How to Break 90 in Golf: The 6 Most Important Things to Do
Written by Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1

Updated on January 25, 2024

For golfers that are new to the game or those that struggle with a swing flaw, breaking 90 may seem unattainable. The good news is this is not the case.

I’ve worked with hundreds of students who thought they would never break 90 consistently, and we got them there. OF course, breaking 90 takes a bit of time and effort on your part, but it also requires a mindset that you may or may not be aware of.

I’m going to show you not only how to break 90 in golf but what breaking 90 looks like. It may open your eyes to what your golf game is capable of.


What Breaking 90 Looks Like on The Scorecard

The first step in this process is to understand what breaking 90 looks like on a scorecard. We will look at a standard par 72 golf course and a few different ways you can break 90.

Some golfers make a triple bogey and think that their round of golf is over. This is not the case! Let’s look at what breaking 90 looks like on the golf course.

One Better Than Bogey

Par 4 4 3 5 4 4 3 5 4 4 5 4 3 4 5 3 4 4 72
Score 5 5 4 5 5 5 4 6 5 5 6 5 4 5 6 4 5 5 89


Chances are you have heard of bogey golf. Bogey golf allows you to shoot one more than par on a par 72 golf course and shoot 90. Some holes, a bogey is a good score, and on others, a bogey is not great.

To break 90, you will only need to make one par with 17 other bogeys. Many players find that making a par on a par 5 is a little easier as you can usually get pretty close to the green for your approach shot.

Of course, this one better than bogey method of breaking 90 is certainly a better option for consistent players.

Make Up for The Bad Hole

Par 4 4 3 5 4 4 3 5 4 4 5 4 3 4 5 3 4 4 72
Score 5 5 4 8 5 5 4 5 5 5 5 5 4 5 5 4 5 5 89


Is it more realistic for your golf game to make an 8 at some point during your round? We can certainly understand that. However, if you make an 8 on a hole, you can still easily break 90. You will need to make three pars to make up for this 8, and all the rest of your holes can still be a bogey.

If you have a big number on a hole, focus on the next few par 3’s or par 5’s and simply try to ensure you par them. If you do that and then play your typical bogey golf, you can still break 90 on the course.

The Double Bogey Golfer

Par 4 4 3 5 4 4 3 5 4 4 5 4 3 4 5 3 4 4 72
Score 4 6 3 7 4 5 4 6 4 6 7 5 3 5 6 4 5 5 89


Are you one of those players that makes several double bogeys but can also par holes? This is what it looks like to make several double bogeys but still, be able to break 90. As you can see, this golf scorecard is a little inconsistent and unpredictable, but the golfer still shoots lower than 90.

With double bogey, you simply need to be able to replace them with pars if you want to score lower. This scorecard has five pars, 4 doubles, and 9 bogeys. When you look at a round of golf like this, it should be easier for you to see your path to breaking 90.

In other words, there are plenty of ways to make this happen!


How Long It Takes The Average Golfer to Break 90

It takes the average golfer about two to four years to break 90. However, just because you start playing golf consistently, it doesn’t mean you are on a path to being able to break 90. There is quite a bit that needs to happen from a skill development standpoint to be able to break 90.

The first thing that players really need to get under control is consistency. If you are not consistent in the shots you hit, it’s going to take considerably longer to break 90.

Of course, we all expect tee shots that turn right here and there or thick grass that messes up a chip shot. However, most of your shots must start to be somewhat consistent.

In addition, the yardage needs some consistency to be able to break 90. It’s fine to hit one 7 iron 135 yards and the next three 140. However, you will struggle if one shot goes 140 yards and the next 120 and the next 160.

Players also find that within the two to four-year time period after starting to play golf; you can develop some feel in your putting stroke and chipping stroke. Understanding what it takes to get a golf ball to stop on the green and increasing your chances of getting up and down will significantly improve your chances of breaking 90.


The 6 Most Important Things That Helped Me Consistently Break 90 in Golf

Even though I’ve been a professional golfer for more than 15 years when I was younger, I struggled with breaking 90. At the time, I was young and assumed that my inability to break 90 consistently had to do with a lack of distance.

I was not a big kid, and hitting greens in regulation was really difficult. However, going through this process really helped me narrow down exactly what it takes to break 90 consistently. Honest, if you can get these things down, your first round-breaking 80 may be just around the corner.

1. Develop a Pre Shot Routine

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea that your scoring is all that matters on the golf course. However, what great players and PGA Tour players realize is that certain things need to fall into place if you ever plan on breaking 90.

This all starts with teaching your body to be able to repeat a golf swing. Pre-shot routines are the best way to do this.

If you repeat the same routine before each shot you take, your chances of creating a swing that is relatable are greatly improved.

Your pre shot routine does not need to be complicated; it can be as simple as one practice swing, an alignment technique, and a simple swing. When pre shot routines are kept simple like this, your golf swing will naturally fall into place.

One of my key pieces of advice here is to practice your pre shot routine.

When you go to the driving range, work on the pre shot routine in addition to the ball striking you are doing. Practice time is really just a warm-up for the course, so take time to hit each shot and make sure you are using a pre shot routine.

2. Have a Tee Shot That Lands in The Fairway

For many players, the first tee is a disaster. If you are not confident in your golf swing, the tee shot could leave you in quite a bit of trouble. Many players find that a driver brings in too much trouble on the first tee.

If you are concerned, start your round with a 5 wood or even a long iron off the first tee.

Let’s remember here you are working to break 90, not trying to shoot 72.

Therefore if it takes you three shots to get to the first green, you simply two putt and then move on to the next hole. You won’t be in a bad position, and your score won’t show those nerves you had on the first tee box.

As you get warmed up and more confident, don’t be afraid to take the driver out. A straight drive that hits the center of the fairway will give you a chance you need to make a par or even better.

When golf shots don’t end up in the fairway, you may bring a double bogey into play, which must be avoided when consistently trying to break 90 in golf.

3. Learn to Work Around Hazards

lob wedge vs sand wedge

Hazards are a problem for scoring, and they are located all over the golf course. If you want to lower your scores, you must learn to work around hazards.

Some golfers need to learn how to aim a bit better; others need to be smart about where the approach shots land. Make sure to have a GPS or a rangefinder to help you determine yardages to hazards.

This can even include sand traps. If you are laying up on a par 5, there is no reason to choose a club that puts you anywhere near a hazard. Even if your golf shot needs to be a little longer to get to the hole, avoiding the hazard is key.

Work on your aiming using alignment sticks. The next time you are on the course, you will have an easier time staying away from the hazards. Remember, it’s perfectly acceptable to aim away from the water as long as your aiming does leave you in another hazard.

4. Find a Sand Wedge You Can Trust

The sand is so scary for some golfers. To break 90 consistently, you must overcome your fear of the sand. I’ll start out with some good news here; the sand is not that scary. In fact, some golfers find that a sand shot is easier than a chip shot in some situations.

Find a sand wedge that has a good amount of bounce and at least 56 degrees of loft.

Next, find a practice bunker that you can work from.

It’s complicated to work on sand shots unless you are hitting out of the sand. When hitting a sand shot, the simplest mindset is to make sure that you know you have to hit some sand with the ball.

I like to imagine a spot about two inches behind the ball. Once I have this spot imagined, I simply try to hit it and execute the shot.

The sand wedge will have to become one of your favorite clubs if you are going to get out of the trap consistently. To break 90, your goal should be to get the ball out of the sand to a position that you can then putt from.

If you are looking to go lower than 89, you may want to try and get the ball close to the hole and work on distance control, but that can come in time.

5. Stop 3 Putting

The three putting needs to go! If you are ready to take your golf game to the next level, three putts should infuriate you.

You can do some things to help eliminate the 3 putts and have an easier time making shots around the hole.

The first thing to do is get really confident with putts four feet and under.

If you can make anything from less than four feet, you make it much easier on yourself from a lag-putting perspective. Essentially you only need to get the first putt within a four-foot radius, and then you know you can walk away with your two putts.

In addition, you may want to consider where your approach shots are leaving you. Sometimes if your chipping is terrible, you may leave yourself longer putts than necessary. Work on getting your chips within about a 15 to 20-foot range from the hole, and it gets much easier to eliminate the 3 putts.

Here’s the best thing about putting, you can practice it from the comfort of your own home! You don’t need to worry about finding a practice location; work on your putting stroke a few minutes each day, and you will see some major improvements.

6. Learn Course Management

Golf course management is a bit more about strategy than about your actual golf swing. We all have golf holes that we can’t stand. You know, the one that turns into a 9 every time you try and go low.

Of course, these things are primarily in our heads because you have just as much of a chance to make a bogey on that hole as you do a 9.

Start to learn how to manage a course.

If you have a hole that gets you into trouble, play it differently. See what works as far as an angle for your approach shot. If the pin is on the right side of the green, it’s easier to approach from the left.

In addition, instead of always going at the pin, try to consider some of the trouble around the hole. If there are sand traps surrounding a hole location, I may simply try to hit a shot to the center of the green and see where that leaves me.

Trying to make a two-putt from the center is much easier than making an up-and-down from a bunker.

Great course management has quite a bit to do with being an intelligent golfer, something that anybody can learn.


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Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1