Golf Course Architecture - Issue 59, January 2020

51 I n these days of 500-plus yard par fours and of courses closing in on 8,000 yards, there is a certain frisson to be had from stepping on the tee of a tiny par three. When the difference between two regular golfers with a driver can be 200 yards, the short par three is pretty much the last remaining equaliser in our game. When a hole measures 100 yards or so, virtually every player will have a short iron in hand. Even the hack will be thinking to themselves ‘I can and should get this close’ (though they rarely will). It is, basically, the only occasion in our game when the weak feels they can compete with the strong. But there is more to the short three than that. It is perhaps ironic, given the distance professionals hit the ball today, but when a tiny three appears in a championship routing, it typically ends up as one of the course’s feature holes. Think of the seventh at Pebble Beach, around 100 yards and downhill, or the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon, 123 yards long for Open Championship contenders, and difficult enough, with its tiny green to prompt a hearty sigh of relief when it is passed. Or, a more recent example, the sixteenth hole at Himmerland in Denmark, host for several years to the European Tour’s Made in Denmark event. Known as ‘Himmerland Hill’ and created by architect Philip Christian Spogárd deliberately with the pros in mind, in the 2015 tournament the hole was the shortest in European Tour history, measuring just 79 yards in the final round. “The short par three offers the prospect of the ultimate prize – a one on the scorecard – to the largest possible number of golfers,” says Two of golf ’s best known short terrors: the seventh at Pebble Beach, which is the shortest hole on the PGA Tour and, left, the Postage Stamp eighth at Royal Troon, just 123 yards from the back tees Photo: Photo by Noah Rosenfield on Unsplash Photo: