How To Break 100 in Golf (Practical Guide)


Everyone wants to strike solid shots and have fun playing the game. There is a good chance that someone trying to break 100 is either fairly new to the game of golf, hasn’t had much of an opportunity to golf on a regular basis, or just simply really struggles with the game.

We all want to play respectable golf and be able to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and the time with our friends.  Nobody wants to be that person – you know the person who people dread golfing with and do not even invite because the round of golf becomes miserable.

So here you are seeking tips, strategies or anything that will help you break 100 and start your journey to becoming a better golfer and approach the typical average score of somewhere around 90.  

For many golfers, breaking 100, 90, 80, or 70 for the first time is very memorable and starts with setting it as a goal. The hard work that it takes to get to each milestone should be fun and rewarding once you do arrive at that score. Keep in mind that golf is supposed to be fun and that by maintaining a positive mindset, your chances of reaching the goal greatly increase.

In our practical guide to breaking 100, we take you through a series of tips and ways to reach your goal of breaking 100 in golf.  We spend a great deal of time talking about the mindset for the day of your round. We also provide some of the best videos available by Shawn Clement. I believe he is the best online instructor for the beginner golfer. His philosophy and approach focus on natural movements and a mindset that helps you keep it simple and remain positive. Check out our recommend products page for our recommendations on golf swing/training aids, golf balls, golf shoes and more, here.

Be confident that you have come to the right place to help you reach your goal.  We provide some great information to help get you into the right mindset and to create a plan to help you reach your goal. There are 8 key tips found throughout the guide.  As someone that has reached each of the milestones and has broken 70, I hope that my advice can help.

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I coached high school golf for many years and had golfers that would shoot in the low 70s, all the way up to the kid that had never golfed and had clubs from the local garage sale – trust me this kid typically struggled, but we were able to help him and see progress.  I reflect back and think how I was able to most help those golfers during these difficult, yet exciting times. We take you through the topics below and provide tips in each of the categories.

  1. The Score Breakdown and Mindset
    1. Set the New Par
    2. Course Management
  2. Tee Shot
  3. Approach Shot
  4. Chipping
  5. Putting
  6. Mental side
  7. Online Golf Instructors
  8. Practice
  9. Have Fun!

The Score Breakdown and Mindset

Thinking of breaking 100 might seem overwhelming, but you truly must take it one shot at a time and have a plan for each hole that you will play throughout the day.  Maintaining a positive mindset and not beating yourself up will be a key.

Remember your round will more than likely last 4-5 hours and negativity will zap your energy and keep you from executing your plan.  Being negative and having negative self talk will only destroy your mission and you will end up shooting 100 or higher. Keep in mind that you will hit some bad shots, but if you can keep your composure and recover, you increase your chances of breaking 100.  You can only control your process and response to each difficult situation, you cannot directly control the outcome of each swing. In fact, the more you try, the more you will likely struggle.

Set The “New” Par

So you have 18 holes – more than likely the breakdown will be the following:

  • 4 Par 3’s
  • 4 Par 5’s
  • 12 Par 4’s

For a total par of 72.  In order to shoot a 99, you have 27 shots over par that you can utilize during the day.  The simple breakdown will help you reach your goal of breaking 100.

  • 9 Bogeys
  • 9 Double Bogeys

This would leave you 27 over par and give you your 99.

The first step is to take your scorecard and look at the 9 most difficult holes and cross out the par and add two.  For example, if one of the toughest 9 holes is a par 5, cross out the par and set the par for that hole at 7. Now do that for the 8 other most difficult holes. Take the remaining holes and cross out the par and add one.  For example, if one of the other 9 holes is a par 3, set the par for that hole at 4.

Tip: If you do not know the course well, simply base it off of the handicap system, where the most difficult is rated as a 1 and the easiest is rated as the 18th hole.  Or if you struggle on par 5’s or par 3’s do that to all of the par 5’s and par 3’s

This approach will free you from the barriers of the set par and allow you to feel some success throughout the day as you reach your “par” for that hole.  Earl Woods, the father of Tiger Woods, used to do this for Tiger when he was a very young kid to help him feel the success and manage the course properly for his current skills level.  

Set your new par! At the end of the day, you will feel better about the overall round.

With my high school golfers, for those that struggled the most, I would tell them to try to bogey every hole which would leave them with a 45 or 90 for their round of golf. It is amazing how the shift in mindset can have such a positive impact on the final score. Check out our recommend products page for our recommendations on golf swing/training aids, golf balls, golf shoes and more, here.

Tip:  Avoid the big number!  By taking this approach, you are more encouraged and likely to punch out if you are in the trees or layup if there is water in front and you have 175 yards left.  Or take something smaller than a driver off of the tee if the hole is narrow to stay out of the woods.

Awesome book by Dr. Rotella, “Golf Is Not A Game of Perfect” – (Check Current Price on Amazon).

Course Management

Now that you have your new “par” for each hole, it is time to breakdown your game plan for each hole.  If you do not know the course well, be sure to do this on every tee before playing the hole. If you have played the course many times, I would recommend even writing down what your plan is, so there is less thinking on the course and more trying to follow the plan.

For example, let’s say the first hole is a 360 yard par 4 and you have set your par at 5.  You will design and plan for the shots that you will hit. Here we go:

  • 1st Shot – 3 Wood – 180 Yards (180 Yards Left)
  • 2nd shot – 5 Iron – 150 Yards (30 Yards Left)
  • 3rd Shot – Wedge – Onto Green (Putting Next)
  • 4th Shot – Putt to within 3 feet
  • 5th Shot – Make the putt

We were able to reverse engineer the hole to leave you with a 30 yard “approach shot.”  If you get that shot on the green all you have to do is two putt. If you happen to hit it close and one putt – bonus for you!  You just made a “birdie.” This simple mindset approach allows you to pick shots that you can hit and enjoy the successes. We took the driver out of your hand on the tee shot, make a simple second shot down the fairway and hit a 30 yard shot onto the green.

Here is another example.  Second hole is a 505 yard par 5 that you have set as a par 7.  You will design and play for the shots that you will hit. Here we go:

  • 1st Shot – 5 Wood/Hybrid – 160 Yards (345 Yards Left)
  • 2nd Shot –  6 Iron – 140 Yards (205 Years Left)
  • 3rd Shot – 6 Iron – 140 Yards (65 Yards Left)
  • 4th Shot – Wedge – Onto the Green
  • 5th Shot – Buffer Shot in case you chunked one or thinned one along the way.  Stick to the plan.
  • 6th Shot – Putt to within 3 feet
  • 7th Shot – Make the putt

I think you get the point on the strategy that you can set.  You will be able to feel success and remain positive. Also, breaking it down like this allows you to feel like it is something that you can accomplish.  I understand that you might hit a bad shot or two along the way, but by keeping a club in your hand that is reasonable, you won’t feel the pressure to try to have a hit the ball a mile long and allow you to  stay within yourself.

Tee Shot and Mindset

It is very easy to step up to every tee and automatically pull the driver and swing away.  This might be where most people get into the most trouble. Why not hit the 3 wood or even something as simple as a 7 iron to get yourself in play and be ready to play the hole.  Remember, you have the new par you have set and the ability to adjust and adapt as needed. Build the hole backwards and leave yourself an approach shot of something less than 100 yard.  

The goal here is to get off the tee and into the right position to follow the plan you have set.  

Tip: Play your curve.  If you slice or hook the ball, setup to allow yourself some space for the curve to happen.  The more lofted club you hit, the less the ball will curve. Keep this in mind on the more narrow holes and where trouble can be found on the course.  Whatever way your shot is moving that day, go with it. You can try to cut down on your slice or hook at the driving range during a practice session. On the course is not the right time to do it.

If you are more advanced in your game and want to hit the driver, on certain holes that might work out fine depending on what trouble is around.  If you can make the occasional par or bogey on hole where you had planned for a double bogey, you will build in an allowance to triple bogey a hole and still be on pace.  

When I first started playing and was trying to break 100, I would often look at holes in 3 hole segments and try to reach my make “birdie on 1 of the 3 holes during that stretch.  That would provide some flexibility in my scoring and allow for a hole or two that might be above my targeted “par”

I love the Shawn Clement approach to utilizing the entire fairway and allowing for the curve of your ball on a tee shot.  Here is a youtube video explaining more in depth:

Approach Shots

With our course management approach, we are setup to have the majority of our approach shots be within 100 yards.  The key here is to aim for the middle of the green and ensure we have enough club. Once we can make clean contact even just 75 percent of the time, we will be in position to break 100.

Many people will watch the pros on this and think that they are shooting at pins all week.  Keep in mind that when watching in the weekends, you are watching the best of the best for that week. Please aim for the middle or the safest route.  

We want to avoid big numbers and can by staying out of bunkers or short siding ourselves around the greens.  The conservative approach to this round will help us break 100, but we must stick to the plan. Even as you get better and are ready to break 90 or 80, it won’t be about the quality of your best shots, but instead of the quality of your worse shots and then how you follow those up.  Start working on this at this point of your game. Even the pros are minimizing risk and are looking for where the proper “miss” is. Start this in your game and and watch your scores quickly improve.

Tip: Aim for the middle of the green or the safest place, this will give our greater confidence and increase your chance of hitting it where you intend to.

Shawn Clement on hitting the 40-60 yard shot:

Chipping

You must be able to chip the ball cleanly.  Start here with this simple method by Shawn Clement.  This is a simply motion that can be quickly learned and utilized.  There is no implementation dip. You want to keep the ball at a comfortable and reasonable height to the ground and look to keep it safe.  

We set up our plan and course management setup to have two putts on every hole. Get the ball on the green and then putt well. You might occasionally chip one within 3 feet and you just picked up a bonus stroke for your game.  As a young kid growing up, my friends and I often times couldn’t reach a green in regulation, as a result our chipping and short game became really strong because we were chipping frequently and there was a premium in winning the competition by being able to “get up and down”

Shawn Clement video on hitting clean chips. His mindset and strategies are top notch and worth watching and learning about.

Putting

Many high handicappers simply struggle with putting.  However, it is the easiest area to quickly improve in.  It doesn’t take a high level of skill and 20 minutes of practicing each day can help.  The great thing is you can practice in your office or in a room in your house. There are no excuses for not practicing.  When you have a long distance putt, the key is to try to picture a three foot circle around the hole and then get it in that circle.  The task at hand seems much more doable when it is three feet in diameter.

Tip: mark your ball for every putt and line up the line in your ball to where you want the ball to start.  This will help with your alignment

Mental Side

Golf is one of the easiest games to quickly get frustrated and lose focus on your plan for the day.  When you get angry or anxious during a round of golf, positive shots do not happen. You can quickly derail a round after just one bad shot.  There are several keys from a mental game perspective.

Awesome book by Dr. Rotella, “Golf Is Not A Game of Perfect” – (Check Current Price on Amazon).

Self Talk

Self talk is so very powerful.  You know that little voice in your head telling you a story?  That person, aka you, can be your best ally or your greatest enemy.  The story you tell yourself during the between shots in golf can make or destroy your round.  

So you are on the first tee and your tee shot slices over into the other fairway and only travels 175 yards.  You have two choices at this point from a self talk perspective.

Scenario 1 – You can tell yourself the following, “No big deal at all, it was only my first swing of the day and I have room to make a 7 on this par 5, I will just get it back into the fairway and make a smooth comfortable swing with my next opportunity.

Scenario 2 – Or you can tell yourself the following, “Man, I just suck at this game, it doesn’t matter what I do, I am never going to be good.  This round is over, I am never going to break 100”

Obviously, the first scenario can actually help you reach your goal of breaking 100.  The second scenario will simply make your round miserable and create a long 4-5 hours of not enjoying such a great game.  Everything will seem a bit more miserable and you produce extra stress in your body that will keep you from performing.

Tip: keep in mind there are other people in your group and they want to enjoy your round.  Do NOT complain about your golf game to your foursome, regardless of how bad you are playing.  You want to get invited back and nobody likes the negative person. Plus complaining never saved anyone a shot on the golf course.

In the book “Zen Golf” Dr. Parent recommends the PAR approach.  Preparation, Action and Response to results. You go through the preparation before each shot, take action, and then response to the results.  How you respond to your results both from a physical and mental viewpoint will drastically impact the quality of your round.

Quote by Arnold Palmer

Online Golf Instruction

One of the major advantages golfers of all ages have today is the online access to some of the best golf instructions throughout the world.  Many have provided free youtube videos or offer a paid premium site at a reasonable monthly dollar amount. I am currently following the Shawn Clement approach to golf, but have spent time learning more about the Mike Malaska approach, Monte Scheinblum, Dan Whittaker, and George Gankas.  I wrote a complete post on my top 5 online golf instructors.

One of the keys in your journey to break 100 will be to make sure you have a decent understanding of what you are trying to accomplish with your swing.  If you are a more natural athlete and are good at many different activities, but struggle with golf, I would highly recommend Shawn Clement. He spends a great deal of time, trying to encourage you to move in a natural motion and allowing gravity to assist you and be your friend.  The motions that we use for many day to day activities around the house or in other sports are the motions he tries to get you to feel in your golf swing.

Tip: take your Iphone and a golf selfie stick with you to the range and record your golf swing to get an idea of the motion that you are making in your golf swing.  You can even send it to one of the online instrutors for feedback. Bobby Lopez from quickfixgolf.com offers a free analysis.

Another option is to see your local PGA teaching pro to ensure you have some the basics down – grip, posture and alignment.  I think either way can work out great – whether online or your local PGA – as each has pros and cons. I have been able to learn a lot about golf and develop a quality golf swing through online golf instruction and maybe it would have occurred faster with an in person instructor, but I have enjoyed the journey.  Whatever bests suits your time, lifestyle and goals, but at the end of the day some basic golf instruction will go a long way.

Practice

Maybe the most important key here is practice.  Below, I will lay out a weekly plan to help you improve your game.  Remember, we aren’t trying to shoot par, but simply trying to break 100.  A little bit of practice time will go a long way in reducing the number of really large numbers and even increasing your chances of making the occasional par.  Here is the breakdown of the percentage of time you will spend on the different parts of your golf game.

  • 70% on Chipping and Putting
  • 20% on mid irons
  • 10% on driver

So if you have two hours a week, you will divide that time using the percentages above.  The great part is that it doesn’t cost money to practice chipping or putting. These can be practice in your backyard and putting can be done indoors.  Trust me – you will quickly lower the scores with practicing the short game.

Tip: when practicing chipping I would recommend first taking 3-4 golf balls and chipping to one target.  Once you get warmed up, then take just one golf ball and try to chip to a hole and see if you can make the putt.  Have a little competition with someone and play a quick match play round of 9 holes on the practice green. The game like competition might help sharpen your skills and best prepare you for the course.  If nobody else is around, track how many times out of 9 or 18 you were able to chip and then one put. Monitor this over time to see the improvements you make!

When trying to break 100, too many people will spend hours on the range trying to hit the 300 yard drive, only to get on the course and chunk shots on approach shots and around the green when chipping. The quickest and most simple way to ensure you are improving is number one improve your short game and number two, learn how to make crisp contact.  Your time at the range should have a focus on making clean, crisp contact.

Here a video from Shawn Clement to help you out. with clean, crisp contact.

Have Fun!

The key to practice and playing is having fun. Of course the better you play the more fun you will have. Find a way to make practice fun. One way is to find a topgolf by you and play with some friends and enjoy the task of trying to hit the targets. The more you focus on the task at hand and less about the movements the more fun you will have! Find little challenges throughout a round to make it fun. Click here to learn more about topgolf.

Summary

This practical guide to breaking 100 in golf should get you going in the right direction.  Golf becomes a lot more fun once you can break 100 and start woring your way to breaking 90.  You will see that once you break 100, the 90 isn’t as difficult. Keep working on hitting clean shots, making good decisions on the course, and having a plan for each hole.  Look to learn more about the golf swing and practice as much as you can. What makes golf so rewarding is that you will see the benefits of your practice time – espeically in the short game area.

Enjoy the game, learn more about it and be a good playing partner!  To learn more about golf etiquette during your round, read this post that I wrote.

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