Breaking 80

The Amateur’s Guide to Breaking 80 on a Consistent Basis

Are you ready to finally learn how to break 80 and starting shooting in the 70s?

Before you say you’re not good enough, you’re too old or that you don’t hit it far enough to break 80…keep reading.

I can say with confidence that you don’t need to have PGA Tour abilities to break 80.I know because freshmen year in high school, I shot in the 120s. Fast forward to senior year, I was consistently shooting in the 70s.

From the first tournament freshmen year to the first tournament senior year, I dropped 50 strokes (124-74). Now, I routinely break 80 and even 70.

Needless to say, I’ve seen a lot of different people learn how to break 80 in a lot of different ways. This post might surprise you and give you more belief that you too can break 80.

Keep reading to learn how you can break 80 consistently without spending thousands of dollars on lessons.

Breaking 100 vs. Breaking 90 vs. Breaking 80

Depending on where your game is right now, you might be closer to breaking 80 than you think. Even if you shoot in the 90s right now, with a few small tweaks to your practice and course strategy could change everything.

Myths about Breaking 80

When it comes to golf, every amateur wants to get better. Once you break 100, next is breaking 90, then breaking 80 and shooting the magical 79 or lower.

You might have even been close before. Maybe you were on the 18th hole thinking, “If I just make par, I’ll shoot 79 for the first time.” Or maybe even one of your playing partners let you know pulling up to 18 tee. But a few minutes later, you find yourself making bogey, getting mad, and shooting 80.

It’s time to change that once and for all. Before diving into how, let’s cover a few myths of breaking 80.

Here are some of the common ones:

  • “I don’t hit it far enough to break 80.”
  • “You can’t break 80 unless you practice all the time.”
  • “You have to hit a lot of fairways and greens to break 80.”
  • “I can’t break 80 unless I have the newest clubs and tons of lessons.”

Now, I’m sure there are a lot of other myths out there but when it comes to breaking 80, all of these are false. Let me say it again, all of these myths are totally false.

You don’t have to hit it 300 yards to break 80 and you don’t need to hit balls until your hands bleed. You don’t need to hit 10+ fairways or greens. And you don’t need new clubs to shoot in the 70s.

In fact, a lot of the time these stories that we tell ourselves about breaking 80 (or 100, 90, etc) are the real reason it hasn’t been done.

How to Break 80 in Golf Consistently

All the Ways You Can Break 80

As I mentioned, a lot of time golfers make up stories about what they can and can’t shoot. But a lot of them are totally made up and based on past experiences.

The past doesn’t hold your future. But these stories are holding you back from shooting your lowest rounds.

First off, let’s understand that breaking 80 can happen in a lot of different ways. Here are a few different scenarios for example sake:

  • 40 + 39 = 79 (7 bogeys, 12 pars)
  • 39 + 40 = 79 (10 bogeys, 3 birdies, 5 pars)
  • 35 + 44 = 79 (1 triple, 6 bogeys, 2 birdies, 9 pars)
  • 44 + 35 = 79 (2 doubles, 5 bogeys, 2 birdies, 9 pars)

Of course, there are a lot more ways to break 80 but I wanted to point out some scenarios. You can make pars and bogeys all day and shoot 79 or better. Or, you can tear up the front or back nine holes and butcher the other nine and still shoot 79 or lower.

I know, I know… this sounds simple. But it’s important to have the right mindset and understand that you can shoot 79 a ton of different ways. You don’t need to hit it pure all day to break 80.

I’ve personally had rounds where I couldn’t find the clubface and broke 80 because of an awesome short game. And I’ve also had rounds where I hit it as pure as Tiger in 2000 but had 36 putts and shot 83. Again, breaking 80 can happen a lot of different ways, so keep that in perspective.

Now that you have the right mindset, let’s cover the basic shots you need in your arsenal to break 80 and shoot your best scores.

How to Break 80 in Golf Regularly

Before diving in, there are four parts to breaking 80 (or 70 for that matter). Breaking 80 and becoming a scratch golfer comes down to your long game, your short game, your course strategy, and your mental game.

Breaking 80 – Basic Shots for Your Long Game

Driver and Fairway Woods

Everyone thinks you have to bomb hit 300 yards to break 80 regularly but it’s not true.

Will it help? Sure.

Is it necessary? No.

You don’t even need to hit driver if you hate the club and it costs you more strokes than you gain. If you can hit it over 235 and have some short game, you can break 80.

The one thing I would say that most golfers who break 80 have a consistent shot off the tee. They usually play a fade or draw which eliminates one side of the course. That’s not to say that some days they miss on both sides of the fairway but usually, they have go-to shot.

So if you want to break 80, make sure you have shot that is pretty standard off the tee. This could be with a driver, three wood or driving iron.

Irons

Another misconception is that you need to hit flag hunting irons all day to break 80. Instead, you only need to hit 30-50% of greens. Even the best players in the world only hit 60-70% of greens!

So instead of mindlessly hitting 7-irons on the range, use that time for short game because that will help the most.

Breaking 80 – Basic Shots for Your Short Game

If you want to break 80, spend a majority of your practice time working on shots 125 yards and closer. This is what matters most. Because even if you are hitting fairways and greens, a bad short game can ruin it.

A strong short game makes golf so much easier. A crafty up and down from a bunker or 2-putt from 50 feet can build confidence and keep your momentum alive.

I remember one of the first times I broke 80 and it was solely because of my short game. That day I think I hit like six fairways and two greens (yes, two) and still shot in the 70s. So if you’re committed to shooting in the 70s, improve these shots asap!

Become a Wedge Wizard

If you’re like most golfers, you probably carry 3-4 wedges in your bag. The main thing to focus on is understanding how far you hit each wedge. Try to have a full distance and a ¾ distance where you choke up an inch or so on the club.

At the range, focus on hitting different distances and trying out different ball flights. Knowing how to hit each distance from 125 and in will help you make more birdies and more chances to save par.

Master the Bunker Shot

If you want to break 80, you have to get over the fear of bunkers. If you can master a basic sand shot with your lob or sand wedge you will be set. As long as you can get it out of the bunker and give yourself a putt, you can break 80.

As you get better, start trying out different wedges and practicing longer greenside bunker shots as well.

Bump n Run

A good rule of thumb is to keep the ball low when you’ve missed the green unless you’re really short-sided. A good old fashioned bump and run shot is much more reliable than a flop shot.

Opt for a pitching wedge or shot iron and play the ball to roll out. Instead of trying to hole it, try to leave yourself with the easiest putt as well.

High Pitch Shot

While the bump-n-run is more reliable, if you want to break 80, you need to become best friends with your lob wedge. A high pitch shot can help you when you’re short-sided and want to convert on Par-5’s.

At the practice green, work on hitting high soft shots from 30 yards and in. Work on opening the clubface up and don’t be afraid to swing. The more you practice, the more confident you will be on the course.

Putting

If you want to break 80 fast, spend way more time on your putting than anything else. Nearly 40% of all of your shots come from the fringe and green. Yet most amateur golfers skip putting practice altogether.

Instead, spend as much of your time on putting drills and nailing your putting routine. Studies have found its most effective to practice from 4-15 feet and 25 plus feet.

How to Break 80 in Golf

Course Strategy to Break 80

Now that you have the necessary shots for the long and short game, it’s time to master your course strategy.

Pre-Round Warm-Up

It’s hard to shoot super low scores if you rush to the first tee without warming up for at least 20-30 minutes. So plan ahead and make sure to get there at least 45 minutes before tee off.

Once you pay and load up the cart, get to know the greens and loosen up your body. The point of a pre-round warm-up is not to change your swing or use any new tricks. It’s about getting loose and ready for the first hole.

Once you’ve hit 20-30 balls (at most), hit some chips and putts. Get to know the speed of the greens by practicing all different lengths of putts. If you have 30 minutes, spend 15 on the range and 15 on chipping and putting.

Tee Box Strategy

If you’re at the point where you’re close to breaking 80, it’s time to eliminate stupid mental mistakes as much as possible. That starts by having a strategy for the best way to play each hole. Don’t just pull out driver and swing as hard as possible if you don’t need too.

Instead, figure out where is the best spot to hit and where should you avoid. Once you find your club, go through your full shot and commit to your target. Remember, the smaller the target, the better.

Learn more about a solid tee box strategy here.

Approach Shot Strategy

Once you’ve hit your drive, it’s time to eliminate mistakes on your approach shot. Remember, to break 80, you don’t need to make tons of bridies and attack each flag. Instead, 90% of the time go for the fattest part of the green.

If you have a wedge or shot iron, go more towards the flag but don’t force it. Give yourself as many birdie chances as possible, even if they’re 30 feet away.

Mental Hacks to Break 80

The mental game is arguably the biggest component of breaking 80. Your mindset and attitude can make it easy or nearly impossible to break 80.

As Arnold Palmer said, “What separates great players from the good ones is not so much ability as it is brainpower and emotional equilibrium.” It’s really tough to shoot in the 70s if you’re getting overly emotional about every shot.

Quit worrying so much about the mechanics, and instead, master your mind. These tips should help you manage your emotions and shoot lower scores immediately.

Quit Thinking About Breaking 80

First off, stop thinking about breaking 80. If you walk on the first tee and your goal is to break 80 or shoot your best score ever, you’ve already lost. For the overwhelming majority of golfers, this will add pressure, tension, and nerves to an already difficult game.

Instead, go to the first tee and focus on creating a strategy to best play the hole. As you know, anything can happen in a 5-hour round of golf. So focus on the first shot, hit it, and go find it. Keep it simple!

Play One Shot at a Time

Playing one shot at a time is easier said than done, especially if you’re hitting it well and making it look easy. But I can’t stress the importance of playing one shot at a time. If you let your mind wander into the future, you will lose focus and hit some bad shots.

Instead, think about the current shot you face. Don’t drift to the future and start thinking, “If I par out I’ll shoot 79.” This takes your attention from the present to the future.

To help with this, use this trick I learned from a top sports psychologist. To help you stay in the present moment, wear a rubber band on your wrist. If you find yourself thinking about the missed birdie on the last hole or a future shot, snap the rubber band. This will help “snap” you back to the present.

Over time, this rubber band trick will train your mind to stay focused on the current shot. I know it sounds simple but it’s very effective.

Master Your Emotions & Self-Talk

The final mental hack to break 80 is to manage your emotions and use positive self-talk to pump yourself up. Getting mad, throwing clubs, and cursing loudly rarely does any good for your game. Instead, it usually screws up your mood and messes up the next few shots to compound your mistake.

Instead of getting flustered at a slow partner or getting mad at a bumpy green, try to stay even keel. Use deep breaths throughout the round and don’t put too much emphasis on any one shot.

The second part of this is managing your self-talk. If you are saying things like “I just don’t have it today” or “I’m not making any putts” chances are, this will continue. Instead, choose to be optimistic regardless of what is happening. Think about how to self-correct those bad shots instead of getting negative.

If you’ve missed every putt, say things like “They’re going to go in soon” or “I’m putting great, it’s only a matter of time.” Using positive self-talk will help you stay motivated to not quit and finish strong!

Final Thoughts on Breaking 80 in Golf

Alright, I threw a lot at you but hopefully, it’s simple and easy to use. Notice I didn’t mention anything about swing techniques, hitting stingers or buying new equipment. Instead, focus on a small set of shots that you use the most each round.

Those shots, along with a solid course strategy and strong mental game will give you the tools to break 80. Remember, if you haven’t broken 80 yet but have been close, look back to what held you back. My guess is that it was a faulty short game, getting too aggressive off the tee or a negative mindset.

Lastly, if I had to pick one single thing to immediately work on, I would say to master your mind. Focus on staying present, managing your emotions, and using positive self-talk.

This will change everything! As Steve Elkington once said, “The mind is your greatest weapon. It’s the greatest club in your bag but it’s also your Achilles’ heel.”

If after reading this post you do break 80 for the first time, make sure to let us know in the comments!

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