11 Steps on How to Break 90 in Golf: The Ultimate Guide

how to break 90 in golf

Breaking 90 in golf is a magical milestone that is still a dream goal many golfers share. It gives the privilege to be addressed as an above-average golfer. Along with limiting your mistakes, you need to make a few good shots too. Breaking 100 in golf was the first step toward it, where the main goal was to reduce the number of double bogeys. Now to get 89 on your scorecard, you need to start targeting bogeys and a few pars too.

It goes without saying that striking the golf balls just like you did before won’t be of much use. You need to follow a proper process. Recheck the crucial points. Keep a few golf tips in mind and so on.

We have divided this process into 11 simple steps to make that easier and more convenient for you. So, without any further delay, let’s start walking toward the milestone of breaking 90 in golf.

How to Break 90 in Golf: 11 Simple Steps

Your journey of getting an 89 score starts way before you make the first strike in the first hole. Even before the practice sessions. It starts with your equipment. The right equipment is essential to score better.

1. Know your exact distances before getting started on the course

gps and rangefider

As you are already a 90s shooter, that means you are comfortable with your golf clubs and balls. There isn’t any major error in choosing one. You don’t need to go and buy a more expensive one. Instead, save your money to get yourself a golf GPS or rangefinder

You need to have a bit more accurate shots to break 90. Thus, it is suggested to start practicing with a rangefinder or golf GPS to make a more precise shot on the golf course later. Know your approximate distances after hitting with different clubs of your golf bag. Doing that before going to the golf course will lead you to make the shot plan and pre-shot more effectively.

The good news is that Distance Measurement Devices (DMDs) like rangefinders and GPS are allowed in golf courses. The United States Golf Association (USGA) has approved this rule in 2019

In our breaking 100 in golf post, we have kept the budget low, having the newcomer in mind too. Buying a set of golf clubs and a dozen golf balls requires a considerable budget itself. For a golf GPS or rangefinder, you need to have $100 on average.

Pre-round Golf Guide to Break 90

Do have a plan and routine before stepping into the golf course. A shot-plan or pre-shot routine isn’t some instant noodles that you can make in 2 minutes. You need to have a calm mind and concentration for that. Naturally, when you are on the golf course, there is already so much pressure. That may lead you to make a bad plan. So, have a certain shot-plan and pre-shot routine beforehand and stick to it. You may have minor changes according to the different situations on the golf course later. But having a basic plan before stepping into the golf course is essential.

2. Shot plan: Target bogey and par

how to keep score in golf

On average, you need bogey to break 90 in a 72 par, 18-hole golf course. No place for double bogey at all. More precisely, you need at least 17 strokes over the par to keep your golf score under 90. That means 17 bogeys and a par

Target to make no less than 3 pars even if you are targeting an 89 score for now. Don’t keep the par for the last hole and get frustrated about it. Even if you make a par in the very 2nd hole, try to make 2-3 pars more. It’s to stay on the safe side. You never know when it may end up making 3-putts. And the bogey may end up in double-bogey at the very last hole.

3. Pre-shot routine: Keep it simple

a golf ball flag

When you are walking down toward the tee box, that’s the very time to start your pre-shot routine. It lessens nervousness and lets you loosen up. No need to make it complicated. You might already have a pre-shot routine. You just need to make it slightly more refined to boost your confidence. Follow these simple steps- 

Step 1: Divide the distance: Add the total distance before reaching the tee box. Because when you reach the tee box, you will have a hundred more things to check, like the alignments, ball position, shaft lean, posture, etc. So, calculate it before reaching there.

If the par-3 is 250 yards, target to hit it in a 150-160 yards drive. Then, a 50-60 yard pitch and 2 chips, each one covering 15-20 yards.

Step 2: Address the ball and visualize: Position the golf ball. Then, place the clubface behind the ball at the address. Create a picture in your mind where the ball will most likely end up after the strike.

correct golf ball postion

Step 3: Execute: Don’t take more than 15-20 seconds for a pre-shot routine. Execute the shot already. Taking more time may let negative thoughts get in. That will harm your game.

Step 4: Move on: The ball got in the bunker? Say “It’s okay” to yourself twice. Take the ball out of the bunker with a stroke. Target to make this up with a par in the next hole. 

On-Course Tips

We have reached the most crucial part of the process of breaking 90 in golf. It’s the on-course. Having the right equipment, a great shot-plan, pre-shot routine is just keeping the theory right. It is just the beginning, the basics before the game.

At the end of the day, you need to achieve an 89 score on the golf course. Starting from tee shots to being consistent, you can’t mark any point as less important. Each and every point is important. So, be very attentive and don’t leave a single stone unturned.

4. Tee shot: No place for penalty

golf driver and ball

Keep in mind that you are not in a place to make a double bogey when you aim to shoot in the 80s. Along with the bogey, you will need a par too. So, there is no room for a penalty on the tee shots. Plan your game hole by hole.

When you are on par-4 of 300-330 yards, don’t pull out your golf driver or fairway woods. It will be very risky because both of them are for longer drives, like 210 yards or more on average. These clubs may make your ball end up in hazards or out of bounds. Instead, go for long golf irons like iron-3 or 4. Target to make a 180-190 yards drive. Rather than getting half of the distance, not getting any penalty is more important here.

5. Approach shot: Analyse before aiming the pin

correct shot in the golf field

As a 90s shooter, you may aim the pin sometimes. But you need to know when you can do it. 2 situations where you shouldn’t aim for the pin-

Situation 1: Not more than 100 yards away: If the distance between you and the pin is under 80 yards, you are safe to go for the approach shot, considering the distance. 100 yards is okay sometimes but still a bit risky. If it’s more than that, don’t go for it. We aren’t in a place to take this big risk.

Situation 2: Avoid Hazards: Drop the plan right away as soon as you see the pin is near water or out of bounds. It’s okay not to make a par. But making a double bogey or triple bogey or getting a penalty means you will need to do damage control in the next hole. The situation will get worse.

6. Short game: Invest time in practice 

For breaking 90 in golf, you don’t need to learn any new short game shots. The ones you already know are enough. Now it is all about the time you put into practice. As short game shots are all about controlling the distance, do different drills.

Mark targets of 40 yards, 50 yards, and 60 yards away from you with chalk powder or baby powder. Now grab your pitching wedge. Or any of the short iron like iron-7,8 or 9. Then strike different short game shots that you already know 10- 20 times.

When you are done, now go for odd distances. Target for 45 yards, 53 yards, and 57 yards away. Practice another 10-20 times. Do this drill with different golf wedges to understand the impact of clubs on the distance.

7. Recovery Shot

best sand wedges

Your first goal is to keep the ball away from the hazards. If that doesn’t work, which is pretty much normal in golf, it is time for recovery. For now, knowing to make the bunker shot and punch shot is enough.

Bunker shot

If we talk about the hazards and hindrances in the game, bunkers are one from the upper class. Give them some respect, especially the deep ones. Stay away from them. And sometimes, depending on the depth of the bunker, take relief. Add one penalty stroke and get your golf ball back in the previous place. 

If you can’t make the way out of bunkers with 2 strokes, it’s better to accept the penalty. Make a better shot next time. But that isn’t the case most of the time. When there are more chances of succeeding, go for it.

How to make a Bunker shot? (Step-by-step)

Step 1: Your sand wedge is the go-to wedge for bunker shots. Grab that.

Step 2: Dig a small amount of sand to stand stably.

Step 3: Put your weight on the front foot. The weight you put needs to be somewhere near 60%- 80%. 

Step 4: Let your arm fall right in front of you and make a V shape.

how to chip a golf ball

Step 5: Open the face club slightly.

Step 6: Don’t aim the ball. Aim both the ball and sand behind it.

Step 7: Bend your wrist a little. Hit slightly behind the ball aggressively, making the ball and some sand come out together.

Punch shot

When you need to keep the ball lower to recover it from a difficult place, punch shots are for then. For example, when you need to make the ball go under tree branches. Or when you are in a strong crosswind, and you need to make a lower shot to have less effect of wind on the ball flight. As a 90s shooter, it won’t be that difficult for you. 

How to make a punch shot? (Step by step)

Step 1: Grab your iron-7 or 8 if you have slightly more space under branches. Take iron- 4 when you need to make a really low shot.

Step 2: Position the ball in the middle of your stance. But for a low punch shot, place it in the back of your stance.

how to chip a golf ball

Step 3: Put most of your weight on your left-hand side and 60- 65 % of your weight on your front foot. Don’t move your lower body while making the shot. That may make the ball go off the target. 

Step 4: Keep the clubface more closed if you target a lower shot. 

spin loft

Step 5: Make a shorter swing and focus more on the clean contact. The backswing needs to be shorter than usual. Make a three-quarter length backswing with a shoulder turn. Then strike.

pure strike step

8. Don’t take unnecessary risks

PGA Tour player Kyle Stanley went for the shot when it was tough to even see the ball. The shot wonderfully went to 15 feet. These stories are very inspirational to make you go for the shots and become a story among the friends’ group. But golf isn’t about going for it or taking the risk all the time. Nor are we Kyle Stanley.

It’s essential to take some risks like making a punch shot or aiming the pin sometimes. However, when the chances are very low to get through, playing smarter is what golf is about. At the end of the round, no one will remember that you took your medicine on the 5th hole. Instead, they will remember you couldn’t break 90. So, chuck it when you need to. Accept a bogey and get your ball back on the fairway by taking your medicine.

For example, your golf ball got stuck in the rough. Your next target has tree branches in between and bunkers on the side. If you go for it now, you may need to make both a punch and bunker shot. That would instead cause a disaster by making a double or triple bogey. In this situation, leave the idea of making a miraculous recovery shot and take relief.

9. 3-6 foot putts: May seem easy but isn’t

closeup young man legs playing golf

Target to make 18 two-putts at the beginning of the round. While breaking 90 in golf, short putts become a big headache, especially 3-6 foot putts. It is pretty frustrating when you go this close, and then you need another stroke to hole.

Like any other golf shot, more and more practice will make it right gradually. Follow these simple steps to successfully make short putts in the practice sessions and competitive rounds.

Step 1: Slow down. That’s the first step to making a successful short putt. Don’t rush to make the shot. Take a deep breath. Read the green.

Step 2: Focus on your putter face alignment first. It is the most common reason why golfers miss short putts. Even a slight difference defects the stroke path. 

Step 3: Practice understanding the proper rhythm when you hit the sweet spot or near the putter’s sweet spot. A bad contact with the ball affects the direction and distance the ball travels after strokes.

Step 4:  Bow forward from your hips and hang your arms naturally. Stay still till you make the stroke. Moving too much will make the stroke go wrong. Nervousness may make you move the body relatively more. But you need to focus if you want to succeed. 

how to chip a golf ball

Step 5: Practice making a straight putt with one hand. This improves your grip on the club. And helps to reduce left or right misses while making putts. 

Step 6: Correct the ball position. Golfers often forget these in the pressure of putting it right. So, check it first. Don’t stand too far from the ball. That will make the ball off the hole. 

position on the ball

Step 7: You need to put in less power for short putts. So, control your backstroke as it controls the power you put on the shot. It determines how far the ball will go. The shorter the putt is, the smaller the backstroke stroke needs to be. Then, strike.

You may use putting aids to boost up your putting skills. 

10. Damage control: Nullify the misses

Having misses isn’t a sin in golf. Even the PGA tour players, best in golf like Tiger Woods, make multiple misses per round. So, there is nothing to worry about. At least not when you are targeting to break 90 only. 

Just take responsibility for the misses. Nullify it or do damage control to ensure that the missed shot isn’t becoming your shot-plan hindering penalty.

Understand your mistakes first. Why is it happening? It’s different for different golfers. Try to find your miss-hit patterns. Do it in a practice session with a friend or coach. Ask them to examine your shots and note down the times when you missed them. Or you may also use a golf launch monitor or golf simulator to track down your statistics to have a clearer view of your mistakes. 

a coach giving directions to his player

For example, if your shot typically goes on the right and that ends up in the rough, next time, target for the left side. This will make the shot go straight. But don’t do this for a long time. It is just for fixing the damage for the time being. 

It may go wrong on course even after practicing and planning it properly. It’s okay. Don’t panic. If you have the ball in a difficult place that requires 2-3 strokes to get it back on the fairway, take your medicine. The misses that have led you to make double bogeys in the first 2 holes, target for pars in the next 2. So that the damage gets fixed.

11. After match: Be consistent

young man hold a golf grips

Find out your weakness. See what makes it the hardest for you to reach the 89 score. Practice that hole again and again where you almost made a double bogey. Keep trying unless you make it. It’s not anything that you can’t. You are already a respectable 90s shooter. 1 stroke less is not anything impossible for you.

And if you have successfully broken 90 after all this hard work, congratulations! You so deserve that. Now, keep breaking 90 consistently to make your average score under 90. Scoring 89 once won’t make that happen. So, keep going. 


If you have already broken 100 in golf, that means there is no significant error in your basics. What you need to do now is to level up your game by following a few steps. That’s what we have tried to put together in this article. 

Feel free to leave questions in the comments section to clarify your confusion. We would love to help you. Also, let us know your everyday process. It would be our pleasure to be a part of your breaking 90 journeys. 

Happy golfing!

Flora Brown
Written by Flora Brown

Golf is the first and only sport that got Flora Brown so interested in it. She likes to share how every single thing from the type of golf ball you hit to your ride on the golf cart for saving energy has an impact on the game. Right now, she is a content expert at Nifty Golf, with 2 years of writing experience in the golf industry. She is hoping to share and get introduced to many more dimensions of golf with the people having the similar interest.

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