What You Need to Know About Golf Lessons

If you’re new to the game of golf, you’ve surely picked up some tips from friends who have been playing for a while. You may be a bit intimidated and conflicted on how to get your foot in the door and start playing well. You might even be nervous about making an embarrassing mistake while out on the course.

These are all completely normal ways to feel, and the truth is that everybody needs to start somewhere. The important part, however, is finding the right “somewhere” from which to start.

How to get started

The beautiful part about being new to the game of golf is that you haven’t picked up any bad habits. That’s why finding a professional to get lessons from early on is so important. There are many resources for you to find PGA professionals in your state, including Grumpy Gopher’s list of the best teachers in each state. If you find yourself struggling with the process of picking a teacher, check out the PGA’s guide to choosing a golf coach.

Once you land on a facility and a teacher, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Visit the facility where you’ll take your lessons.
  • Meet the teachers and make sure you’re comfortable and compatible with them.
  • Be completely honest and humble about your skill level — don’t fake it.
  • Create a plan of action with your teacher of where you’d like to be after working together.

If you’re still struggling, visit the PGA’s webpage on beginning your golf journey for more details and resources. The bottom line is that as long as you approach the process with a humble and eager attitude, you will emerge successfully. But until you pick up a club and start practicing, you won’t see results.

What to expect

You may be wondering how much lessons should cost, how many lessons you’ll need and how much time you should expect to spend taking lessons until you start seeing results. These are important questions to ask and they should be answered before you ever pick up the club with your teacher.

On average, lessons will cost between $30 and $70 per hour — depending on where you are in the world and what level of experience your teacher has. Of course, there are many places around the world where lessons will cost significantly more money. A great way to try and get lessons on a budget is by taking group lessons or buying package deals which are often sold at a discount.

The amount of lessons that you need before you start really learning the basics completely depends on the individual. You may have a natural ability to learn quickly, or your body may take some time to get used to the mechanical movements required by the game. So while there is no stock answer for how many lessons you need to get started, some say 15 is a good guess. The important part is not to get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately.

The amount of lessons needed will also depend on how long each of your lessons is scheduled for. Whether you choose a 30-minute lesson, a 45-minute lesson or a 60-minute lesson, you’ll want to make sure that you can stay engaged and receptive throughout.

Eat something light beforehand and mentally decompress so that you’re in a relaxed state of mind when you meet with your teacher. Learning golf can be extremely frustrating and requires patience and a cool head — you’ll want to set yourself up for success as much as possible.

Finding deals

Finding a good deal on golf lessons isn’t difficult and you should absolutely shop around before committing. The best place to start is on the internet. Head to Groupon to find deals locally, or go to the PGA Tour Superstore where they have 6-pack and 3-pack gift certificates on sale now. Websites like RetailMeNot also offer coupon codes on many golf-related online stores and you may be able to score a deal by searching their website.

Additionally, you can leverage technology by downloading a RetailMeNot extension for your web browser which will automatically notify you of deals on any website you’re visiting if a deal exists. Another company that offers a similar service is Rakuten. Rakuten offers cashback and coupons for shopping at specific stores, including many golf stores. For example, Golf Galaxy offers lessons and Rakuten is currently offering 3.5% cashback on all Golf Galaxy purchases with the exception of gift cards. This is just one of the many deals that exist on the web.

Of note, some of these deals are offered on web-based lessons only. This may appeal to you, but it also may be something you’re nervous about. Before deciding on whether you want virtual lessons, take a look at what Golf Digest had to say about them. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice and you’ll have to decide what’s best for you. Luckily, the risk and commitment is low with virtual lessons, and there are some free options out there to test it out.

If you aren’t very computer-savvy, you may be able to find promotions at local golf facilities. Try asking your local golf shop owner if they know of anybody offering discounted lessons. You can also wait to begin taking lessons until a time that’s closer to a holiday.

Most businesses offer holiday discounts on packages, and with COVID-19 restrictions loosening up and golf courses opening, many businesses are going to be looking for ways to make back the money that they lost while closed. Use this to your advantage.


Golf lessons aren’t accessible to everyone. You may live too far away from a teacher, or you may not have the extra money to spend on lessons. It’s also no secret that living in the COVID-19 era, many people are struggling financially.

Luckily, there are plenty of free resources out there to help improve your golf game. Golftec, a golf instruction franchise business, is currently offering free virtual lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every golfer will receive two free virtual lessons after creating a free account on the Golftec app. There are also a ton of free videos available on YouTube that speak to different aspects of the game, like Rory McIlroy’s video on improving your drive.

Golf lessons are a no-brainer for anyone who wants to start hitting the links and experiencing all the great things that the game of golf has to offer. Fortunately, we live in a time where golf lessons are more accessible than ever before. So study these steps, do your research, find a great deal and get started with your lessons on the right foot.

What Age Should Kids Start Golf Lessons?

“No one will ever have golf under his thumb. No round ever will be so good it could not have been better. Perhaps this is why golf is the greatest of games. You are not playing a human adversary; you are playing a game. You are playing old man par.” – Ben Hogan

It’s the beauty of golf. It’s a game you can always become better at. You can learn and have fun at the same time. While some sports are stressful and can make you hate it, golf is different. It’s educational, recreational, and independent. It’s challenging, but in the end, you have one goal in mind: To get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible. By learning just the basics, you will find yourself scoring birdies in no time.

But golf is more than just a game; it’s a chance to become better at life. It teaches you a lot of lessons, from how to think and make good decisions to how practice can make you skillfully better. It can teach you happiness as well as how to deal with frustration and the importance of learning from mistakes. Yes, you will make mistakes as a golfer. Even the world’s number player, Rory McIlroy, does. As a parent, one of the best investments you can make for your child is getting them into the sport. There are so many rewards.

In this article, we will look at the best age to invest in golf lessons as well as the advantages of getting lessons, how to look for an instructor, and what children will learn as a result of practicing golf.

What’s the Best Age To Start Lessons?

There is no “A child has to start golf lessons at age (fill in the blank).” All children are different. They advance their skills at different ages and find their drive and motivation in various stages of their life. Tiger Woods was picking up a golf club at two years old and showing the world his professional swing on “The Michael Douglas Show” while Bubba Watson developed later and never took a lesson in his life. Watson learned the game purely on his own.

First and foremost, understand that most every child is not Tiger Woods. If you push them to be like Tiger Woods at 18 months old, they may learn to hate the game before they start preschool. Children should learn the game at an age when they’re most comfortable and when they are most interested.

Golf should be fun for the child, not exhausting and frustrating. Let them enjoy it and learn at the same time. Eighteen-time major champion Jack Nicklaus once said, “I’m a firm believer in the theory that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don’t enjoy.” In other words, golf is about having fun. Your children need to enjoy it. Let them have fun and develop a love for it.

In the past as a parent, you had to sign your child up for private lessons first to see if they enjoyed the game and had the skill set to go further. It’s still a great idea to do that. But there’s also the beauty of technology where you can bring golf in your home first to your child. You can buy them a Nintendo Wii and have them practice in a video game setting, or you can purchase a golf net for the outdoors and watch YouTube videos that teach them pure basics.

If you have the money, you can go out and get a simulator like Trackman that you can set up in your home. After developing some basics, they can go to a Tour Pro to help them further develop their skills in a more one-on-one or group format.

The best age? Again, understand that all children develop at different ages. But it would be most ideal to get a child lessons sometime before they turn 10 years old. This gives them several years to learn and develop different skills before entering high school. In high school, they can begin competing against other golfers and start making a name for themselves. With success comes scholarships and the opportunity to take the game to the NCAA level which then opens up possibilities for more competition, amateur tournaments, and possible eyes on the Korn Ferry and PGA Tours.

But let’s slow down a bit. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered before we are playing a Masters round with Tiger Woods.

What are the Advantages of Playing Golf?

Golf is different from team sports. You can be great at basketball or baseball but still lose games. Golf all depends on how good YOU are. For some children, they like the independence and responsibility of their own play dictating their success.

Besides the independence of golf, there are many other advantages to playing:

1. The Exercise

You get in good shape playing golf. That should go without saying. You not only use your muscles in a golf swing, you walk a lot! Many times when children are taking lessons, they will play rounds of golf and walk 18 holes. There’s no better cardio than that. It gets you in shape just as much as running a mile every day. It keeps you thin as well.

Additionally, it’s low impact. In other words, you’re not getting hit or getting hurt. Eventually, as you play a lot, you may gain a few strains here and there and your feet may start hurting, but you’re not breaking bones like you would in other sports. You’re only making your muscles stronger by utilizing them day in and day out on the golf course.

2. Social Experience

While it’s true that golf is an individual and independent sport, it doesn’t mean you do it all on your own. Many times lessons are with other students and you gain friendships with other young golfers that have similar interests in you. It also allows you to meet someone who you can play golf with so you don’t have to go out on your own all the time. There, you can help each other and have fun together.

3. Mental Strength

Bobby Jones once said, Golf is a game that’s played on a five-inch course–the distance between your ears.” Golf may seem all physical, but the fact is it’s more mental than anything. Some may argue it’s the most mentally challenging sport of any out there. You always have to think about the course, and in order for you to become really good, you have to concentrate hard.

Have you ever watched a golf tournament and see players absolutely exhausted after 18 holes? It has nothing to do with physical exhaustion most of the time. They are mentally exhausted. Playing golf will make your mind stronger and that can go a long way in helping you with other aspects of your life. Plus, it teaches you how to accept mistakes and learn from them.

4. Easy to Learn

Don’t take this the wrong way too much now. The game is easy to learn, yes, but difficult to master. That being said, the best part about golf is the early stages because you can see yourself improve a lot within the first couple months of taking lessons, and that feeling is so good inside. Some may say it’s the one sport that keeps you wanting to come back for more. When you hit a good shot, it feels so good inside and you want to learn more.

5. It’s Fun!

It’s a game where you try and get a little ball into a hole. If you’re a competitive person, you will love it. Children love to have fun and play games, and golf is just that. It can be frustrating when you’re not playing well, but as you get better, it becomes more fun. It’s also carefree, relaxing (until you get into tournaments), and recreational.

How to Find an Instructor

As a parent, again, the advantage of technology can help you find the best instructor for your child. By searching online, you can look up instructors near you and even see comments on their teaching as well as their overall resume. However, never commit to an instructor right away. You should always try one out first and see how it works out.

Some things you will want to look for in the right instructor:

1. Chemistry

This goes for anything in life, whether it be a doctor, a therapist, a coach, a teacher, or a golf instructor: you want to find an instructor that develops a good chemistry with your child.

According to Golf Digest, there are two key components: The personality piece and the communication piece. The personality piece focuses on the child having fun. Families aren’t spending money to bore a child to death. There’s an entertainment piece to it, and a good instructor makes the game fun for the child.

The second key piece is the communication piece. A good instructor communicates the right information so one will develop the right way. Knowledge is key and you want to find an instructor who knows their stuff and communicates their stuff effectively.

2. A Good Track Record

This is your resume piece. You want to find an instructor that has a good background and is knowledgeable about the golf swing. Most instructors will have a Professional license where they can teach students and will have gone through the grueling challenges of tournaments and may even have professional experience on the PGA Tour.

Again, this is where technology comes in handy. You can many times find YouTube videos on these instructors and read information about them online by searching for them on Google. Many websites even have rankings for individual instructors. Also, don’t go out of your regional limits. You probably don’t want to find an instructor in Ohio if you live in Florida; be sure to search for instructors that are local or at least in your own state.

3. Have Patience

If an instructor passes steps one and two on our list, number three becomes very important. Understand that progress isn’t shown overnight. It takes time and lots of practice. A good instructor provides children the right tools to improve their game, but then it’s up to the child to practice and utilize those tools. If they just go for lessons but don’t practice in their free time, progress may be hard to come by.

According to Ohio golf instructor Kyle Morris, it takes confidence and competence to succeed. It takes some time to feel comfortable doing something new. You need to give it time to go from the uncomfortable to a comfortable stage.

4. Know Your Goals

Do you want to learn just the basics? Do you want to learn just the short game? Do you want the full package? These are instrumental in knowing before you begin your golf lessons. This must be communicated to the instructor so they know where to focus their time on with you.

According to Morris, you want to develop a child to the point where they don’t need you. Everything you teach them sinks in, and when they make mistakes, they know the golf swing well enough to know how to fix it on their own. This is when you know they have taken it to the advanced stage. The goal of the instructor is to get them to that stage.

How Much Do Lessons Cost?

On average, your typical golf lesson with a Tour Professional will cost anywhere between $30 to $70. Each instructor is different in what they charge, though. Understand that the more successful an instructor has been and the better their resume, the more they will cost.

That being said, sometimes lower-priced instructors are really good. They are maybe just starting out or may not have a lot of tournament experience but they know the game better than the best of them. It all goes back to choosing the right instructor. Never commit to an instructor, but feel free to try them out and see how they connect with your child. Many new instructors are very motivated and will work hard to teach your child.

Prices also depend on where you live. For most states, $30 to $70 is average, but states with higher costs of living like California and New York will likely cost closer to $100 or more. So keep that in mind when searching for an instructor.

The Final Verdict

There are only advantages to getting your child into golf. You are improving your child socially, physically, and mentally all at the same time. As a parent, you will become proud of your child as they develop and see improvements in their game with time.

Get them started early so they can see if this something that could develop into a future sport for them. Robin Sharma once said, “You can’t win if you don’t try.” Get your child into golf. See where it leads them. There are no risks involved, only advantages.

Market and Grow your Golf Instruction Business

If you want to grow your golf business, you need to know your market. What type of golfers are you looking to attract? How do they discover which services they pay for?

Referrals are powerful. People are more trusting when other people recommend a service.

Hundreds of thousands of people are searching for golf lessons each month. How easy is it for a potential customer to find your phone number when you search for “Golf Lessons Near Me” in Google?

Create a listing on Grumpy Gopher and make your contact information easier for golfers to find.  Find your profile on our Golf Instructor Directory. If you don’t have a listing, click “Create A Listing”



Best Golf Coaches in Napa

Grumpy Gopher has a directory of 26,000 of the best golf instructors in the United States. There are over 18 golf instructors in the city of Napa.

How do you pick the best golf coach for you?

One of the first steps is narrowing down the list of potential golf teachers by how near they are to you.

Ask your friends and playing partners for referrals to golf coaches in your area. Ask them about pricing, reputation, location, and how they improved after working with the coach.

Check profiles and reviews of golf instructors online. Grumpy Gopher’s directory of golf instructors, is a good place to start.

Call the coach and set up a phone or in-person meeting. A good coach will be happy to discuss your game and get to know you.

Best Golf Instructors in Los Angeles

Grumpy Gopher has a directory of 26,000 of the best golf instructors in the United States. There are over 55 golf instructors in the city of Los Angeles.

How do you pick the best golf coach for you?

One of the first steps is narrowing down the list of potential golf teachers by how near they are to you.

Ask your friends and playing partners for referrals to golf coaches in your area. Ask them about pricing, reputation, location, and how they improved after working with the coach.

Check profiles and reviews of golf instructors online. Grumpy Gopher’s directory of golf instructors, is a good place to start.

Call the coach and set up a phone or in-person meeting. A good coach will be happy to discuss your game and get to know you.

5 Easily Fixable Golf Mistakes

What golfer doesn’t dream of being a standout player, right? However, standout isn’t always a good thing if you’re standing out because of golf mistakes versus golf skills. Golfing is a complex and challenging sport that leaves one with infinite possibilities for mistakes. On the flip side, this also means infinite possibilities to play better. The term “mistake” is almost as pompous sounding as amateur and novice, but the fact remains that a lot of less seasoned golfers make a lot of easily fixable mistakes. Let’s get to work solving some of these common mistakes so that you can start standing our for the right reason.

Mistake One: Not Looking The Part

Here we go with that infinite possibilities again. There are so many ways that golfers of all calibers screw this up. It may sound silly, but you’d be surprised at how distracting a bad look can be, and it’s one of the easiest golf mistakes to fix. Here are some general do and don’t do facets to look better to play better:

• Don’t wear dark socks with khaki and light-colored golfing attire and shoes. While you may be murdering fashion, the game itself isn’t a funeral.

• Do leave the white belts to people under the age and waist size of 36.

• Do get fit for clubs so that you don’t look like you’re doing yoga to get a proper stance and swing out of a club.

• Don’t let your bag get cluttered with six pairs of hole-ridden gloves, towels growing their own biology experiment, and playbooks from last century that all go tumbling out as you’re trying to pull out the equipment you actually need.

• Do wear the right size shoes, pants, shirts, hats, and so forth. Cracking a good ball is fine; showing your literal crack to everyone – not so great.

• Don’t leave your clubs laying around. The longest walk isn’t from the 18th hole to the clubhouse after blowing a great lead. It’s having to backtrack multiple holes to find a forgotten club.

• Do leave your phone in your bag and on silent, not in your hand. Nothing says awkward like a Snoop Dog ringtone blasting just as someone swings.

• Don’t forget sunscreen, especially if your fair skin burning will cease a game before it’s done.

Mistake Two: Not Acting The Part

You’ve got the right look. Now, you need the right behaviors to match. Here’s some do and don’t do tips on acting the golfing part:

• Don’t explode like a four-year-old who just had his favorite LEGO set stolen by Batman. Accept a bad game as a bad game. Make a commitment to practice more often, but keep your temper and poor sportsmanship off the green. Temper tantrums are common mistakes that’ll get you asked to leave an organization and leave you without anyone willing to play with you.

• Do be safe rather than sorry. Yell “fore” whether you think that errant tee shot will hit the friendly landscape crew pruning the bushes or not. Can’t fathom your 3-wood will reach players on a green you’ve never hit in two? You better still yell fore.

• Don’t be that arrogant guy/girl who thinks all the beverage cart workers need your witty, snide sense of humor in their lives and are secretly pining for you to ask them out on a date.

• Do make the game enjoyable for all by not blaming the golf gods, whining, moaning, or crying. Take personal accountability. Don’t make the mistake of trying to force others into boosting your deflated ego by going on and on about yourself being a terrible golfer.

• Don’t give everyone a play-by-play of your last round of golfing. Unless it’s some feat that would send a shiver down Mr. Wood’s back, keep the conversation aimed at the current round.

Mistake Three: Not Playing The Part On The Simple Stuff

These are very fixable mistakes that just require you to take the time to learn the basics of the game and put them into practice. Here are some tips:

• Do have hybrids in your bag longer than a 5 in your bag.

• Don’t aim at nothing. As Harvey Penick told his tournament-bound student, “take dead aim.” Check alignment and aim your clubface for every single shot.

• Do play the middle tees. Playing back at the 7,500 yard champion tees does not give you an automatic man nor pro card.

• Do watch your ball. Looking up at the sky will not hold the answers for a bad shot that bounds deep into the woods.

• Do know how to properly take a drop. Stand facing the hole with ball in-hand and your arm extended straight out. Drop it. No flips, dips, jumps, spins, or Kung Fu moves required. If the ball was out of bounds, add a stroke and hit from your last play spot.

• Don’t neglect to carry the right wedges. Fitters say to keep 5 to 6 degrees between your wedges. If your pitching wedge is 45 degrees and your sand wedge is 56 degrees, for example, you’ll clearly need a gap wedge because you have more than 5-6 degree difference.

• Do time your swing. Jim McLean uses “1 and 2” count for a perfectly timed swing, with “1” taking you to the top, “and” covering the pause and transition, and “2” taking you through the impact.

Mistake Four: Being A Time Leach

Don’t be that golfer that everyone avoids because you slow down the game to turtle speed. Some dos and don’t dos when it comes to game pace:

• Don’t take too many practice swings. Quicker, higher scoring rounds come from limiting practice swings to one or less.

• Do remember a slow start isn’t necessarily an indicator of a bad round. Don’t start wasting time by over-analyzing every move. Just play.

• Despite the fact you’re 300 yards away, you’ve let either narcissism over how far you can hit the ball or poor time management cause you to wait for the green to clear on a par 5. The ball is finally shot and dribbles 100 yards along the ground. Eyes roll harder than the ball.

•Again, don’t slow the game down by forgetting that phones, constant hydration from the beverage girls just to flirt, not having the right equipment, not knowing the rules of the game, forgetting essentials like sunscreen or sunglasses, and so forth make other golfers have to wait on you.

• Dont forget to replace divots and rake bunkers. This impacts other golfers and slows their game down.

Mistake Five: Not Getting The Basics Of A Good Golf Swing Down

With a lot of moving parts and thousands of things that can and do go wrong, the swing can be the most complicated point to master. Here are some tips to improve the foundation of your swing:

• Do warm up beforehand. Stretch your muscles, tendons, and ligaments so that they’ll be flexible for your swings. Go through your entire bag, taking a couple of smooth swings with each of your clubs.

• Don’t force your swing to be too forceful. While once a game of finesse, we now see a game surrounded by distance and power. The problem is that distance, power, and accuracy are rarely congruent in an average swing. Slow down speed and force so that you can learn to accurately, cleanly, and consistently hit the ball.

• Do schedule an appointment with a club fitter. All clubs are not the same, and this creates unique swing malfunctions based on the club’s design and the person’s body measurements. A club fitter can eliminate a lot of these common swing issues and flaws.

• Don’t let poor alignment affect your swing. Toes should be parallel to the target line, not facing it. Place alignment rods or clubs on the ground to ensure you maintain your alignment until it becomes second nature.

• Do check your grip. Gripping too tightly strains and tightens muscles, resulting in a slower, less powerful, and less accurate swing. No one is going to steal your club out of your hand. So, loosen it up a little if your hand is full of bulging veins.

There you have five areas where golf mistakes are abundant in nature, but also very easy to fix and play better.


How many of these golfing mistakes are you guilty of having on the green? 

Golf Mantras to Improve Your Game

At first, you may roll your eyes at the idea of repeating golf mantras to yourself as a practical way of improving your technique. But did you know that many of the world’s best golfers will admit to using them as a way to stay focused and motivated in both practices and in tournaments? A mantra is a verbal or mental affirmation that allows the mind to concentrate and commit to the execution of an idea and this technique may be just what you need to elevate your mental attitude and play better.

If you don’t know where to find a golf mantra to try for yourself, look no further! Here are 10 examples you can write down and remember for the next time you take to the course. Pay attention to those that stick, and use them for weeks at a time to gauge their effectiveness.

1. “What other people think of me is none of my business.”
If you find yourself focusing more on what those around you are saying or thinking about your skill level, this one is for you. It really doesn’t matter what others think of you, what matters is what you think of yourself. Remind yourself of that and the opinions of others will have less and less power over you, allowing you to focus on the game like you never have before.

2. “I am a focused player.”
Depending on your situation there may be a lot of people on the course, noises coming from all over the place, hot or cold weather, or a number of other things that easily distract you from the game. Telling yourself that you are focused will keep you from getting side-tracked when you need to be paying attention on what’s going on in front of you.

3. “I have a steady swing.”
If you want to play better, take the part of your technique that is lacking and tell yourself you can do it. If you’re having trouble with your swing, for example, tell yourself that you have a steady swing as you go through the motions and pay attention to how it affects your technique.

4. “I thrive under pressure.”
This mantra is especially useful to someone who feels an overwhelming amount of energy during a game. Repeating “I thrive under pressure” will start to turn those intense emotions that feel like a burden into more of an asset.

5. “I am a confident golfer.”
Sometimes, we have to teach ourselves to believe in ourselves. If this sounds like you before you even touch the field you need to eat, sleep, and breathe this mantra. Go to sleep, “I am a confident player”. Wake up, “I am a confident player”. Get to the field, “I am a confident player”. Repeat!

6. “Winning is easy.”
When we’re really feeling the pressure it can affect our game negatively. By telling yourself that winning is easy, you remove some of that pressure and allow more space to enjoy playing the game.

7. “I am relaxed.”
Any golfer knows that tension is going to drastically affect your game and not in a good way. Tell yourself that you are relaxed to release the tension being stored in your muscles and watch as your swing and putting technique change for the better.

8. “I’m gaining experience.”
When you lose a game or have a rough day practicing, tell yourself that you are gaining experience. This allows you to focus on the fact that you are learning, and even though you might be having a rough day, you are still gaining valuable insight and perfecting your craft. Forgive yourself for your “off days”, everyone has them!

9. “My posture is perfect.”
Perfect posture, flawless swing. Don’t forget the vital role that good posture plays in your game, especially if it’s one of the things you need to improve upon.

10. “Golf is my life.”
Only repeat this one if it is the truth. Chances are that if you care enough to read this, golf is your life. This affirmation is powerful. It will grow your dedication to the sport and increase your willingness to persevere through the days you want to give up.

Give these golf mantras a shot and reap the benefits!

How to Break 90

One of the first goals of every golfer is to shoot an 18-hole score below 90 strokes, or “breaking 90” in golfing parlance.  No matter the age, skill level, or experience, nearly every beginning golfer has the vision of breaking through and shooting a score in the elusive 80s.

As such, nearly every newcomer to the game has gone through the initial golf excitement and the frustration.  Golfers probably know better than most to stay patient and keep grinding through whatever life (and golf) throws at them.  No goal is achieved without laying out a plan of action.  Writing down the goal of breaking 90, and the steps required to reach it, can help the mind focus on the and how to achieve it. Below are steps on how to break 90 in golf.

Choosing the Correct Tees

choose the correct tees

Choosing a realistic tee marker according to your ability is critical when chasing the breaking-90 dream.  Unless you are playing in a competition, there is no rule stating that you cannot tee off from a combination of tees that fits your game. Tee markers are not based on whether you’re a female/male, senior/youth or championship level golfer.

It is based more off of driving distance than anything.  Generally speaking, tour professionals and scratch players tee off at the farthest-back tee markers because they can hit the ball farther and more consistently.  As players progress and lower their handicaps, they will move back from tee to tee to continually challenge their game.

A golf course usually has at least three sets of tee markers.  On the scorecard, there are hole yardages, 9 and 18 hole total yardages, a course rating and sometimes a bogey rating.  The course rating is a hypothetical score of what a scratch golfer would usually shoot from a respective tee that factors in normal weather and normal scoring conditions.  If there is a bogey rating, a similar principle applies but it is what a bogey golfer would shoot from each set of tees.  Before playing a course it would be a good idea to take a look at each rating and honestly assess your game.

The USGA has also started a new initiative called “Tee it Forward”.  It addresses two issues that golfers are faced with when playing.  The first is to address the issue of slow play and teeing it forward can help speed up play with fewer shots taken.  The second is to align players with the correct set of tees for optimal scoring according to their driving distance.

A lot of players inflate their driving distance in their own mind after watching tour professionals on television each week thinking “I can hit it that far too”, when they can in fact not.  Hitting the ball over 300 yards is not obtainable for most players and yet a lot of them still claim they can.  Teeing it forward according to driving distance can create a more pleasurable experience and a reasonable chance of breaking 90!

usga tee it forward


Avoiding Penalty Shots

avoiding penalty shots

An easy way to save shots is to avoid penalty shots.  However, it is easier said than done.  According to GolfMadeSimple, 95 shooters will lose an average of three or more golf balls per round where 85 shooters will lose an average of two.  A lot of times inexperienced golfers will break down and give up after losing one or two balls, especially coming down the stretch.

The never-give-up attitude is important when trying to break the threshold, especially if is something you really want.  Even if you happen to lose one or two, 85 shooting golfers understand that there are some things that are uncontrollable in golf and should keep grinding and playing steady.  There is no need to force things or “make things happen”. Practice will help minimize mistakes and make the bad shots better.


Avoiding 3 Putts

With the possible exception of hitting a ball out-of-bounds, and incurring the shot-plus-distance penalty that comes with it, there is nothing worse than taking three putts on the green, generally referred to as “3-putting”.  Putting can be the easiest and most rewarding part of golf if you train your mind correctly.  Having 3 putt eats away at a golfer’s patience and dents the mental confidence to hole a putt.  Once on the green, two putts should be the maximum it will take to find the bottom of the cup.  Putting can be broken into mental processes and the actual stroke itself.

Creating a solid, repeatable stroke under pressure is the result of many hours of practicing.  A repeatable stroke is so key because it allows the player to focus on the hole as a target rather than worrying about his/her stroke.  Once a player has a repeatable stroke, any putt is just figuring out the line and what speed it requires to hold the line.

Creating feel and touch for lag putting and solid strokes for putts within 5 feet will minimize 3 putting.  Practicing putting can become monotonous so it is important to be creative to keep the mind focused and not “go through the motions”.


Practice Plan

Below are aspects to the game that every person wanting to break 90 should focus on in their practice.  The areas that need to be improved for a 90 shooter targeting the 80s are driving consistency, 120 yards and in (scoring range) and putting.  They are the most important factors when breaking 90 so most time practicing should be spent broken up between these areas of the game.  The goal is to build a consistent foundation that is repeatable, especially under pressure.  Testing yourself in practice simulating on-course scenarios is one of the best ways to practice.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Driving Consistency

On the practice range, many players hit balls “going through the motions” and don’t apply any pressure on themselves.  Continually slapping balls around the range will not improve any part of your game.  It is an unrealistic scenario that never happens on the course.  Hitting into a big field where no penalty occurs for an errant shot is not quality practice.  Practice should only occur when mentally focused and creating artificial boundaries.  This puts course-like pressure on you while testing the repeatability of the swing.

Finding a swing that will put the ball in play allows more attempts of finding the green in two, which in turn allows more putts for par or even birdie.  Players don’t have to attack the ball like they’re in a long-drive contest every swing.  A controlled, consistent swing that delivers solid strikes will often go farther than wild, hard swings at the ball.  A drill that better players implement in their practice routine is to go through their full routine and set up imaginary boundaries before hitting a shot.  Saying to yourself, “Left of that target is a water hazard and right of other target is OB”.  You will find that in your routine you will stop trying to control every aspect of the swing and let it go.

The old phrase “practice like you play” is something 90 shooters should take to heart.  If you want to break 90, practicing the same thing over and over again will most likely yield the same scores.  When practicing it would benefit on-course results by going through your full routine every few shots.  It will allow your mind to train like it is on the teebox out on the course.

120 Yards and in (Scoring Range)

While driving is important to get into the right position, all of the shots (including putting) from the yardage of 120 yards and in accounts for more than half of all shots taken during a round.  Practice time should be spread out accordingly.  Instead of beating drivers or long irons all day long, focus on wedge game and short game.  If you can hit solid wedge shots with good rhythm than you can hit irons with the same quality.  Figure out a distance that you are certain you can get on the green with and use that knowledge during the round!  Par 5s you can lay up to that distance or if you happen to get stuck in the woods, punch out to that number.

A lot of golfers find that the “clock hand” system for hitting wedges provides a consistency for certain distances.  The hand of a clock rotates around just like the arms of a player in the golf swing.  A golfer addressing the ball would be at “six o’clock” because their hands are both freely hanging downward.  A full swing, depending on the player and club, could be anywhere from 10 to 12 o’clock.  An example of this would be hitting your 56-degree wedge from 70 yards.  A player might find that turning and stopping their arms at “9 o’clock” provides a consistent strike for a ball to fly 70 yards.  On the range it is an ideal place to figure out what it takes for each distance.

The short game area is including in the 120 yards and in practicing.  Many 90 shooters find themselves short of the green and having to get up and down quite a bit.  Having a solid pitching and chipping game can save a tremendous amount of shots.  Professionals always proclaim that if they were going to knock off shots from their round it would be easiest to do it from the short game or putting area.  Good chippers and pitchers will have better opportunities to make putts and decrease the chance of three putting.


One of the keys to breaking 90 is to eliminate 3 putting.  Putting does not magically get better overnight; it takes time and practice.  Players will go to a practice green and not know what or how to practice putting so they hit a few random putts hoping they go in.  Being methodical in practice can free up putting out on the course.

Developing a repeatable routine, just like in the long game, can ease the mind when over a putt.  The less time the routine takes the better (for the same reasons that it does in the long game – less tension in the body and mind).

Drills that can be done to improve putting should include more makeable putts (inside 10 feet) and lag putts.  An example of a common short-putt drill is called the ladder drill or step drill.  It has putts from 3, 6, and 9 feet at different “steps” or “rungs in the ladder”.  To set up all you need are three tees, a relatively straight putt and a cup.  The reason behind using a straight putt is to train your stroke to start the ball on line and repeat it.

Out on the course, after consistently starting it on line it is a matter of speed and reading the break correctly.  After finding a straight putt place three tees to mark the spots of 3, 6, and 9 feet.  The goal of the drill is to “climb up the ladder”.  To start, place a ball at each 3, 6, and 9-foot distance and try to make them all consecutively by first making the 3 then 6 then 9-foot putt.

If you make the 3-footer but miss the 6-footer you start back at the 3-footer; the same rule applies if you miss the 9-footer.  Once you complete one ball at each level continue on to two and three balls (same rules apply if you miss with the two and three balls at each step). To finish the drill, you should make three balls at each 3, 6, and 9 feet without missing a putt.

box putting drill

The box lag putting drill is a great use of time when practicing.  It is very similar to the ladder drill but from length.  Using tees or a few practice pins can be used to a create a box around the hole about 3 feet on each side.  Then pace off 30, 60 and 90 feet to find consistency in your lag putting.  Placing five balls from each distance and try to get them all into the zone consecutively before moving on to the next distance.  Choosing both up and downhill putts can create feel and touch in the putting stroke for the speed of the greens at the course.


Course Management

jordan speith course management

Professionals have game plans out on the course.  They don’t carry around a yardage book to look at a picture of the hole because they forgot if it was a dogleg left or a dogleg right.  They use the books to pinpoint how far they need to hit a shot as well as strategize where they want to hit it or don’t want to hit it.  Players consistently in the 90s usually go out on the course with minimal or no game plan at all.  Golfers tend to hit whatever they feel like hitting without logically thinking about what the course is offering that day.  Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can eliminate avoidable mistakes.  An example of this would be laying up on a par 5 to your most comfortable distance.

A lot of people underestimate the importance of driving the golf ball when playing.  Getting into position on a hole will set a player up for success.  Out on the course, the driver isn’t always the best choice on certain holes.  Pulling a three wood or iron off the tee is sometimes a better option and more rewarding, especially if it eliminates the threat of a hazard.


Mental Confidence

Breaking down a score of 89 is simple; it is 1 par and 17 bogeys!  Every 90 shooter has made plenty of pars and bogeys in their golf career.  If you think about it hard enough, you have probably parred every hole at your home club at one point or another.  It is nothing unachievable because it is not something that has not been done before, just not during the same stretch of 18 holes.  Piecing it all together through consistency and steadiness through a round is crucial.

Mentally approaching a round is different for everyone but many people get too tied up in a result rather than the process.  Thinking about the process rather than the result of breaking 90 will free up people over shots.  There are many rounds where professionals do not realize how low they are going because they focus on the process and add them up at the end.  If 90 shooters developed this habit instead of thinking of what they are at after every hole it would change negative or anxious thoughts into positive and focused thoughts.

Developing a routine and focusing on sticking to it no matter what the game of golf throws at you can put your mind at rest.  Are you more comfortable with something you’ve done a thousand times before or something you’ve never done?  Your routine is that comfort!  Routines should waste no time and should be nothing more than to relax the mind before entering the swing sequence.  Too much time over the ball creates tension in the body and mind which can leads to poor shots.  Many high handicappers take way too much time over the ball and start having bad thoughts about what might happen instead of focusing on the process and what they should be doing.

Shooting below 90 is a combination of factors.  One day you may have two or more 3-putts but mentally not bothered by it and continue to grind.  Every golfer is capable of shooting in the 80s but it might take some longer than others.  Making pars, eliminating mistakes like 3-putts and avoiding hazards are all great but it comes down to doing it consistently.  Having the confidence and mental approach needed is half of the battle; going out and doing it is the other half!

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