The Experiment: My 30 Day Plan to Break 90 (Play Bogey Golf)

First, let me explain that I’m not a golf expert. I’m not a PGA pro. I’m a weekend hacker just like most of the amateur golfers out there.  I believe you shouldn’t take advice on your golf swing from other amateur golfers, especially ones who are worse than you. The purpose of this post isn’t to give you advice, but rather to outline how I personally plan to get to a point where I can consistently break 90 when I play golf. I’ll also be asking for some help from some of the pros on the web (more on that later).

Breaking 90 is essentially the same as getting a bogey on every hole you play (plus or minus a couple strokes depending on the course). If you can consistently break 90 on a regulation length course, you’re better than 78% of all golfers out there according to the National Golf Foundation. I feel it’s a great goal to have as an amateur golfer because it means you’re likely enjoying every game you play. You’re consistently getting the ball in the air roughly where you want it to go and two putting most holes. You’re probably making some pars, maybe the occasional birdie, and you’re likely staying away from triple bogeys or higher on any holes.

The Before

This is my third year playing golf. I’ve never had any formal lessons. I play on the weekends. I try to get out at least once a week during the season here in Montana. Most of what I know has been learned from reading books, watching golf on TV,  searching the internet and from my brother-in-law who has worked as an assistant pro. That means I’m pretty inconsistent. I don’t know what my handicap is but I’ve probably averaged double-bogey this year.

I’ve mostly been playing an executive course near my house which is 9 holes and all par 3’s except for two par 4’s. It’s a great learning course because you’re working on your game from about 150 yards and in, which is where most of your score is made (or lost). It lets me get in and out in about 2 hours which is great since that fits about perfectly with my 2-year-old’s nap schedule.

I recently played better than a bogey round on this course for the first time. It also happened to be the same day I took my two year old with me for the first time. Coincidence, or could he be my secret weapon? We’ll see.

Here’s a copy of my score sheet to give you an idea of how much work I still have to do.

Scoresheet - First Time Playing Bogey Golf

Scoresheet – First Time Playing Bogey Golf

The Work

I’ve been wanting to write up this experiment for awhile, but I first wanted to play a bogey round on the executive course before I committed to attempting to break 90 on a regulation length 18 hole course. Here’s my 30 day plan. I’ll also add that I’m using the rules of golf to keep score including holing every putt and not taking mulligans.

Overall Strategy

By simply thinking differently, you can do a lot to reach the goal of breaking 90 without changing your swing at all.

  • Add one to the PAR of every hole. P.A.R. stands for Professional Average Result. I’m not a professional so I’m going to establish a new PAR for myself. That means I’ll play par 5’s as par 6’s, par 4’s as par 5’s, and par 3’s as par 4’s.
  • Get the first putt within 3 feet of the hole. Once I’m on the green, the first putt’s goal will be to get the ball within 3 feet of the hole which leads to a two putt on every hole.
  • Get chips within 6 feet of the hole. Gives me a good chance of getting up and down.
  • Never miss the green inside 35 yards. This means not always going at the pin, just get it somewhere on the green because I know I’ll two putt.
  • Putt first, then chip, then pitch. If given a choice between these three shots, choose in this order.
  • Know my club distances. I know I’ll hit a ball right or left, but there isn’t any reason why I shouldn’t be able to hit it hole high with clean contact if I know my distances.
  • Take trouble out of play. If there is a possibility a ball can get in the water or out of bounds, take that possibility out by laying up. The goal here is to get rid of the really bad triple bogeys or higher on holes.
  • If I’m in trouble, just get out. This means if I hit it in the trees, just punch it back to the fairway rather than trying to shoot a gap towards the pin and remaining in trouble if I miss.
  • Get out of the sand the first time. Just get it out without wasting strokes.
  • Don’t hit clubs I’m not confident with. On a tight fairway or on a second shot on a long Par 4, just grab a club I know I’ll get it closer to the pin without getting into trouble.
  • When going for the green, aim at the biggest part. No need to always go at the pin if it’s sitting next to a bunker or at the back of the green.
  • Choose consistency over distance. Club down, use 3/4 swings, use the bump and run, choke up, swing at 70% power, or do whatever it takes to be consistent.
  • Get a perfect grip and setup. This is the easiest thing to get perfect every time.
  • Get help for your most common mishits. I need help fixing my fat shots and pushes.

Practice Plan

  • Putting
    • 100 4-Foot Putts Holed Per Week
    • 200 20-Foot Putts Lagged Within 3 Feet Per Week
  • Chipping
    • 100 15-Yard Chips Within 6 Feet Per Week
  • Pitching
    • 100 35-Yard Pitches On Green Per Week
  • Bunker
    • 50 Balls Out the First Time Per Week
  • Irons/Hybrids
    • Half Bucket Per Week to Determine Distances
  • All Clubs
    • Half Bucket Per Week to Practice Perfect Grip and Setup
  • Misses
    • Get Swing Analyzed by Professional to Determine Cause
    • Determine At-Home Practice Drills to Fix Misses and Practice Daily

I’m going to record a video of my swing when I’m hitting my worst misses and get some help from some of the online pros. For instance, Hank Haney provides some help to golfers on his twitter page. I’ll also email some of the shows like “School of Golf” on the Golf Channel and anyone else who I can find that’s willing to help me out.

I’ll stick with this practice plan for 4 weeks then give myself two full rounds to break 90. I’ll stick to my strategy above regardless of how tempting it might be to change mid-round.

The After

Let’s now look at hypothetically how this strategy will affect my score on a course with 4 par 3’s, 10 par 4’s and 4 par 5’s. With my plan, I’ll have  54 strokes to get on greens and 36 putts for a total score of 90 (bogey). I’ll just need to pick up one additional stroke over 18 holes to break 90.  Sounds so simple!

I’ll come back and update here with progress as I go along and a final update after I attempt to break 90 in two rounds.

If you have any advice or would just like to wish me luck, please comment below!