How to Break 90

How to Break 90 (Without changing your Swing)

Golf is one of those games where you’re never satisfied with your results. If you shoot in the 100s, then you want the 90s. If you’re in the 80s, then you want the 70s. It’s one of the reasons we love it so much.

One of the big milestones in golf is breaking 90 and shooting in the 80s. It’s actually quite a feat to be a part of the small percentage of players who can shoot in the 80s. 

In fact, the National Golf Foundation Research suggests that only 22% of golfers regularly achieve this on a full length course. The study found that the average score is 97 for men and 114 for women. 

These sobering statistics prove that golf is a difficult game, and there’s no doubt that real excellence can only be achieved through dedication and commitment. But I think it’s also true that far more than 22% of players are capable of scoring in the 80s, if they would only apply some simple game management principles. 

The truth is that scoring in the 80s is much more than creating the perfect swing.

When it comes to breaking 90, just thinking about the numbers can give you encouragement. Let’s start with shooting an 89 and work backwards. Typical par is 72 so breaking 90 is 17 over par, which is basically bogey golf with one par. 

Of course, rarely does a golfer have 17 bogeys and a par, but it could happen. And of course it could happen with some pars, birdies, and even a few double bogeys too. In the end, there are a lot of ways to make it happen. 

But most golfers think they have to hit endlessly at the driving range to shoot in the 80s. I’m here to tell you that it’s just not true.

In this article, we’ll show you how to shoot in the 80s without making any swing changes. 

How to Break 90 Without Changing your Swing – 25 Strategies 

If the history of golf has taught us one thing, it’s this… there is no one way to play great golf. There is also no “one way” to swing the golf club. 

Jack Nicklaus did it very differently compared to Tiger Woods. Who did it very differently from Ben Hogan, Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, and other great players. Hopefully, this makes you realize one thing… you need to swing your swing! 

Can you always make little tweaks and improvements? Can you tinker and try out different tips?

Of course, but don’t ever try to swing like one specific person. Instead, play your game and get comfortable with how you swing the golf club. 

So instead of giving you a laundry list of swing changes to make, let’s look at the art of scoring. Because a perfect swing doesn’t guarantee a good score.

Having the right attitude, proper course management, a solid short game, and putting is what ultimately matters. Quit watching more YouTube videos about the swing and only focus on these non-swing tips to start breaking 90.

Here are 25 strategies to help you break 90 without going back to the drawing board and revamping your swing.  Buckle up, this is a long one and you certainly want to read until the end..

1. Create a Pre-Shot Routine

While no two golfers have the same swing, all the great do have one thing in common; a pre-shot routine. Even though the routine and timing of it differs for each player, every single player has some sort of routine to get them in the zone before each shot. In fact, I would argue this is one of the best things that any golfer can add to their game.

A pre-shot routine does so much more than you might think. Some of the benefits include:

  • Speed up pace of play.
  • Find the distance to the pin.
  • Pick the right club and choose a target.
  • Help you calm your nerves and eliminate negative self-talk.

And most importantly, it helps you get in the zone. This is arguably the most beneficial aspect of a pre-shot routine. It helps you get out of your own way, focus only on the target, control your breathing, and execute the shot.

If you watch great players like Tiger Woods, you will see his pre-shot routine is a thing of beauty. Every single pre-shot routine takes nearly the same amount of time (usually within one second) and helps him focus on the task at hand. 

Needless to say, if it works for every professional and scratch golfer, you need one too. The cool thing about a pre-shot routine is that you get to make it your own. Don’t feel like you have to do it just like one of your golfing buddies or just like your favorite PGA Tour player, either.

Just make sure it helps you get in the zone and build confidence over every swing.

Your routine should help you gain clarity for every shot, find a target, the right spot to miss, and eliminate doubts. The more automatic it becomes, the more it will help you ward off self-doubt and make your best swings on the course. 

Click here to read our guide to creating a world-class pre-shot routine

Bonus: Short Game Routine 

While you might have a consistent routine with your long game, do you have one for your short game? So many players seem to skip a consistent routine with chipping/pitching or putting and pay the consequences as they’re nervous and uncomfortable over the ball.

You want to make sure that every shot you hit has some sort of pre-shot routine. Personally, I have three different ones:

  • Full shot, long game pre-shot routine.
  • Chipping/pitching pre-shot routine.
  • Putting routine. 

And I highly suggest you do the same to start breaking 90 ASAP. The reason is that each of these three shots are different and require their own technique and preparation.

For example, a full swing routine needs full length practice swings so you feel the shot you want to hit. While, a chipping/pitching routine should focus more on your landing spot and finesse around the greens. And your putting routine is all about reading greens, picking the apex, and pulling the trigger confidently. 

Once you have all your pre-shot routines, make sure to practice them on the range and practice green too! The more you practice them, the more they will become automatic on the course and help you step up to any shot, on any course, with confidence. 

How to Break 90 in Golf

2. Adjust Your Golf Clubs  

If you want to break 90, it’s only a matter of time before you do and then want to break 80… because that’s how golfers are wired. One of the most beneficial things you can do for your game to break 90 or 80 is to get fitted for clubs. 

But don’t worry though, I’m not saying that you need to go buy a new set entirely. If it’s time to do that and your clubs are using outdated technology, then sure, it might be time. Otherwise, you can just have a club fitter tweak your existing set of clubs instead.

Specifically, you want to pay attention to two things that you can easily adjust; driver loft and iron lie angle.  

Driver Loft 101

Starting with your driver, you want to make sure you have plenty of loft. A lot of amateurs use too little of loft and lose out on massive distance off the tee. Remember, loft is your friend with the driver!

Having more loft will help you:

  • Gain more carry distance.
  • Maximize forward spin (and longer total distance). 
  • Minimize your misses with a tighter shot dispersion.

And ultimately, give you easier approach shots because you find the fairway more. 

Even if you don’t want to pay for a custom fitting, experiment with different lofts on the driving range yourself. Since all new drivers allow you to tweak with a club tool, see which one produces the straightest and longest results. I would argue that almost every golfer needs at least 9 degrees of loft, if not 10-10.5. 

Iron Lie Angle

The second thing you want to consider with your irons and wedges is lie angle. Unless you ordered your club’s custom from the manufacturer, everything should come off the rack with a standard lie angle. But you can always have a certified club fitter make adjustments so they’re more flat or more upright (this isn’t something I recommend you do, like regripping your clubs).

For example, if you have an upright swing but play standard lie angle irons, you will likely miss a lot more to the left. Conversely, if you have a flat swing with standard lie angles, you will likely miss to the right. 

Even 1-2 degrees adjusting can make a huge difference in your contact and accuracy. You can either adjust your current set or when you order a new set, ensure they do it at the factory. 

Go here to read our full article about lie angles in golf clubs.

3. Buy a Launch Monitor For Your Golf Game 

If you’re ready to shoot in the 80s on a regular basis, you need to learn your distances for each club. This is one of the easiest things to do, yet, so many golfers skip this step entirely. Chances are you have a “ballpark” number for your clubs, but I challenge you to know your distances even better.

The easiest way to get to know your numbers is with a launch monitor. A decade ago, this wasn’t even possible, as these devices were reserved for professionals only and were exponentially more expensive. 

But today, there are more launch monitors than ever before. While a launch monitor provides tons of information about your swing, arguably the most important is carry distance with each club.

On the driving range, use a monitor to dial in your distances with a full swing for each club. Then, choke up and try to hit a knockdown for each club too. This will give you an extra distance so you have more shots in your arsenal for any distance you have on the course.

If you really want to be an overachiever, try to get three distances with your wedges. For example, your pitching wedge might go:

  • Full swing – 125 yards
  • Choke up one inch – 115 yards
  • Choke up two inches – 107 yards

Having more distances for each club will give you more confidence on the course as you will have a shot for any situation.

4. Have a Consistent Warm Up Routine

If you want to break 90, it’s time to take your warm-up seriously. So many golfers arrive 10-15 minutes early, hit a few balls at the range, maybe a few putts, and then head to the first tee.

But if you are committed to becoming a better golfer, you need more time to warm up. While you don’t need hour plus routines like the pros, you should give yourself at least 30 minutes. Preferably 45-60 minutes if possible.

A good warm up routine will:

  • Help you with first tee jitters. 
  • Test out bunkers and speed of greens. 
  • Allow you to get into the right mental state of mind. 
  • Give you plenty of time to stretch and avoid injuries.  

And a ton of other benefits. Here are three routines based on how much time you have before your tee time.

30 Minute Routine

  • 10 minutes stretching and hitting range. Hit a few wedges, mid-irons, hybrids/fairway woods, and a few drivers. 
  • 10 minutes chipping and pitching. See how much spin you get and how much the chips roll out after they land.
  • 10 minutes putting. Focus on short range putts and the speed of the greens more than anything else.  

45 Minute Routine

With an extra 15 minutes, I suggest hitting a few more clubs at the range and adding in some bunker practice time too. This way you will feel more comfortable if and when you find yourself in the beach.

60 Minute Routine 

With 60 minutes of warm up time, I suggest hitting 6-8 clubs at the driving range and more time on the practice green. I would also suggest going through a yardage book (or scorecard) or GPS and making a game plan for the first few holes. This way, you show up to the first tee fully prepared and ready to go! 

5. Improve Your Tee Shots 

To break 90, your tee shots play a pivotal role in making it happen. 

But good driving doesn’t necessarily mean always knocking it 250+ yards, straight down the middle of the fairway. Although who doesn’t love that feeling.

Instead, it means avoiding penalties and finishing on the short grass. Almost nothing will ruin your score on a hole than going out of bounds or into water off the tee (especially the first hole when nerves are usually high). And nothing is better guaranteed to sap morale and increase pressure on yourself than being forced to tee off again, “playing three.”

So don’t be embarrassed to take the safe option and hit the correct shot off the tee, which isn’t always the driver. Aim for the safe side of the fairway, away from any out of bounds or marked hazards and the worst of the trouble. The percentages almost always favor being on the fairway, even if this means a longer second shot.

There’s no rule of golf that says that you have to play driver off every tee.

Don’t hesitate to choose a fairway wood or iron if it gives you the best chance of hitting your target landing area. Use whatever makes you feel comfortable and will give you a good approach to the green.

If your manhood prevents you from using anything other than a driver off the tee, click here to at least learn how to use that shiny new driver.

6. Smart Approach Play

Hitting it in the fairway is great, but your approach to the green is just as important. Because as I’m sure you know, there is nothing worse than hitting a perfect drive, only to hit an awful second.

One of the most important things to remember is that to break 90, you don’t need to hit every green… or even half for that matter. Unless you have a wedge in hand, always aim for the widest part of the green.

Or, if you are playing a long par 4 and can’t reach the green in two shots, lay up to a distance where you are comfortable for your third.  Don’t try to crush a long iron or fairway wood, as it can end in a chunked shot that might leave you in a poor position to make par.

By avoiding “flag hunting,” you will likely leave yourself much easier ups and downs if you do miss the green. Play it safe to give yourself as many putts as possible, and I promise it will pay off.

Click here to learn more about the ideal approach strategy.

7. Master Your Mood & Mindset

You need the proper mindset to break 90 (or 80 or 70 for that matter). As Arnold Palmer said, “Success in golf depends less on strength of body, more of strength of mind and character.”

So much of golf is played between your ears, that’s why it’s vital to work on the mental side of things, just like you do with your full swing. To learn more, make sure to read our full article on tips to improve your mental game

8. Change Your Practice Sessions  

If you want to break 90, I would recommend mixing up your practice sessions regularly. Sadly, most golfers spend all their time hitting full shots, practice without a target, and rush through a full bucket. This is a waste of time!

Instead, practice differently so that you can get different results. Here are some fun ways to mix up practice and break new scoring barriers.

Aiming Practice

Alignment is one of the most important parts of playing consistent golf. Instead of just laying down an alignment club during your practice session, do this instead:

  • Pick a target and club.
  • Go through your full routine as if you were going to hit the shot.
  • Before taking your swing, check your alignment. First, look at your shoulder alignment, then put the club on the ground on your feet line. 
  • If you are square to the target, take your swing. If not and your aim is way off, start over again. 

Sometimes I bet you will be shocked with your alignment. A lot of times we might feel like we’re aligned but actually way off. By training your alignment on the range, it will make it much easier to set up square on the course and make better swings.

Routine Practice

Another type of practice that isn’t what you see most golfers doing is routine practice. The goal is simple – program your pre-shot routine so that it’s like clockwork.

Since you’re going through your full routine with each shot, I suggest going with a small bucket as it will take longer. Don’t work on anything mechanical either, just focus on your routine and target.

To make it even more effective, video your swing and routines. Then you can time them and see how similar they are after every swing.

Three Club Practice

If you want to mix it up, I suggest only taking three clubs with you to the practice tee. But not just any three clubs, practice hitting: Driver, sand wedge, and putter. Those are by far the most used clubs every round, so it’s important to train with them the most. 

  • Driver – Focus on finding a consistent tee shot so you can love your driver.
  • Sand wedge – Hit all kinds of full shots and short shots around the green.
  • Putter – Work on lag putting and all putts inside three feet.

Break up your allotted practice time with equal time between these three golf clubs. The more you can master these three clubs, the sooner you will break 90 and shoot lower scores. 

On Course Practice 

Lastly, if you’re able to play a round when it’s not busy or you’re a member of a country club, try on-course practice. Instead of grinding away at the range, practice on the course instead for more real-world situations. This is much more effective than hitting the same shot, from the same lie at the driving range over and over again. 

Use this time to hit shots that you don’t normally hit or can’t practice on the range. Some ideas might include:

  • Hitting over trees.
  • Hitting out of fairway bunkers. 
  • Flop shot over bunkers to tucked pins.
  • Long range pitching wedge bump-n-runs.
  • Putting 50-80 foot putts and working on lag distance. 
  • Hitting full swing shots from different slopes (uphill, downhill, side hill). 

Most importantly, you and your golf buddies should get creative and have fun. Click here to learn even more about better golf practice.

9. Learn How to Escape Trouble 

Regardless of how carefully you plan your tee ball, there will inevitably be times when you end up in trouble. That’s part of playing this crazy game called golf.

On par 4 or par 5 holes, if your drive has ended up just in the light rough, and the lie isn’t bad, you may be able to play your second shot as you had originally planned. The only thing you need to account for is the lie and if you get a flier or not.

But if you’re lying in sand, thick rough or tight behind trees or bushes, you may have no option but to play out sideways. In these circumstances, there’s usually little to be gained by trying to get all the way to the green. This is the time when you need to chip out and plan for bogey; minimize the double bogey (or other big numbers) and give yourself the best chance at par (or bogey at worst).

If you’re under a tree, take a low lofted iron and punch it back to the short grass. Or, if you are in the thick stuff, open up a wedge, swing hard, and get the ball back in play.

For your third, the percentage shot is almost always to aim for the center of the green and rely on two putts for your par or bogey. Play conservatively in this way and you’ll make your fair share of pars, which can be celebrated like birdies when you’re trying to break 90. Sometimes avoiding a double is just as good as a par, as you will keep momentum and not feel like you have to play aggressively down the stretch.

Go here to read more about recovery shots.

10. Develop Your Wedge Skills

As someone who is trying to break 90, you are bound to miss half or more of the greens. Heck, I’m a scratch golfer and sometimes miss half the greens and still shoot in the 70s.

Needless to say, your wedges need to become some of your favorite clubs. But you don’t have to overcomplicate it and learn how to hit all kinds of crazy flop shots to get the ball up and down consistently.

Instead, you want to master the fundamentals and keep your short game very simple. The only shots you really need to know to break 90 are the chip and the pitch shot.

The chip should be the first choice when there is no obstacle between you and the flag. This is the highest percentage shot and allows you to bump the ball onto the putting surface and get it rolling as quickly as possible.

You don’t have to use a wedge, either. If you have plenty of green to work with and don’t want the ball to stop too quickly, a mid-iron could work. Or, you could even use a hybrid if you have a longer distance or are on the fringe.

But if you do need to pitch over sand, water or sloping green, opt for the standard pitch shot. With the pitch, you want to land it much closer to the hole, as it should stop rather quickly.

All things being equal, the chip and run is the safer of the two and reduces the risk of chunking or topping… which are usually the result of over-anxiety to get the ball airborne quickly.

That said, the safest option of all may be to putt from off the green if the ground conditions permit, which they do more often than you might think. So use this simple rule of thumb: if you can’t putt, chip. If you can’t chip, pitch.

11. Dial In Your Speed on the Greens  

To break 90, you need to eliminate three putts as much as possible. Two shots or fewer on every green is your goal!

The key to success is to focus on the speed of the putt rather than trying to decide upon an exact line. Just think how often you’ve watched on TV as a top pro and his caddy, both with many years’ experience on a huge variety of greens, spend an eternity trying to agree on the correct line even for a relatively short or medium length putt.

If it’s that tough for them, it must be almost impossible for us mortals too.

Instead, focus more on speed than line. But do your best to always get the ball to the hole – there isn’t much more frustrating than leaving putts short, that would have gone in with a little extra speed. While this doesn’t mean you should blast every putt by the hole, make sure to give it enough speed. Ideally, if you miss, you want it only 18 inches past the cup (or closer) for a care-free tap in.

Get the ball to “die” close to the hole with reasonable consistency in this way, and you should be forever free of the three and even four putt nightmares which destroy all hopes of breaking 90. 

12. Start Shaping Shots 

At this point in your golf journey, you’re probably at the point where you can get shape the golf ball both directions. Even if it’s not super consistent, chances are you know how to do it (even if it doesn’t always work out).

When you can shape shots both ways, it makes your approaches much easier as you can get out of trouble and give yourself more birdie looks. On the range, make sure to practice both draws and fades so you can start breaking 90 when you’re on the course.

13. Make Avoiding “Blow-Ups” Your Number One Priority

If you read our breaking 100 article, you know it’s more than possible to shoot in the 90s with a few pars, bogeys, and quite a few double bogeys too. But when it comes to getting into the 80s, you need to eliminate as many double bogeys as possible. It’s not to say you can’t have some, but more than 1-2 and it will make things difficult. 

Apart from the obvious numerical damage to your card, blow-up holes of double bogey and worse kill momentum. And if you let them, ruin a whole round through the damage they do to your confidence. It’s all too easy to mentally “throw in the towel” after one of these holes.

Contrast this with the attitude of the pros, who aren’t breaking 90 but instead shooting in the 60s. While sixes, sevens and even eights (aka the dreaded “snowman”) are not unheard of on the PGA Tour, what’s impressive is how good the pros are at putting these disasters behind them.

This is why you need the right mindset to make it happen. Here’s a great example…

Ernie Els once six putted the first green of the 2016 Masters (yes, six putts, you read that right) and made a nine. But instead of moping around and giving up, he kept grinding and finished with an 80, playing the next 17 difficult holes very well.

Maybe the knowledge that every extra shot taken means fewer dollars in the bank makes it easier for them, or maybe it was this kind of mindset that made them pros in the first place. Either way, it’s certain that the determination to play every shot to the best of your ability is one of the keys to breaking 90 or, for that matter, 80 or 70 too.

Go to the next hole with a blank slate and commit regardless of what happened on the last hole.

14.  Add Golf Workouts to Your Routine 

Golf courses keep getting longer, so it might be time to add some new exercises to your workout routines to keep up. Developing your golf muscles can lead to more distance off the tee, easier approaches to the green, and better stamina down the final stretch of holes.

Extra strength will also give you more scoring opportunities on a long par 4 or par 5 that some of your other golfing buddies can’t reach in two. Plus, it makes dealing with the long rough a lot easier as well. Not to mention, the better shape you are in physically, the longer you can play this awesome game that we all love for a long time.

Click here to learn more about golf workouts.

15. Get on the Golf Course More (Practice Less) 

If you want to hit great shots and break 90 more often, get off the range! Think about it, on the range you:

  • Have no penalty strokes.
  • Don’t worry about the next shot.
  • Don’t have to deal with playing partners.
  • Always hit from a good lie, never thick rough.
  • Hit driver over and over again (which never happens on the course). 

This type of practice just is not realistic to playing a full round of golf.

When you get out on the local course, you can learn so much more about your game. Even if you don’t hit the perfect shot as much as you want, it’s easy to figure out what you need to work on.

Then, you use that experience (from good or bad rounds) to practice more efficiently. Plus, it’s just more fun than standing there banging balls over and over again!

16. Play With Better Golfers 

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett once said, “It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” 

This is true in business and in golf. If you want to play better golf, hang out with better golfers.

When you play with your golfing buddies who struggle to break 100, chances are you don’t play your best golf. But if you play with people who shoot in the 70s or low 80s, it can do wonders to your game.

First, playing with better golfers tends to make you focus more. It will help you commit to each shot, pick a target, go through your routine, and generally just perform better. 

Second, you can learn a ton from playing with great golfers. When you’re playing with them for four plus hours, you can learn a lot about their:

  • Self-talk.
  • Routines.
  • Course management.
  • Game plan for different types of holes.

And a lot more. If you play with better golfers consistently enough, chances are some of their positive habits and tendencies will rub off on you.

Not to mention, it will likely fire your competitive spirit too. If you are constantly getting beat, it is very motivating to work on your weakness so you can become more competitive. 

Sadly, the same thing can happen if you play with golfers who are worse than you. While it’s not to say you shouldn’t ever play with your buddies who aren’t as good, just make sure to stay focused when you do golf with them. Sometimes, when other guys in your group are hitting it all over, it’s easy to rub on negatively.

While it might feel intimidating to play with skilled golfers at first, just remember your goals of breaking 90. Over time, these better golfers will help you elevate all parts of your game and make you a stronger all-around player. 

17. Learn How to Read Greens 

Good luck breaking 90 if you can’t read greens! Green reading is a very important skill and one that will help minimize three putts more than anything.

A few things to think about when reading greens:

  • Always read your putt from behind the golf ball.
  • Determine if the putt is uphill, downhill, or side hill.
  • If you can’t see the break, read it from the side of the hole and from behind the hole.

Finally, try to keep it simple more than anything else. Remember, the goal is to roll the ball to the hole, that’s it!

18. Upgrade Your Golf Gadgets 

It’s pretty amazing how much technology we have to make the game easier. To hit more great shots and break 90, I suggest a few gadgets aside from a launch monitor to help you out. 

Golf GPS or Yardage Book

One of the most important things to break 90 is to have a game plan for each hole. The easiest way to do that is with a golf GPS handheld device (or watch) or a physical yardage book guide. While some courses still have GPS in the carts, fewer facilities do as more people have apps and other devices.

Try to always have a GPS device and or yardage book to help create a hole-by-hole strategy. These tools will help you:

  • Avoid fairway bunkers and hazards.
  • See the entire hole so you can pick the right club off the tee.
  • Show distances to doglegs, adjust distances from different tee boxes, and a lot more.

Rangefinder

If you don’t like having a handheld or watch GPS device, opt for a rangefinder. This way you don’t have to rely on sprinkler heads and will ensure you always know the distance to the pin.

Golf App For Analyzing Your Swing

Another gadget to help your game is an analyzer for your swing. This will make it easy to store your swing videos, add notes, draw lines, send videos to a coach, and make adjustments to your game as needed.

19. Play Aggressively on Par 5s 

Once you’re at this level, you need to play aggressive golf on par 5’s. While a lot of golfers fear par 5’s based on their length, the truth is that this is where good golfers take advantage. 

In general, I suggest going for every par 5 in two. The closer you can get your second shot to the green, the better.

Think about it, are you more likely to get a 20 yard chip up and down or an 80-yard shot that you laid up too? This is one of the reasons that PGA Tour players can go so low on a golf course with four par 5’s.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need to lay up to give yourself the best scoring opportunity. But if you have a clear look at the green and no hazards directly in sight… go for it! 

Remember, the closer you can get, the easier the chip or pitch you will have.

Plus, you might get the ball on the green and have a putt for eagle. Worst case scenario, you three putt and make par. Best case scenario, you make eagle or have an easy two putt birdie.

This can give you a ton of confidence that will likely lead into the next few holes too. 

20. Quit Playing Golf Swing  

There is a reason that this article doesn’t focus on swing technique and mechanics. Because sometimes too many swing thoughts can ruin your game on the golf course. 

Too many players get into the “playing the golf swing” instead of playing golf. If you’ve ever made big swing changes, chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

Swing thoughts wreak havoc on your rounds. To play your best on the course, you need to drop almost all of them and focus on scoring, not your actual swing. 

Here are three ways to do it: 

Train Your Swing on the Range 

To score your best on the course, you need to train your swing on the range. This doesn’t mean you need to hit jumbo buckets every single day to improve. Instead, you need to work on mechanics and fundamentals on the range to develop consistency.

Then, when you get to the course to play a round of golf, focus on playing, not thinking about your swing. The more you can learn to train your swing on the practice tee, the easier it will be to take your game to the course. 

Have One Non-Mechanical Swing Thought 

In a perfect world, I would recommend to any golfer to eliminate all swing thoughts on the course. But in reality, that’s nearly impossible as most of us like to have at least some sort of anchor thought. If you need one, I suggest having one non-mechanical swing thought and focus only on that. 

The main point being non-mechanical. Leave the mechanics and technical jargon for the range, not the course where you should focus on target and routine.

A good thought might be something like:

  • Take a smooth backswing.
  • Swing through the golf ball. 
  • Make sure to pause at the top. 

Or, something similar. Do not have more than one swing thought or you’ll have too much mental chatter and struggle to stay present during the round. 

Make the Target Your Number One Priority 

Finally, make sure that you focus on your targets more than any swing thought.

Playing solid golf comes down to picking a target and using the club/swing to make it happen. I know it sounds simple, but it’s true.

For tee shots, focus on a target in the distance or a spot in the fairway. The more specific, the better.

For approach shots, focus on a target on the green. At this level, I would suggest aiming for the widest part of the green and avoiding flags unless you have a short iron or wedge in your hand. 

For chips and pitches, pick a target where you want the ball to land. And for putts, pick a target for long putts or a specific part of the hole for short putts where you want the ball to go in. 

Make your target your number one priority on the course! 

21. Utilize the Knockdown  

Some days, no matter how bad you want it, your golf swing just isn’t there. Whether you’re an amateur golfer or a professional, it’s just part of the game. But just because you aren’t swinging well that day, doesn’t mean you can’t score well.

If things are going your way, I suggest choking up and hitting more knockdown type shots to build confidence. You can even do this with a driver too.

When you choke up on a golf club, it makes it shorter and easier to control. This should result in shots that don’t go quite as far, but should be much straighter. Plus, your contact is usually more solid as well.

After a few knockdown type shots, you might start to gain more confidence in your full swing. Paired with a few good up and downs or a few mid-range putts, you might get your confidence back mid-round. 

So if things aren’t happening how you imagined, choke up and focus on swinging smoothly. While you will likely need to club up, it should produce a straighter, more consistent ball that won’t get you into much trouble. Not to mention, it’s a great strategy for playing in the wind, too.

22. Watch More Golf 

I’m sure your wife will love this strategy, right?

In all seriousness, watching golf on TV can help your game a ton. When watching professionals, I encourage you to:

  • Watch their pre-shot routine. As I mentioned in strategy number one, every pro has a pre-shot routine that they do every single time. Some waggle, some take multiple practice swings, and other habits to make them confident over the ball. See if you can find parts of their routine that you can add into your routine too. 
  • Picture yourself hitting the shot. I love watching golf and getting into it as if I were about to hit the shot myself. Try to put yourself in their shoes and use your mind to help with visualizations. This will help you when you’re on the course and you give your mind a clear picture of what you’re trying to do with each swing.
  • Notice their attitude. Unless you’re watching Sergio Garcia meltdown in a bunker, chances are you won’t see too many mood swings on the golf course from elite players. Even though they hit bad shots (sometimes really bad, especially for them), rarely do they get mad. And if they do, they don’t let it affect the rest of their round. Take note so you don’t let a bad hole ruin your round.
  • Listen to post game interviews. It’s been said that success always leaves clues in both sports and business, and I 100% agree. To help you get some of these clues for golf success, make sure to listen intently to post game interviews specifically. Almost 100% of the time you will hear PGA Tour players say the same things over and over again —  “I tried to take it one shot at a time”, “I stayed aggressive”, “I didn’t lose hope” etc. These are the beliefs and affirmations that you need to take the course with you too! 

23. Read Golf Books 

There are so many great golf books out there! To help you break 90, check out some of our favorite golf books to help you learn about course management, strategy, and mental routines from some of the greatest players ever.

24. Finish Strong 

One stroke is all it takes to go from 90 to 89! Yet, so many golfers quit early in the round if things aren’t going their way. Breaking 90 and playing great golf is all about perseverance.

Sometimes you have to grind from the first hole to the last hole. Just remember, you can’t let one hole make you give up. Keep grinding, stay positive, and don’t give up until the last putt drops.  

25. Track Your Stats 

The final tip to help you start breaking 90 without swing changes is to track your stats.

When you track your stats, you can learn a ton about your game. Specifically, you can learn where you need to spend the majority of your practice time to get better results. I can almost guarantee that most players don’t do this and they suffer greatly.

Tracking stats is a great way to identify your weaknesses, celebrate your victories, and get ready for the next round.

Click here to learn more about tracking your stats.

Breaking 90 Summary

Hopefully, these 25 tips and strategies will make it just a matter of time to the promised land of shooting in the 80s. All it takes is a few rounds of doing it to level up and start playing your best golf yet.

Remember, to break 90 it’s not about hitting great shots (or even good shots) all the time. It’s about the little things, like:

  • A solid tee box strategy.
  • Having a game plan on every shot.
  • Creating solid routines that last the whole round.
  • Mastering your chip and pitch shots so you have short putts.
  • Minimize the blow up holes (especially a double bogey or triple bogey).

After using these strategies for just a few weeks, I wouldn’t be shocked if you made it in the 80s sooner rather than later. Finally, don’t forget to trust the process and not try to revamp your swing. Read this article on how to drop your handicap from a 20 to a 10.

Instead, focus on the non-swing strategies here to start playing to your potential. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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