Debate: Do We Need More Short Par 3s?

Two Golf Monthly regulars have their say on golf's short holes...

Short Par 3s
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Two Golf Monthly regulars share their thoughts on golf's short holes...

Debate: Do We Need More Short Par 3s?

Jeremy Ellwood says...Yes

What a timely moment for this debate, with the USGA presenting this year’s Walker Cup competitors with the shortest par 3 ever used in a USGA championship.

They moved the tees on the 15th at Los Angeles Country Club up to a mere 78 yards – not even a full lob wedge for most playing. Reaction was mixed among the players – some really liked it, some were a little bemused. Perhaps more importantly, the fans loved it.

This may, in part, have been because they were able to stand around the green not fearing the arrival of a stray ball, as even top players are nowhere near as accurate with long clubs, especially those required on some of the ludicrous near-300-yarders we’ve been served up at times of late.

Several top pros, including Paul McGinley, have lamented the apparent passing of the short par 3 to me, and let’s be honest, on how many courses is a long par 3 ever promoted as the signature hole? I can’t think of any.

Which par 3 currently creates the biggest buzz on the European Tour? It’s the 16th at Himmerland for the Made In Denmark event, which was just 86 yards in round one this year. The atmosphere around that green is always electric.

Surely the proper test on a par 3 should be whether or not you can avoid all the trouble and hit the green, rather than whether or not you can actually reach the green and what club you might need for your second shot? I’m not advocating that all golf clubs should have a sub-100-yarder, but let’s have more par 3s that require a mid- or short-iron, and fewer that demand the removal of a headcover.

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Fergus Bisset says...No

One of the reasons golf is such a great game is that it rewards those with different skill sets.

The player who can stripe a long ball down the centre of the fairway has the advantage of being able to get up to par 5s in two, or to reduce the challenge of long par 4s.

The player who can strike a clean ball is rewarded for their consistency and the player with a great touch around the greens will gain advantage there.

Those with an eye for reading the greens will make up a good few shots by judging their putts better than others.

The best golf course set-ups are those that require and reward the maximum number of playing attributes.

If we look to reduce the length of more par 3s, those with the ability to hit the ball a good distance would effectively be punished – their area of advantage would be neutralised.

Just as we shouldn’t look to flatten out putting surfaces and fill in bunkers to aid those with dodgy short games, we shouldn’t look to reduce par-3 hole lengths to make things easier for the weaker hitters.

A course should have a good mix of par 3s: some that demand a long and powerful strike; others asking for a more delicate and precise shot to be fired into the green.

There are many great short par 3s out there, but that doesn’t mean we should have more of them.

Who wants to be flicking in a wedge or short-iron every time they get to the tee box of a short hole?

Occasionally, you want to properly test yourself and see if you can rip an iron or even a wood to a small target; it’s the ultimate test of the long game and those who can do it well should be suitably rewarded.

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