How To Break 80 In Golf Consistently (12 Things You Can Try)

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For most beginners and mid handicappers breaking 100 and 90 is a very achievable task, but breaking 80 on the other hand is quite a daunting challenge.

At times breaking 80 for the first time might seem impossible, but in reality, it isn’t, more often than not having the correct mindset is half the battle won. Below we are going to take a closer look at 12 tips that will help you on your quest to break 80 consistently.

1. Keep The Ball In Play Off The Tee

The importance of keeping the ball in play off the tee can’t be overemphasized. Wayward misses of the tee lead to big numbers and if you want to break 80 you can’t afford to have double and triple bogeys on your card.

Good course management is key to keeping the ball in play off the tee. If a hole is guarded by fairway bunkers or a penalty area hit a club off the tee that will either keep you short of those areas or that you can comfortably carry over them. 20 or 30 extra yards off the tee is useless if your next shot is a chip out of a bunker or a penalty drop.

2. Hit More Greens In Regulation

Hitting more greens in regulation is key to breaking 80. By hitting more greens in regulation your short game will be under a lot less pressure and your likelihood of making birdies also increases. One or two extra birdies instead of bogeys a round might just be the four-shot swing that you need to break 80 consistently.

Hitting more greens in regulation requires patience and discipline. Instead of taking dead aim on holes where the flag is tucked away over a bunker aim for the big part of the green instead. Putting for birdie from 30 – 40 feet away is much easier than having to hit a 5 – 10 yard bunker shot.  

3. Don’t Lose Focus After A Bad Shot

No round of golf is perfect, even the best in the world hit bad shots. PGA Tour players shoot 63’s and 64’s regularly, but even those rounds include bad shots. What makes the pros good is the fact that they don’t let one bad shot derail their round.

A wayward drive or a bad second shot on your first hole of the day doesn’t determine the fate of your entire round. Some of the best rounds of golf ever played started with bogeys. If you are serious about breaking 80 adopting the same mindset as a pro will go a long way.

Maintain your focus after a bad shot and don’t let one shot ruin your entire round. Accept that you are going to hit bad shots and instead of dwelling on those bad shots focus your energy on hitting the next shot to the best of your ability.

4. Avoid 3 Putts

If you are serious about breaking 80 avoiding 3 putts is a must. 18 holes without a 3 putt will definitely shave 2 to 3 shots off your score for most mid handicappers. Furthermore, a 3 putt breaks your momentum. 3 putting after 2 or 3 good shots to get onto the green can be very deflating mentally which in return can add pressure onto your long game thinking that you have to hit your approach shot as close as possible to the hole to avoid another 3 putt.

If you are faced with a long putt focus on getting the speed right, yes one should always aim to make a putt regardless of how far you are away but without good speed holing putts can be tricky. Hitting the putt on the correct line is important but good speed combined with the correct line is necessary to hole more putts and to avoid 3 putts.

Check out our tips on how to read greens. to help get the right line and these putting drills for speed control to avoid big misses short or long.

5. Improve Your Bunker Play

If you want to break 80 improve your bunker play. You will inevitably end up in a greenside bunker at least once or twice during a round. How you get out of that bunker can have a serious impact on your round. With a good bunker shot you might walk away with a par or at most with a bogey, however, if you blad your bunker shot or leave it in the sand a big number is on the cards.

By improving your bunker play you will not only avoid a big number, but you might also save a shot by getting up and down. Good bunker play requires good technique and practice, its a tedious process but it will be worth it once you break 80 for the first time by getting up and down on the last hole from the greenside bunker to shoot 79.

6. Play With A Purpose

Play with a purpose, have a game plan in place before your round and stick to it. Professional players spend hours and hours on planning and strategy before every tournament round that they play and there is a reason why they do this. Being prepared and playing with a purpose creates confidence and it places you in a positive mindset before the start of the round.

Spend 10 to 15 mins thinking about your round the next day. If you are playing at your home course this should be fairly easy, visualize what club you are going to hit off of each tee box and where you want to be on the green with your approach shot. If you are playing at a new course get a feel for the layout on Google Maps (satellite mode). Being prepared allows you to play with a purpose which will translate into confidence on the course and lower scores.

7. Warm Up Before Your Round

Most amateur golfers arrive at the golf course just in time for their tee time. Ten practice swings and a few random stretches on the tee box constitutes their warm up routines before they hit their first shot of the day. If you are serious about breaking 80 you have to warm up before your round, you can’t afford to use the first three holes of the day as your warm-up holes.

Your warm up doesn’t have to take an hour, at the bare minimum it needs to include a short stretching routine and about 10 minutes on the putting green before you head to the first tee. Getting your body loose and activated will ensure good rhythm in your swing from the first shot of the day. Spend the time on the putting green to get a feel for the speed, this will ensure that the speed of the greens doesn’t catch you by surprise on your first put of the day.

8. Know Your Miss

If you want to break 80 you have to know what your miss is. Your miss will either be a slice or block to the right for right-handed players or a hook/pull to the left of your target. If your miss is off to the right and the flag is tucked on the right side of the green aim for the middle of the green. If you do end up missing it right you will still be relatively close to the flag instead of being 30 yards right of the green struggling to save par.

By knowing your miss you can keep big numbers off of your scorecard which is a must if you want to break 80. If your miss starts to become a regular issue with your swing seek the help of a teaching professional, it’s not necessary to reconstruct your swing but a check-up with a pro to ensure that the basics of your swing are in position will go a long way in keeping your misses small.

9. Follow A Consistent Pre-Shot Routine

A consistent pre-shot routine might just be the change that you need to implement to take your golf game to the next level. A consistent pre-shot routine will ensure that you choose a clear target before each shot and that your focus is on the target and not on any other random swing thoughts.

Finding the perfect pre-shot routine takes practice. What works for one player might not work for another, you have to find what works for you. There are however a few key aspects that any good pre-shot routine should include. Breathing is very important, a good deep breath before hitting your shot will relax your muscles and relieve your body of any tension it might have.

In addition to breathing visualizing the shot that you want to hit and finding a very specific target is also key. Aiming at the green or the fairway is a very broad target, your target needs to be small, the edge of a bunker or a specific tree for instance on your target line is a much better option than just the fairway or the green.

10. Practice With A Purpose

If you are serious about breaking 80 working on your golf game is non-negotiable. You don’t have to spend hours and hours on the practice tee, but you also can’t expect to improve your scores without any practice at all.

Good quality practice regularly will fast track your goals of breaking 80. Putting on your carpet at home for 10 mins in the evening or doing a full swing drill in front of the mirror might not seem like much but the results will surprise you.

If you can get out onto the practice tee weekly that’s even better. Make sure to practice with a purpose, know what you want to do before you start and use your time wisely. Work on the areas of your game that need it most, don’t avoid practicing your bunker shots for instance because you prefer bombing drives instead.

If you want some help with this, check out our free driving range practice guide.

11. Know When To Take Your Medicine

Tiger Woods is renowned for his miraculous recovery shots from the trees and yes I know it’s tempting to try the impossible when you find yourself out of position but for the regular golfer trying to emulate Tiger is likely to backfire.

If your drive slices off into the tree take your medicine and find the safest way back to the fairway. By doing this you will put yourself in a good position to potentially save par or to make a bogey at worse. Going for that one in a million shot might work, but if it doesn’t you are starring double bogey or worse in the face.

Keeping big numbers off your card is a must if you want to break 80, by taking your medicine after a bad shot you will do exactly that.

12. One Shot At A Time

If you want to break 80 you have to focus on hitting one shot at a time. This notion is a bit of a cliche in the golfing world and I’m sure you’ve heard it many times but there is merit behind the saying.

With three or four holes to go on your round, you might be in a position to break 80 for the first time, at this point hitting one shot at a time is a must if you want to achieve your goal. You will become nervous, your heart rate will increase and your mind will start to wonder. Focusing on one shot at a time and following your pre-shot routine will help to calm the nerves and focus your thoughts on the shot at hand and not on the fact that you might break 80.

Last but not least have fun, golf is a very tough game that can test you to your limits, embrace the challenge, enjoy every step of the journey, this will ultimately give you the best chance to break 80 consistently.

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Bertine Strauss
Bertine is a former LPGA Tour player from South Africa. She started playing golf at the age of 9 and, after a very successful junior career, joined the University of Texas at Austin women’s golf team in 2011 where she was named Big 12 player of the year before going pro. Bertine now works as a marketing strategist for a sports and entertainment agency. You can find her online on her instagram.