Golf Magazine

How Do I Break 90?

By Golfforbeginners
The golf article presented on Golf for Beginners this week is a guest post written by Golf Digest Writer and PGA Teaching Professional, Ernie Boshers (bio below). Feel free to write your comments below and add if you regularly break 90 on the golf course and, if not, what you feel you might be doing to inhibit your progress. Enjoy the article!

This is one question or the same question with a different number, for most, if not all golfers.

This is both a mental thing and a physical thing. Let me explain. My experience with more than 80,000 golf lessons has demonstrated that anyone with average physical ability should be scoring in the '90s or lower. The reasons most golfers do not actually accomplish their personal goal is actually quite simple.

How Do I Break 90?

Golfers hit balls and visually interpret the information from the shot. A very high percentage of the time the information they interpret is wrong. This wrong information causes the golfer to incorporate actions into the swing to correct this wrong information.

How can ANY problem be solved based on incorrect information?

This vicious cycle is repeated over and over every day on every driving range in the world.


As you may have guessed, the physical actions that golfers develop from this cycle create a flawed golf swing. This flawed golf swing leads to a swing that has extra movements and actions that complicate the basic swing. Complicated swings are not as repeatable as simple swings. This is why most ranges are full of golfers wondering and scratching their heads why the shots don't look the same, but it feels the same...or "why am I able to do this on the range, but the instant I go to the course, I look like a totally different golfer."

Good teachers are able to educate their students on their specific steps to improve and they are able to coach them through the necessary changes to get better. It is rare for golfers to improve or reach certain quantifiable goals without the assistance of a good teacher. Physical changes are nearly impossible to accomplish without professional assistance. There is an old phrase in golf "feel is not real". This is in reference to making a golf swing. In actuality, the swing takes place so quickly that the brain cannot process the emotion of "feel" in the milliseconds it would take to make any difference in the swing. Not to mention, our "feel" is based on some degree of our visual information - which we already know, is likely flawed.

With the modern camera technology that allows us to video our golf swing as easily as pulling out our phone, is both a good thing as well as a bad one. Anyone can look at a golf swing and identify a specific part that does not look like a professional. The dangerous part is, that part may not be the problem. That unusual image that a golfer sees, may be a symptom of a much bigger problem. A great way to understand this is a disease has symptoms and treating the symptoms does not cure the disease. It does provide temporary improvement. This is why many students only get slightly better after a series of lessons, but slowly revert to their previous behaviors and habits and the scores return to where they were prior to the lesson. If you are determined to work and fix your own swing without professional help... my advice is to focus on these steps:

1)Use the video images from the best players in the world on the LPGA and PGA Tour to capture the start and finish image that you are trying to emulate

2)Create a perfect set up - making note of the smallest of details such as the tilt of the upper body, where the grip end of the club is pointing, the bend (or lack of) of the knees, the tip of the body forward (or the lack of), straightness of the target arm and relaxation of the trailing arm. Notice everything... especially the overall athletic appearance.

3)Finish with a perfect pose with balance - again notice all the details of balance, complete weight shift onto the target leg, complete turn, the control of the club in the hands, and the frame that is maintained with the target elbow, forearm, and upper arm at the top of the finish position.

4)Start Perfect - End Perfect ...These are the easiest parts of the golf swing to emulate because they are essentially a stagnant position and not moving. Moving parts are much more difficult to change and correct and should be left to the professionals.

READ: Golf Tips for Breaking 90


The control of the mental aspect of golf is a key element to improvement. Positive feelings and attitudes are only small parts of the mind game that is played before, during, and after the round has ended. How we process our successes and failures can have lasting effects. Our ability to quiet the distractions (both current and past memories) have a direct impact on our ability to focus, concentrate, and perform.

My suggestion is that you listen to some of the great teachers of the game. Read their books. Listen to their wisdom. Don't look for the magic pill. It does not exist. Learn the game, study the game but do not take what you read and start making physical changes to your swing. I have read and been privileged to know and even work with some of these legends. I have taken all of their wisdom and applied it to my teaching and into the next few sentences: "You don't have eyes of in the back of your head... This is because we were not intended to look backward on what we have already done but, forward on what we must do. Golf is played one shot at a time.

After that shot, then you have the next one-shot until you finish the round. 'Stay in the present!' Each shot has a goal. Sometimes we meet that goal, other times we do not. We cannot let the last shot affect the next. The only time that we should let the past affect the future is when we take positive memories from the past and replay them in order to promote a positive occurrence in the present. It is ok to be angry over a failed shot, but you are only allowed to be angry for 5 seconds and you are still required to conduct yourself in a respectful and considerate manner to others."

When being challenged to shoot that certain score or to beat one of your golfing buddies in a $2 Nassau, remember to focus on the present and play one shot at a time. We have all seen golfers self-destruct after a bad hole or even a single swing. This is usually because the golfer is reflecting on the previous swing and not in the present. Remember - one shot at a time. The next time you find yourself looking at the score, feeling the nerves or distracted. You need to focus on positive thoughts and stay in the present for the next shot. If your "90" demon still tells you that you can go bogey-bogey-bogey and shoot an 89, tell your demon that you are going to play "one shot at a time" and go par-birdie-par and shoot 85! Good Luck!

The Links Advisor, Ernie Boshers, PGA

Bio: Ernie Boshers, PGA, is a Teaching professional with more than 80,000 lessons to his credit. He has been published in GOLF Magazine, Golf Digest, and Golf Week and is recognized since 2002 as one of the best teachers of the game.

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