Learn To Dominate Par 3s

Think you’ve played some tough par 3s? Think again. Nothing beats the par 3 “Xtreme 19th” at South Africa’s Legends Golf & Safari Resort. Its tee sits atop a cliff on Hanglip Mountain, over 1,400 feet above the green. You have to take a helicopter to get to the tee box. Once there, it’s more than 630 yards to the pin. After hitting the ball, it takes nearly 30 seconds before it hits the ground. (Here’s a link to a video of Padraig Harrington play-ing the hole: Xtreme 19th ).

The Xtreme 19th is so tough you could probably base a series of golf lessons on it. For-tunately for us—and our golf handicaps—we don’t have to play this hole regularly. Nevertheless, the hole is instructional. It hammers home one key point golfers often for-get: Don’t take par 3s lightly. They’re can be tough holes to play, despite the short dis-tance. Sometime, they’re the toughest holes on the course. Play them incorrectly and they’ll eat you alive.

Have A Game Plan In Mind

Par 3s kill us because we lack a game plan when we play them. You need a good game plan to dominate them. It’s no different than playing tough par 4s and par 5s. Without a game plan in mind, you’re dead. If you’re heading to the hole thinking only about which club to play—as a group of students in one of our golf instruction sessions did—that’s not having a game plan. Thinking only about club selection lends itself to double or triple bogies.

The key to beating par 3s is maximizing your chances of hitting the green in regulation (GIR). Even though the hole is short, that’s not always easy. You also have to worry about bunkers and other obstacles in front of the green. You know from my golf tips newsletters how critical GIRs are to your score and golf handicap. Increasing them will help you break 80 consistently. It will also cut your golf handicap down to size.

Capitalize On The Situation

To rack up more GIRs, assess the tee box carefully before hitting. Look for what the hole presents based on club choice, shot selection, and ball placement. Then, use these four simple strategies to conquer them:

1. Play your draw: If you’re going to hit a draw off the tee, tee the ball to left. You can go as far left as you want as long as you keep the ball within the box. You can even stand outside the box when teeing off.

2. Use the whole box: Not only can you stand outside the box, you can move back from the tee markers up to two full club lengths. Use your driver to measure how far back you can go.

3. Avoid the “in-between” shot: The key is to look for a spot in the tee box that ac-commodates the club you’re hitting. Find a spot that avoids hitting in-between clubs.

4. Play your fade: This golf tip is like the first golf tip. If you’re going to hit a fade, tee the ball up to the right. This position gives you more room to error and a better shot at hitting the green.

Few of us will ever play the Xtreme 19th hole. But we don’t have to play there to know how hard par 3s can be. They can kill you. To dominate them develop a game plan before teeing. The plan should maximize your chances of hitting the green in regulation. Racking up those GIRs boosts your chances of not only breaking 80 but also shrinking your golf handicap.