Long Par 3 Strategy

Strategy question to pose to the group. Feel free to cite any specific strokes gained stuff, or simply your opinion. A course I play a bit has a couple very long par 3’s. One in particular usually plays about 235yd from the back tees with tree trouble all around.
For me, if I wanted to get to the green in regulation it would be a 3 wood (probably my most erratic club). The choice I usually make is to hit my 3 hybrid (around 215yd club) even if it doesn’t give me a shot at the green. Guessing my dispersion, I think my possible results with these clubs would wind up like this:

3 hybrid: 80% left with a chip with a decent chance at an up and down. 20% left with a recovery shot, low chance at up and down.

3 wood: 50% left with decent chip, 40% left with difficult recovery shot, 10% on the green.

I know those aren’t the most exact numbers in the world, but still what do you think? (and yes, I know I should probably practice my 3 wood a bit :slight_smile: )
Have any similar situations for yourself?

With very long par 3’s I think it’s entirely appropriate to recognize that par is an excellent score and that by making bogey you are not conceding a full stroke.

I’d be curious what the handicap listed for those holes you mentioned.


#15 on Encino Golf Course (Sepulveda golf complex). Surprised that it’s only the #12 handicap hole. That course is kinda feast or famine though with a good number of short par 4’s that are gettable and then a bunch of looong par 4’s that take most of the top handicap spots.

I have a hard time believing your dispersion would get that much better dropping from 3 wood to hybrid. Unless 3 wood brings additional hazards into play I’m hitting the club that gets me to the middle of the green.

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I have a hard time believing it as well, but it’s true! :sweat_smile:
And those trees are a bit worse in person they appear from the aerial view, not well tended around them at all, very few clear lies or clear lines. They might as well be a hazard.

If it’s a course you play regularly and a shot you need regularly, I’d take some time to learn how hit the 235 yard three wood…

Overall, if a course requires you hit a shot you don’t have, I’d say take the hybrid and play for par.

What about hitting driver? If you can carry those trees with driver it looks very open at the back of the green. Suggesting this because where you would hit hybrid looks like the narrowest part of the hole.

I need to work on my three wood regardless, if only for getting home-ish on par 5’s. This particular course is maybe my third most often played one and the only hole (out of any of the courses I find myself at) that requires a three wood off the tee.
Hybrid it is! (for now)

They really don’t mow much behind the hole, so long puts you in deep, unpredictable rough, so short is better than long IMO. The hybrid actually gets me past the trees relatively easily (in line with the front bunkers and those don’t really scare me).

Yeah, for me the best way to learn a shot is to have to use it…

We have a similar long par 3 at our course. I approach it as 3 is a great score and a 4 isn’t losing ground to anybody. I do my best to avoid 5s.

I think as an amateur golfer there are times we have to recognize that bogey is an okay score.


Bogey is absolutely an okay score on a 235 yard par 3, but that doesn’t mean playing for bogey is the best strategy.


Agreed. You have to play for par, but avoid double at all costs.


Hit your hybrid to whatever spot gives you the most green to work with. Chip. Putt. Play for par and find other scoring opportunities.
Maybe go get fit for a stronger lofted hybrid that covers that distance if you’re not comfortable with the three wood.


I am looking from a different angle here and playing the percentages. Looking at the target area (green) I would be on probably less than fifty percent, but from a layup position I would be looking at on and two puts well over nintyfive percent. As I prefer a pitch from 70 yards over one from 35 1 might even go as far as hitting a real stress free mid iron off the tee.

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On our long 3s I hit whatever get me to middle of green (then 10 yds left on one hole with water). If you miss the green then just hit the next one to the middle (if you’re left with a very difficult shot) and two putt. Take bogey and move on

For me I just look where main hazards are (front/back) and way up weather. Once i know this I’ll tend to play conservatively to avoid a big score!

I don’t know your various shot patterns, but in my view its never a good idea to voluntarily give up on making par before you hit the tee shot. From 70 yards, I’d bet you average 2.9 shots or a little more, so you’re looking at averaging just about bogey. You ARE going to make mistakes occasionally with that “stress-free mid iron”, we all do, so you’ll give up an occasional stroke with a tee shot. My plan, pick a club that can hit the middle of the green, make as solid a swing as I can, and go from there. I’ll make many fewer doubles when I’m within 20 yards from the green, and more pars, as compared to being 70 yards from the green after one shot.


This is great advice, I would have never thought of it this way, but it makes perfect sense.

I’d definitely agree with that. For my example from the original post, I’d never consider going less than the hybrid (which typically will get me to around 20 yards) as being further out than that would likely lose me strokes compared to even the “risky” play of the three wood.