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.

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Which Are the Hardest Scoring Holes

Par 3’s, Par 4’s or Par 5’s

Most mid to high handicap golfers will tell you that the holes they score best on are the par 3’s while they have the most difficulty on the par 4’s and par 5 respectively.

I recently looked at my 2015 scoring stats using the game tracker feature on the Golf Canada handicap score entry site.  The following are my scoring averages for the year:

Par 3’s          3.3     (+.3)

Par 4’s          4.2     (+.2)

Par 5’s          5.0     (even)

These numbers would seem to fly in the face of the conventional wisdom that par 3’s are the easiest scoring holes.

So I decided to delve a little deeper into this issue.  I looked at the scoring statistics for the 2015 Manitoba Amateur Golf Championship,    which was conducted at Bridges Golf Course and featured many of the premier golfers in Manitoba.  First I looked at the scoring average for the players who finished in the top ten for the Championship.  Their scoring results were as follows:

Par 3’s          3.12     (+.12)

Par 4’s          4.07     (+.07)

Par 5’s          4.81     (-.19)

These result tended to mirror my experience in that the lowest scores relative to par were on par 5 holes and the highest on par 3 holes.

Next I looked at the scores for the 10 players who finished last in the Championship and failed to make the cut.  Their scoring averages reflected a different pattern:

Par 3’s          3.86     (+.86)

Par 4’s          5.2       (+1.2)

Par 5’s          6.37     (+1.37)

This group indeed scored best on the par 3’s and had their highest scores (relative to par) on the par 5’s.

In a subsequent post I will examine why this variation in scoring averages on holes with different pars exists between players of  different levels of golfing proficiency.

Any thoughts?