Although must of us dream about shooting under par, a more realistic first step is probably something a bit higher. My first competitive round under 90 was last year and as I get ready for the new season, I am starting to think if there is anything I can learn to maybe break 80 this year.
So Just How Did I break 90?
My first round under 90 last year was an 87 on my home course here in France (par 70). A solid 17 over par which dropped my handicap by a couple of shots (always nice!) So what can I learn from this round?
Perhaps the most surprising thing when I look at the numbers is that I didn’t actually do anything outstandingly well. I did manage a birdie, which was nice, but just one. I took 35 putts which is certainly not going to get me on the PGA tour any time soon either! I also hit a far from outstanding 5 Greens in Regulation.
So what does that really tell me about scoring better for the average bogey golfer? Actually, quite a lot. To me, it highlights what a lot of other people have already said. It isn’t how good your best shots are, it is how bad your bad ones are. I have certainly played rounds where I have have had more than one bogey. But they have usually been matched by a similar number of triples, quadruples, or worse. This round looked like this:
How Did I Do?
Just one completely horrible hole and even that was “only” a triple.
Likewise for the putting. I have probably been round a few times in 31/32 putts in competition. but I have also had 38+ putts. This was not perfect but it certainly wasn’t a disaster. I only hit 5 GIR, but actually hit all but 2 in a maximum of GIR+1. Let’s just put that into context. If a pro golfer went round and hit 16 greens i regulation, he wouldn’t be far from the top of the leader board. In theory, as a bogey golfer, I’m getting a shot a hole so getting on the green a shot later is normal. I have done as well as that pro golfer for my current skill level-sounds like I had a pretty good day at the office!
5 Iron off the Tee
One more thing to think about. The longest club in my bag that day was a 5 iron! No driver, no fairway wood, not even a hybrid (can’t hit the damn things anyway!) This actually took the pressure off quite a bit. When you know that you aren’t going to be the longest off the tee and a decent length par four is out of reach in two, it makes you think about aiming to land in certain areas rather than just blasting away.
I’m probably still a couple of months away from playing a competition this year, but here is the advice I’ll be taking away from this:
If I want to break 80 this year (and really do), it isn’t about how good my best shots are, it is about making my worst shots better.
Playing the percentages is the smart man’s way to better golf. Lay up rather than trying that one in a hundred shot. Lag putt to give yourself a tap in. Take a club or two (or three) less off the tee and play that second shot off the short stuff. Who knows, maybe breaking 90 could become a habit?