The secret to breaking 90? Do these 4 things

golf safe checklist

Before you know what to practice, you need to know where you struggle. Here's a handy checklist to chart your progress.

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New golfers won’t become 90s, 80s or 70s shooters overnight. It takes practice and a game plan. Both are equally important, and you shouldn’t do the former without the latter.

Jim Murphy is a GOLF Top 100 Teacher at Sugar Creek Country Club in Sugar Land, Texas, and he creates checklists for his players so they can easily identify where they need to get better and then figure out how to do it.

He says most golfers only practice what they are good at and that hinders how much they can actually improve.

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“A lot of it is the perception,” says Murphy, speaking from Talking Stick Resort during GOLF’s Top 100 Teachers Summit on Tuesday. “Someone could come along and miss a 10-footer on 17 and three-putt 18 and think they have a terrible day putting, but when they go back and add up at the numbers, they had 29 putts and the overall day wasn’t too bad. But in their mind, because of the last two holes, they think the putting was bad. They might go practice their putting even though it really wasn’t that [they were struggling with].”

Murphy’s system is simple and one any golfer can create on their own or with the help of their teacher. He says he has students track the number of fairways hit during a round, the number of greens in regulation, the number of putts and the percentage of how often they get up-and-down from off the green.

The goals for this checklist vary depending on your skill level or the skill level you are aspiring for, but Murphy broke down goals he’d create for someone who wanted to shoot in the 80s.


Fairways hit: 6
Greens in regulation: 7-8
Up and downs: 40 percent
Putts: 32 or less

Murphy has his students chart these statistics, and after three or four rounds the problem areas start to identify themselves. If someone averages 36 putts per round, then he knows they need to work on the putting green.

Murphy says it helps his lessons become more efficient, and it might be the structure you need to improve, too.


Josh Berhow Editor

As’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at