A Blueprint For Breaking 80

Once you have descended the ladder thru the 100s and conquered the 90s, you need to strive for golf’s holy grail – breaking 80! It’s not easy, but it’s well worth the effort.

As I was told by my first pro and mentor, “the game really does get more fun the better you play.” And spot on he was. I worked hard and eventually attained my ultimate goal of having my handicap match my personality – zero.

It was so much fun that I created a new and better system of golf stats and analysis, now known as Strokes Gained. You can read about the History of Strokes Gained on my website: www.ShotByShot.com

I quickly discovered that the game is a puzzle and that all of the pieces — good and bad — fit together to produce a score. Each round is a mix of good shots, average shots and bad shots/errors. The challenge is to find which piece of your puzzle is your greatest weakness so you can target your improvement efforts on the highest impact area.

If you track the simple good and bad outcomes listed below for a few rounds, your strengths and weaknesses will become apparent.

Here is my blueprint for breaking 80.

Distance: I will ignore this and assume you are playing from the appropriate tees for your game.

Fairways: Hitting them is important, as we are all more accurate from the short grass.

Errors: Far more important than Fairways Hit is the FREQUENCY and SEVERITY of bad misses. SwingU Versus users record THREE types of Driving Errors:

  1. No Shot: You have missed in a place from which you do not have a normal next shot, requiring some sort of advancement to get the ball back into normal play. This tends to be the less costly error – usually 70% of a stroke.
  2. Penalty: A one-stroke penalty due to a penalty area or an unplayable lie.
  3. Lost/OB: Stroke and distance penalty.

GIR’s: The most useful of all of the “old school” stats for two reasons. First, your long game has been efficient enough to get you to the green in regulation (2 strokes or more under par). Second, it is always a birdie or eagle putt of some length.

Errors: In the Approach facet, this is a penalty result or a shot missed so badly that you are faced with a second shot from greater than 50 yards of the hole.

Short Game Shots (shots from within 50 yards of the hole): If you miss NINE greens, you should have at least EIGHT green-side save opportunities.

*Errors: Shots that miss the green AND require FOUR or more total shots to hole out. In my book, the fringe does not count as a green missed.

You should have one or two sand shots per round, depending on your course.

You need 33 putts or less and the numbers above will ensure that you get there.

GOOD LUCK! Please let me know when you are successful.

Peter Sanders is the President and a founding partner of ShotByShot.com, a unique strokes gained analysis program that helps golfers determine the precise strengths and weaknesses of each facet of their golf game, the system SwingU uses for its Versus product.

Peter has worked with PGA Tour players and major champions such as Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Smylie Kaufman, Zack Sucher, Sepp Straka, Dylan Frittelli and Michael Thompson to analyze and interpret their data for game improvement. 

Read more from Peter on his Niblicks of Truth blog at ShotByShot.com.