Table of Contents
- Muirfield - 13th
- Portrush - 16th - Calamity
- Royal Troon - 8th - The Postage Stamp
- Turnberry - 9th
- St Andrews - 11th - Eden
You might think that courses on The Open rota are untouchable, but the R&A doesn’t agree. Expect to hear a lot of noise at this year’s Open about the brand new reconstruction of the Par 3 "Rushes" replaced with a stunning new 17th hole now called Little Eye. This distinctive hole is an eye opening addition to Royal Liverpool. It remains to be seen whether it will find favour with the players this year, but here are five other par 3s which are certainly some of the very best short holes on the rota.
Whenever the Open next visits Muirfield, you will likely find me camped out in the stand behind the magnificent 13th hole (pictured above).
It plays at 193 yards uphill to a 46 yard, three-tier green that slopes significantly from front to back. I can’t think of another hole which plays so differently depending on wind direction and setup. With a westerly wind behind, and a front pin, players will be hitting a very lofted club. But into an easterly wind, with a back pin, even the very best players would be reaching for a hybrid - mere mortals might need a driver.
The narrow green is flanked by dunes and bunkers which just add to the fear from the tee. On a course famed for its consistently great holes, the 13th may stand above all the rest.
When Portrush re-entered the Open rota there was excitement throughout the golf world. There was no doubt that the course was one of the very best in the world, but how would it stand up to a new generation of professionals? Of course, the event was a huge success and the 236 yard, par 3 16th, Calamity, may just have been the star of the show.
It’s not one of those links holes where you can run the ball up to the green. If you go for the flag you will need to carry the ball over a vast chasm, so perfect execution is vital. Fortunately for higher handicappers there is a bail out to the left, but, for the pros on golf’s ultimate stage, nothing less than perfection is required.
The 8th hole at Royal Troon - The Postage Stamp
What’s the most famous par 3 in golf? OK it’s, probably the 17th at Sawgrass, but surely The Postage Stamp isn’t far behind? It may be only 123 yards long but the 8th at Royal Troon has claimed many victims over the years.
As at all links courses, the wind can be a defining factor. Standing on the tee you will have turned back towards the clubhouse for the first time in your round so you will be dealing with a new wind direction. And believe me, it can howl on the west coast of Scotland.
The green is incredibly well protected with some of the deepest bunkers in golf, including the famous coffin bunker on the right. Don’t be greedy on this hole - the middle of the green will always be a good result!
Okay, I’m cheating a bit with this one. The 9th hole at Turnberry is a brand new par 3 and The Open hasn’t actually been played here since it was built. But when the Championship does eventually return here, expect to see this hole featuring a lot in the coverage.
If truth be told, this hole is all about the setting. But what a setting it is. You tee off on a tiny sliver of land, with the iconic Alisa Craig behind. You have to hit over crashing waves, with the world famous lighthouse (now a rather special halfway house) off to your left. It’s a long par 3 and just keeping your ball dry is a success.
You could go around the world and play all the best courses, but few would match the 9th at Turnberry for sheer beauty.
The par 3 9th hole at Turnberry's Ailsa Course
The Old Course at St Andrews only has two par 3s, but the second of these is one of the very best anywhere in golf. The hole, named ‘Eden’, sits at the far point of the golf course, just in front of the Eden estuary.
For the professional game these days, it is relatively modest in terms of distance at only 174 yards, but the green is incredibly well protected. Miss it short and you will probably find yourself in one of the dastardly, deep bunkers (‘Strath’ and ‘Hill’) where escape is the only objective. Go long or left and even the world’s best will find it hard to get it up and down.
But don’t beat yourself up too much if you run up a high score here. Bobby Jones tore up his card and walked off the course in frustration when he was unable to escape the Hill bunker in the 1921 Open. It can do that to a person.