How to break 80: Best tips

Coaches and Tour pros reveal tips to shoot single figures

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Submitted by Andy Roberts on

Is there an impermeable barrier between you and scores in the sophisticated 70s? 

We've spoken to some professionals and coaches to help you squeeze under the magic mark. 

David Aitchison, PGA Professional, Silvermere, Surrey

- Short game is king. At least 60-70% of your practice should be from 100 yards and in. You want to become deadly from this range, and become a better chipper, putter and bunker player. If you are shooting mid to low 80s you are quite good but you need this to get to the next step.

- Work on the mental side. A lot of golf is common sense and reading Bob Rotella’s book “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect” will help put a lot of that into perspective. We’ve all heard the mantra “one shot at a time”, but it is the hardest thing in the world. Search back through your experience, too, so that in the heat of the moment you are prepared.

- Put yourself under pressure in practice. Before a round, make time to play a nine-hole game on the short game area. Invent nine “holes”, a mix of easy, intermediate and hard ones, from long putts, to bunker shots, or a downhill chip over a bunker, and treat is as a par 18. The goal is to get down in two every time. Do it just once before you go out to play. It will help to improve your mental game.

Kristian Baker, Head of Instruction at Wentworth Club

- Find the centre of the club. Buy some impact tape to be aware of hitting from the centre of the club face.

- Work out your yardages. Find out your yardage using a radar system like Trackman.

- Play the percentages. On par threes, aim at the middle of the green not the flag. You'll have a putt for birdie, and it will massively increase your odds of staying out of trouble. 

Duncan Woolger, World of Golf master pro

- Mud on ball. Mud on one side of the ball will cause it to spin in such a way that it curves in the opposite direction. So if the mud is on the right, the ball will go to the left, and usually more than you might think. Compensate for this. The mud will also reduce backspin, so be careful with your yardage.

- Play a bunker shot out of thick rough. Use your sand wedge, play the ball off your front heel, and open the face. Hit behind the ball about three inches. The club will slide under the ball instead of digging into the dirt. Make a full swing, and let the club's loft and bounce send the ball high for a soft landing on the green.

- "Around the world" drill. Using one ball, work your way around the hole making 4 foot putts. Challenge yourself to focus on each putt and make five, 10, 20, or more in a row. The purpose of using only one ball is that it is like a real game situation, it makes you focus.

18 Holes of putting. Take one ball and drop it 20-50 feet from a hole. Putt until you make it.  Repeat 17 times from different locations and distances. The goal is to have 32 putts or less.

Use alignment aids. Nearly every PGA Tour professional does, but few amateurs do.  When you’re at the range, lay down some clubs or alignment sticks to help you create good, consistent alignment.

Mix block and random practice. This means that sometimes it’s good to hit 20 7-irons in a row, if you are working on something to do with your swing, but that shouldn’t be all you do.  Vary your practice time. Hit shots like you do on the course - hit an 8-iron, then a pitching wedge, then a 7-iron, then 3-wood, each with a full pre-shot routine.

Know your game. That means distances, ball flights, and where your bad shots go. Knowing these patterns is essential for good decision making on the course and vital to tell your coach so they can help you improve faster.
 

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