If you are new, or a struggling amateur, it is a good goal to break 100 in golf. If you are already making good contact with the golf ball, breaking 100 will not be too tall of an order.
The best strategy to break 100 consists of getting the basics correct and solid course management. For many golfers, club selection, and where you attempt to hit that next shot can drastically impact scores.
For golfers trying to break 100, you don’t need birdies and pars, you need bogeys and double-bogeys.
How do you approach the game mentally?
Let me ask you this – you are 50 yards away from the green. The pin is tucked in the back corner with a sand trap in front of it. Are you hitting at the pin?
You might say, well it depends on what shot I’m on. Maybe you think to yourself, I’ve already hit 3 shots on this par 4 and need to put something close to finish with a bogey.
But what ends up happening? You know all too well – your ball goes into the sand, or over the green. Then you still 2-putt after getting out of the sand. The end result is a triple bogey or worse.
Get the ball on the green! Look at the bigger picture. Trying to save a bogey in that situation is far too risky, and if you take that approach over and over again on the course, the strokes will add up.
Evaluate The Basics
When it comes to breaking 100 in golf, the basics of the setup and golf swing are key!
Basics of the Setup
You need to make sure that you are properly aligned and balanced before you take your swing. This means setting your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your weight evenly distributed, and bending from your hips rather than your waist.
What to Avoid in the Golf Setup
You don’t want to slouch or hunch over. This will negatively affect your posture and make it difficult to swing the club properly.
You should avoid standing too close to the ball or too far away. This can also lead to poor swing mechanics.
Make sure that you don’t grip the club too tightly. This can cause tension in your arms and shoulders, which will lead to mistakes down the line.
When setting up for a shot with your irons, the ball position will be different based on the length of the club.
With shorter irons, you will want to position the ball close to the middle of your stance. As you move up the ladder with your irons, you’ll gradually move the ball further forward in your stance.
The longest club in your bag, a driver, will have a ball position that is aligned with the heel of your front foot.
Basics of the Golf Swing
A misconception is to take the club back in a straight line. Instead, you need to swing on an arc. The club face will rotate with the swing arc.
The backswing is an important part of the golf swing. There are a few things that you can do to improve your backswing and make it more fluid.
When you are in the backswing, once the club becomes parallel to the ground, it should also be parallel to your target line.
When your club is parallel to the ground, the club face should be parallel to your spine angle.
On your follow-through, when your club is parallel to the ground, it should again be parallel to your target line. The club face at this point should also be pointing straight up in the air.
Practice your club position
On the driving range, practice several shots where you only take the club halfway into your backswing, parallel to the ground. Observe the face position, and ensure it is parallel to your spine angle.
On the follow-through, take it to parallel again, and make sure the toe is pointing up. If you’re hitting the ball off to the right (for a right-handed golfer), try working to close the club face sooner.
Pro Tip – Quality NOT quantity! Make each shot count, don’t just hit loads of golf balls.
Diagnosing Problems in your Golf Swing
Understanding your ball flight and how it was impacted by swing path, club face at impact, and target line are essential to correct issues. A good friend of mine and golf instructor put this chart together to help golfers understand how to diagnose.
The starting points to understand are (right handed golfer)
If the ball starts left, club face is closed
If the ball starts right, club face is open
Swing path further effects the ball flight
If the ball fades off to the right after it starts off straight, swing path is going left.
If the ball starts right, then fades more to the right as it’s flying, club face is open to it’s path AND target line.
Bottom line, pay attention to your ball flight, how it starts, and how it finishes. If this is too much to digest, start with simply understanding face open/closed at impact and how the ball reacts.
Check out this article for more suggestions on how to hit the golf ball straight.
Course Management Strategies to Break 100 in Golf
Here are some basic strategies that you can use for course management in golf.
Play to your strengths
Know your yardages
Stay out of trouble
Hit at the center of the greens (not the flag)
Stay focused and stay positive
An example of playing to your strengths might be choosing a club that you feel comfortable with, even if it is not the longest club in your bag.
Avoiding hazards like trees, water, and bunkers is important. Don’t go for the hero shot, play a club and line that will reduce the likelihood you’ll end up in trouble.
Finally, staying focused and positive throughout the round can help you make smart decisions on the course. Even if you hit a bad shot, it’s important to stay calm and confident in your ability to recover. It makes the game much more enjoyable and will keep you from carrying baggage into your next shot.
For a more in-depth look at the mental game of golf, check this article out with tips from a former Olympic Athlete!
Pro Tip – Bogeys are your friend!
Hitting at the center of the green
This is so important for amateur golfers, I think it deserves its own section!
I’ve spent years aiming at flags and I had no idea how big of an impact it had on my overall score until I tried hitting at the center. I’m not talking about a shot that’s 10 yards away, more like 50 yards or more.
Think about your left/right margin of error when hitting. That margin is your hitting window and you should aim for a spot on the green that fits as much of that window as possible while avoiding any hazards.
Consider this – On the PGA Tour in 2022, the average proximity to the hole after players were faced with 50-75 yard shots was 25 feet. The Pros at that distance are not putting the ball within 25 feet of the hole!
Drills to Practice
For putting, focus on hitting a smooth stroke with consistent speed and direction. Start by placing golf balls at different distances from the hole. Get a feel for the speed needed to get the ball within 2 or 3 feet of the hole. This will help you reduce 3-putts. Practice your speed for 10 minutes before each round.
Finally, for the driver, focus on getting a good swing rhythm and maintaining good posture throughout your swing. Take a few swings without golf balls first, and then try hitting golf balls at different distances.
With some practice, good golfing technique, and a good course management strategy you will see improvements in your golf game and break 100 in no time!
Good luck on the golf course!