Breaking 100 Without Taking a Lesson

Breaking 100 Without Taking a Lesson
Published: 2020-10-06

You play once a week or twice a month or once a month when the weather breaks and have never broken through the barrier of that centennial score. You want to, and in fact, you would love to, but it eludes you like the winning numbers to the lottery. 

So, you do what any reasonable golfer would do. You self-medicate with magazine articles, buying books and swing training aides. What happens? You get so many swing thoughts going through your head that you begin to compare yourself to Kevin Costner in Tin Cup. You’ve gotten so much smarter on the golf swing and so much worse on the golf course.  

Now what? You turn to the Golf Channel with bated breath for that “secret” swing key and every time you try something new, the results are the same but now include a realization of dreading to practice. After all, why practice if you continue to not get better?  

So, the question arises; is it possible to break 100 with minimal effort?

The numbers are in your favor… sort of. Approximately 50% of the folks that play this great game can and do break 100! Okay, but let’s also understand those folks play by the rules and count every stroke. Of course, this is you right? Good news: it doesn’t matter because it obviously feels like it isn’t as hard as it appears! If you think that YOU ARE RIGHT! You’ve come this far so read on and get prepared to break 100!

First things first. Go look in your golf bag. Are your clubs a hodge-podge of “sticks” because you think you aren’t good enough to have nice clubs? Let’s get something straight, if you enjoy golf, invest in it! And quit going to the internet to buy what you think is a great deal because over half the time, you folks struggling to break 100, have no idea what you really need and are wasting money on equipment meant to be played by someone else.  

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Listen carefully. Go to a club that has a seasoned PGA professional that knows golfers like you because he or she has seen you their entire career. Confide in them that you would like some equipment that will help you strike a golf ball. Do you know what will happen? They are going to help you! All those odd sized grips go away. The stiff shafts entwined by a few regular shafts with a variance of weights and that eight iron with the pyratone coating all go away. You will get a set of clubs that will fit YOU. If you prefer to buy used that’s okay too but ask the professionals to help you. They may have something at their club or can steer you to a place that will have what you need.  But stay in communication with them.  

The importance is to get a set of clubs with shafts that will help you strike your shots because that is the spinal cord of your clubs. After you get set up, give the pro that helped you a gift certificate for dinner somewhere or better yet, invite him or her to lunch and ask the question, “Who got you into the game of golf?” Remember, you deserve to enjoy the game and all aspects of it to include your clubs.

Next up is your golf ball. Quit stealing range balls because you think you don’t need a decent ball. You actually do! Ask that new golf pro friend of yours what they think you need and take their advice. And when you come to that hole where you have to carry the ball over a body of water, don’t trade the ball out for an old one. Challenge yourself. You certainly don’t have to Tin Cup it, but you might be surprised how much more focus you may direct to striking a better golf shot! Toss down an old ball and you made a loud statement to yourself you ARE going to lose that ball and when you lose it in the water you actually accomplished what you set out to do. Lose the ball. Quit thinking like that! Here is a little something to do to get ready to embrace this challenge. Get a sleeve of golf balls and ask that special someone in your life to carry it around with them all day or have your child or grandchild sleep with the sleeve under their pillow. Tell them it’s so you can have some good luck. Sounds nuts right? Wait until you put one of those balls on the ground on that water hole. You’ll understand then. Focus.

Now, and I am going to say this lovingly, understand exactly the golfer you are… for now. You are someone trying to break 100 and you need to play as if you are! Your name is not Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods or Stacy Lewis so don’t try to hit a shot they wouldn’t hit. 

If I was given a dollar for every time I had a pro-am partner who slices the ball tell me this time he was going to hit a draw, well, I’d have that original Calamity Jane I’ve always wanted! When you are on the course it is no time to experiment or have an out of body experience because both only increase your score. If you are in the rough, use enough loft to get the ball up and out of the grass instead of trying to plow a three wood through it.  

Play conservatively when getting out of trouble and you may want to read that out loud too. I said, “when getting out of trouble” which means you get OUT of trouble not STAY in it! Stop taking chances and “hope” you’re going to hit a decent shot. Hope has no place in a business plan and it has no place on the golf course either.  

Aim BIG. Take dead aim at a specific target and stop swinging away hoping (there it is again, hope) something good will happen. This is something every tour player does and you can too. Aim at the biggest part of your target but be specific. Aim at the tree through the fairway or behind the beefiest part of the green and if there is no tree use a chimney or cell phone tower, you get the picture. Aim at something that favors the biggest part of the fairway or green. Make this a sound and repeating practice.

If you want to drop ten shots faster than Kevin Harvick coming out of turn four at Darlington, work on controlling the speed of your putts. You do this by controlling how far back you take your putter. Too many amateur golfers take the putter back too far and then try to keep it from going off in their hands on the forward stroke blasting it by the hole by ten feet. Think if you were on a bicycle and you wanted to go as fast as you can but were only able to pedal for ten feet. Impossible to go very fast right? What if you had the length of a football field? You can get ripping fast then! Same principle in putting. Regulate your backstroke to accommodate the need of your forward stroke. It isn’t hard to do just break the habit by applying some critical thinking. And that brings me to one more point on putting. Your backstroke cannot be faster than your forward stroke! If you follow these two points, you are going to drop shots quicker than you ever thought possible.

Chipping and pitching the ball plagues more golfers who can’t get over that 100 hurdles. If you think you have to use a sand wedge to chip the ball or you need to go out and get a 60-degree wedge then listen up. No, you don’t. The very first thought in my head if I need to chip or pitch the ball is, “Can I putt the ball?” That’s right, because what club in the bag do you use more than any other club? Your putter! If the height of the grass cut is reasonable use your putter to get the ball on the green. The key is to get ON the green. And I will go one step farther and say that for every putt you hit versus chipping the ball, you will wind up closer to the hole. Stop using a club because you think you should. Use the club that will help you drop strokes. That is what you should do!

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Lastly, read something about golf. No, not about the golf swing but rather about the game. Golf has an incredible history to it and the amount of incredible people that have played the game has had a huge influence on the game we enjoy today.  

We use technology to take care of our courses and technology to design them as well as technology to design our golf clubs but back when golf was still in its infancy, technology was called, “opinion” and folks knew who to go to for guidance because it worked for one of their playing buddies! I have given you two historical points already you should discover. Calamity Jane and pyratone.  

The first is the name of the putter that Bobby Jones used to win the Grand Slam of Golf (the US Amateur and US Open and the British Amateur and British Open in the same year) and the second is the coating that was created for steel golf shafts so they wouldn’t rust back in the 1920s and 1930s when manufactures were trying to get away from the labor-intensive hickory shafts.  

Bobby Jones was the gentleman of St. Andrews who started his love affair with the grand ole course by insulting it and it is a historical love affair every golfer should learn. Why Bobby Jones Quit by Bob Thomas is one of the finest literary golf writings I have ever read. And When War Played Through by John Strege is written about how the game of golf had an impact on World War II.  

My point is, when you begin to learn about the game, your opinion for it will change and with that, so will you. Instead of just playing golf, you will appreciate it. The game isn’t all about breaking 100, it just feels that way. Golf is something you can do for a lifetime and it shouldn’t feel like a lifetime to break 100. Come on, you can do this!