GOOD GOLF is about playing as many par 3s as you can. What does that mean? In addition to the actual par 3s on the course, your goal should be to have a reasonable “par 3” to the green after your tee shot on par 4s (or second shot on par 5s). If you drive it in the water or out-of-bounds, you don’t get to play a par 3. But from 150 in the fairway, you should be thinking, I can make 3 from here.
Driving is the first step in the process, but given at least a decent drive—assuming you’re playing the right set of tees—it’s really more about what you do next. Think about it: What’s the most important shot on a par 3? It’s the shot to the green—the approach shot—because that’s what determines if you’ll be scoring or scrambling.
Let’s look at five common situations you face after your tee shot. I’ll give you some playing tips and the swing keys for each one. Use my par-3 strategy, and you’ll play every hole better.
1 IN THE FAIRWAY
FOCUS ON TEMPO AND SOLID CONTACT
If you don’t hit a lot of fairways, you probably feel oddly anxious when you do find one. First, don’t rush up to your ball and then have to wait. Stroll the last 50 yards or so. Hogan used to prepare for his rounds by driving to the course at half speed. Point is, let your mind and body slow down. Next, a good word to focus on is “complete.” Think about completing the backswing and getting to a full finish. That means turning your body back and through (left), letting the swing take some time. Nerves usually speed