Top 10: Best par 3 holes in golf

Does Sawgrass' feared 17th rival Augusta's 12th, Pebble's 7th or Troon's 8th - we rank golf's very best par 3s.

Charlie Lemay's picture
Andy Roberts
Tue, 9 May 2017

Top 10: Best par 3 holes in golf

 

Gulp. The infamous island-green 17th at TPC Sawgrass, venue for this week's Players Championship, is not just one of the most famous and feared par threes in golf. It's one of the most iconic settings in all of sport.

The signature hole of the Stadium Course should pose amateurs little angst, let alone professionals. At just 132 yards, it requires no more than a flick of a wedge to reach a relatively large green.

But surround it with water and add swirling winds, and you will see why more than 100,000 balls are hit into the drink every year.

Is it the best par 3 in golf? We considered many, and whittled them down to 10. These short holes pack a serious punch.

#10 - 16th, TPC Scottsdale, Stadium Course

Beery, bawdy and beltingly loud, the 162-yard par three is surrounded by grandstands to create a raucous amphitheatre. Loved by players and fans alike, as it is one of the rare times golf lets its hair down and cranks the speakers to full volume.

There have been eight hole-in-ones on the 16th during the Pheonix Open but one reigns supreme.

Tiger Woods' ace in 1997 sent the crowd into raptures and the former world number one played the part of conductor while bouncing down the fairway, showcasing that trademark fist pump.

#9 - 11th, Castle Stuart

It seems Scottish golfers are suckers for punishment, and the 15th at Castle Stuart is a prime example.

Overshoot the green, lying about 170-yards away, and you'll be searching in the icy water while thick grass and bunkers wait to swallow those who miss anywhere else. 

While the photo paints a serene picture, the hole's proximity to the sea means it is often battered by winds, and it in turn batters the egos of players.

#8 - 15th, Kingsbarns Golf Links

"It's a still day on the links in Fife" said very few people, ever, and this is what makes the 15th at Kingsbarns such an intriguing hole.

Players are required to play over the sea but the trees on the left of the hole often block the wind, making club selection difficult. Those who go for the pin when it is tucked at the back deserve a pat on the back, their bravado lauded and their sanity questioned.

#7 - 16th, Augusta National

Despite boasting a number of menacing bunkers and a large lake, the main defence of the 16th at Augusta National is its green. 

The putting surface slopes violently towards the water and the picture-perfect green is lightning quick. With the pin on the right, tee shots must be super-precise to keep it close.

With left pins, players can use the slope to feed the ball down, but with the added nightmare-inducing scenario of putting towards the drink on a glassy surface. An even worse prospect if you miss the green to the right.

Woods' chip-in from the left fringe in 2005 is remembered as one of the best shots of all time, coaxing his ball down the hill and into the hole. 

#6 - 14th, Royal Portrush, Dunluce Course

In a country famed for the frivolity of its social life, lies a hole so cruel you will need to bypass the Guinness and head straight for the hard stuff in one of Northern Ireland's copious pubs.

Known as "Calamity Corner", the 14th on the Dunlace Course at Portrush is long, at 210-yards, and requires players to fly their balls all the way to the green to stand a chance of escaping without a red number.

#5 - 7th, Pebble Beach

Hitting towards the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean will unsettle those with the most steadfast disposition, even with only 107 yards to navigate.

The demon on the seventh at Pebble Beach is the wind, meaning a knock-down shot is the best option.

Its beauty means it is one of the most photographed holes in golf but that belies the pain it can inflict. It remains one of the shortest holes on the major roster, and lives up to the saying "the best things come in small packages". 

#4 - 8th, Royal Troon, Old Course

Known as the "Postage Stamp" because of its miniscule green, the eighth at Royal Troon requires nerve and precision - think David Beckham taking that free-kick against Greece.

Playing just 123-yards, this Scottish links is accustomed to gale force winds so sending your ball into the heavens leaves you in the hands of the Gods.

The shortest hole in Open Championship golf poses a simple problem - hit the green or else. 

#3 - 17th, Whistling Straits

At 223-yards, just the length of the 17th at Whistling Straights is enough to send most golfers into a state of panic, but that's the tip of the iceberg. 

With water on the left, deep bunkers surrounding the green and a dune protecting the front, it earns its name as the "Pinched Nerve".

It's one of Pete Dye's most intimidating and spectacular holes although another word beginning with "s" is often said while playing it. 

#2 - 17th, TPC Sawgrass 

A hole we would all love to play, but never in a competition.

The 17th at TPC Sawgrass is world-renowned for its iconic island green. With a wedge in hand, even the pros fall foul of nerves on this 132-yard pulse-raiser, with a record 93 balls finding a watery grave during the 2007 Players Championship. 

Rory McIlroy ditched the clubs altogether at the 2014 Players and threw his ball onto the green - albeit just in the practice round. 

#1 - 12th, Augusta National 

You should never judge a book by its cover as the 12th hole at Augusta National proves. The shortest hole on the course at 155 yards, the Golden Bell will school you like a stern headmaster if you are lulled into a false sense of security.

Rae's Creek in the foreground and the blooming azaleas behind are picture-perfect, but the hole sits at the lowest point on the course, and the wind swirling around Amen Corner creates a whirlpool effect.

"You hear guys saying, don't pull a club on 12 until you see both flags on 11 and 12 are moving the same direction. They are never, ever moving the same direction," said Woods.

 With a stroke average of 3.28, and a historical ranking of third hardest hole on the course, she is a heartbreaker. Tommy Nakajima ran up a 13 here at the 1978 Masters.

Jack Nicklaus told Golf Digest: "The first time I played the hole was in 1959. "I was with Roger McManus, a good amateur. Roger hit first and flew the green with a six iron. I hit a seven iron and didn't get halfway across Rae's Creek. That was my introduction to the wind at the 12th."

What do you make of our list? Have we forgotten any par-3 peaches?