Play Short Courses to Sharpen Iron Golf Game, StrategySome experienced golfers shun any golf course measuring less than 6,000 yards, regardless of how challenging, well-conditioned, convenient or pretty it may be. That rules out not only undersized regulation tracks (par 70 or higher), it disqualifies par 3 and executive-length courses from consideration.

By dismissing shorter layouts, these golfers miss a great opportunity for enjoyment – and improvement.

Par 3 and executive courses offer many benefits over conventional tracks. For starters, they’re less expensive and much quicker to play. An 18-hole round can often be completed in less than three hours on an executive course, less than two hours on a par 3.

Short courses tend to be more relaxed as well, which helps many golfers play better (and shows them the benefit of a laid-back approach).

Even if those factors don’t appeal, consider how rounds on short courses can make you a better player. For example:

  • It’s superior to practicing your iron play on the range: Your practice area may feature real grass hitting stations, target greens and accurate yardages, but there’s no substitute for hitting to actual greens. On a par 3 course, as opposed to a range, you’ll face changing wind directions, a variety of lengths, hazards and different shot requirements throughout the round. Greens tend to be on the small side as well, putting a premium on accuracy and distance control.
  • Your strategic skills will get a workout: Most executive courses feature 10 to 12 par 3 holes, 4 to 6 par 4s and perhaps a couple of par 5s. The two- and three-shot holes are often rather short – with par 4s around 280 to 350 yards – requiring a strategic approach from the tee. Do you try to drive the green? Lay up with an iron or hybrid? What’s the best angle from fairway to flag? What’s the ideal yardage for the second shot?
  • These same decisions must be made on full-length courses, where golfers often reach mindlessly for the driver regardless of a hole’s nuances. Play an executive course, leave your driver in the trunk and exercise those strategic brain muscles.
  • Scoring well may boost your confidence: You’re pretty much guaranteed to shoot a “low” score on a course with a par of 54, 58, or 62. Sure, “low” is relative in this case, but you might be surprised how firing a 59 or 67 or 73 gives you a shot in the arm.



Playing short courses can be an excellent strategy to sharpen your iron game and improve your overall golf skills. Short courses often provide opportunities to practice precision, accuracy, and shot-making, which are essential elements of successful iron play. Here are some golf tips for playing short courses to enhance your iron game, along with answers to common questions:

Golf Tips: Play Short Courses to Sharpen Iron Golf Game

  1. Focus on Precision: Short courses require precise shots, so focus on hitting your irons accurately to reach greens in regulation.
  2. Work on Approach Shots: Short courses offer plenty of approach shots to practice hitting greens from various distances.
  3. Practice Club Selection: Take advantage of different yardages on short courses to practice using different irons and mastering club selection.
  4. Improve Short Game: Short courses often emphasize the importance of chipping and putting, helping you improve your overall short game skills.
  5. Experiment with Shot Types: Use short courses as a playground to experiment with different shot types, such as fades, draws, and high and low trajectory shots.
  6. Develop Course Management Skills: On short courses, course management becomes crucial. Plan your shots strategically to avoid trouble and set up easier approach shots.
  7. Work on Mental Game: Short courses can help you improve your mental game, as you'll face pressure situations and learn to stay composed.
  8. Play Regularly: Frequent play on short courses allows for more repetitions and practice, leading to better iron play.
  9. Analyze Your Rounds: After playing short courses, analyze your rounds to identify areas of improvement and set goals for future play.
  10. Enjoy Low Scores: Short courses often yield lower scores, boosting confidence and motivation for the rest of your golf game.


  1. Q: How can short courses help me with my approach shots? A: Short courses provide multiple opportunities to practice approach shots from various distances, which helps improve distance control and accuracy with your irons.
  2. Q: Can playing short courses help lower my handicap? A: Yes, playing short courses can lead to improved iron play and overall performance, potentially resulting in a lower handicap.
  3. Q: Should I focus more on distance or accuracy on short courses? A: While distance is still essential, accuracy and precision become even more critical on short courses, as you'll face shorter approach shots.
  4. Q: Can short courses help me with my short game? A: Absolutely, short courses offer plenty of opportunities to work on chipping, pitching, and putting, which are crucial aspects of the short game.
  5. Q: How can I use short courses to practice different shot shapes? A: Experiment with different shot shapes during your rounds on short courses, focusing on shaping shots with your irons.
  6. Q: Are short courses suitable for beginners? A: Yes, short courses are ideal for beginners, as they are less intimidating and allow newcomers to focus on building their skills.
  7. Q: Should I play short courses exclusively to improve my iron game? A: While short courses are valuable for iron play, mixing in rounds on regular courses provides a well-rounded golf experience.
  8. Q: Can I play short courses during my practice sessions? A: Absolutely, practicing on a short course during your practice sessions allows you to simulate on-course scenarios and refine your iron play.
  9. Q: What strategies should I use on short courses to maximize scoring opportunities? A: Focus on smart course management, avoid unnecessary risks, and capitalize on birdie opportunities with accurate approach shots.
  10. Q: Can playing short courses help with my course management skills? A: Yes, short courses require thoughtful course management, as you'll need to navigate tight fairways and strategically place your shots.
  11. Q: Should I still work on my long game while playing short courses? A: Yes, maintaining a balanced practice routine that includes long game work is essential for overall improvement.
  12. Q: How can I transfer the skills from short courses to regular courses? A: Carry the confidence gained from playing short courses to regular courses, and focus on applying the precision and shot-making skills you've honed.

By incorporating these tips and answers to common questions into your golf game, you'll effectively use short courses as a valuable tool to sharpen your iron play and enhance your overall golf performance. Remember to practice regularly and maintain a positive mindset to improve your skills on both short and regular courses.

As an alternative to playing a par 3 or executive course, try your full-sized home course from a shorter set of tees. You’ll enjoy similar benefits when you step back to your usual markers, and you might just break out of your personal comfort zone.