Break 90 in Golf with these 5 Surprisingly Simple Tips

By Todd Kolb
August 1, 2019

Want to Break 90 in Golf? Stop Obsessing Over Distance and Check Out These 5 Overlooked Tips for Shooting Your Best Score Ever.

If you still can’t break 90 in golf, it has nothing to do with an inability to hit a 300-yard drive.

It’s true. Most golfers who can’t shoot under 90 blame their distance, but there are actually several factors at play. Sure, distance could be one of them. But if you’re close to hitting that milestone, odds are pretty decent that you can get there by making some adjustments that have nothing to do with yardage. In fact, it doesn’t matter what level you are—whether you’re trying to break 90, 80, or even 70. There are specific skills beyond distance that need to be mastered before you can hope to reach your objective.

I’m going to share five changes you can make to start shooting under 90. Most of these are easy adjustments, and with a little practice, they’ll help you finally break that barrier.

I’ll also share a bonus tip for mastering the aspect of the game golfers of all levels dread the most.

But first, the five keys to help you break 90 in golf:

Tip #1: Improve Accuracy with Your Driver

While I hear a lot of amateur golfers complain that they’re not breaking 90 because they just don’t have the distance they need, my observations tell me something else is going on.

Most of the time, when I see a golfer struggling to improve their scores, the problem is not that they don’t have the distance to make it to the green in 2 or 3 shots. It’s that they don’t have the accuracy.

They’re hitting it sideways off the tee box. They’re in the trees, they’re in the water, they’re out of bounds.

If you want to break 90 in golf, you have to be in the fairway the vast majority of the time. So stop putting all your energy into getting better distances and start improving your accuracy.

Tip #2: Use a Hybrid

This is probably the simplest tip I’m going to give you. Are you ready?

Put a hybrid in your bag. Stop using long irons.

Your 3-iron, 4-iron, even you 5-iron—those are the hardest clubs to hit. A hybrid is much easier to hit off the ground and will give you far more success.

As for which hybrid you should get, that comes down to personal preference. There are a variety of options out there—17, 19, 22 degrees. Test a few out and see what works best for you. And if you have a hybrid you love, please pop into the comments to let us know what you’re swinging and why it works for you.

Tip #3: Choose the Right Club for Your Short Game

Everybody knows a solid short game is essential if you want to play a good round of golf. And within your short game, chipping is key.

If you’d like some advice for improving your chip shots, I have some great tips for that right here. But for now, I’m going to tell you the simplest thing you can do to give yourself better odds when you approach a chip shot.

Use a sand wedge. Every single time.

Now, you’ve probably been told to use different clubs for different chip shots. On paper, that’s great advice. If we’re assuming you’re a strong golfer with plenty of time to practice, then yes, sometimes it’s best to shoot an 8-iron and sometimes you want to pull out your pitching wedge. But if you’re a weekend warrior who’s just looking to break 90, you don’t have time to master three different clubs just for your chip shots.

So, use the sand wedge every time. Get comfortable with it. Master it. Get to a place where you are chipping accurately and consistently. Break 90.

Then you can start experimenting with other clubs.

Tip #4: Practice Your Lag Putting

You already know stellar putting can make all the difference to your scorecard. What you may not realize is that you can get a lot more mileage out of your putting practice by focusing on lag putting.

Lag putts are your longer putts. Think 15-50 feet. Why are these putts so important?

Think of where your ball lands on the green. I’m guessing that you’re not hitting a lot of shots from the fairway to within 4-5 feet of the hole. More likely, you’re landing somewhere around 35 feet away. If you can get good at 2-putting from that distance, you’re in great shape to break 90.

Tip #5: Improve Your Course Management

Course management is one of my favorite topics, and there are a million things I could say on the subject. For now, I’m going to keep it simple and tell you the one aspect of course management that can make the biggest difference in your mission to break 90.

When you hit the ball out of bounds or into the trees, get the ball back in play by learning how to hit a punch shot.

A punch shot is a low shot that gets the ball straight back onto the fairway or maybe a little ways down the fairway.

Many amateur golfers try to get out of the trees by hitting a normal shot. They want to get out of trouble and make up some distance. So they pull out an iron and make their regular golf swing. More often than not, they nail the trees again and wind up stuck in the same place.

The point being, course management is about being patient and clear-headed enough to set the right priorities. When you’re in trouble, the first order of business is to get out of trouble. Don’t worry about getting close to the green; worry about getting out of the trees. And learn how to hit a punch shot so you can get the job done.

Bonus Tip: How to Get Out of the Bunker

If you’re playing a round of golf with the hopes of finally breaking 90, it can be extremely discouraging to see your ball land in a bunker. Every golfer dreads a bunker. The good news is, mastering those bunker shots is easier than you think.

For more in-depth advice on getting out of the bunker, you can check out this article. But for now, here are three simple things you should do the next time you’re in a bunker.

  1. Open the clubface.
  2. Aim your feet and body slightly to the left of the target.
  3. Think of throwing sand, not hitting the ball.

That last tip may not make a lot of sense to you, but trust me: the bunker shot is one shot in golf where you actually don’t want to make contact with the ball. Instead, focus on an area of sand directly behind the ball and let the clubface throw that sand up onto the green. Lo and behold, the sand carries the ball with it, and you’ve managed to gracefully exit the bunker.

Your Checklist to Break 90 in Golf

Now that I’ve gone over all the reasons behind these five tips, here’s a quick recap for easy reference. In your mission to break 90:

  • Focus on improving accuracy with your driver.
  • Use a hybrid instead of your long irons.
  • Use a sand wedge (and only a sand wedge) for chipping.
  • Practice your lag putting.
  • Learn how to hit a punch shot and use that skill to get out of the trees.

Next time you’re in the bunker:

  • Open your clubface.
  • Aim slightly to the left.
  • Throw sand.

Make these simple changes, and you’ll be past 90 and chasing down 80 before you know it.

Are You Already Shooting 90?

If you have your own tips for breaking 90, we want to hear them! Join us in the comments section to tell us what worked for you. Or perhaps you want to learn how to finally break 100; we can help there as well!

And if you have any questions, comments, or differences of opinion, please chime in. Any excuse to talk golf.

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  1. One of the most important things is you need to be fitted for the hybrids. I use a 3, 4, and 5 hybrid that are used for iron replacement clubs. I know others who use a hybrid to replace a fairway wood, has a longer shaft. I agree that long irons are hard to hit. Good tips.

  2. Spot on response Jerry! We just did a video on tips for hitting a hybrid, and our first disclaimer is that if you aren’t properly fit for your hybrids, they aren’t going to perform the way you want. Many golfers just get fit for their driver (or no clubs), and stop there. Thanks for reading and commenting! What tip did you find most beneficial?

  3. Thanks .inmediatlý works for usually a 90-97 scorer and a few times in the high 80s .next day after study your video i played and score 88 with the real opportunity to be 85 .i change some difficult distance better good hitting points on the course and concede some difficult holes by try to do bogey or double but no more than that with the same technique .a huge improvement using more my hybrid 4 than my 3 G400 wood .90 % of the shots where i wanted and the miss shots always playable.thanks for the advice

  4. I’ll try it, I really suck at golf! I love the game but I’m at the “ want to break 120!” Sick and tired of being the worst golfer in our league

  5. Scott,

    Hang in there…keep watching our USGolfTV videos and you will improve!

  6. I think course management is one of the things that has helped me shoot lower scores. What I mean by that is not always hitting the driver off the tee. I’ve found that hitting my hydrid off the tee on shorter par fours and keeping it in the fairway works better than using driver and hitting in the woods or worst. I think club selection is something that has helped me score better, I find that most of the weekend golfers come up short of the green because they use to little club. Say you think 130 yard shoot should be an 8 iron (and if you hit it perfect it might be) but in most cases we don’t hit perfect shoots, so I’ll use a 7 iron instead.

  7. Good tip for breaking 90, in my opinion – don’t get tensed up if you have a bad hole or two. You can make it up if you stay focused on making shot by shot. Don’t put added pressure on yourself.

  8. Great point, the only shot you can do anything about is the next one! The sooner you get over a bad shot or hole, the better. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  9. Very good points Rod, most amateur golfers grab a club thinking about how far they CAN hit it, rather than how far they USUALLY hit it. And you will always play better golf when you hit it straight instead of crooked. We’ll take 20 fewer yards in the fairway over a long shot in the trees every time!
    Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  10. I struggle to break 100, and in most cases for people like me, I hit some really good shots followed by some really bad shots. The bad shots show up right when I’m starting to feel good about my game. When I am starting to feel good about my game, I start swinging harder. I’ve pinpointed that, for me, those hard swings are what’s keeping me back. I starting lifting my head, swinging my arms wildly around my body, hitting fat, hitting thin. . . it all falls apart. Once I slow it down, even taking a 3/4 swing, the ball is straighter. I’ll happily settle for a ball in the fairway 30 yards shorter instead of a crushed ball that I can’t find OB. Slow it down!

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