Par 3 holes are golf’s great little equalizers. Most players, regardless of skill, have enough power to reach the green in a single shot and make a par, or possibly birdie.
Despite the par 3’s simplicity, strategy is required to score consistently well. Sometimes, that could even mean laying up from the tee. Here are some tips for tackling one-shot holes:
- Tee up your ball: While some golfers eschew using a tee when hitting a wedge or short iron on a par 3, most teachers and tour pros recommend teeing it up every chance you get. Using a tee improves your odds of making clean contact and producing a high, lofted shot that lands softly on the green. For tips on proper teeing height, watch this brief video lesson.
- Choose your club carefully: The scorecard gives you a yardage from a specific spot on the tee to the center of the green. But seldom will the day’s tee and flagstick be placed in those exact locations. First, check the tee position. Many courses provide in-ground markers identifying the spot from which each tee is measured. Next, determine whether the pin is in the front, middle or back of the green. As a general rule, subtract 10 yards from the total distance for a front pin and add 10 yards for a back pin.
- Don’t get greedy: With the ball teed up and a free run at the green, it’s tempting to aim directly at the flag. But if there’s a hazard between you and the pin, you’re better off playing away from the trouble. On par 3s that stretch your distance limits, you might consider playing short of the hazard – a deep bunker or a creek, for instance – rather than risk hitting into it.
Depending on the tee and pin placements, a par 3 could play 20-30 yards different from its listed scorecard length.
Par 3s present great opportunities, but these short holes can still bite. Approach them with respect and sound strategy to take advantage of scoring chances while minimizing the potential for a “blow-up” hole.