Most golfers won’t play in the Masters. They won’t win a major, drive the ball 300 yards or ever shoot under par. But there is one dream that is in reach for most golfers.

Breaking 80.

Having the ability to break 80 is the universal marker of respect among golfers in the recreational ranks. In many ways, it puts you squarely in golf’s goldilocks zone: You’re a good player, but not an intimidating one to play with. It also means you’re an avid one: You’ve played plenty of rounds in your time and know how to get it around on the bad days.

But how do you get there?

With the season approaching, we wanted to help golfers get a clearer answer to that question. So, Golf Digest partnered with Arccos and dove deep into the company’s database, which includes 13 million rounds and more than 600 million shots worldwide. We pulled the Strokes Gained data for 1,000 golfers with a handicap between 7-9. A group of golfers, in other words, right on the cusp of breaking 80.

Then, we consulted Michael Hutchenson, a data scientist and a very good golfer in his own right. He ran a cluster analysis on the data, which uncovered that there are six different groups of 80s shooters.

Discover more at