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Par 3 Golf Courses: Everything You Need To Know

It’s a common problem for golfers. You’re tired of the driving range and want to play some holes, but you don’t have 5 hours to spend at your local public 18-hole golf course. If only there was another option.

The answer is a par 3 golf course. Play for a score and try to make pars and birdies without losing your entire afternoon. It’s the perfect way to work on your short game while competing with friends. The next time you get the “golf bug” consider trying a par 3 golf course.

What Is A Par 3 Golf Course?

What exactly is a Par 3 golf course? Do I need to bring my entire golf bag? Does it truly mimic playing golf? A “Par 3” course is exactly what it sounds like. 

A golf course, but instead of having par 3s, par 4s, and par 5s, it’s constructed of all par 3s. They can be 6 holes, 9 holes, or 18 holes.

Most are quite short, so ask for a scorecard before you play. You may be able to enjoy the round with only a few wedges and your putter. You can almost certainly leave your driver at home.

Besides the yardage, they’re exactly like playing any other track. They have tee boxes, bunkers, and well-manicured greens.

What Are The Advantages Of Playing A Par 3 Course?

What are the two biggest things that lead people to quit golf, or never truly start playing in the first place? It costs too much money and it takes too long. The Par 3 course solves both issues. Playing a Par 3 course will cost you a fraction of playing a full length one and you typically finish in 1/3 of the time (if not quicker).

An added bonus, the Par 3 course is a great way to hone your iron & wedge play and improve around the green. A great way to sharpen your chipping and putting, while still competing for a score or making small wagers with your friends.

The Par 3 golf course is also less intimidating for beginners and more family friendly. Less trouble to get in, if you’re only hitting short irons and putting, and a more casual atmosphere.

Tips To Keep In Mind When Playing On A Par 3 Course

Tip #1 - Use A Lightweight Golf Bag

Check the scorecard before you head to the par 3 course, but most won’t require all of your clubs. In fact, par 3 golf courses are designed to be played with some wedges and your putter. With that in mind, save your back by using a lightweight golf bag.

lightweight LOMA bag for Par 3 courses

The LOMA bag by Sunday Golf is perfect. Designed to carry 5-7 clubs, it weighs less than two pounds. You have plenty of storage for your golf essentials (balls, tees, gloves, etc.) and it even has a “frosty” pocket to keep your favorite beverage cold. This stand bag will keep your clubs off the ground and help you enjoy your round.

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Tip #2 - Bring Your Short Game

Don’t get overconfident. You may look at the scorecard and see a bunch of holes that are less than 130 yards. This does mean the par 3 course will be easy. You’ll learn quickly that it’s hard to make a birdie or par on many of the holes. 

It’s a great way to improve your wedge game and putting, but a par 3 course can also be humbling. Did you know that on the PGA Tour par 3 scoring is much worse than par 4 and par 5 scoring? Short doesn’t mean easy. Be ready to concentrate if your goal is to shoot a good score in relation to par. 

Tip #3 - Invite Some Buddies

Playing a par 3 course is fun by yourself, but a blast with a few of your golfing buddies. Make a tee time and start a group text. Find 3 more players and establish teams. Determine some friendly wagers before you hit your first wedge shot. Maybe the losers pick up the tab in the 19th hole or pay for the next round.

The critical part is sharing some laughs with other golfers. Par 3 courses are great for players of all skill levels, so don’t worry if one of your friends is new to the game. The more the merrier.

friends golfing together

The other option is to get your family involved with the game you love. Par 3 courses are great for kids - the shorter distances give them a chance to compete with adults. Leave your buddies at home and get your children involved in a game they can play for 50+ years.

Tip #4 - Make Plans For The Rest of the Day 

You can play a par 3 course in 90 minutes or less. This is one of the biggest advantages of this style of golf. It leaves you more time in the 19th hole or allows you to finish off your “honey-do” list. Get in a round of golf and still have your entire afternoon for other activities. A true win-win.

Where Can I Find A Par 3 Golf Course Near Me?

Do a quick google search for “par 3 near me” around your town or city – you might be surprised that one is quite near you. Also, building a “short course” or Par 3 course has become very popular for famous golf resorts. It gives visiting players an alternative to playing 36 a day. 

Play a destination course in the morning and relax on the Par 3 course in the afternoon.

If you’re planning a golf trip with buddies, check to see if the resort has a par 3 or short course. It may end up being your favorite part of the trip!

Top 10 Par 3 Courses In The U.S.

1. The Cradle At Pinehurst Resort

The Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina recently opened The Cradle. It’s a 9-hole par 3 course that shares the same Pro Shop as famed No. 2. The longest hole is 127 yards and you can get around with only a few clubs. Kids (17 & under) play free with a paying adult.

Sunday Golf

Sunday Golf

2. Bandon Preserve At Bandon Dunes

Your trip to Oregon won’t be completed without trying this 13-hole par 3 course with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop on every hole. Bring a couple of wedges and your putter. The longest hole on this track is only 119 yards and it can be enjoyed by all player types.

Sunday Golf

3. The Hickory—Hamilton Farm Golf Club

This isn’t your typical par 3 golf course. Located in Gladstone, NJ the Hickory is probably the most difficult par 3 course in the country. Bring your entire bag for this 18-hole course as several holes exceed 200 yards in the length. The longest can stretch over 230.

The Hickory par 3 course

4. Top of the Rock—Big Cedar Lodge

Jack Nicklaus designed this par 3 course that’s located above Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks. Top of the Rock was used by the Champions Tour for its Legends of Golf Tournament. You’ll get to experience lakes, creeks, waterfalls, and beautiful views during your visit to Branson.

Top of the Rock—Big Cedar Lodge

5. Par 3 Course At Augusta National

Yes, we know it might be difficult to get a tee time at Augusta National, but we couldn’t leave their par 3 course off our list. This 9-hole course is annually used for the Masters Par 3 contest that thrills patrons every year. Who doesn’t love watching PGA tour professionals with their wives and children in the caddie bibs?

Par 3 Course At Augusta National

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6. Li’l Wick—Wickenburg Ranch

Li’l Wick in Wickenburg AZ was designed for golfers to have a good time. Music is played throughout the 9-hole course and there’s a “watering hole” (bar) in the middle that can ensure you always have a cold beverage. Want to try some night golf? Parts of the course have lighting to help you continue the fun after the sun goes down.

Li’l Wick—Wickenburg Ranch

7. Threetops—Treetops Resort

Threetops is the par-3 course located at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, MI. It has hosted the ESPN par-3 shootout 8 times and has become a template used by other resorts to build similar courses.

Threetops Par 3 course

8. Cloud 9 Course—Angel Park

Cloud 9 is a beautiful 12-hole par 3 course in Las Vegas. It’s the perfect break from the blackjack tables. You won’t be shocked to hear that 9-holes are fully lit, so you can continue to work on your short game after dark.

Cloud 9 Par 3 Course

9. Cliffs Course—The Olympic Club

The Olympic Club in San Francisco has 2 18-hole championship courses, but their par 3 course (Cliffs Course) is the most scenic. Designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf the views of the Pacific Ocean will make you feel like you’re playing golf in a postcard.

Cliffs Course—The Olympic Club

10. The Links At Terranea

What is it about the Pacific Ocean that produces great par 3 golf courses? This 9-hole design at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes routes through the beautiful natural environment of the coast. It’ll be hard for you to find a better golf experience on the Los Angeles coast.

The Links Par 3 At Terranea

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Par 3 Golf Courses: Frequently Asked Questions

Are par 3 courses good for beginners?

Yes. Par 3 golf courses are shorter and typically have less trouble. They’re also more casual and relaxed, which is perfect for the golfer just getting started in the game. 

What’s the longest par 3 golf hole?

The typical par 3 golf hole will be less than 200 yards, but some courses do have par 3s that can stretch out to over 250 yards. The 8th hole at Oakmont can play 288 yards from the back tee box. 

What is a good par 3 course score?

The majority of par 3 golf courses are 9 holes, so even par would be a 27. Any round below 30 is a great score and anything below 35 would be considered a good score. 

Are Par 3 Courses and Executive Courses the Same Thing?

Both par 3 courses and executive courses are considered “short courses,” but a par 3 course will only have par 3s and an executive course will have some par 4s and potentially even par 5s. 

Do you need a driver for par 3?

The vast majority of par 3s won’t require your driver, but it’s possible. Some par 3s are more than 230 yards in length. If you’re playing a par 3 course, always check the scorecard to determine which clubs you should bring for your round.

Give Par 3 A Try

If you haven’t played one before, give a Par 3 golf course a try. You may decide it’s a quicker, more economical way to enjoy the game of golf. Find one in your hometown or look for the option when you’re planning your next golf trip. All the fun of playing golf, without having to look for your tee shots in the woods.

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