Par threes are the shortest holes on a golf course and while some golfers view them as an opportunity to post a low number on their scorecard, others are fearful that they will end up with a bogey or worse. Why is that?
Your approach to par threes from a strategic perspective, really makes all the difference in your success on them. Below are some tips to help you better manage these holes and maybe even help you make a birdie or two!
1) Know your yardage - Don’t just know the distance from the tee to the flagstick. You should consider the distance to the front, middle and back of the green as well. If the pin is in the back of the green be sure to hit a club that will land in the middle (depending on the firmness of the green) and roll up to the pin or end up short of the pin. Hitting a shot which will land at or past the pin could end up over the green and put you in a difficult spot to make a par.
2) Take into account the elevation - Just as important as getting your yardages on a par 3, you need to pay attention to the elevation change. Take into account whether the tee is above the green or if you are playing up to the green from the tee box. Holes like the 17th at RDGCC shown below can play 1-2 clubs less because of the elevation change.
3) Judge the wind - Wind is the ultimate external factor in golf, it is something you should be very aware of as you decide what club to hit off the tee.
4) Tee it up - On par threes you have the opportunity to give yourself the perfect lie, tee-it up whenever you have a chance. As crazy as it sounds, teeing the ball up even the slightest amount
from ground level can allow you to catch the ball cleaner at impact.
5) Don’t be greedy - As I mentioned earlier, par threes present both a great opportunity for a birdie as well as a double bogey. What your score ends up being all depends on two things…How bold you get on your line and how good your short game is if you miss that line. I would always error on the side of caution. When in doubt aim for the middle of the green and trust yourself to make a put for birdie or at worst two putt for par.
6) Work on your short game - With golf in general it can be said that the key to scoring well is how good your short game and putting are. On par threes, it is everything. Granted, hitting a good tee shot is important however short of making an ace you still need to rely on your putting. If you miss the green, you will rely on getting up and down. If your chipping and pitching is not sharp, you can quickly make a bogey or worse.
I hope these tips will help you better navigate the par threes next time you are out on the course.
Assistant Golf Professional, Country Hills Golf Club
BA Psychology/Sociology University of Calgary