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10 tips to hit more greens on tricky par 3s

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Great par 3 play starts on the tee.

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For amateur golfers, especially beginners, par 3s always bring with them the possibility of a good score. All it takes is one good shot to have a putt. This is why so many golfers often get their first par on par 3 holes.

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But no matter how good you are at golf, hitting the green on your tee shot always remains the most important goal of par 3 holes. Here are some suggestions that might help you do just that.

1. Start with solid contact

Hitting the par 3 green becomes much more likely with good, solid contact. And good contact comes with good fundamentals: Hold your grip with your fingers, not your palms, make sure your arms hang below your shoulders, and bend properly from the hips for good posture.

2. Break the tee

Many golfers will attempt to lift the ball off the tee to launch it into the air with an iron, causing them to hit the ball thin. My advice is to think about the opposite: Hit down the tee to break the tee. Thinking about breaking the tee will help you hit the ball down for better contact.

3. Know your numbers

Being effective at hitting the green on a par 3 requires knowing how far you hit the distances of your club in the air – your carry distances. You can do this on the course by finding the distances to different targets on the course, or better yet, with a golf pro and launch monitor.

4. Find the best angle on the tee

When you go to place your tee in the ground on a par 3, don’t randomly place it anywhere on the tee. Find the best angle to approach the green without having to go through any obstacles such as a hazard or bunker. You can learn to do this by walking to the far sides of the tee box and seeing which side gives you the best angle towards your target. Often walking to the extreme side can make the green seem much larger or more open, or help you avoid hazards that might get in your way.

5. Work the wind

Again, teeing down on a par 3 can help control wind and hidden birdie putts. It can be very helpful to try to lean into the wind to minimize bending of your golf ball. If the wind is coming from left to right, play on the right side of the tee box so you have to lean into the wind. When you point straight into the wind, the ball will tend to curve less, making for a more predictable flight.

6. Aim for the safest part of the green

I think some pins are incidental. On smaller greens in particular, it may be wiser to aim for most of the green. Aiming for a larger part of the green can allow you to miss your shot a bit and stay on the green.

7. Avoid extreme short shots

When not hitting the green, where the golf ball misses is extremely important, thus allowing you to have the most reliable short game option. If leaving the ball a little below the green can allow you to putt or chip, instead of having to drive into a bunker, then when choosing your club, obviously the shorter club would be the right choice. As you get to know your course, you’ll know the best place to miss your golf ball in order to make short shots easier at different pin locations.

8. Customize the clubs in your bag

Different courses and conditions can make particular clubs useful. On several occasions, I have added a particular club to a student’s bag for a particular par 3 that they often play on their home course. There are shorter par 3s that can be very difficult for low clubhead speed golfers to carry bunkers and hold the green. Adding an extremely high hybrid can help you hold onto the green, even if you don’t use it much else.

9. Get more takedowns

Some days the ball goes straighter compared to others, so what could you do on those crooked days? I think the ability to take a shot down is a great option to hit the ball straighter.

A traditional takedown shot would have the golf ball positioned slightly back in your stance, with your weight starting and staying on your lead foot, which will tilt the shaft slightly producing less loft and a lower ball flight. A slightly shorter swing on both sides where the arms and body work together in perfect sync swinging back and forth often leads to a straighter, lower ball flight that can be more reliable.

10. Practice your aim

The ability to aim the clubface and align the body is an acquired skill that requires focus and practice. I suggest you spend some of your practice time on the shooting range with an alignment aid to help train your eye on what it looks like when you aim and line up correctly.

I know that when I aim correctly it often seems a bit too left, but I know that’s my tendency and I’m comfortable with it. You can train your eye to appear to aim correctly. You could also practice this on the course if you were out when the course is not busy. Take your alignment aid and position it and learn what it looks like when you aim correctly.

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