How To Break 90 In Golf – The Ultimate Guide

Written by John VanDerLaan 


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How To Break 90

It is Saturday afternoon and you are coming home from a rather successful day on the golf course. You have fleeced you buddies to the tune of $20.00, shot under your 20 handicap by posting a 91, and even made two birdies on the day. Everything is fine until your wife asks you what you shot. When you proudly answer 91, she says, “Oh too bad, you were so close to breaking 90”. Everybody knows that breaking 90 is a goal for so many golfers. Statistics indicate the following:

  • 5% of adult golfers shoot below 80
  • 21% shoot between 81 and 90
  • 29% shoot between 90 and 99
  • 24% shoot between 100 and 110
  • 21% shoot over 110

Do the math…only 26% of all adult golfers in the world break 90 on a regular basis. If and when you achieve this, it puts you in a relatively exclusive class.

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The way I look at things, breaking 90 is more of a mindset than it is a swing issue. Even if you practice using the best golf tips, you need to be able to control your adrenaline as you near your goal. Playing those last 2 or 3 holes trying to avoid a big number can be very stressful.

What Does It Mean To Break 90 In Golf?

Breaking 90 in golf means that your score for 18 holes is 89 or less. This means that you are averaging less than a bogey per hole. 

On a standard par 72 golf course, if you make a bogey on every hole, you will be 18 over par, which is a score of 90. Playing bogey golf would equal 90.

If you make 17 bogeys and 1 par, you will shoot 89 and you will have broken 90.

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Golf Tips To Break 90 In Golf

Use A Proper Golf Grip

Proper Golf Grip

A good golf grip is one of the most important fundamentals that will lead to a consistent golf swing and will help you manage your golf ball around the course.

Take the time to learn a proper golf grip and continuously check your grip to be sure that it is the same for each shot.

If you are slicing the ball, your grip is probably too weak and if you are hooking the ball, your grip is probably too strong.

Once you learn these things, it becomes easy to adjust on the course, which will save you valuable strokes.

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Establish A Consistent Pre Shot Routine

Pre Shot Routine

Pre shot routines set you up physically and mentally for good shots. It really doesn't matter what your  routine is, as long as it is exactly the same every time.

My pre shot routine consists of standing behind the golf ball and envisioning the shot that I want to play. I can actually see myself swinging the golf club and watch the shot shape that I am trying to hit.

I then step in, address the ball and swing according to the ball flight I had imagined.

Your pre shot routine may combine some practice swings, or whatever you feel comfortable doing.

Having a solid pre shot routine will help you execute shots and play better golf with more consistency.

Improve your short game

Improve Your Short Game To Break 90

Whether it be by getting up and down from around the green more often, or taking fewer putts, shaving strokes off your handicap is easier to achieve if you can consistently be a better player around the greens.

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Your wedges and putter should be your best friends and you should practice with them often. 

When my boys were young, we had an 80-20 rule. 80% of their practice time was to be spent on short game and 20% on full swing. It is one of the reasons that they play on tour today.

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This includes practicing putting. Spending time on the putting green is one of the easiest ways to shoot lower scores.

Practice and get good at lag putting. This will help you eliminate three putts. If most golfers could two putt every hole, they would be shooting better scores.

My wife was able to improve her game by an average of 10 shots by changing her putting grip and spending some time actually practicing her putting. She used to hate putting. Now, she actually looks forward to it.

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Avoid an outside in swing path

Bumping Your Hips Toward The target

All golfers should aspire to have an inside out swing path to some degree. If you fall into the trap of swinging too hard, which is common of golfers in this handicap category, your swing may deteriorate into an outside in/over the top mistake. To keep from doing this, try driving your legs. Start by bumping your hips toward the target. This should help in keeping your head and weight back and encourage an inside out swing path.

Another way to help with this is to use a training aid during your golf practice sessions at the driving range. One of my favorites is the Impact Ball. It is a very simple training aid. A ball that you hold between your forearms while making a golf swing.

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Start with a lob wedge, sand wedge or pitching wedge and hit short shots with small swings until you get used to the ball.

Then use your longer golf clubs and gradually hit longer shots.

With consistent use, you will be hitting great shots in no time at all.

Try to practice this every time you go to the driving range. Make it a part of your practice routine.

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Stay away from a high number

8 On A Golf Scorecard

If there is a particular hole, or holes, on the course that just eats you up, develop a “personal par” attitude. I remember having to do this. I was a golfer who hated to give in to the course. If it said on the scorecard that it was a par four, then I would do my damndest to make a four. Sometimes that meant I would be overly aggressive when hitting my tee shot.

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At times I would talk myself into an approach that was very difficult. I just had to make par when perhaps I should have settled for my “personal par”. What I mean by personal par is this. Even though the scorecard reads par is four, maybe a five is what you should be striving for. Do this one or two times per round and you might eliminate that high number that keeps you from breaking 90.

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Control your driver

Hitting a 3 wood off the tee to break 90

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Sounds easy, right? It can be. Hitting your tee shots in the fairway should be your first priority.

If, at the start of your game, your driver is a bit off, put it in the bag for the day. Hit a 3 wood or even a hybrid off the tee. You can’t make a par with your first shot, but you can certainly guarantee at least a double bogey with it.

Practice hitting a fairway wood off the tee, so that you can hit fairways, eliminate penalty strokes  and give yourself a fair chance at playing better than bogey golf.

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Don’t play the scorecard

Add Scores to the scorecard 3 holes at a time

I know it is difficult, and you probably know if you are close to that magic number of +18 or not, but try not to look at your scorecard after every hole. All this will do is to make that chip on your shoulder seem like a cinder block. Try playing the golf course three holes at a time. Only mark your score down on the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 15th and 18th holes. This might help you concentrate on your game, not on the final result.

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The final tip I have is for all golfers, not just the ones trying to achieve a milestone such as breaking 90:

Never make 2 mistakes on the same hole

Play smart to break 90

This is a rule that I implemented when I was teaching my kids how to break 90 when they were young and it is very simple.

If you make a mistake on a hole, take your medicine. This helps to eliminate a big number on the hole.

For example, if you drive the ball in the woods, don't go for the green because you have a window between some trees. Instead, chip it back in the fairway and then hit it on the green.

This is simple course management. Unless you are a professional golfer, there is no room for attempting to hit hero shots. Too often it leads to double bogeys, triple bogeys or worse.

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How To Break 90 In Golf Consistently 

The only way to consistently break 90 in golf is to practice and play often enough to improve. You can use the golf tips above to practice, and then put the improved golf game to the test on the course.

With the right amount of work, you will be consistently breaking 90 in no time at all.

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Another thing to consider when trying to break 90 consistently is to make sure that your equipment is helping you and not hurting you.

Most players that are trying to break 90 should be using game improvement irons, which help to send the ball where you want it, even on miss hits.

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Remember the words of one of the games leading sports psychologists, Bob Rotella:

Golf is not a game of perfect.

What we should aim for in golf is not perfection, but rather improvement. If you do that you will top the ball less often, you will develop your game and become a better player, and at the right time, you will break 90.

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Photo of author

John VanDerLaan

John is the Lead Editor and founder at Golf Gear Advisor. He is a golf coach and mentor to his 2 sons that are current playing professionals. His son John is currently playing on the Korn Ferry Tour and his son Michael is currently playing on mini tours and preparing for Q School. John Sr. has been their coach and mentor since they were 2 years old. He helped them to succeed in golf with the right equipment, instruction and mindset. John knows a thing or two about playing good golf and he has a passion for sharing his knowledge with others.

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