Ask some golf aficionados and they’ll tell you that a par 3 course is not a real golf course. Yes, most of us would take a full-sized golf course with a mixed assortment of par 3s, 4s and 5s over a short par 3 course on any day of the week. However, there are several good reasons why a par 3 course has relevance and should not be written-off too quickly:
When time is short, your nearest par 3 course will be the perfect compromise
Imagine you are on a family vacation, and getting away for the entire morning or afternoon is just not going to cut-it. It should take you between 90 and 120 minutes to complete a round — you’ll be back in time to make family brunch. On a recent family visit to Kuredu Island Resort and Spa in the Maldives, we whipped around the 6-hole par 3 course twice before the kids even noticed we were missing. We got our “fix” and worked on controlling shots around the green, including some tricky sand traps.
Par 3 courses are excellent starter courses
Introduce your kids to the game this way. Or better, convince your partner to take up this noble pastime and ease them into your addiction by sharing your wisdom at the local par 3 course. Many a tour pro started his or her golf on short courses with a passionate parent or sibling. The short course gives the new golfer a chance to learn their on-course etiquette, hone new skills, grasp a whole bunch of rules and receive much-needed practice with the short game.
Par 3 courses are equally excellent ‘finishing’ courses
My father-in-law, now in his mid-eighties and with limited mobility, has maxed-out his handicap over the past decade. He now thoroughly enjoys a less demanding and quicker outing on a short course. With elevations, tee and pin rotations as well as weather-affected holes, he is not disappointed with the reduced offering. It still provides sufficient challenge.
The short game is where most shots are won or lost
Never snigger at the immense benefits gained from regular visits to your par 3 course. Your impact around the greens will noticeably improve when you are regularly mixing up your pitching and chipping sessions, and getting your putting into gear.
Some par 3 courses are not merely ‘crazy golf’ venues
The Wee Links par 3 course at Trump’s Turnberry complex in Scotland boasts a design by Martin Ebert and mimics the championship Ailsa Course nearby. Elsewhere, the U.S. is peppered with excellent “designer” short courses. The Bandon Preserve course at the expansive Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon was designed by the renowned Coore and Crenshaw team and sits neatly in the macho golfing complex. The Raymond Floyd-designed short course at Palm Beach, Florida is a municipal gem that will impress with its sweeping coastal views. Robert Trent Jones also turned his hand to designing several par 3 courses, the best of which is considered to be the Short Course at Magnolia Grove Golf Club in Alabama.
A small amount of something you love is better than nothing at all
A fix is a fix and satisfies the aches and pangs. Play the course with some purpose: challenge yourself to learn how to “bump” on with a new club or master your new lob wedge. There is a vast range of high-quality online lessons that you could consider before walking onto the par 3 course. Reflect on your shortcomings around the green and focus on a single aspect for examination. Study available advice online and take this with you onto the par 3 course to see how you can make improvements.
So before the doubter in you smirks and writes-off the opportunity to play a par 3 course, consider the benefits. You can give your driver a well-earned rest, reduce your bag to a core short game set and see what you can achieve. Your short iron, chipping and putting form will no doubt benefit from any par 3 practice.
— Nancy Incoll