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How to Break 80 Golf Course Strategy

Welcome to our 3rd lesson of the How to Break 80 Blog Series. Today will are going to cover the How to Break 80 Golf Course Strategy which details an on-course assessment to learn why you’re losing shots on the golf course and what to fix to start scoring in the 70’s.

In Lesson 02 of How to Break 80, we had you perform a skills assessment that tested your putting and chipping on the practice green, your club distances, your club accuracy, and some pitching inside 100 yards.

Today’s lesson gets into important golf statistics you need to find out about your game like fairways in regulation, greens in regulation, putts per round, and more!

These statistics are the most important because they occur out on the course and that’s where you want to do your best right?

The practice facility is great for working on your game but when you get out on the course you want to see results carry over from the practice green. We need a starting point to compare to for future rounds of golf out on the course.

Speed up your improvement by following our proven How to Break 80 Golf Practice Plan. It’s designed with 36 golf practice routines to complete over 12 weeks (3 per week) or you can complete them sooner if you practice more frequently! Learn more.

Skills Assessment of Course Play

When you’re out on the golf course playing a live round it’s common for golfers to focus only on keeping track of their score and forgetting some other important stats like fairways hit and greens in regulation.

Today though, we’re going to take this a step further and get into some more stats you’ve probably never considered tracking. If you have then good for you as you’ll already have an idea of how you typically do for some of these. Here are all of the statistics we want recorded the next few rounds of golf you play:

  • Score
  • Fairways Hit
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Up and Downs
  • Up and Downs from 50 yds to 100 yds
  • Bunker/Sand Saves
  • Average Drive Distance
  • Average 3 Putts per 18 holes

Score

Score: This one is self explanatory, but you’ll keep track of your total number of strokes for 18 holes.

  • 72-80 is really good
  • 80-90 is average
  • 90-100+ below average (but don’t worry)

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Fairways Hit

Fairways Hit: Usually you’ll have 14 fairways to record for out of 18 holes as the other 4 holes are par 3’s. Some golf courses will differ so you may have more or less than 14 holes to record if you hit the fairway or not.

If your ball finishes in the fairway after it comes to a stop then it counts as a fairway hit. Don’t confuse a fairway hit with a ball that landed in the fairway but bounced into the rough. Only count balls that finish in the fairway upon hitting them off the tee.

  • 9/14 or 64% is great
  • 7/14 or 50% is good
  • 5/14 or 36% isn’t great

Greens in Regulation

Greens in Regulation: This is the number of strokes it should take you to reach the green and be on the green.

To calculate GIR, you subtract 2 from the par of the hole. So for par 3’s your GIR is 1 meaning you’re expected to hit the green from the tee box. Par 4’s you should be on the green after two shots and par 5’s after 3 shots. This leaves you two putts to still make par on the hole.

There are 18 greens and therefore you’ll record how many greens you achieve the GIR out of 18.

  • 12/18 is great
  • 10/18 is good
  • 8/18 is good
  • 6/18 is average
  • 4/18 isn’t good

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Up & Down Saves

Up and Downs: This is a statistic that judges your ability to save par still when you miss the Green in Regulation as discussed above. An up and down is the golf jargon for chipping the ball “up” to the hole and making the following putt “down” into the hole. Your chip replaces what should be your first putt if you were to hit the green in the GIR and then the following putt should go in the hole just as if it was your second putt had you hit the green in regulation.

If you chip the ball and it ends up 10 feet from the hole still then it’s going to be tough to make the putt and get out with par still so it’s important to work on chipping as well for saving you when you miss greens. Assuming the average golfer hits only 6 greens out of 18, we’ll use 12 for the bullet example below but your results will differ since you may hit more or less greens.

  • 8/12 (66% and up) is wonderful
  • 6/12 (50%) is good
  • 4/12 (33%) is alright

Up & Downs 50-100 Yards

Up and Downs 50 to 100 yards: This is a measure of your ability to save yourself from farther out as sometimes a bad swing, trees, hazards, etc will leave you a ways from the hole still when you should be on the green. In the event you are between 50-100 yards when you should be on the green then you’ll have to stick the ball close to still make par (assuming you make the putt).

So as you’re out playing your round be conscious of any holes you end up in this range. It won’t happen often but is useful to know so you can work on wedges from this distance at the range. Every stroke counts.

  • 50% is great
  • 40% is good
  • 20-30% is average
  • 20% or less means you need some work

In reality these percentages are probably really low for the average golfer but if you want to break 80 you should use these percentages listed as a goal. Being able to get up and down from 50 yards away 1 out of every 2 attempts can be the difference of a few strokes per round that you could be shooting lower.

Resource: Try this short game challenge

Sand Saves

Sand Saves: Measuring your ability to get the ball out of the sand and close to the hole for an easy one putt to finish the hole at par still. Similar to the up and down above, this assumes you miss the green in regulation and end up in the bunker.

  • 50% is good
  • 40% isn’t bad
  • 30% is ok
  • 20% is average
  • 10% you need some work

If you end up in the bunkers 5 holes out of 18 and can only save yourself once then you’ve let 4 other strokes get away that will affect your score and could be the deciding factor of it you break 80 or not.

Average Drive Distance

Average Distance off the tee: Out of the 14 or so drives you hit during an 18 hole round, how far do you average off the tee? If you’re not a long hitter the game can be tougher because you’re left with a lot of yards into the green. This forces you to hit a longer iron than other golfers and longer irons have less loft so they are tougher to control and hit straight. Later in this series we will cover some things you can do to improve your club distances.

  • Average Male Drive: 210 yards
  • Average Female Drive: 140 yards

Average 3 Putts per Round

Number of 3 Putts per 18 holes: How many times each round do you walk off the green upset with yourself for 3 putting. It’s frustrating indeed so every time you play from here on out make sure you’re keeping track of this statistic. It will reveal how many strokes you can shave from your score from simply cutting down on 3 putts. If you’re a golfer who averages an 81 yet averages 2 three putts per round then you’ve just discovered what can get you breaking 80 more often. As you focus on counting 3 putts each round you’ll likely see a decrease because you’re focused more on each putt and trying not to 3 putt.

3 putts golf

This chart is also shown in our monstrous post The Ultimate Putting Tutorial 101 where we dive into putting hardcore and show you everything from the grip and stroke down to equipment and golf ball brands that can help your putting.

As you can see from the chart though, 3 putting is common for all skill level of golfers. Higher handicap golfers usually see the quickest drop in handicap when they start working on their putting and reducing 3 putts.

Concluding Thoughts

This wraps up Lesson 03. Stop by our How to Break 80 series page here to catch up on all of our lessons in the series. If you’re looking for a 12 week practice plan to help you break 80, or even 70 or 90, click here.

Related Articles:

Golf Practice Routines to Score Lower

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