Scratch Golfers Turn Par 4’s and Par 5’s Into Short Par 3’s

Bridges hole 4

Depiction of the 97-159 yard par 3, 4th hole at Bridges Golf Course


In a previous post I talked about how high handicap golfers tend to score better (relative to par) on par 3 holes as compared to par 4’s and par 5’s, and how the opposite is true for scratch and low handicap golfers who score better  (relative to par) on par 4’s and par 5’s.

There are several reasons for this:

1)   The shorter the par 3 the easier it is to score well.

2)   Most high handicap golfers tend to play off the forward tees which means that for them most par 3’s are in the range of 150 yards or less.  Many scratch or low handicap players will play off the longer tees with an average distance closer to the 190 yard range.

Let me provide a number of examples for average distances of par 3 holes off various tees at two local courses:

Bridges Golf Course, Starbuck, MB

White tees          133 yards

Blue tees             153 yards

Black tees           178 yards

Southwood Golf and Country Club, Winnipeg, MB

White tees          152 yards

Blue tees             175 yards

Black tees           197 yards

So on par 3 holes high handicappers have significantly shorter tee shots to contend with than golfers playing of the back tees.

3)   In many sports there is no substitute for speed.  In golf there is no substitute for distance.  Generally speaking, low handicap golfers hit the ball further than high handicap players and in many cases are also more accurate.  Low handicap players, even though they may play off the longer tees, tend to have shorter approach shots into the green than high handicap players on par 4’s and especially par 5’s.

This disparity in distance off the tee means that for many high handicap golfers their approach shots on par 4’s and par 5’s are longer than their normal tee shot on par 3’s, whereas for low handicap players their approach shots on par 4’s and par 5’s are shorter than their typical tee shot on par 3’s.  In some cases par 5’s become two shot holes for the scratch player which further promotes lower scores.

The long and the short of it (pun intended) is that low handicap golfers because of their additional length and accuracy have the ability to turn their approach shots on  par 4’s and par 5’s into short par 3’s.

The shorter the “par 3” the lower the score.

Take two weeks off and then quit

What makes golfers keep playing

I have often said to people I play with that when my average score reaches 85 I’ll give up golf.

Aside from the many snide and humorous remarks like ‘so you are quitting  at the end or the season’, and ‘I guess that means you don’t have many games left’ most people rather say ‘no you won’t’.

I guess the question becomes, what is it about golf that gives you enjoyment? Is is shooting a good score, is it the friendship and camaraderie, is it the endless pursuit of par?  I suspect it is a very individual thing and in most cases a combination of things that keeps golfers going.

Most golfers are constantly trying to improve their game, but what happens when you reach the stage in your life (and your golf game) where your handicap starts heading in the wrong direction, what keeps you going then?

I recently played with an older fellow (older than me that is) who has been playing golf for over 60 years.  He recalled how as a younger man he played a lot of competitive golf and got his handicap down to a low single digit number.  Now it hovers around 15.  He plays 3 to 4 times a week and still derives great enjoyment from the game. He hits the ball approximately 170 yards off the tee, usually in the middle of the fairway, his approach shots are usually somewhere around the green, he chips reasonably well and two putts a lot.   ‘I don’t need much anymore’ he told me one day.  A few pars, the odd birdie and shooting his age a least once every week keeps him coming back and enjoying the game.

Then you get the other type of  player, the player whose handicap has always been around 20 with no improvement in sight.  What is it that keeps them coming back? For some players its becomes all about their net score, especially when there is money on the line.  They take great pride and pleasure in taking money from low handicappers on the odd hole with their net par or net birdie.

So what will I do when my average score hits 85.  Well, one can never say with certainty what one will do in the future, but because for me the enjoyment of the game is the pursuit of par I suspect that when 85 becomes the number I may well heed the advice of the late Tommy Armour and ‘take two weeks of and then quit’.