The best way to break 80, according to a Hall-of-Fame Teacher

golfer fist pumps on a green

The pinnacle for recreational golfers is shooting in the 70s, but it doesn't come easy.

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There are few things in golf better than breaking 80. For a vast majority of golfers, shooting a score that starts with a 7 is the pinnacle of the sport. If you can shoot in the 70s, you graduate from an “ok” player to a “pretty good” one.

The mental barrier to breaking 80 is a significant one, though. When you come close to that magic number enough times without breaking through, it makes the task all the more daunting. But it makes the reward so much sweeter.

For those reading this who are 70s shooters, the feeling is a familiar one. For those who haven’t reached the mountaintop and are looking for some advice, you’re in luck. At the recent GOLF Top 100 Teacher retreat, we asked Hall of Fame inductee Mike McGetrick for his best tips for someone looking to break 80. And while it’s not necessarily a shortcut to success, it can help your journey become a little more clear.

The best way to break 80

Like I said earlier, there’s no foolproof way to break 80, but the best way to get there for those on the cusp is simple: just get a little bit better at the basics.

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“There’s five areas in golf: putting, chipping, pitching, bunker play and full swing,” McGetrick said. “If you can get a little better at each one of those areas, then your game will be balanced.”

With a balanced golf game, you won’t have to rely on one specific skill to get you over the hump. Instead, you can use a holistic approach to carry you.

“If you take someone who is shooting in the 80s, they can probably get one or two shots putting per round,” McGetrick says. “They can probably get one or two shots better at chipping the golf ball. They can get one or two shots better hitting pitch shots, bunker shots, fairways.

“What most people do is they work on the same thing all the time,” he said. “And they usually work on their strengths more than their weaknesses.”

If you can identify your weaknesses and work on them a little more and improve them just a bit, breaking 80 will not feel so daunting. Marginal gains throughout the bag will add up quickly, and your scores will reflect that.

“There’s really not a short-term fix for somebody that wants to break 80,” McGetrick said. “They’re going to have to get a little bit better in every area.”

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