Breaking a milestone scores is a major event in a golfer’s life. It signals improvement and gives assurance that going lower still is a possibility.
There are books written on how to break each of these three scores, filled with technique. If you’re a few strokes away, you already have the technique. Think instead about how you plan your round. It makes a difference.
If you got a double bogey on every hole you would shoot 108. So you can get a double bogey on just nine holes, a bogey on the rest, and there’s 99.
What is killing your score now is not a lack of pars and bogeys. It is the triples and quads. At your level your job is not to take fewer strokes on a hole, but to avoid taking extra ones.
Do that by shoring up your play at each end of the hole.
First, leave your driver at home. Leave your 3-wood at home, too. Tee off with a hybrid iron, one that gets the ball out there 175-180 yards but in the fairway.
Second, from 50 yards and in, just get your ball on the green in the same area as the pin. Do not get cute and try for the pin.
You’re not that good yet. Just get the ball on the green and take your two putts.
Nine bogeys + nine doubles = 99
Now you have to start making pars. I would still leave the driver at home. Use the longest club with which you can reliably get the ball in the fairway from off the tee, to be on offense from the start.
You also have to get better around the green. Eliminate down-in-four from 50 yards in. You should be getting down in two from just off the green half as often as not.
Get your pars by parring one of the par 3s, one of the par 4s and two of the par fives.
You might say, if I get four pars that gives me an 86. Yes, but you’re still going to have some doubles and maybe a triple.
Your game is in the middle where you’re capable of making pars, but still capable of making big scores, too.
Four pars + eleven bogeys + three doubles = 89
Now you have to play well all around. Seven over sounds pretty tough, but that’s more wiggle room than you think it is.
Your goal should be to have a putt for par on every hole. Sometimes that putt will 45 feet long, not two feet, but the ball is still on the green and your putt is for a par.
At your level, par is a reasonable expectation on all but a few holes on your course. For those few holes, go for bogey, but give yourself a chance for par. Don’t go all out for par and end up with a double.
Get your pars on two par 3s, five par 4s, and all the par 5s.
Eleven pars + seven bogeys = 79.
In reality, you have to throw in another par somewhere, because going 18 holes without a double bogey is really hard for an 80-shooter to do. Birdies are still happy accidents at this level.