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From PGA Professional Marc Solomon

Do You Want To Score 81 On The Golf Course?

Who would like to shoot 81 for 18 holes? Without a doubt, at least 8 out of every 10 Golfers would love this! If you’re one of the 8, the first thing you need to do is have the correct expectations as far as how well you need to hit the golf ball.

A great example of scoring 81 was demonstrated last Friday at the AT&T Tournament in Washington DC. Tim Petrovic scored 81 in the 2nd round. Now this isn’t a good score for Tim – but it might be a career round for you. So we’re going to use his round as a basis for what you need to do to score 81.

Now, we can start with his score – 9 Pars, 8 Bogey’s and 1 Triple Bogey – but I don’t believe this is the best place to start. Score is a function of how well you’re hitting the golf ball, putting the golf ball and sticking with your PLAN. If you’re trying to make Pars, you’re going to fail. The more you play for score – the more you fail. The more you PLAN each shot by playing to your Strengths – the more you’ll start to see the Pars and Birdies just happen. But, the more you try to make 9 Pars and 8 Bogeys – the more times you’ll end up with 9 Bogey’s, 8 Double Bogey’s and 1 “Other”.

So let’s start with the how Petrovic’s Drives, Shots to the Green and Putting resulted in him making 9 Pars and 8 Bogeys – something that I’m sure you’d be more than satisfied with. And then I believe it’ll be easier for you to picture yourself making 9 Pars in a round if you’re a 90’s Golfer or how you could avoid multiple Triple or Double Bogeys if you’re a mid 80’s, mid 90’s or above 100 Golfer.

And away we go –

Tim Petrovic hit 43% of his fairways. This translates into hitting 6 fairways out of the 14 holes that this stat is taken. Now, I know many 95 Golfers that would look at their stats and be upset that they only hit 6 fairways. Yet, 6 fairways are good enough to score an 81. Yet, when I’ve asked an above 90 Golfer – How many Fairways must you hit to score in the low 80’s? The answer is usually in the area of 11 or 12.

Would you be happy with an 81? Then be happy with 6 fairways!

Tim hit his Driver an average of 304 yards. Now, when the PGA Tour finds the average distance a Golfer hits their Driver, they use just two holes. So this isn’t really an average of all their Drives, but it’s a pretty good indication of how far they’re hitting the ball that day.

Does this mean that you need to hit the golf ball 304 yards? Of course not! They’re playing a Golf Course that’s almost 7,300 yards long. The average male Golfer is playing from 6,200 yards, the average female Golfer is playing from 5,000. So this means that their golf course is 1,100 yards longer than men usually play and 2,300 yards longer than women usually play. So for you to hit the ball an equal yardage each Drive (you playing from your tees and Tim playing from his tees), men would need to hit the ball about 237 yards and women about 168 yards with your Driver.

Now, 304 yards is a good Drive – or in relative terms a man hitting 237 yards or woman 168 yards – these are good Drives also. Though, it’s not absolutely necessary to hit your ball even that far to score 81. Petrovic drove the ball “only” 284 yards in Round 1 when he scored a 72. That 284 yard Drive would be equivalent to a male driving the golf ball 217 yards or a female driving the golf ball 148 yards. So, I would say a male would need to hit the golf ball an average of only 217 yards and a female 148 yards with your Driver to score 81.

Would you be happy with an 81? Then be happy hitting your Driver “only” 217 yards or 148 yards.

Tim hit 33% of his greens in regulation, which translates into 6 out of the 18 greens. A green in regulation (or GIR) is when you’re on a Par 3 in one shot, a Par 4 in two shots, or a Par 5 in three shots). GIR’s are often a macho thing for guys to talk about after their round. “Hey, how many Green’s did you hit today?” “8, but I shot a 92.” “How many did you hit?” “Ah, I hit the ball like garbage. I hit only 6 greens today.”

When you ask most Golfers how many greens in regulation are necessary to score in the low 80’s – most Golfers say about 9 or 10, though I’ve heard 11 and 12 before. So what happens is that after a Golfer doesn’t hit the first 3 or 4 greens in a round, they often get frustrated with their swing. Yet, don’t be in a hurry – your round has just started – you still have 14 greens left to hit only 6. The odds are with you.

Would you be happy with an 81? Then be happy hitting 6 greens in regulation.

Tim had 32 putts for his 18 holes. 32 putts isn’t a difficult thing to accomplish, yet the average Golfer trying to break 90 has around 41 putts. So, if your average score is 95 and you go from 41 putts to 32 putts – you’re instantly scoring 86. That’s not an 81, but you’re more than halfway there.

And by knowing that you’re halfway there and by understanding that you don’t need to hit the golf ball as perfect as you think you need to – you won’t be taking so many risky shots as you have been. Many of your big scores come from thinking you need to hit more greens in regulation (or get very close to the green); many of your big scores come from thinking you need to hit your Driver 40 yards farther; many of your bad scores happen because you think you should be hitting more fairways than you do, so you start to “Fiddle” with your swing on the golf course and it gets worse.

And because of these bad decisions – you become a collector of penalty strokes and lost balls. Some people collect stamps – you collect penalty strokes!

If you add up 6 fairways each round, an average of 217 yards or 148 yards off the tee, 6 greens in regulation and 32 putts – you should score an 81.

Yet, if you were presented with these numbers without going through how Petrovic did it – you wouldn’t believe that it was possible with such “low” standards. Why? Because your expectations are way off. How did you come to the expectations that you need to hit 10 Fairways, 260 yards, 12 Greens in Regulation and 30 putts; to be able to score in the low 80’s?

You’ve been listening to the Monkey!

You have a choice – you can continue to be frustrated with yourself and your game by listening to the Monkey by not having clear, concise, realistic expectations (or in other words, not having your PLAN) or you can start to understand what it really takes to improve your scores. You can start to understand that better scores don’t come by trying to score better – that they come by understanding your golf swing better (and thus hitting the golf ball a little more consistent).

Would you be happy with an 81? Then be happy with 6 fairways, 217 or 148 yards off the tee, 6 greens in regulation and 32 putts.

The Monkey doesn’t use any guidelines on how to improve their score

The Player has a PLAN – do you?

Go Ahead, Be A Player!


Marc Solomon

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