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Golf- How tough is it?! Can you break 100/90/80?!

  • 23-09-2021 2:20pm
    Registered Users Posts: 47 faffingaround

    Playing about 5-6 years now and happy enough with my progress but obviously would love to be lower.

    I shoot on average around 93-95. My handicap is 18. I think I took about 20 rounds to break 100 and at least 50 to break 90. I have broken 90 five times now altogether. I have never broke 85 on a par 72 but it's doable! After that though... I reckon I would need a complete swing re build and lessons on every aspect of the game. I have probably played a 100 rounds or more at this stage and still throw in the + 100 round. I play Stableford but just not a fan of giving up on holes unless you have to.

    Two mates took the game up last year. One of them had played when younger and the other didn't. Both got 5 lessons. They are both strong athletic lads who do quite well in other sports. After 20 plus rounds each and more in one of the cases, neither have broke 100 and both are pretty shook about it. In fact one was genuinely devastated. I play with a number of golfers and very few break 80, even once. There is obviously a massive advantage to having played when you were young. People who have played hurling and sports like it seem to prosper too.

    I guess is it just fair to say most people will never break 80?*

    Are there people on boards playing years who have never broke 90/100?

    *The people who can break 80 and have even broke par...I can only salute you!



  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 18,126 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    Answer is yes, first point to address is stop losing balls, that's two shots every time, instead of driver and potential lost ball try a 7iron on a par 4, use it 2/3 times to get to the green and take it from there

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,092 ✭✭✭OEP

    Really try and par the par 5s - don't try and birdie. Might sound like a funny thing to say but you can par a par 5 playing pretty conservatively. You can get within 150 yards of the green after two shots hitting a couple of irons or hybrids for example. When I say don't try to birdie it I mean don't try and get to the green in two as that requires two good shots with Driver and woods for the most part which brings in a high chance of one of them going horribly wrong.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,429 ✭✭✭blue note

    It's a bloody hard game and that's a fact. I've taken 80 strokes three times on a par 72 course. One of those I didn't have worse than a bogey, another I had two doubles and a triple. So how you get your score doesn't matter, but that said when I look for improvements in my game it's always the bad shots that I'd try to eliminate - much lower hanging fruit than looking for more birdies.

    Taking your medicine is absolutely key. If your goal is to break 80, you can do that with 7 bogies (assuming no birdies). That's one every three holes with one to spare. Nothing wrong with taking a calculated risk, but make sure to calculate it first! I sometimes see people take on really difficult shots where the reward for pulling it off is a low chance of saving a shot. The penalty could be a scratched hole. To take an example of the 9th hole in my club. If the flag is back left it's a long carry over water to go for the pin. If you make it great, you'll have an outside chance of a birdie and a better chance of a par. If you don't make it you'll be playing three from in front of the lake and still going for the pin will be a questionable decision. Whereas if you aim for the middle / right of the green, you're pretty much taking the water out of play. If you pull the shot off you'll have a tough two putt for par. It's clearly the better option! But there are times when going for a par 5 in two or the like is the right option too. Sometimes there's little danger in front of the green, so taking out the wood and having a pop is fine to do. If you don't pull it off what harm? You'll still have a shot onto the green and hopefully a birdie putt.

    The other place to take your medicine is playing a hole for a bogey. I think of the first in Grange - huge par 3 uphill, OB right. Most amateurs are prone to a slice. If you take a wood and go for the green, your bringing 3 off the tee for the first hole in the round. I used to hit a 4 iron. It could sneak onto the front of the green. But it would be in play, and I'd be unlikely to start with worse than a bogey.

    All that said though - attention to course management can save you a couple of shots if you're naturally bad at it. But the vast majority of dropped shots come from bad swings. Sliced drives, fat shots, overhit chips, pulled putts. Keeping track of where you're dropping your shots and addressing those areas is the best way to improve.

  • Registered Users Posts: 860 ✭✭✭moycullen14

    Couldn't agree more with the above. Bogey golf is the key. I've lost a huge amount of distance over the years but can still happily play to 10,11 whilst driving the ball about 200yds. You can get close enough to most par fours - at least those less than 450 yds - with two shots.

    As has been said, keep the ball in play, eliminate 3 putts, get up and down from 5-10 yds off the green at least half the time and you'll be amazed at how your scores tumble.

    For the average (10+ handicap) golfer, elimination is the name of the game. A double-bogey free round is the aim. If you are getting a lot of stress-free bogeys, the pars will come.

    When I start chasing it - trying shots that are out of my range - that's when it all goes to cr*p.

    This is really advice for an oul fella. If I was starting again, I'd be going for distance, distance, distance. The flesh is weak, sadly.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,429 ✭✭✭blue note

    "If you are getting a lot of stress-free bogeys, the pars will come."

    This really is true. I'd even say it for birdies too. If you keep aiming for the middle of the green, you'll hit a few irons close to the pin, whether that's because that's where the pin is or because you pulled it close to the pin by mistake!

  • Registered Users Posts: 436 ✭✭Sultan_of_Ping

    Absolutely - middle of the green is your friend. We always have a few sucker pin set-ups at our place where you have to be really good a shot shaping (and confident you can pull it off consistently) to get close - better to plonk it in the middle, two putt and walk of with a bogey or par, rather than go at one of those pins (as someone in our group invariable does) and immediately bringing the double bogey into play!

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,305 ✭✭✭✭FixdePitchmark

    Great posts.

    Golf is just too hard. I played as a kid - but not seriously. Tried much harder in late 20s and didn't get far. Was very hard to break 90.

    In my mid 30s - I put everything into it and put a good 2 years of solid practice and play and was still unbelievably hard to break 80. It all came together in a year period after this. But it was the hardest thing I ever did.

    If I was to give one tip - you need help , this is not an easy thing for some of us to admit - by help, I mean 10 lessons - a pro that suits and 1000 balls a week - yes 1000. The first pro may not be right.

    There are lots of things to do after above like (equipment , strategy , short game ) - but if your fundamentals are wrong , you are gone.

    There is no point in just hitting balls - you have to be working on what a pro is telling you to do.

    For too long I tried to do it all alone.

    Golf is so hard, it is unreal.

  • Registered Users Posts: 865 ✭✭✭higster

    Playing 4 years and down from 110+ to mid to late 90s (with few 100+ in there) and 23 HC index. Love it and drives me nuts at same time.

    Agree with all the keep in play, take punishment etc and that has got me to where I am. Use arccos and tells me my short game is 17HC (actually enjoy chip&runs, 50 or 100 yard out) and putting healthy overall (average 31/round). Driver and approach absolutely killing me (costing me 9+ shots every round vs 18 HC). Combination of short and penalties.

    My next step is lessons (again) on driver and long irons

    So my thinking is different strokes (pardon the pun) for different folks. Get your data and react to that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,101 ✭✭✭✭Rikand

    I started golf when I was young. I didnt own a driver until I was about 21/22 and i was playing off a 9 handicap without it. You dont need a driver to break 80. My lowest round of golf before getting a driver was a 76(on a par 72). If you have a driver, ditch it. Get a 3 wood or a 5 wood and be content that you're gonna hit it max 200 yards off the tee.... and focus on being mostly straight :)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,728 ✭✭✭Motivator

    A huge emphasis is put on the short game and it is important. For me, hitting fairways is what it’s all about. If you can’t hit the fairway then you’re at nothing. I have gone through a few patches over the last 5 months where my driving has been truly awful. So instead of persisting with it, I left it in the car and used a 3 wood. I’m a big hitter so my 3 wood goes as far as most other players hit their best drives. I was in the fairway and the distance I gave up had no impact on my game. With a 3 wood, the longest iron I play into any of our par 4s is a 5 iron so it’s fine.

    I’ve had days where my 3 wood has also put me in trouble so I took my medicine and played a hybrid or even a 4 iron off the tee. With an iron I’m guaranteed to hit fairways and ive birdied all our par 5s using irons off the tee. Our longest par 5 off the back tees I’ve birdied with a 4 iron - 4 iron - 9 iron - putt. Put yourself in the fairway and you’ve the hard part done. Being erratic off the tee costs me so many shots per round and my short game is very very good. But it’s no use having a good short game if I’m in the trees off the tee and trying to get up and down for a bogey.

  • Registered Users Posts: 270 ✭✭Salvadoor

    Don't hit 2 bad shots in a row.

    Everyone hits a bad shot - OOB, duffs it etc just make sure your next shot after the bad one puts you back into hole and gives you a chance to make a bogey or maybe even a par.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 12,802 Mod ✭✭✭✭Keano

    I don't play as much as want but my last outing a few weeks ago I wanted to try break 90. Two bad holes I think it was and I ended up with 92. I didn't take any stupid shots on, played bogey golf and I still couldn't get under 90!

  • Registered Users Posts: 220 ✭✭cjfitz

    When I was trying to break 80 I used to play a game in my head that I called "fives". The idea was to try and get 5 or better on every hole and then by the time you got to the 9th and 18th that you had enough shots in the bank to cover that hole and that you were out in 38/39 or home with 79. Might sound a bit stupid but thats what helped me.

    I was obsessed with breaking 80 and shot exactly 80 numerous times. When I eventually broke it, it was a pure anticlimax. Six years later if I don't break 80 I am disappointed. My advice would be not to be obsessed with a number. Eliminate penalty strokes, eliminate two chips on the same hole, eliminate 3 putts and maybe work on strike more than swing (check out Adam Young).

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,429 ✭✭✭blue note

    I think where you can pick up shots is different for everyone. I rarely think that course management is a big one - but my brother in law is off about 28 and on a good day gives up one or two holes because he won't chip it back into play. He'll often have 2 shots on a hole - if he chips back into play after a wayward tee shot he might still have 4 shots to get down in from the fairway for two points. But instead he'll try truly stupid shots. He also needs to keep it in play from the tee, that's probably his biggest potential gain.

    My other brother in law is off about 31. In his case he's excellent for accepting that he has to hit back into play. But I'd love to know what he averages from the side of a green. He gets himself into a position where most of us would average less than 3 to get down in - great chance of an up and down, always a chance of a mishit chip or a crazy 3 putt. In his case he very rarely gets up and down and very often gets down in 4 or more. If he could average getting it down in a little more than 3 from that position, he'd save a few shots every round.

    In my case, I need to get down in 3 consistently from inside 100m. If I could do that I'd save half a dozen shots per round. The other big opportunity for me is getting a handle on the weight of my putts.

    But the first step is to understand where you're dropping shots and then you can address it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 632 ✭✭✭bamayang

    The way Of the playa

  • Registered Users Posts: 865 ✭✭✭higster


    yeah agree all above and have followed the points and have seen big gains…but…I have gone the no driver route and used everything from a 5 wood to a 6 hybrid (once used 8 iron only, yuck)…and still end up with trees/penalties from the tee = blow up holes. Plus fact that a couple tee shots (3 depending on tee location) on my course need to carry minimum 170 yards makes it damn difficult.

    Lessons again is me only hope.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,039 ✭✭✭billy3sheets

    Well, I've broken 90 in my last 2 rounds after 13 months since my last sub-90.

    I'd sorta agree with your points above @coillcam

    Mainly first point I'd refine. I don't treat all holes as +1 but I'd have maybe 5 that I would.

    I chip with all sorts up to 7 iron but lob wedge would be last resort unless I had no choice. Technique is the same for all and you can save a lot by getting good.

    I assess all holes for what to hit off the tee. Sometimes driver feels best but I hit 3 wood and hybrid as often. If you're spraying the driver, 3 wood or hybrid won't spray as badly.

    Putting - I try to make sure I get long putts in 2. This means not going for some.

    Getting out of trouble, yes knowing how to punch out is good. I use the same technique as chipping. If I'm not punching out, I aim so I avoid the tree right in front of me first.

    But you need to get a consistency in hitting all your shots. Focus on a nice slow tempo. Confidence grows out of consistency.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,728 ✭✭✭Motivator

    I had a very good score yesterday, one more stroke than my best ever score and I felt I played poorly. I’ve tried to get myself into a completely different mindset lately and touch wood it seems to be working.

    1. I’m trying not to pay attention to my score as I’m going along. I simply mark my card and put it away without totting up my score. Obviously I know if I’m going ok in my head but seeing it on the card is a different story.
    2. not paying attention to how my playing partners are doing. Most guys will say “I needed a par there for 20 on the front 9” or something like that. I often used to panic if I wasn’t going as well as the guys I’m playing with. It’s irrelevant as we’re all off different handicaps and have different goals for our rounds. Now, I block out how my partners are playing completely. One guy I played with yesterday had 38 points and I didn’t even realise it until I did his score up at the end.
    3. take my medicine on holes that I’ve gotten myself into trouble on. Instead of trying to hit miraculous shots to recover, I now just take the safe option and get myself back in play. It happened twice yesterday where I was in trouble and instead of trying to get smart I played smart and ended up making a great par and a very good bogey. Trying stupid shots that can never be practiced are a waste of time and total card and head wreckers.
    4. course management is the number one rule. I’m not practicing as much as I should be but when I do play I’m constantly watching how the course is playing and what way the wind is playing on certain holes before I even get to them. I know them when I get to that hole if I won’t make any rash club decisions if I’m having a good or bad score. I had a great front 9 going yesterday and the temptation was to take my drive over the trees on a dogleg par 4. If I made it, which I regularly do, then I had a wedge into the green for my second shot. I took a 5 iron off the tee and left myself a 6 iron into the green and still made par. The wind and the setup of the tees yesterday made driver a silly choice. The guys I played with all took driver and none of them scored on the hole.

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  • Posts: 0 Noel Flat Bun

    Keeping the doubles and worse of the card was what got me to single figures. You have to know your own standard and avoid taking too much risk.

    E.g the 5 wood out of the rough 220 yards out with danger left and right is generally not the right call for many golfers. A good 7 iron up to about 50,60,70 yards is the safer option.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,409 ✭✭✭Ivefoundgod

    Some great tips in this thread for all levels. My experience probably a bit different from most in that I was lucky enough to be playing golf from age 12-15 with organised competitions and tuition from a golf pro twice a week for most of the summer. I had played pitch and putt from about 7-11 as well thanks to my father getting me into the game so it meant I had a basic starting point to get into the game. I was a decent junior golfer but gave up around 16 which I regret massively but teenage me was an idiot. I've only played society/casual golf since then and some years never picked up a club at all, joined a club earlier this year and have been playing 2/3 times a week.

    For me breaking 100 wasn't a starting point, I was looking at breaking 90 initially and then aiming to break 85/80 etc. Things I've learned over the summer;

    1. If my driving isn't working I need to adjust expectations, forget about breaking 85 or 80 and fight like hell to break 90. If I keep hitting driver a bad round can get very bad very quickly. If I switch to the 3 wood or 4 iron I can usually break 90 because my short game and putting can get me out of trouble.
    2. Don't attack pins regardless of how close I am to the green. Most amateurs (myself included) are way to hard on themselves from <100 yards in, expecting to be within 20 ft from that distance is irrational, pros average 20 ft from 100-125 yards. For me I'll aim for the middle of the green more often than not and hope to land it within a 30-40ft radius with the idea being if I miss, I miss safely. So if there is trouble left I will aim further right and so on. I'm reasonably confident in getting up and down or at worst getting it in the hole in <3 shots from most places around the green, particularly if I'm not in a bunker or tough position.
    3. If in doubt, club up. I've a reasonable idea of my distances but in general I'll take a club more than I think I need if I'm in between clubs. My local club doesn't have much trouble beyond the greens except for a few holes where I'll usually aim to land short of the green.
    4. Play the low index holes as as par +1, as others have said, a bogey on a low index hole is a very good score for all levels. Don't try to be a hero on these holes and if you go offline, take your medicine. For me to have a good round a double bogey is as bad as I can score on a hole, any more than that and my round is typically gone or I need to recover shots somewhere which leads to bad decisions. Don't compound one bad shot with another. This ties in with my first tip too, if the driver isn't working don't hit it on a hole where being offline is a lost ball.
    5. Playing well sometimes doesn't feel like it. My lowest round this year was a 78. I had 40 on the front 9 and didn't feel like I was playing that well and could have cut some shots off that. Don't throw an ok round away by trying to chase shots on the back 9 after a poor front. I know I'm capable of <40 strokes on our back 9, don't need birdies to do that, just need to avoid big mistakes. Chasing a score on a hole will do that.
    6. High index holes shouldn't be seen as 'have to make par' holes. Most amateurs can par pretty much any hole regardless of index, I try to par those holes allright but I don't get too upset with a bogey.

  • Registered Users Posts: 47 faffingaround

    Nobody out there who has never broke 100/90 so?! 

    Some great tips in the posts tbf but most of them I have used to break 90! Breaking 85 is a realistic goal and I have genuine faith I will do it!

    I’m in a position where I can play more in the summer and played 13/14 times this summer.  These courses were everywhere and anywhere! They were also games organised before and after GAA though so straight away I’m not putting my best foot forward! Body is fatigued so won’t do what I want it to!

    Shamefully,I never went to the range once and short game practice was very limited. 

    One of the issues I have though with putting a decent score together are the par 4’s…

    (As an aside I don’t think I’m a very short hitter.

    A really good drive goes 230-240 yards. Average is probably 190-210 yards.

    8 iron is 140-145 yards.

    5 iron is 175-185 yards.

    After that if the lie is really nice i will hit a 5 wood but nothing lower than that!)

    Big generalisation here but most courses have…

    2 short par 4s(260-320 yards)

    4 regular par 4s(320-370 yards)

    4 lengthy par 4s(370-440 yards)

    This means there could be up to 6 holes where you need to lay up! Then you have that shot a lot of us love to hate; 40-100 yards. Throw in that shot four more times from the par 5’s(maybe a duffed par 3!) and you could have ten of these shots every round! In order to score you are expected to play that scenario in 3 shots-or less! 

    Especially when you take into account…

    -Overgrown parkland!( I swear if people play the Headfort Old course in 50 years time there will be hardly any fairway left!)

    -Fairway bunkers(Don’t get greedy!-Uh oh-Long way in now!)

    -Greenside bunkers(I got out! Oh crap I’ve still rolled back in or I got out! Great I’ve a 40 foot putt now!)

    -Downslope/Upslope lies(Think about the trickiness of the 14th hole in Esker Hills😬)

    -Tiered greens(10th hole Birr😳)

    -Water and OOB!

    Never mind the multitude of thin, duff, mishits etc that get you into big trouble!

    Anyway!… Not trying to be negative at all because I feel I will break 85 before the lessons I intend to get in January! Just feel the theory is far easier than the practice!

    Hopefully I will update soon with an 83 or 84 that I’m delighted with!

  • Registered Users Posts: 23 thefloor

    How often did people here play and practice per week before you started to see your handicap go down?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,409 ✭✭✭Ivefoundgod

    Something not quite right with your driver going off your iron yardages. If you're hitting a 5 iron 180 yards then your driver average should be well over 200 yards. I hit my 5 iron around 170-175 on average, driver average about 230-240. With your distances you should be well able to match that and more.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,101 ✭✭✭✭Rikand

    Something that else that might help. It has helped massively for me in the last couple of months.

    Break the 18 holes into 6 rounds of 3 holes. (1st-3rd),(4th-6th),(7th-9th),(10th-12th),(13th-15th),(16th-18th)

    I play off 6.9, so around Athlone that gives me a course handicap of 8. I have a target to try and shoot +10(82) every time i go out. But applying the logic I give myself a target for each "round" above as so....

    (1st-3rd), +2 (2 strong par 4s and an easier par3)

    (4th-6th), +2 (1 strong par 4, a strong par 5 and a strong par 3)

    (7th-9th), +1 (2 easy par 5's and 1 strong par4)

    (10th-12th), +2 (1 strong par 3, a strong par4 and a strong par5)

    (13th-15th), +1 (1 strong par4 and 2 easier par4s)

    (16th-18th) +2 (2 strong par4's and an easier par3)

    After each 3 holes are done, you start a new 3 holes with the target that you had preset for that 3 holes. it just makes the course less daunting. At least to me and it has reflected in my scoring. Of my last 20 rounds, 6 of my counting 8 for my handicap have been in my last 8 rounds played. So it has definitely helped me to improve my scoring and if I go 3 or 4 over for the first 3 holes, then so be it, a new 3 holes begins and a new preset target.


    Posted by faffingaround ::

    (As an aside I don’t think I’m a very short hitter.

    A really good drive goes 230-240 yards. Average is probably 190-210 yards.

    8 iron is 140-145 yards.

    5 iron is 175-185 yards.

    After that if the lie is really nice i will hit a 5 wood but nothing lower than that!)


    We hit the ball a similar distance. if those shots are going straight, you're well capable of breaking 85 at some point. short game the **** out of it

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,658 ✭✭✭dan_ep82

    I feel I need to play twice a week to see improvement. I don't use the range unless I'm practicing a drill or I don't see any benifit the next time I'm out.

    Playing the same course regulary can knock shots off simply by having a better read of the green speeds. Playing different courses has it's own benifits of course but it can mess with your green reading ability.

    I went from shooting mid low 90's to mid low 80's in about two years.

    I got lessons and put in alot of time to get the most from them. I bought a set of fitted irons and it made me want to get better to justify them. In the end I hit better shots and thats what the differecne was. Probably not what most want to hear but the less bad shots you have the better your score. For me that meant striking my irons better and improving my long game. My bad shots became better as my skill increased. I always aimed for the safe shot and took more club etc but when you slice it,shank it or hit 3 inches behind the ball every 7/8 shots its hard to really get going.

    Thats what I see as the difference between me and the low guys (+2 - 5HC ) I played with, they just hit better shots than I did. The made more putts, they very very rarely left it short or duffed a shot. They're averages were tighter as were their dispersion. I'm sure there are some people who could drop shots with better course management but you still need to make the shot in the end.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,728 ✭✭✭Motivator

    Something I was told by a scratch player a year or so ago was anyone can hit the ball and get it close to the green without being that good of a player - think hurlers who just lash at the ball and hit it miles. They’ll get it close to the green but what good is it hitting a ball 400 yards in 2 shots if it takes another 5 to get it in the hole from 20 yards out? Short game is what separates the very good club players from the excellent club players.

    I’ve gone from 14 back in April to my current handicap of 8. I wouldn’t say I got down to single figures easily but it hasn’t taken me as long as I thought. For me to get to say 5 handicap will take me 12 months I would think. The lower you get the harder it gets to keep going. Three shots doesn’t seem an awful lot especially as I’ve dropped 6 shots in under 6 months but knocking those extra 3 off is going to be tough. I know what I need to do in order to achieve it but it’s going to take an awful lot of practice. This evening I took 2 balls and my wedge and putter and walked 18 holes. I threw both balls down probably 30 yards from the green on 1st, 40 yards on 2nd and 50 yards on 3rd. Pitching and putting and then reset on the 4th and went back to 30 yards and so on for the 18 holes. I will need to do this regularly to get my short game firing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,039 ✭✭✭billy3sheets

    Playing loads won't get you lower on its own. All clubs are full of members who get out several times a week but are stuck on same or increasing handicap for years.

    As @dan_ep82 says, you need to hit better shots more often. That means fixing your slice, hook, duff, chunk or whatever inconsistent problem you have. Lessons followed by focused practice until you get it right. I found some stuff on YouTube good as a refresher for lessons I had over the years and forgot about.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,429 ✭✭✭blue note

    I'm glad a few people are talking about getting better at golf as the way to lower your scores. We sometimes think of course management as a way to lower your scores without having to improve. And it is if you're bad at it, but only by a shot or two. Whereas if you can keep that drive in play, consistently get onto the green from greenside bunkers, stop chunking chips, etc.... you can really get that handicap to fly down.