In his weekly Limerick Leader golf column, Ivan Morris picks his favourite Par 3 holes in the mid-west region.
It’s not difficult to appreciate why some short in stature but enormous in character par-3 holes hold our attention.
If you were to poll any wide-ranging, group of golfers from tour player to duffer and ask them to name their favourite golf holes, it’s likely that a ‘fair share’ of par-3s as compared with par-4s and par-5s would figure. There’s also a good chance that as many short (under 149-metres) par-3s as long (over 181-metres) ones would feature.
Consider Augusta’s iconic 12th or Pebble Beach’s 95-yards long, 7th that hangs so tantalizingly on a cliff edge over the Pacific Ocean or, the 125-yards of menace at the Postage Stamp (8th) hole at Royal Troon or, the much feared ‘Island 17th hole’ at Sawgrass. How about those attention-grabbers for intrigue and excitement?
We have quite a few a good ones that capture my full attention here in the Midwest, too.
To provide you with ‘food for thought’ rather than controversy (I hope!) - here’s a very biased, personal selection of ten that strike me as being ‘the best of the par 3s in the Midwest.’
1. 11th at Castletroy
The 11th at Castletroy is an ‘all-carry’ 181-metres into the prevailing wind, over what the Scots would call a ‘wee burn’ to a large, slanting green that is difficult to negotiate even after you have managed to reach the dance floor safely.
The less than appealing surroundings (in that particular corner of the routing) do not detract a single iota from it being a superbly challenging golf hole.
2. - 8th at Adare
In my eyes, the 191-metres long, 8th at Adare Manor is one of the best-framed holes in County Limerick. A strong, straight shot of the correct length is clearly required but there’s the rub!
A ‘blind’ swale in front of the green camouflages the actual distance and if the unwary ‘discount’ the yardage by the tiniest fraction - it’s bad news! Nor is clubbing up a viable option due to the course boundary being quite tight to the back edge of a green.
3. 7th at Doonbeg
I love the private amphitheatre and ‘high tee’ characteristics of the ‘elastic’ 7th at Doonbeg, which can be played as a ‘comfy’ 145-yards or ‘brutal’ 229-yards. Either way, it’s probably my favourite hole on one of my favourite golf courses.
4.17th at Roscrea
The 177-metres, 17th at Roscrea is an extremely testing and nuanced hole due to the green being perched on a natural, diagonal plateau that makes accurate clubbing difficult.
The tee shot also has to negotiate its way past a large tree and avoid an out of bounds fence along the right hand side.
Because the prevailing wind comes from the right, those hazards must be taken on; otherwise the ball could be blown away into a thick, score-destructing grove on the left. Negotiating a safe passage over two, expertly positioned bunkers guarding the green on both left and right is no bargain.
5. 8th at Woodstock
The 170-metres, 8th at Woodstock can only be described as a hooker’s nightmare with water tight all the way along the lhs and no easy recovery options available on the rhs either. This is a stern examination in precision and good clubbing because of the long, slim, 2-tiered green.
6. 7th at Dromoland
The 7th at Dromoland is probably the most dramatic and scenic on the former O’Brien demesne. It plays shorter than its 157-metres due to the high elevation of the teeing ground but if the wind is swirling picking the right club is pure guesswork. The magnificent backdrop and the natural pond on the left make it quite the splendid sight.
7. 15th at Ballykisteen
In spite of its great length from the back tee, the 228-metres long, downhill 15th hole at Ballykisteen provides several bail out options but it’s also a hole that screams: “Are you a man?” Those who ‘take it on’ and ignore the dreaded agua on the right, short and long are well compensated for pulling off a great shot.
8. 16th at Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort
When you reach the ‘medium-length’ 16th at Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort forget the gorgeous and distracting surroundings and concentrate fully on ‘pulling’ the right club – otherwise you have no chance! Only expert execution and a radar-like accuracy will see you home safe and sound.
9. 15th at Tipperary Golf Club
Underestimate the tricky, 120-metres long, 15th hole at Rathanny (Tipperary Golf Club) at your peril. This innocuous, little teaser is known locally as the ‘Fairy Hole’ due to the nasty surprises it can throw at you! It calls for perfect clubbing followed by cautious putting. If you miss the green – forget par and concentrate on cutting your losses.
10. 6th at Ardagh
The 160-metres, 6th at Ardagh (Newcastlewest GC) is another cleverly angled creation by Dr. Arthur Spring, who to my mind is an expert at creating delightful par-3s. It looks straightforward but once again accurate clubbing is the key.
A faultless calculation of how to negotiate the deceptively wide stream and find ‘the right part’ of a tiered and skewed hourglass shaped green is quite a challenge.
Words of the Wise
Even Golfers who are not particularly knowledgeable or analytical can sense the difference between a purely natural hole and one that is artificial.