The five things high-handicap golfers can do to quickly lower their scores

The five things high-handicap golfers can do to quickly lower their scores

In my travels and line of work, I get to play golf with lots of different types of people. Some are incredible players whose talent is simply mind-blowing. Some are solid golfers that have a few flaws in their game. Many struggle to break 90 or 100, however.

For those golfers who are looking to learn how to break 100 or break 90, there are some practical tips that are purely strategic that can easily knock off three, five or 10 from a golfer's scorecard. The skill of golf-course and golf-game management are absolutely crucial for any golfer, and they're often lost on this kind of player. Implementing these five simple approaches into your game will help you save strokes in every single round you play.

The five things high-handicap golfers can do to quickly lower their scores

Hit the green as soon as possible: This might sound obvious, but there's a point here to be made -- particularly as it relates to the short game. Most golfers who struggle to break 100 or 90 don't have a great short game. They struggle with the touch shots. That could be due to playing infrequently or needing to further develop those skills. Either way, the advice to make sure you hit the green is a key one. If you can hit the green with a pitch shot, a chip or a putt, then that's instant success. If a player only has to hit one chip, pitch or sand shot to hit the green, they're going to lower their scores because putting is way easier for most golfers than chipping and pitching.

Aim for the middle of the green: Every golfer on the planet can benefit from this one -- not just ones who struggle to break 100 or 90. The overwhelming number of golfers both overestimate how far they hit the ball with each club in the bag and also aim too often for the flag. Aiming at the flag is often a recipe for disaster. Instead, aim for the middle of the green. Golfers rarely hit the ball over the green, but they do hit it left and right of their target all the time. By making the target the middle of the green, a golfer gives themselves the best chance to hit the green with their next shot because their shot distribution pattern should cover the green more often than aiming to an off-center target.

Hit putts into a 3-foot circle: One of the biggest drags on a high-handicappers scorecard is three-putts. Three-putts often lead to bogeys and double-bogeys, or worse, and they sour a round. They're unnecessary, too. The best golfers in the world make putts at a better percentage than high-handicap players, yes, but what they really do well is not three-putt. They can get a putt outside of 15 feet into a 3-foot circle a large percentage of the time, giving them stress-free two-putts. Learning speed control from 50 feet and in is critical.

Hit driver off the tee on par 4s and par 5s: There's long been a school of thought that a bad golfer should only hit off the tee the club they feel they can hit the straighest and farthest. Turns out, the data doesn't support that argument. The biggest predictor of success on a golf hole is how close a golfer is to the hole with their next shot. Yes, hitting the ball in the trees or water will put a damper on that, but it's better to be longer and in the rough than shorter and in the fairway. Hit the driver.

Don't lay up to a comfortable number: Golfers have long been told to layup to easy numbers on par 5s. Hit a third shot from your full wedge distance, or 100 yards, or pick your marker. The data tells us that's not true, either. Your goal with every shot in golf should be to get as close to the hole as you can. Don't lay up to 100 yards to hit a perfect pitching wedge when you get get to 50 yards and hit a three-quarter sand wedge. There may be variance from one opportunity to the next, but, in the long-term, closer is always better.

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is a scratch golfer...sometimes.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]

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