Whether you’re a beginner golfer or an experienced player, at some point your will start keeping score. This usually occurs when your skills start to develop to the point where you're getting double bogey or less on each hole (it's difficult to keep score if it takes you more than 7 or 8 shots to get in the hole).
Keeping score is not a requirement if you're just going out to the course to have a good time, but it's the best way to measure whether you're improving or not. Here are some keys to keep in mind that will help you reaching your scoring goals: breaking 100, 90 and 80 for 18 holes.
Scoring Keys: It's not how, it's how many
Key 1) Minimize Penalty Strokes: Hitting a golf ball out of bounds, in the water or any place where you can't find it automatically adds one shot to your score. Sacrificing distance for accuracy and keeping the ball in play is crucial.
Key 2) Minimize 3-Putting: A 3-foot putt counts the same as a 300 yard drive on a scorecard. Putting is the smallest of all golf swings and has the least physical requirements. With proper practice there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to 2-putt most greens. Focus on holing putts inside of six feet and lagging long putts close.
Key 3) Minimize Multiple Short Shots: Nothing's is more frustrating than hitting two quality shots hundreds of yards, then taking five shots to get in the hole from 30 yards. This usually occurs when a golfer has poor contact and distance control with their short game. X% of shots occur inside of 100 yards.
Key 4) When Out of Position, Get Back into Position: Every level golfer hits errant shots, but the golfers that score well get the ball back in play with their next shot. Don't compound mistakes! This might mean playing away from the hole and hitting a short shot to get back in the fairway. Developing a low trajectory shot to hit under trees is a valuable skill.
Key 5) Conservative Aim Management: If you are standing on a tee box and there is out-of-bounds to the right and no trouble left, you better make sure to favor that left side when you aim. Keep the ball in play and away from trouble area! Also, forgetting about the flagstick and simply aiming toward the center of the green will keep you away from hazards and sand traps.
Key 6) The 70% Rule: If you can't execute a specific type of shot 7 out of 10 times while practicing, then you should stay away from this shot on the course. Best example is a golfer that automatically pulls out the 3-Wood for his second shot on par 5's. This shot is difficult to execute and ends up getting golfers in trouble, when they can simply pull out a 6 iron and advance the ball.
Key 7) Play Within Yourself: Instead of swinging out of your shoes for extra distance, swing at 80% to ensure quality contact and accuracy. This is especially true for shots inside of 150 yards. Learn your average yardage with this smooth and balanced swing.
Key 8) Play the Correct Tee Box: If you hit a quality drive, then you should have a mid iron into the green on average. If you find that you're hitting a decent tee shot and still have to hit hybrids and 3 woods into the green, then you're playing a tee box too far back. Most males should play courses between 6,000 and 6,500 yards and females 5,000 and 5,800 yards.
Keeping these basic keys in mind helps you develop a strategy and plan before your round. It should also allow you to free up and realize you don't have to hit the ball perfect to score well, but you do have to make quality decisions.