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Selecting a Golf Club for a Par 3 hole

Updated on June 28, 2013

It depends on the golfer and the conditions

I am always puzzled by the golfer that walks up to the tee on a par 3 hole and selects their club based on the yardage marked in the scorecard or on the hole marker. There must be an awful lot of lawyers and accountants in the ranks of the casual golfer because they seem to believe that if it is written, it must be correct. That just isn't the case because the hole and the tee are moved around on a daily basis.

If the tee wasn't moved you would eventually be hitting from a ditch that the golfers would create. And if the hole wasn't moved, you would be attempting to putt into something that would look more like an ant hill than a golf hole. Every time a player gets close to the hole or bends down to pick up the ball from the hole, they make a small depression in the ground surrounding the hole. This is sometimes referred to as the "lumpy doughnut". So toward the end of the day the hole actually is a little higher than ground immediately surrounding it which explains why some putts just miraculously turn away from the hole.

One must always remember that the hole is measured to the center of the green from a specific marking (usually embedded in the ground on the tee). You need to first determine how far today's tee is from that marking and how far the hole is from the center of the green. Some courses use a system of different colored flags to denote that it is front/middle/back of green center. Others use an indicator on the flag shaft where low/middle/high do the same the thing as the colored flag.

Other factors are the difference in height between the tee and the green, slope of the green, wind and other weather conditions. And if this hole happens to be a hole-in-one contest hole for a charitable tournament, well the insurance company that is covering this prize really doesn't want you to win it, so the hole positioning will likely have no bearing on the scorecard measurement and also on the longish side.

Your first question upon stepping onto the tee should be how long is the hole playing today and not what does the scorecard say how long this hole is. Part of course management is determining what is playing different today on this hole and all the other holes based on what the scorecard is telling you. You will eventually learn what club works for what distance as you progress in the game so what one person uses on the par 3 hole isn't necessarily what the other golfers will use. I think we can all agree that Tiger and you will most likely use a different club on a 175-yard par 3. And Tiger will be the one choking up on the club.

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    • Tom T profile image

      Tom T 8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      You also need to take into account elevation of where you are playing. One time I was playing in Las Cruces NM and flying all the greens. Didn't know why until someone reminded me that I wasn't at sea level anymore! Great Hub.