or the season.

The fact is that breaking 90 is hard for the average handicap player, it’s a special achievement. We may do it once, perhaps a few times, but shooting consistent scores in the 80s is a lot more difficult than it seems.

Nevertheless, if breaking 90 is your ultimate goal, there are steps you can take to help you get there. You won’t need a perfect swing, and you won’t have to spend a fortune on new clubs. Simply follow these practical tips and tricks and you’ll be well on your way to recording regular sub-90 scores.

How to Break 90 in Golf – The Next Steps

So, the challenge has been set and the time has come. You need to shoot in the 80s regularly. To help you get there, we recommend the following tips:

1. Change Your Mindset

When people say the majority of golf is played between the ears, they mean that in order to become good at it you need the right mental approach. The way you think about the game, its unique challenges, and how best to recover from errant shots will have a greater influence on your final scores than bombing the occasional 300-yard drive.

If 72 is par on most regulation and championship courses, you’ll need to record a score of 17 over or better to break 90. Theoretically, a single par and 17 bogies will do the trick. Thinking along these lines instead of pressuring yourself to make a glut of pars (that you probably won’t achieve) will put you in a better frame of mind for shooting a score in the 80s.

2. Book Lessons with a Qualified Coach

You may own the most expensive set of clubs at your course, but they’ll count for nothing if your swing doesn’t function and all you can do is hack your way around. Instead of spending a fortune on equipment, most golfers’ money would be far better spent booking lessons with a pro.

Forget about taking advice from your mates or making major swing adjustments halfway through a round. The fact is a golf coach is the most-qualified person to identify problems with your swing and then iron out the issues that are holding you back and preventing you from shooting sub-90.

It’s worth remembering that even professional golfers have coaches, so if it’s good enough for them it should be good enough for you.

3. Focus on Your Short Game

Out-driving your playing partner by 50 yards is one thing, but if their short game is superior to yours, the chances are you’ll lose the hole. The secret to breaking 90 isn’t how far you smack it off the tee, it’s how good your touch is around the greens and from 50 yards in.

Most shots in the average round are accumulated on or near the green, so it’s important to learn how to hit different types of chip shots from both good and bad lies and under a variety of conditions. Your good lie could be a shot with minimal difficulty, whereas a bad lie will increase the challenge. Practice from the fairway, rough, fringe, and sand, and from different depths of grass. You’ll soon gain a ‘feel’ for the short game and it will undoubtedly lead to lower scores.

Another tip is to focus on chipping balls to within 10 feet of the flag as it will improve your chance of a one-putt and a par or even better. When you are on the green, the key is to identify the right line and pace before striking a putt confidently. Practice will also show you how to lag a putt close to the hole so that you avoid the common embarrassment of a dreaded three-putt. Remember, you don’t need to make a bunch of 30-footers to break 90, but you will need to consistently get down in two.

4. Improve Your Course Management

As we’ve already touched on, the way you mentally manage your round will define your final score. You aren’t out in search of birdies or eagles as pars and bogies are more than enough to shoot under 90.

This should be the thrust behind your approach to clever course management. If you slice a drive into the wood, play smart, take your punishment, and chip back onto the fairway instead of going for a glory shot you’ll only pull off once in a hundred goes. Chipping back onto the fairway still leaves you with a decent chance of making a simple bogey, whereas attempting the impossible will bring high numbers into play. After all, breaking 90 isn’t about making birdies but avoiding double, triple, and quadruple bogies that can wreck any scorecard. So, know your limitations and stick to them.

5. Check Your Equipment

We may have already mentioned how the best equipment doesn’t make the best golfer, and that remains completely true. However, there’s nothing wrong with checking the health of your clubs to see if your equipment is in good order and is right for you.

As a general rule, the older the clubs the more imperfections they are likely to have. In that case, it’s probably time to throw them away and invest in something newer and better – it will certainly speed up your progress.

Major advances in golf technology occur all the time; it’s why modern drivers, woods, and irons fly further than ever before. So, if your clubs are looking old, tired, and tatty, trading them up for a newer set is guaranteed to save you a few shots – and it could even be the difference between shooting a score in the 90s or the 80s. You don’t have to get the very latest models either – last year’s models will do just as well and cost even less. Then, you can invest the money you’ve saved in lessons, so it’s a win-win situation.

6. Practice, Practice, and More Practice

‘The more I practise, the luckier I get’. So said Arnold Palmer, 7-time Major champion and one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game. The man they called ‘The King’ certainly knew what he was talking about.

Admittedly, beating balls on the range all day isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Nor is hitting practice putts until it gets dark. Yet there’s no avoiding the fact that regular, structured practice can significantly improve your game.

If your diary’s constantly full, make sure you set aside a chunk of time for practice each week or month – then stick to it. Break it down into driving, chipping, and putting practice, and then revisit your plans every once in a while, according to your progress. Most of all, always remember that golf should be fun, so enjoy your practice and your rounds, and you’ll be shooting scores in the 80s before you know it.

Improve your golf with our team of expert coaches at Foxhills

If you are looking to break 90 or simply improve your game, Foxhills boasts a team of PGA Professional coaches who can help you every step of the way. Why not book a round at one of our two championship courses today?