Find the fun -- and the future of golf -- at your local par-3 course
The highlights of my last two golf trips of the summer were not the top-100 ranked courses I played.
It was the cool par 3s I discovered in Cape Cod and Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Canada, that got my juices flowing. Seeing the clientele at Blue Rock Golf Resort in South Yarmouth, Mass., and Manitou in Mont-Tremblant has only strengthened my belief that these facilities are the future of the game – if they are done right.
And that’s the whole key. So many par 3s are just little community courses that are rough around the edges. There’s a simple par-3 course at a local Metropark near my house. It has the potential to be a great incubator for young golfers, but it just doesn’t work. Only the greens are maintained. The tees are mats, which is OK but not ideal. The problem is there are no fairways cut between the tees and greens. The rough is so thick, it’s actually a deterrent for those beginners trying to learn the game. The bad lies don’t allow them to advance the ball very far, making even 80-yard holes seem like 250-yard par 3s.
Golf Manitou (see photo below) and Blue Rock (see photo above) excel at that delicate balance between catering to beginners, juniors and seniors, while still challenging better, more experienced players. Blue Rock starts out with a handful of wedge shots off the first couple tees before building to a 250-yard par 3 on the fifth hole. The par 3s that finish each nine fly over a river. They’re good enough to fit on any regulation-sized course. Manitou offers the unique experience of 14 par 3s and four par 4s (none are longer than 360 yards). All the holes are replica holes of famous courses around the world, another unique twist.
Rounds of golf on short courses are quicker, a big selling point for playing any par 3. Most important, they’re both kept in great shape. They are conditioned like regulation courses, and therefore, give new players that ‘championship course’ feel they crave. If more par-3 courses followed their lead, this game might actually grow.
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