In Praise of Par 3 Courses


Par 3’s are Great!

The last time I was at my local par 3 course, I heard multiple disparaging comments about the course.  This wouldn’t have been that unusual, lots of “serious” golfers dump on short courses, but the comments came from the course’s GM!

Regardless of what anyone says, I love par 3 courses and executive courses, and I think you should, too.  Short courses have the potential to solve most, and maybe all, of golf’s perceived problemsand they’re fun!



One of the most frequent complaints about golf is that it takes too long.  This isn’t an issue with par 3 golf.  9 holes takes no more than 2 hours, even when beginners or children are on the course.  Importantly, there is no stigma or additional cost associated with playing “just” 9 holes on a par 3 course.



Golf is often viewed as an activity for the well-off, too expensive for the everyday person, and at many courses this is true.  Par 3’s on the other hand, rarely cost more than $20 to play, and plenty can be played for under $10.

Not only are the green fees low, but there is far less equipment required to play.  A beginning golfer can buy a putter and a wedge and head to the course.  Even that isn’t totally necessary since I’ve never seen someone run off a par 3 course for sharing clubs with another golfer.

Finally, par 3 courses are cheaper to run.  There’s less land required, smaller maintenance costs, no need for carts…you see where I’m going.

Dad and Son

Easy and Inclusive

These are two words that definitely aren’t associated with “real” golf, but they fit par 3’s quite well.

Not everyone can score well on a championship-level course, but, with just a little work, anyone can make a par on a short par 3.  All someone needs to get hooked on golf is one shot that flies through the air and lands on the green, and every hole at a par 3 offers that opportunity.  You can even hit that shot off a tee!

Equally important, par 3’s don’t have the potential for embarrassment that “real” courses do.  Just as it only takes one good shot to hook someone on golf, one bad hole can drive someone to put away their clubs forever.  On a 400 yard par 4, a beginner who hits a bad drive is going to get frustrated and embarrassed, particularly if the rest of their group, or the group behind, is waiting.  On a par 3, even if duffed tee shot is only one good swing from the green.

More potential for fun and success plus less chance of frustration?  Sounds like a win-win to me.

Golf Champion

Good for All Skill Levels

If you think that short courses are only good for beginners, let me remind you of this bit of wisdom from Bobby Jones:

“The secret of golf is to turn 3 shots into 2.”

So unless you can make it around your local par 3 in 18 strokes, there are still plenty of lessons to be gleaned from that track.

The next time you’re itching to get a little golf in, check out your local par 3, and bring a non-golfing friend.  You’ll be happy you did.

Matt Saternus
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