For many of us avid golfers, the dream of breaking 70 can seem almost unattainable; after all, only the PGA Tour pros break 70, don’t they?
More than likely, you’re reading this article because you’ve been playing golf for years and are agonizingly close to finally breaking into the magical 70s. You’ve crushed the first of the mystical numbers in golf by breaking 100 and from there have worked your way down to a single-digit handicap and the chance to break 70.
So is it really possible for amateur golfers to break 70? In short, yes. Unfortunately, though, many club golfers just don’t think they have the talent or skillset to shoot in the 70s on a consistent basis.
But I’m here to tell you that with a bit of hard work, ok, a lot of hard work, you can break 70 and do it consistently.
The main problem that most amateur golfers and young pros face is that they struggle with consistency, meaning they’ll play great golf for a few holes here and there, but then their level of play “tanks” on the other holes.
In this guide, I’m going to share with you 10 of the most critical tips to help you break through the 70 barrier. I’ve discovered these tips and strategies over my 20 years of coaching at the highest levels, and I’m absolutely certain they’ll help you break 70 and play the best golf of your life.
Some of the things we’re going to cover are:
- Learning to keep things simple
- Developing a game plan
- Shot selection
- Decision making
- Technical and physical tips and
- Conquering those mental demons
Let’s get started!!
Stop Gaslighting Your Handicap
- 1 Stop Gaslighting Your Handicap
- 2 Golf Is Fun; Don’t Forget It
- 3 Honest Self-Appraisal
- 4 Setting Aside Time To Get Better
- 5 Teaching Your Friends How To Play
- 6 Practicing With A Purpose
- 7 Scoring And Results Counts
- 8 Time To Look At Your Plan For Each Round
- 9 Don’t Be A Sucker For Tough Pins
- 10 Get Creative With Your Thinking
- 11 The 18th Hole
For many of us, taking on the challenge of playing above your handicap can be a lot of fun, but if done too often, this fun challenge can turn your actual scores into a train wreck very quickly.
Playing above your handicap once in a while won’t hurt your game too much, but you’re better off sticking to the handicap you’ve worked so hard for.
When striving to break 70, you want the most accurate measurement of your actual skill set instead of basing it off metrics that are either too difficult, too easy, or completely unrealistic.
Breaking 70 requires you to honestly “self-apprise” all areas of your game, and the only way you’re going to do that is by playing to your genuine handicap, not a bogus one.
Golf Is Fun; Don’t Forget It
You’ll be amazed at just how many golfers play this wonderful game but actually never enjoy it. Missed putts, horrendous tee shots, and balls in the hazard can be incredibly frustrating, and unfortunately, most golfers come off the course with steam coming out of their ears.
There’s so much to love about the game of golf; the fresh air, the mental and physical challenge, the frustrations, the joy, and getting fit are just a few things that make the game of golf so enjoyable.
Remember, golf is a game for life, so you’re better off enjoying it rather than walking around with your lip on the ground.
We’ve all heard it before, but it’s worth repeating; everyone’s human, and we all make mistakes. Now I’m sure you’ve also heard that the best players learn from their mistakes, and guess what? They do.
Honest self-appraisal is a skill that most players are not comfortable with, and because of that, they simply don’t practice it. Learning from your mistakes and understanding the areas of your game that need improvement is the only way to move forward and get you one step closer to your goal of breaking 70.
Identifying your weak points allows you to develop an effective practice program based on improving those weaknesses instead of spending countless hours working on your strengths.
Far too many golfers are not aware of their game’s specific areas that need improving. After each round, taking the time to analyze your game will pay huge dividends further down the track.
Setting Aside Time To Get Better
So you want to break 70; well, as I’ve said, it can be done, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park; you’re going to have to work for it. Now the reality is that 99% of you reading this article already work full-time jobs and, as such, have very little “extra” time to dedicate to golf.
However, breaking 70 won’t require you to spend countless hours on the practice range working on your golf swing mechanics. Chances are, if you’re close to breaking 70, then your swing is probably already in pretty good nick, and most of the major improvements will be made within your decision-making and shot selection.
You’ll only need an extra 30 minutes each time you’re at the golf club. If you did this four times a week, you’re already looking at an additional 8 hours of practice over the month or, more impressively, 96 hours over the course of the year. Whether it’s an extra 30 minutes putting or spending some additional time in the bunker, the time adds up and is well worth the effort; just don’t keep your family waiting too long.
Teaching Your Friends How To Play
That’s right, you heard me; one of the best ways to break 70 is by teaching your friends or playing partners how to play better golf. This strategy works because it reaffirms the things you’ve been learning on your journey to breaking 70.
Becoming a “coach” has been shown to help develop and quicken the skills of players for years now, and the best coaches often get their players to help juniors at the club or those golfers who are just starting out.
Give it a try; just be sure not to be too overbearing in your efforts to help others. Your best bet is to offer to help out at your home club next time they run summer camps for juniors. It’s great fun and a really rewarding way to spend your time and improve your golf.
Practicing With A Purpose
Are you one of those golfers who head to the practice range without having any real purpose or plan? Well, if this sounds like you, then you might need to make some changes; Cancel that; you WILL need to make some changes.
Breaking 70 is going to require you to practice with genuine purpose each and every time you take to the putting green and practice range. Identifying your strengths and, more importantly, your weaknesses will go a long way in developing an effective practice program. Far too many club-level golfers practice without any purpose, goals, or objectives in mind.
This is where keeping a notebook and honest self-appraisal come into play and help you develop a plan that will see you reach your goals. But before you reach your goals, you need to know what they are. Taking the time to jot down some notes after each round will help you determine where your practice time is best spent.
For example, if you’re driving the ball well, there’s no need to spend too much time hitting your driver; that time could be better spent working on areas of your game like chipping and putting.
I’m sure you’ve seen golfers at your club who have less than desirable golf swings, yet they play off low-handicaps; have you ever wondered why? They practice with a purpose and have specific goals and objectives they wish to achieve every time they step onto the practice range. Take a leaf out of their book and make the most of your practice time.
Scoring And Results Counts
Unlike other stages or phases during your golfing journey, scoring and real-world results actually mean something when you’re trying to break 70. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth, and sometimes the truth is tough to hear; actually, most times, it’s tough to hear.
While staying focused on the task and showing gradual improvement should still take precedent over your results, the results aspect of this equation starts to have a bit more weight the higher your standards and goals are. It’s a fine line that elite athletes have to tread. If too much focus is on one or the other, poor results and performances typically follow.
The fact of the matter is that you need to start seeing some results by way of lower scores out on the course. If your scores aren’t improving, you need to reassess and analyze where the problem lies. More often than not, your practice program can be to blame, meaning you’ve been spending far too much time on your strengths rather than your weaknesses.
Take some time to go through your notes again and see if you can identify areas of your game that you may have missed or have neglected. Once you answer this question, good results can follow very quickly; it’s just a matter of knowing where to dedicate your time in practice.
Time To Look At Your Plan For Each Round
Alright, so it’s time to get down to business and start looking at areas of your game that need development and improvement while you’re out on the course. You’ve broken 80, and now you want to break 70 consistently, and although you can feel like you’re a long way off, the truth is, you’re a lot closer to breaking 70 than you actually think.
One of the best ways to get the most out of your game and take it to the next level is by mimicking not only the way the pros swing the club but the way they plan for success on the course. The way in which pros and their caddies plan each hole, for example, might shock even the best club golfers.
PGA Tour pros develop their plans for each hole by working their way back to the tee from the green rather than the other way around, which most amateur golfers do. By planning the hole working backward, you can precisely see the shape, area, and distance of every shot you’ll need to play to give yourself a chance at a birdie putt.
Let’s take a simple look at this example:
- Firstly pros and their caddies will need to see where the pin placement is for the hole
- From there, they can work out the exact area of the green that they need to putt from to make a birdie or eagle
- Next, they’ll look at what type of approach shot they’ll have to play in order to hit their preferred landing spot on the green.
- To get to their preferred approach shot position, they’ll need to look at what type of drive they’ll have to hit from the tee.
By working backward, the pros are able to gather much more detailed information about exactly the shots they need to play. When you work from tee to green, in effect, you’re playing the hole blindly because you’re not sure of things like where the best landing spots and places to putt from are.
One of the next best tips you can learn from the pros is to make sure you leave your layup shot at a distance you’re not only comfortable with but excel from. For me, that’s 125 yards. I have great confidence in my gap wedge and, as such, try to leave most of my layups from roughly 125 yards so I can attack the pin confidently.
From 125 yards, I know my worst shot should leave me with no more than a 15-footer for birdie. Now had I laid up from 150 yards, I would have been left with a longer putt simply because I was playing an approach shot from a distance I’m just not comfortable with; the decision to play from your preferred distance can mean the difference between breaking or not breaking 70.
Don’t Be A Sucker For Tough Pins
Be honest with yourself; how many times have you ruined a good round because you tried attacking a pin that was cut too close to a hazard? It’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about; we all do it, even the pros; I’m sure you’ve seen Phil Mickelson bite off more than he can chew and end up in the drink more often than not.
The key to breaking 70 is to cut the easy mistakes out of your game, and one of the easiest mistakes to stop is getting sucked into attacking pins fraught with danger.
Tiger Woods’s father, Earl, would actually walk ahead of Tiger and pull the flag out of the hole so that Tiger couldn’t see the pin position. Now you might think, what in the heck would that teach Tiger? But it was a genius strategy by Earl. He was teaching Tiger to play to the center of the greens; by doing this, Tiger learned the value of keeping his mistakes to a minimum.
The more pars you make, the more chance you have of breaking 70, and by playing to the center of the green, you give yourself the best chance of reducing risk and making par. Another tip is to get the pin placement sheet from the pro-shop before you head out to play; this way, you can identify pins that will be “attackable” and those that aren’t.
Next time you’re tempted to attack a pin, think about the ramifications of missing long and hard before pulling the trigger; remember that while birdies are awesome, par is your best friend, especially when trying to break 70 consistently.
Get Creative With Your Thinking
Regardless of whether you’re a rank beginner or a seasoned veteran, anyone who plays golf has particular “trouble” holes at their home course they just can’t seem to conquer.
My biggest “trouble hole” was the 1st hole at my home club, a 470-yard dogleg right par 4. For years I bogeyed this menace hole, and, at some point in time, I had become resigned to the fact that parring this hole was never going to be a reality.
But one day, that all changed; I still remember it like it was yesterday. I don’t know to this day what prompted me to do it, but instead of laying up down the fairway with a 3-iron, I took out my driver and bombed it straight over the corner of the dogleg, leaving me right in the middle of the fairway about 50 yards from the green. I chipped to about 5 feet and sunk the birdie putt.
By taking a chance and thinking outside of the box, I turned a hole that gave me nightmares into one I couldn’t wait to play. After that point in time, I very rarely made anything worse than par on that hole, and the extra confidence and stroke I picked up gave me a lot more breathing room throughout the rest of the round.
Challenging yourself to get outside of your comfort zone can sometimes be a good thing in golf; Ok, so your tee shot might sail off into the water hazard, but at least you’ve learned something. The flip side, though, has enormous potential because you can start scoring better on your trouble holes by attacking the hole with a different mindset and, more importantly, from a different position in the fairway.
Don’t be easily influenced by what club your playing partners are hitting off the tee or approaching the greens from; play the clubs that you’re comfortable with and from the yardages that suit your game best. The worst thing you can do when trying to break 70 is to start playing someone else’s game; it’s a sure-fire way to tank your score and your confidence.
The 18th Hole
One of my favorite sayings in sports coaching is “it’s not rocket science,” and this adage certainly rings true when striving to break 70 for the first time. It’s a matter of doing the basic things well and then minimizing your mistakes by developing a solid practice and game plan.
One of the most critical elements of your game you’ll need to work on is the mental side of it. Chances are, if you’re trying to break 70, you’ve already got a pretty sound swing, so the mental game is probably what’s holding you back. Spending your time more effectively at the practice range will also play a significant factor in the outcome of your success.
Finally, I know we always say it, but don’t forget to enjoy the game; after all, what’s the point of playing golf if you’re not enjoying it?