How to Break 80: A Step-by-Step Guide

Date Published: 11/07/2023

Aiming to break 80 is an ambitious yet attainable achievement for most golfers – provided you’re willing to put in the required effort and time, of course. (To “break 80” means to shoot an 18-hole round with a score of 79 or lower).

Breaking 80 allows for a golfer to shoot a maximum of 5 over par across 18 holes. With margin for error as slim as this, you have to rely on all of your golfing experience and expertise to accomplish it. But the payoff is worth the work: golfers that shoot in the 70s usually have a single-digit golf handicap.

Combined with consistency, discipline, and time on the course, here are five key steps you need to follow to take your golf score below 80:

Step 1: Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

This may sound obvious, but it can be very easy to be biassed towards the golfer you want to be, not the golfer you are. Identifying your key strengths and actual weaknesses is crucial; you need to rely on your strengths to balance out those weaknesses in your game.

Don’t let the identification of your weak points deter you. The more weaknesses you can pinpoint, the more potential there is for improvement. For example, do you find that you tend to rush your key putts? Do you feel fatigued towards the later holes? Are you inconsistent at reading greens? Knowing the right tweaks to these small weaknesses can make a difference to your pursuit of breaking 80.

Step 2: Deconstruct the Goal of Breaking 80 into Smaller Goals

While some weaker points of your game will be easier to develop than others, each improvement leads to the same end goal. With this in mind, break down the goal of that sub-80 score into tangible, bite-size goals.

Using the example of fatigue over an 18-hole round, you might make your goal to improve your swing stamina by driving 100 acceptable tee shots at the driving course. Use this as the short-term stepping stone towards your end goal, slowly but surely giving your game the necessary attention needed to break 80.

Step 3: Practice

With your strengths and weaknesses identified and smaller goals implemented, now is the time to put in the hours. Practising can be tedious, but by practising with purpose, you’re more likely to see the key incremental improvements you’re looking for.

Focus on spending more of your time practising on those areas that need it, but be sure to practise the other aspects of the game, too. Chips, putts, tee shots, bunker shots and playing out of the rough are all areas that can make or break a final score, so be thorough!

Step 4: Match Your Mental Fitness With Your Physical Fitness

A bad tee shot might happen. Your putt may stop agonisingly close to the hole. A bad lie might cost you a stroke or two to recover. This is where the importance of mental focus and positivity comes in.

Keeping your emotions cool and being able to assess the positives from a less-than-ideal scenario are key. How you handle those moments can determine your mindset for the rest of the round: adapt and overcome, and you’ll be motivated; give in to the frustration, and you’ll likely carry it with you to the next hole. 

Step 5: Take Calculated Risks

Breaking 80 requires some risk-taking (unless you happen to have incredible consistency across driving, chipping and putting!). Make sure you take these risks at the right time to maximise the chances of success. Whether it be going right for the pin on a short par 4, or putting some extra speed on a putt, have the confidence to play to your strengths and commit!

Looking to Improve Your Golf Score? Consider iGolf

Accessed by downloading the My EG app, iGolf is a subscription-based platform launched by England Golf. Designed for non-club members, iGolf allows you to track your golfing progress, and makes it possible to obtain an official handicap index under the WHS. Simply sign up, download the My EG app and login to gain access to the iGolf platform.

The benefits to iGolf include:

  • A complete digital history of your golf handicap and scores over time
  • Keep track of your progression 
  • Easy sign-up process
  • £46 for a 12-month subscription
  • For peace of mind, personal liability insurance is included in each subscription