How to Shoot Under Par in Golf

How to Break 70: 7 Proven Ways to Shoot Under Par

Breaking par and shooting in the 60s is one of the greatest accomplishments in golf. Even becoming a scratch golfer is impressive, as the average male golfer has a 14.2 handicap.

But what does it take to shoot under par and sometimes break 70? Is it distance, ball striking, putting, course management, or something else?

Today, I’ll help you learn what it really takes to break 70 and shoot under par. I’ve personally made this journey myself and went from a single digit handicap in 2017 to a +2.3 in 2023. 

How to Break 70 and Shoot Under Par

So, how do you break 70, what does it really take? 

Before getting into proven strategies to break par, let’s first set a few expectations. Golf Monthly published a great piece on average golf stats of a scratch golfer:

  • Putting: 5.2 one putts, 11.5 two putts, and 1.7 three putts per round.
  • Greens in regulation: 56% (10.08) with 44 feet average proximity. 
  • Driving: 259 yard average and 51% of fairways. 

These might surprise you – especially since a scratch golfer has more than one three putt per round and only hits it a little over 250 yards. I wanted to start here because you might be closer to the goal than you think. 

Key Takeaways

  • Less than 2% of golfers have a positive handicap. 
  • Breaking par and shooting in the 60s is about hitting it longer, making better decisions on the course, and a solid short game.
  • You’ll also need the right mental game strategy too. 
  • It’s important to remember that even pros don’t break par every round. The PGA Tour scoring average in 2022-2023 was 71.11. 

Keep reading to learn seven proven strategies so you can finally break par. 

How to Break 70 in Golf

1. Get Fitted

If you want to shoot under par, you need every club working for you, not against you. My take is that if you can break 90 and want to keep improving, you need to get fit for clubs. That’s not to say you always need to buy new clubs or buy brand-new clubs (used ones are a great way to save money).

However, you need equipment that is right for you, which is why I listed this as the first thing to do. Otherwise, you’re making golf even harder on yourself if you’re playing clubs that are too forgiving/not playable enough, incorrect shafts, and wrong lie angles.

The two most important clubs to get fit for are your driver and putter, especially at this level. 

Since you’ll use the driver nearly every par 4 or par 5, it’s essential that you have the right loft, clubhead, and shaft for optimal spin rates. If you’re the type of golfer trying to break par, you’ll want spin rates of about 2,000 RPM, which you can easily measure with a launch monitor. 

Additionally, you’ll need a putter that is fit for your stroke. Don’t forget, this portion of the game takes up nearly 30% of all strokes during the round! 

You’ll also want the correct shafts in your irons, proper lie angle, and club setup, so there are no distance gaps. Learn more about custom putter fittings here

Once you have the right equipment, it’s a lot easier to shoot your best scores (and eventually break par). 

2. Track Your Statistics 

I wanted to point out the stats of a scratch golfer to provide some context in the beginning of this article. 

Why? 

Because in my experience, most of us think we have to hit 300+ yard drives, hit 15 greens, and never three putt to score well. But it’s just not true and the numbers prove it. Having this kind of data is super helpful, as it’ll make achieving your goals significantly easier.

If you’re already shooting in the 70s, chances are you track your statistics. If not, you should ASAP. 

Tracking statistics makes it easy to objectively assess your game and spend your practice time more intentionally. This way you can work on the weaker parts of your game and turn them into strengths. Whether it’s more practice, hiring a golf coach, or buying a new training aid, statistics make it easy to figure out where you need to improve. 

How to Hit a Golf Driver

3. Hit Driver More Often 

Speaking of driver, once it’s fitted for your game, you need to hit it more often. One of the biggest mistakes golfers make is thinking that 3-wood is a much safer play and leads to more fairways. 

In reality, hitting 3-wood instead of driver only guarantees one thing – a longer distance into the green. Which raises your scoring average – even if you’re a PGA Tour pro. 

Not to mention, most golfers think their 3-wood is a lot straighter than a driver, but the numbers say otherwise. In another Golf Monthly study, they found that 5-handicaps only hit 3% more fairways with a 3-wood than a driver.

Make driver your best friend so you can have more wedges and short irons into greens. 

4. Increase Driving Distance 

It’s no surprise that the longer you hit it, the easier it is to improve your scoring average. Golf.com found that 6–12 handicaps average 219 yards off the tee, while players with a six handicap or less hit it 239 yards. 

You can find a ton of studies like this, and something I know myself first hand – distance makes the game easier. 

Fairways are not as important as you think, either. 

Overspeed Golf Training

Two of the best players ever – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson – both hit it very long in their prime, but weren’t known for hitting it straight. Yet, between the two of them, they have more than 100 PGA Tour wins and 20+ major championships.

If you want to shoot in the low 70s, do everything you can to improve your driving distance. Having the right driver is step one, but you’ll also want to start speed training (I highly recommend The Stack System), get into regular golf workouts, and make stretching/flexibility a priority.  

5. Play in Competitive Events 

To learn more about your game and break par faster, I can’t suggest tournaments enough. Getting into competitive events will speed up your learning curve faster than playing with casual golfers.

Why?

Because in tournaments you must putt everything out, play by the rules of golf, and test your game under pressure. Not to mention you can play more challenging courses, with tucked pins, fast greens, and with new playing partners. 

You might even get paired up with someone who has the low round of the day or wins the tournament. Playing alongside great golfers will teach you where you need to improve and see first hand what it’s like to break par and sometimes shoot in the 60s.

Not to mention, rising tides lift all boats. It’s a lot easier to break par when you’re playing with elite golfers vs. playing with guys who are barely breaking 90. 

Finally, tournaments expose your weaknesses, unlike a causal round. This will give you a blueprint of where to spend your time practicing in the following weeks. 

6. Keep Improving Your Mental Game 

I like to think the mental game is a sliding scale in golf. If you’re just trying to break 100 or break 90, it’s 50% mental and 50% physical. You need to still build a consistent swing and solid short game, even if your mental game is solid. 

But as you break 80 and get closer to becoming a scratch golfer, it’s more 80% mental, 20% skill. Once you have a consistent swing, it’s the mindset piece that holds so many golfers back from shooting lower, as it’s outside your comfort zone. Which is why mental game training is so important. 

As I got into single digits, I did everything I could to learn more about the mental game. From working with a sports psychologist, reading more books, and even working with a hypnotherapist.

My biggest tips with the mental game include:

  • Improve your self-talk and body language.
  • Creating and sticking with a consistent pre-shot routine.
  • Making meditation or a mindfulness practice a daily habit. 
How to Decide What Tees to Play

7. Tee It Forward 

If you want to break 70, you need to destigmatize it, as a lot of us build it up and make it harder on ourselves. Take a page from Bryson DeChambeau’s book and tee it forward.

After shooting an incredible 58 in the LIV event, Bryson had this to say about going low in Golf.com. “For any junior golfers out there, it’s probably the best thing you can do when trying to learn how to score. You go up to the red tees and try to shoot sub-60 rounds, for a good aspiring junior golfer that’s trying to be a professional golfer.”

Unfortunately, I know this advice, despite being from a major champion, will fall on deaf ears. But it’s true and something I’ve done myself countless times. Getting comfortable going low is a mindset issue, more than skill at this level.

When you tee it forward, you get comfortable knowing you’re under par and making birdies like pars. Not to mention, it’s a great way to work on your wedges and get comfortable making clutch putts.

Ditch your ego, tee it forward sometimes, and make it a challenge to go low. 

Read our full article on what tees you should play.

Bonus – Don’t Judge Your Round Too Early 

One of the mistakes I’ve made and seen with a lot of golfers is thinking a bad few holes or an okay front nine means a score above par. But if you’re a solid player, you can turn it around at any time.

In a two-man event in 2023, I shot a pretty average front nine 35 (even par) on a relatively easy golf course. This included a missed four footer for birdie and a ball that ended up in the water where I made bogey on a par 5. Nothing about the front nine would’ve made me think, today will be the lowest day of your golf career.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened. 

On the 10th hole I hit a good drive, a great wedge, and buried a 10-footer. I made a par on 11, nearly jarred a wedge for another birdie on 12, par on 13, and another birdie on the par 5 14th. 

The next hole is a short par 4 that you can’t hit the driver with, so I laid up and hit a good wedge. But I left myself an impossible putt (or so I thought). Somehow this downhill, double breaker found the bottom of the cup and I let out an epic fist pump. 

I stuffed a 7-iron to 3-feet on the next hole for another birdie. And had two good looks on 17/18, but they didn’t fall. I was so in the zone I had no clue where I was even at during the round. When I added it up, it was 35-31 for a tournament low 66.

The point? Don’t assume an average front nine will lead to an average back nine. 

how to become a scratch golfer

FAQs About Shooting Under Par 

Do you have more questions about breaking par? If so, keep reading to answer some of the most common questions to play your best golf. 

How do you break 75 consistently in golf?

If you want to break 75 consistently, you need to become a scratch golfer. 

Remember, a handicap is your scoring potential, not your average score. So if you’re a scratch golfer, you’ll be breaking 75 pretty consistently.

Read our full guide to becoming a scratch golfer here

How many people can break 70?

Not very many golfers ever achieve this feat. According to the USGA, about 1.99% of players have a handicap less than zero, which is a rough estimate on how many can break 70. 

Learn more about the average handicaps in golf here

Why can’t I break par in golf?

Breaking par isn’t an easy feat, even if you’re an experienced golfer. If you’re struggling to break par, I suggest tracking your stats, working with a coach, getting into a regular practice routine, and teeing it forward occasionally. 

A lot of times breaking par is a mental plateau more so than a swing limitation. Teeing it forward can help you see scores in the 60s and get comfortable shooting lower scores. Once this happens, you can move back tee boxes and keep breaking par. 

How hard is it to break par?

Yes, it’s very hard and why so many golfers want to pull off this career feat. 

My Experience

Breaking par for the first time is one of the greatest feelings ever. 

Not only because you put in the work to make it happen, but also because it’s so rare in the golf world. My guess is that 95% or more of anyone who touches a club never breaks par, let alone shoots in the 60s. 

I’m confident that the tips above with a consistent practice routine will help you get there. Just remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect overnight results when striving for such an ambitious goal. 

Having the right attitude and mindset is the biggest thing. To play your best, use this motto I got from a business mentor, “Anything is possible, 100% of the time.” 

Final Thoughts 

I’m hopeful that these tips will help you shoot under par and break 70. 

However, remember that it’s also unrealistic to think you will break par every single round. Even the best golfers in the world average about 71!

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael is a friend and contributor to the Left Rough. He is a full-time writer, podcast host of Wicked Smart Golf, and mental golf coach. He’s played for 25+ years and regularly competes in amateur golf tournaments in Arizona.

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