The Niggle: Long v short par-3s. Which are better?

A picturesque 120-yarder or a 200+ brute. Which do you prefer? Members of our team give their views.

James Savage (JS) -Particularly after a tough opening five or six holes, a 120/130 yard par-3 is exactly what I’m looking for. As a mid-high handicapper it is a bit of a leveller when playing with better players. Aside from that, some of the best holes I have ever played are short par-3s. The 8th at Bamburgh Castle and 15th at Seahouses were both an absolute treat on a recent visit to Northumberland. I think they break up the course really nicely and offer something a bit different. 

The 15th at Seahouses

Jamie Miles (JM) – I have to disagree JS. As a low handicapper I love a long par three. Not long enough that I would need to hit something other than an iron, but long enough that a really good shot is properly rewarded. Anyone with the massive shovels for irons that most of us play with nowadays can mis hit a shot and get away with it on a most short par-3s. That is not the case when you need to thread a mid to long iron between bunkers onto the putting surface. I’m not advocating for silly carries over water either as I think that a route along the ground needs to be available to those who can’t flight a shot but in general I like them as they require a bit more thought than the usual short par three where it can be target practise.

Tom Lenton (TL) – You say that JM but often this happens; I think I will beat someone on a long par-3 and its time to take advantage of playing a higher handicapper off scratch on a hole. I make 4 and haven’t played the hole that badly, he makes 4 and probably hits 7 iron in for his second shot. I haven’t played the hole that poorly yet I walk off the green annoyed. Short par-3s are the best because you get the chance to hit a scoring club in, often they are picturesque and can still be punishing to poor shots with water, well placed bunkers or a tiered green.

James Tompkinson (JT) – I agree with JS in part, I much prefer a short par-3 providing that the hole has an interesting feature or two. I recently played at Hallamshire and the 120-yard 17th was, without question, my favourite hole. Par-3s are generally the holes I remember when I play anywhere because everything is usually in view. Playing off a high handicap, it is always nice to think that you have a good chance of making par. That said, if a hole doesn’t have anything noteworthy in terms of features, length can definitely be used as a way to make it more interesting and challenging.

The 17th at Hallamshire


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