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breaking 80

Trying to break 80? Brooke Henderson says to work on this part of your game

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Trying to break 80 can start as a fun journey, and sometimes turn into a painful roadblock. Just ask some of our staffers. If you’re trying to shoot in the 70s for the first time, sometimes outside help is necessary. We asked two-time major winner Brooke Henderson what she thinks amateurs wanting to break 80 should work on. And the answer might surprise you.

“I feel like one of the biggest things with amateur golfers trying to get to the next level is distance control,” Henderson says. “Not only with your irons and wedges, but even putting. A lot of three putts happen when your speed is bad, not necessarily the line. So if people can just work on distance control on all aspects of their game, I think they would see a big improvement.”

This is a nuanced piece of advice. Getting a handle on your yardages in your long game is probably something you’ve thought about in your quest to break 80. Understanding how far your irons travel is key to being able to hit greens. And knowing how to hit wedges from varied distances within 100 yards is also necessary to making par, or at least bogey.

But the putting portion of Henderson’s advice is not discussed as much. If you don’t have a good feel for distance with your putter, it doesn’t matter how good you are at reading greens, you’re not going to make enough putts necessary to break 80.

Henderson said before your round, make sure you hit some long putts on the practice green. Only hitting a few short putts won’t give you as much information about how fast or slow the greens really are.

“On the putting green before you go out, hit some at 30 feet, some at 45 feet,” Henderson said. “You can just kind of get a feel that way and then when you're out on the course, you kind of know what to expect."

While you’re on the course, Henderson says there is a simple thing you can do to get a better understanding of each putt’s distance—walk from the ball to the hole.

“It just gives your mind a little bit of extra information that you can use while you're over the ball,” Henderson says.

As you continue your quest to break 80, keep Henderson’s advice in mind and don’t ignore the importance of distance control in all aspects of your game.