I recently played one of those relatively new championship courses in town and all four par 3 holes ranged in distance from 220 yards to 247 yards. That’s from the white tees. Considering that on my best day I carry the ball about 230, I had to hit driver on each tee. That I don’t mind, but in addition to the yardage each hole had hazards that were easily entered if the tee shot missed the green by the narrowest of margins. One of the holes required a 220 yard carry over a marshy lake in order to get home. I barely made it, but my playing partner did not. His drop required a 180 yard approach over the same lake. After another watery grave, he just stayed in the cart until the next tee. He was pretty hot under the collar.
When I was growing up and playing with my buddies in high school and college, we actually looked forward to the par threes. They presented reasonable chances for birdies. Most were in the 130 to 160 yard range and fun to play. Some of the best are no more than 125 yards or so, such as the postage stamp at Troon or my all time favorite the 13th at Brora in Scotland… The 17th at TPC is only 136 yards. If I make a bad shot with a nine iron in my hand, then I deserve a bogey or more. When I have to hit a driver to a green one quarter the size of a fairway that I hit the same club to, surrounded by water, then that becomes a bit extreme and uninteresting. How many balls does one have to lose on top of a double bogey before that course is written off the list of desirable places to play? Long and difficult par 3 holes don’t necessarily make for more enjoyable golf. The chance for the average guy to make a birdie certainly does. Let’s make sure they get that chance.