How To Navigate A Difficult Par 3


Playing a difficult par 3 well can make the difference between a good round and a terrible one. It separates the winners from the losers. Here I have three tips to overcoming the challenge when standing on the tee box of a monster par 3.

Difficult Par 3

Pick a Club/Target – Stick to It

Choosing an intended target out amongst any trouble and the ball flight needed is extremely important. The goal should be to make a good swing, one that will put you in the best position to make a par and get out. It might mean playing 40-50 feet away from a water hazard and towards a bunker. A bunker, coincidentally, is also a hazard but one that will not automatically cost you stroke and distance. The 15th and 17th holes at PGA National, for example, give you those sightlines away from trouble.

Change Your Mindset

For many Tour players, it’s hard not to be aggressive all the time with the way they swing the club. But, I can assure you, even they have to alter their expectations and mindset heading into these difficult holes. Par should be your goal regardless of where the pin may be located. When trouble presents itself, even a bogey isn’t a bad score in the grand scheme of things. Taking birdie from the forefront of your mind and accepting a par or bogey as a good score, regardless of how you can get to it, can be an invaluable mindset.

Difficult Golf Shot

Visualize the Shot

The first instinct of many amateur golfers is to immediately pull their head up to see where the shot is going. This habit is even more pronounced when there are hazards looming at the back of their mind. This situation is where a good pre-shot routine can calm the nerves and stabilize the mind for making the best possible swing. Take a deep breath and visualize the shot you are hoping to hit.  Many tour players like to close their eyes briefly and picture the shot they want to hit. Once you are committed and standing over the ball, keep your head steady and down through the swing.

In summary, to conquer a difficult par 3:

  • Pick a Club/Target
  • Change Your Mindset
  • Visualize the Shot

Other Tips From Our PGA Pros

Alan Unruh

Alan Unruh is a Class “A” member of the PGA of America, and holds PGA Certifications in General Management, Golf Operations and Player Development. With these certifications, he is among the 1% of PGA members that hold multiple PGA Certifications. He has a profound passion for the game of golf along with extensive experience and knowledge regarding planning and strategy for golf operations, rules of golf, tournament operations and golf swing fundamentals. Alan has also played a crucial role helping manage multiple high profile tournaments throughout his career including the USGA Women’s U.S. Open, PGA and LPGA Tour events, and multiple NCAA and AJGA events.