Short and Stout

In golf's increasingly bigger-is-better world, the Lilliputian par 3 rarely gets its due. But as this collection of tiny one-shotters shows, a hole doesn't have to be long to be lovable.

March 2013
Golf architecture has succumbed to the long ball. Drivable par 4s and 290-yard par 3s are all the rage. A one-shot hole that is a delicate pitch to a daunting target has been all but forgotten. Not that they were ever that popular. The best took courage to design and courage to play.

We're talking about truly short par 3s, ones no longer than a football field, end zones included, 120 yards more or less. The 155-yard 12th at Augusta National is far too long for our purposes, as is the 137-yard island-green 17th at TPC Sawgrass. Fine holes, but not pitch and putts.

A great short par 3 is as rare as a Democrat on the PGA Tour. Here are seven examples. Most of them are the 18th-handicap hole at their club, a rating that shows just how much overemphasis is placed on yardage in golf.
No. 8, Royal Troon GC
Golf Courses & Golf Travel /

Royal Troon GC, Troon, Scotland

No. 8, 123/118/114 yards

The Postage Stamp
The shortest hole on the British Open rota, it made headlines in the 1973 Open when 71-year-old Gene Sarazen aced it in the first round (with a 5-iron) and holed a bunker shot on Day 2 for a deuce. Created by Troon pro Willie Fernie during his 1909 revision of the course, it was originally called Ailsa. Willie Park Jr. called the green a "postage stamp" in 1923, the same year that James Braid added two nasty bunkers to the left of the green, and it stuck as the name of the hole. The clever moniker has lasted several generations, but someday golfers probably won't understand the reference. Might this treacherous hole with the skinny target need a 21st-century name? The Microchip, perhaps?
Stephen Szurlej
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