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What is a par 3 golf course?

What is a par 3 golf course? It's the course you want to play on if you don't have all day

A view of a golf green with a flag in the middle.
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You want to play a round of golf but can’t take the whole day off. You love to play, but the fees are eating at your budget. You want to learn the game, but those gigantic courses freak you out and leave you feeling overwhelmed. There is an answer to all of that to be found on a par 3 golf course. What is a par 3 golf course? It’s pretty simple once you understand what par means, and it’s becoming one of the best ways for everyone to fall in love with the game of golf — either for the first time or all over again.

Breaking down the par terminology

Someone about to hit a golf ball.
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What par means

Let’s start with par. Each hole has a par. Par is the number of strokes it would take a golfer to hit the ball from the tee into the hole. This is the number it would take a golfer who has a bit of experience and skill. Your buddy Frank walking up to hit his first ball ever on a green should not expect to have the same number of swings as what that hole’s par is. With beginner’s luck, maybe, but it’s not going to be a regular occurrence.

Most holes are par 3, par 4, or par 5. If a hole is par 5, a well-rounded golfer should hit the ball from tee to hole in 5 swings. If it takes you 4 strokes to land the ball in on a par 4 hole, you made par. It’s easier to remember than those tennis scoring rules.

What a par 3 golf course is

People walking along a golf course.
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Golf is a long game. You can’t run through an entire 18-hole course in an hour. If someone tells you they are going to play a round, don’t wait up, don’t keep dinner warm, and you’ll see them when you see them. A par 3 golf course is what it states — each hole is par 3. Par 3 courses will have 6, 9, or 18 holes, so you will still play a full game.

Why par 3 courses are having a moment

  • More cost-effective for everyone
  • More time efficient
  • Helps build confidence

If each hole is par 3, even if the course has 18 holes, the game will move along quickly. This solves two main issues people who play golf have — they don’t have the time or money. Instead of a course with a mixed bag of par 3, par 4, and par 5 holes, knowing each hole should only take 3 strokes saves time. You could play a round before lunch or after dinner and not feel guilty about it taking up your whole day.

The other perk is these courses keep costs down, which gets passed on to the players. Less green to take care of, not as much landscaping, and not as many employees to pay means the cost of a round isn’t as much as at other courses. We love affordability.

One reason these courses are so great everyone should know is the benefit to all players. New to golf? Learn on a shorter course. Need to work on your short game? Go hone your skills on a par 3 course. These smaller, shorter courses are less intimidating to beginners while providing veteran players plenty of precisional practice. No matter where you are on your golfing journey, building confidence on a par 3 course is for everyone.

Tips for playing a par 3 golf course

Two people looking at each other while holding their golf clubs over their shoulders
Courtney Cook / Unsplash

Don’t haul all of your gear

Since the course is smaller than most — holes are between 75 and 200 yards apart — you won’t need your whole lineup of clubs, just your putter and a couple of wedge and iron options. If you have a lightweight bag, it’s better to use that instead of lugging your heavy-duty one around.

Bring friends

These courses are great for friendly gatherings. If you have friends who have always wanted to play, bring them to a par 3 course. It’s a relaxed, family-friendly vibe where you can be yourself, no matter what kind of golfer you are.

It’s all about the short game

Just because all holes are par 3 doesn’t mean it’s a kiddie game. Don’t think you will hit a birdie for every hole, or you’ll be humbled real fast. Look at the PGA Tour par 3 scores before thinking you’re going to have the best game of your life. Those shorter shots get you when you least expect it.

Par 3 golf courses to try

A person swinging a club on the golf course.
Courtney Cook / Unsplash

The Hickory at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in New Jersey

If you think par 3 courses sound too easy, try out The Hickory. It’s said to be the most difficult par 3 golf course in the U.S. with a chunk of the 18 holes being longer than 200 yards.

Par 3 Course at Augusta National

The Masters Par 3 Tournament is held at Augusta National every year, so getting a tee time might be rough, but it would be a lot of fun.

Cloud 9 Course at Angel Park in Las Vegas

Cloud 9 has 9 out of the 12 holes always lit, so you could play a round after you stumble away from the roulette table at night.

Golf is ever-evolving, trying to make it more accessible to all lovers of the game. Par 3 golf courses are the perfect way to compact the game down for more people to enjoy a round when they can. Keeping the game exciting for experienced players while not scaring off newcomers is what a par 3 course aims for. Just remember that your scorecard may not look as pretty as you’d want it to.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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