Golf Course Architecture - Issue 69, July 2022

48 INS IGHT Harry Colt, who surely created more great one-shot holes than any other architect in the game’s history, is widely believed to have routed his courses by first finding locations for par threes. While this is, in many ways, a sensible way to go about tackling a site, because holes that do not need a fairway can be routed over broken or otherwise severe ground, and thus enable the architect to get players over the most difficult pieces of land, it is also sensible as far as golfers are concerned: short holes are typically the most memorable and popular on any course. What short holes are typically not, though, is strategic. Strategy – the idea that by careful positioning of a shot, the next will be easier – has been at the core of golf design since its initial outlining, principally by Colt’s great friend John Low at the very beginning of the twentieth century. A par three, though, does not generally (intentionally) require consecutive shots, other than with a putter. Is it, therefore, the case that par-three holes are inherently not strategic? If we posit an extreme example, say a par three with an enormous and almost entirely flat green, it is obvious that there is no strategy, and the hole is a pure test of execution: how close to the pin is the golfer capable of hitting his ball? But we can say upfront that there are a small number of such holes that do have strategy, because it is a legitimate play to miss the green. Consider the famous sixteenth at Cypress Point. With a carry over the Pacific Ocean of more than 200 yards, even from the front tee, there are inevitably a fair proportion of golfers Can a par three be strategic? Strategy, the core of golf architecture, generally relates to holes requiring at least two shots to reach the green, while par threes are usually perceived to be simple tests of execution. Adam Lawrence asks, is this view correct? “ The strategy of a hole depends on the ability of the individual player” Photo: Jon Cavalier @LinksGems