What is a Postage Stamp Green, and How Do You Play It

The eighth hole at Royal Troon Golf Club on Scotland’s west coast is a tiny par 3 of just 123 yards.

In fact, it’s the shortest hole on any course in the Open Championship rotation. But this diminutive one-shotter plays much tougher than its yardage thanks to a very small green surrounded by several cavernous bunkers. The hole’s appearance reminded the great Willie Park of a postage stamp, and a colorful term was born.

A “postage stamp” green is typically found on a short par 3, and sometimes par 4s and 5s, where the golfer must play a very accurate wedge or short iron to hit and hold the putting surface. You’ll no doubt come across a “postage stamp” green every now and then – the iconic seventh hole at Pebble Beach, a 107-yard par 3, is another example – so keep these things in mind as you prepare for the shot:

  • Aim for the center of the green: It’s almost never a bad idea to play toward the middle of the green, since you’ll usually finish within 40 feet of the flag. It’s an even smarter play on a “postage stamp” hole. For one thing, the green’s miniature size means any ball in the center should be within 30 feet of the cup, and possibly quite close. For another, the green’s center is farthest from those troubling bunkers or rough which ring the “dance floor.”In other words, don’t get greedy. The safe play will still give you a decent chance at birdie.

  • Hoist the ball high: The smaller the green, the more risk of bouncing over it. To hit your wedge or short iron with extra height, simply move the ball an inch forward in your stance. For example, if you typically play these shots with the ball centered between your feet, move it an inch toward the left (lead) foot. This will effectively add loft to the club for a higher launch and softer landing.
  • Careful not to airmail it: Assuming the green tilts from back to front, as most do, the last place you want to miss is long – especially if there’s sand or thick rough back there. When caught between clubs (a pitching wedge and gap wedge, for instance), take the shorter one as long as you’re comfortable of reaching the front of the green. Hitting it with a nice, full swing will also generate the extra height needed to stick the landing.


You may never have the good fortune to play Royal Troon or Pebble Beach, but odds are you’ll find yourself staring down a “postage stamp” clone sooner or later.

In golf, a “Postage Stamp” green refers to a small, challenging, and often well-bunkered green that closely resembles the size of a postage stamp. These greens are typically very small in comparison to regular greens, and they require precise shot-making and accurate distance control to hit and hold.

Origin of the Term: The term “Postage Stamp” green is believed to have originated at the Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland, specifically on the 8th hole of the Old Course. This hole features a tiny green surrounded by five deep bunkers, giving it a postage stamp-like appearance. Since then, the term has been used to describe similarly small and demanding greens on other golf courses.

How to Play a “Postage Stamp” Green: Playing a “Postage Stamp” green requires a combination of skill and strategy. Here are some tips to help you navigate these challenging greens:

  1. Club Selection: Use a higher lofted club, such as a pitching wedge or sand wedge, to control the trajectory and distance of your shot. Avoid using longer irons or woods, as they may be difficult to control on such a small target.
  2. Take an Extra Club: Due to the small size of the green, you may need to take an extra club to ensure you have enough carry distance to reach the putting surface.
  3. Aim for the Center: When aiming for a “Postage Stamp” green, aim for the center or the front-middle portion of the green. Avoid aiming directly at the pin, as any slight misjudgment could lead to missing the green entirely.
  4. Prioritize Accuracy: Focus on accuracy rather than distance when hitting your approach shot. Take a controlled swing and aim for a spot on the green that allows for an uphill putt, reducing the risk of rolling off the green.
  5. Consider Bump-and-Run: If the conditions allow, consider using a bump-and-run shot with a lower lofted club to keep the ball lower and allow it to roll towards the pin.
  6. Be Mindful of Bunkers: Pay close attention to the location of bunkers surrounding the green. Landing in a bunker on a “Postage Stamp” green can make getting up and down for par even more challenging.
  7. Respect the Green: Treat the “Postage Stamp” green with respect and caution. Take your time to read the slope and speed of the green before attempting your putt.
  8. Focus on Putting: The short game becomes crucial on these small greens. Focus on your putting technique and aim to leave yourself with manageable putts for par or birdie.

Overall, playing a “Postage Stamp” green requires a delicate touch, precise shot-making, and thoughtful course management. Take your time to assess the situation, and be patient with yourself. Remember, these greens are designed to test your skills, and successfully navigating them can be a rewarding experience on the golf course.

Take the proper approach and you’ll have a great chance to lick the little monster.