10 of the Best Par-3s in the World
Post by Golf Journalist Josh Carr
Love them or hate them, par-3s are often some of the most picturesque holes in the world. Par-3s can offer almost anything from long carries over water to tee shots from a highly elevated tee. No matter what it is, they are often difficult and if you make par on any of the 10 on this list, you should be happy. These par-3s have made our top ten thanks to their difficulty, as well as how attractive they look.
12th at Augusta
Distance: 150 yards
Where better to start that arguably one of the most famous par-3s in the world? The 12th hole at Augusta is historically ranked as the third hardest hole in Masters history and that is thanks to the many factors that make this relatively short par 3 a brute.
The swirling wind is the first problem, as it makes club selection tough as you line up your approach to the narrowest green on the course. A poor club selection could see you end up in one of the bunkers and azaleas behind the green or it could see your ball make its way down the bank into Rae's Creek. Throughout all of Masters history this hole has played at an average of 3.28, with it historically playing toughest on “Masters Sunday”.
17th at Whistling Straits
Distance: 223 yards
The 17th hole at Whistling Straits is arguably one of the most intimidating par-3s on tour due to the combination of its length and many hazards if you do not land on the putting surface. In fact, during the 2015 USPGA Championship, this hole saw more than 100 bogies or worse, which is a testament to the challenge of this hole.
If you miss the green left you are in big trouble, as your ball will fall into the monstrous sand dunes accompanied by long wispy grass and bunkers that sit 20ft below green level. If you manage to miss all of that, then your ball will unfortunately find its way into Lake Michigan. There is a large elevated sand dune that stands 40 yards short of the green, which tempts players to play further left, however the best shot is possibly over this sand dune. Most golfers choose to bail out right into the awaiting bunkers. When the wind is up, this hole is a real beast.
7th at Teeth of the Dog (Casa de Campo)
Distance: 224 yards
The 7th hole on the Teeth of the Dog course at Casa de Campo really put this golf course in the Dominican Republic on the map. It is one of the six holes that runs along the coast and is a monster par-3 over the Caribbean Sea. This is a fine example of Pete Dye’s fantastic eye for par-3 design.
The hole plays mostly over the Caribbean Sea to a 7,000 square feet green that features several undulations however, despite it being so large, many golfers struggle to find the putting surface and if they do, it tends to be the wrong side of the green. The bunkers, although shallow and easy to escape, really do make this hole an aesthetically pleasing one. The main challenge comes when working out what club to hit when the wind is swirling. Although not overly difficult, if you get chance to play this par-3 you certainly won’t forget it.
11th at Castle Stuart
Distance: 144 yards
Although less than 150 yards, wonderful hole locations combined with strategic bunkering and the imposing sea long and left really do make this hole a challenge. This challenge is doubled when the wind is gusting. However, it is not just the tough test this hole offers that helped this hole make our list, but it is the sheer beauty of it.
This picture-perfect hole is beautiful from just about every angle from tee to green. As you stand on the elevated tee you are offered outstanding views of the Moray Firth, as well as the chance to appreciate the incredible design of this hole. The pure beauty of this hole is magnified if you are lucky enough to play this hole when the sun is setting.
16th at the Royal Golf Course (Vale do Lobo)
Distance: 215 yards
This hole is the signature hole at the Royal Golf Course at Vale do Lobo and is also arguably the signature hole for the Algarve as a whole. When you step on the tee you must take a moment to appreciate the view of the beach and the Algarve coastline, but don’t let the beauty of this hole mistake you for an easy hole. It is far from that.
If you are to have any chance of a birdie on this hole you have to take on the huge ravine and large bunker that stand in the way of you and the green. 215 yards is the distance off the back tees, however, the normal tee still stands at 190 yards so still requires a long iron. This is a truly beautiful and challenging par-3 that deserves its place in this top 10.
8th at Royal Troon
Distance: 123 yards
The 8th hole at Royal Troon, better known as the “Postage Stamp,” is possibly one of the best-designed par-3s in the world, despite its short yardage of just 123 yards. Strategically placed bunkers and perfectly positioned undulations are what make this hole a superb test. During past Open Championships you will have seen how the pros struggle on this hole, despite it only being a flick with a wedge.
The tee shot is played from high ground over a gully to an extremely narrow green, hence the “Postage Stamp” name, that is set into the side of a large sand hill. There are two bunkers protecting the left side of the green, with a large crater bunker catching any ball left short. More bunkers on the right mean that the only safe way to play this hole is to hit the green.
15th at Kingsbarns
Distance: 212 yards
This par-3 is an absolute gem of a par-3 and you won’t find many like it anywhere in the world. The green is located on the Rocky Ness, which is a piece of land that projects into the sea. The first problem, again, comes with club selection on this hole, as the trees on the left often block the wind on the tee.
The best way to play this hole is to aim for the back left bunker, as the slope will feed the ball down into the centre of this lengthy green. If you ball does find its way into the sea then there is a drop zone just short of the green that will set up a pitch shot down the entire length of the green. It takes a brave golfer to chase the sucker, back right pin position.
15th at Lemuria
Distance: 165 yards
The 15th hole at Lemuria in the Seychelles is by far and away the signature hole here. The tee is perched high up on a rocky ridge, 50-metres above the putting surface that lies in the valley below. Due to the extremely elevated tee, the hole is deceptively short and most golfers will need no more than a 9-iron but you must avoid the large bunker that protects the left side of the green.
Again, it is the majestic views you get from the tee that has helped this hole make its way into our top 10 par-3s in the world. When you stand on the tee, you get unrivalled, breath-taking views of the beautiful white sands of Anse Georgette, as well as stunning views of the crystal blue water.
17th at TPC Sawgrass
Distance: 137 yards
Arguably the most well known par 3 in the world, this hole really does test the nerve of the very best players. Despite only being 137-yards, the island green looks tiny from the tee and there are just two outcomes. You either safely find the putting surface, or you’ll ball ends up in the water, it’s as simple as that. Over the years, just about every professional has put a ball in the water and the hole has offered some of the most memorable moments in golf.
The well-positioned trees create an unpredictably hazardous, swirling wind and can often cause chaos when selecting a club on this hole. Over 100,000 balls a year are hit into the water at this hole, which is a testament to the pure challenge this hole possesses.
14th at Coeur d’Alene
Distance: 218 yards
The 14th hole at Coeur d’Alene goes one step further than the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, but how I hear you ask? Well, this world famous floating island green is the only one of its kind in the world and requires you to board the “Putter” boat in order to get to the green. The incredible feature of this green is its ability to be computer-controlled to a different distance from each tee, everyday.
The island is actually deceivingly large at 15,000 square feet but it is the intimidation factor that gets most people. Golfers are allowed a maximum of two attempts to land safely on the island before they are forced to take a drop on the green. The back and front right of this green is protected by bunkers to add to the challenge of hitting your ball onto the floating island.
Finally, when you complete the hole, the captain of the boat will hand you a personalised Certificate of Achievement to commemorate the completion of the most memorable par-3 you will ever play in your life.
So there are 10 of our favourite par-3's in the world. Do you know of any better? Let us know your favourites in the comment section below.
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