How to Attack a Par-3
Overlay your 'miss' pattern on the green to dial-in the right target
By Dom DiJulia
Top 100 Teacher
This story is for you if...
• You always take dead aim at the flag...
• ...and you never hit it there.
You're on the tee of a 160-yard par-3. The pin is in the middle of a guarded green. Past experience tells you that you shouldn't go straight at the flag, but you don't have a good feel for when and how to play safe.
The trick to playing par-3s (as well as planning any approach shot) is to eliminate worst-case scenarios. This won't always leave you with a tap-in for birdie, but it will keep large numbers off your scorecard.
How to Pick the Right Spot
Make a goalpost with your fingers and peer through it to the green. The distance between your fingers is the average mid-iron dispersion pattern for a mid-handicapped golfer. (Make the goalpost narrower if you're a single-digit handicapper and wider if you're a novice or high-handicapper.) Move the goalpost around the green until you find the spot that combines the largest area of the putting surface with the least number of hazards. This area may be several yards from the pin, but making the center of your goalpost your landing spot means you'll stay out of trouble and, minus a 3-putt, card par at worst.
2 of 5Schecter Lee
TOO FAR RIGHT
• Aiming right of the pin in this instance brings the back bunkers into play.
3 of 5Schecter Lee
• You think you're playing it smart by aiming left of the pin toward the fat of the green, but even here your dispersion pattern doesn't give you a great enough margin for error.
4 of 5Schecter Lee
• Aiming at the pin in this instance places too much of your dispersion pattern over the bunker.
• If you played this hole 100 times, a good majority of your shots would end up in the sand if you took dead aim at the flag.
5 of 5Schecter Lee
• In this example, the best place to overlay your dispersion pattern is the front left portion of the green.
• Here, every shot out of an imaginary 100 would land safely on or near the green (and not in a hazard). Make the center of this pattern your landing point.
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