This is what’s holding you back from breaking 80, says top teacher

How do you finally record that magical score in the 70s? It takes a ton of good shots and smart play, but there's also a main key to success.

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Golf is full of small goals and mini milestones, and few are bigger than breaking 80 and recording that magical two-digit score that starts with a 7. Heck, it can be 79, we don’t care — just anything in the 70s and us struggling golfers will take it.

It takes a ton of good shots and smart play to finally break that barrier, but there are certain things some top coaches say are more important than others when it comes to scoring in the 70s. And, according to one teacher, it’s not making more birdies.

Mike Bury runs the Mike Bury Golf school in the Dallas area and founded Eight Under Golf. He works with hundreds of golfers every year, from the elite college player to the 120s shooter to the guy whose goal is simply “to shoot mid-80s with beers.” (True story.)

A driving range on a golf course.
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But Bury says much of his work is done with golfers who want to break 100, break 90 or break 80, so this GOLF Magazine Teacher to Watch is the perfect instructor to help us here.

So, how does a mid-handicap finally break 80?

“It’s really about trying to minimize double bogeys and get the doubles off the card,” Bury says. “Trying to eliminate doubles is easier than trying to make more birdies. So really, double bogey avoidance is huge. If you have four doubles, that’s eight over already, so your chances of breaking 80 disappear pretty quickly. Throw in a couple of bogeys in there or even a couple of birdies, you still aren’t going to break 80.”

Bury says it’s important to get the driver figured out so it’s not costing you, since a bad drive is more costly — usually due to penalty strokes — than a bad putt. It’s also key to eliminate the dumb execution mistakes.

“It’s the silly things like chunking a chip shot, where it was a pretty straightforward shot,” Bury added. “Minimizing doubles is a tricky one, because there are a lot of ways to make a double, but it’s knowing that if you are in trouble, don’t play the miraculous hero shot, just get it back in play.”

For more from Bury, here’s his tip to drain more mid-range putts.

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Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

Josh Berhow is the managing editor at GOLF.com. The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.