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Adam Lawrence

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Strategy in par threes
« on: May 16, 2022, 06:37:03 AM »
An odd one. Can a par three be strategic (given the essence of strategy is risking a hazard to earn an easier next shot)?

I suppose it can if there is a potential reason for aiming somewhere other than the flag -- for example into Bobby Locke's Hollow on Calamity at Royal Portrush. Or if there is more than one way to access the flag, as for example on the ninth at Sweetens Cove, where you can either fire a high wedge at the pin or use the huge Redan kicker mound to run the ball down. But I have a niggling doubt that anyone who was genuinely focused on his score would do that. Is it really strategy if you'd only use a route if playing for giggles?

Thoughts on strategy in one shot holes please? And if you can think of holes that have strategy, please name them and explain why.

Adam

ps this is research for a potential article in GCA.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2022, 07:24:54 AM »
Yes. Strategy exists in different forms for different abilities so;


At a short hole a lesser player strategically is best to play away from extreme trouble, ie pond on left so miss on the right.


Strategy at short holes fades almost to zero as players become exceptional but there are still isolated holes where it creeps in. Pin locations too at high level golf can offer similar options where it is best to miss or play away from the direct route.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
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Thomas Dai

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2022, 07:34:37 AM »
Billy Casper won the US Open at Winged Foot laying-up on one particular par-3 and making par in each round.
atb

Niall C

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2022, 09:57:14 AM »
Yes undoubtedly. Historically Hogan played short at the 16th at Carnoustie each day in his one and only appearance in the Open. These days the safe play on the 12th (?) at Augusta is to go over the front bunker and not aim at the pin. Of course on a par 3 the hole position on any given day would tend to have much more of a bearing on say the strategy for a par 4 or par 5.


Niall

John Chilver-Stainer

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2022, 10:06:08 AM »
The 16th at ANGC is a recent reminder of strategy for the lower left pin locations.
Many players choosing to use the slope to bring the ball back to the hole rather than a direct howitzer with less margin for error.


Niall C

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2022, 10:11:19 AM »
John


Do you think that is actually strategy ? After all it's a route to the same result. Seems like a no-brainer to me. A bit like going for the hole by hitting a draw rather than a fade. Either way you are still going for the hole, whereas laying up is distinct from going for the green/hole.


Niall

Ira Fishman

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2022, 10:18:51 AM »
CPC 16 is the obvious example. But to Niall’s point, pin location even on a shorter hole can influence strategy. If the pin is right on 16 at Somerset Hills, left short probably a better play.




Rick Lane

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2022, 03:48:11 PM »
On a par three with the green edges higher than the middle section ie a bowl, or a potato chip type, or what some have called “collecting” greens (usually attributed to Tillie) , I think it’s a strategic play to NOT fire at a pin tucked on one side, where a miss would leave you short sided with a green running away from you, while if you played for the fat part of the green, even if you miss on that side, you have a green running now toward the pin….an easier recovery.


My home course has a couple of these, where the penalty for aggression is large, but laying off the pin leaves a more generous recovery, albeit a tougher or non existent birdie chance.

PPallotta

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2022, 04:19:14 PM »
I've long thought the penal-strategic divide a false one, more a function of our dichotomous (and conventional) thinking than of any actual playing experience -- as if severe hazards or difficult shot-demands necessarily preclude thoughtful decision-making, and conversely as if the mere possibility of making a bold/prudent choice automatically elevates this garden-variety decision-making into the lofty realm of 'strategy'. Which is to say: I think when it comes to the vast majority of all golf courses/golf holes it's more appropriate to talk about 'tactics' than about 'penal vs strategic'; and even then only when it comes to Par 4s and 5s, when we can at least try to 'plot together' and execute more than one single shot as part of our plan to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes -- and then only if that was actually our plan in the first place, which it often isn't for many fun-loving golfers, not all that concerned about score (or for those who get to play 16 at CPC and who already know they haven't come all that way to lay up!). So, my answer: No, since Par 3 holes can barely be considered 'tactical', I'm almost certain that they can't be 'strategic'. Personally I'd prefer them all to be 'penal' and be done with it -- surrounded by deep bunkers and with small contoured greens, played in the wind and rain. The thrills and drama and satisfaction I'd then get playing them would more than make up for any lack of, ahem, 'strategy'.

 
« Last Edit: May 16, 2022, 05:01:46 PM by PPallotta »

Sean_A

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2022, 05:01:13 PM »
I've long thought the penal-strategic divide a false one, more a function of our dichotomous (and conventional) thinking than of any actual playing experience -- as if severe hazards or difficult shot-demands necessarily preclude thoughtful decision-making, and conversely as if the mere possibility of making a bold/prudent choice automatically elevates this garden-variety decision-making into the lofty realm of 'strategy'. Which is to say: I think when it comes to the vast majority of all golf courses/golf holes it's more accurate and appropriate to talk about 'tactics' than about 'strategy'; and even then only when it comes to Par 4s and 5s, when we can at least try to 'plot together' and execute more than one single shot as part of our plan to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes -- and then only if that was actually our plan in the first place, which it often isn't for many fun-loving golfers, not all that concerned about score (or for those who get to play 16 at CPC and who already know they haven't come all that way to lay up!). So, my answer: No, since Par 3 holes can barely be considered 'tactical', I'm almost certain that they can't be 'strategic'. Personally I'd prefer them all to be 'penal' and be done with it -- surrounded by deep bunkers and with small contoured greens, played in the wind and rain. The thrills and drama and satisfaction I'd then get playing them would more than make up for any lack of, ahem, 'strategy'.

While I fully appreciate the concept of blurred lines between between absolutes of strategy and penal, I couldn't disagree more that there are no ends of the spectrum which are manifested in design.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

PPallotta

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2022, 05:09:39 PM »
I've long thought the penal-strategic divide a false one, more a function of our dichotomous (and conventional) thinking than of any actual playing experience -- as if severe hazards or difficult shot-demands necessarily preclude thoughtful decision-making, and conversely as if the mere possibility of making a bold/prudent choice automatically elevates this garden-variety decision-making into the lofty realm of 'strategy'. Which is to say: I think when it comes to the vast majority of all golf courses/golf holes it's more accurate and appropriate to talk about 'tactics' than about 'strategy'; and even then only when it comes to Par 4s and 5s, when we can at least try to 'plot together' and execute more than one single shot as part of our plan to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes -- and then only if that was actually our plan in the first place, which it often isn't for many fun-loving golfers, not all that concerned about score (or for those who get to play 16 at CPC and who already know they haven't come all that way to lay up!). So, my answer: No, since Par 3 holes can barely be considered 'tactical', I'm almost certain that they can't be 'strategic'. Personally I'd prefer them all to be 'penal' and be done with it -- surrounded by deep bunkers and with small contoured greens, played in the wind and rain. The thrills and drama and satisfaction I'd then get playing them would more than make up for any lack of, ahem, 'strategy'.
While I fully appreciate the concept of blurred lines between between absolutes of strategy and penal, I couldn't disagree more that there are no ends of the spectrum which are manifested in design.
Ciao
In terms of Adam's question, then, does this mean you think Par 3s can definitely be 'strategic' -- and clearly manifest that 'end of the design spectrum' in marked contrast to penal Par 3s?   

Tim Martin

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2022, 05:18:11 PM »
Isn’t strategy a consideration for every hole/shot if the end game is to finish in the least amount of strokes?

Sean_A

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2022, 05:46:22 PM »
I've long thought the penal-strategic divide a false one, more a function of our dichotomous (and conventional) thinking than of any actual playing experience -- as if severe hazards or difficult shot-demands necessarily preclude thoughtful decision-making, and conversely as if the mere possibility of making a bold/prudent choice automatically elevates this garden-variety decision-making into the lofty realm of 'strategy'. Which is to say: I think when it comes to the vast majority of all golf courses/golf holes it's more accurate and appropriate to talk about 'tactics' than about 'strategy'; and even then only when it comes to Par 4s and 5s, when we can at least try to 'plot together' and execute more than one single shot as part of our plan to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes -- and then only if that was actually our plan in the first place, which it often isn't for many fun-loving golfers, not all that concerned about score (or for those who get to play 16 at CPC and who already know they haven't come all that way to lay up!). So, my answer: No, since Par 3 holes can barely be considered 'tactical', I'm almost certain that they can't be 'strategic'. Personally I'd prefer them all to be 'penal' and be done with it -- surrounded by deep bunkers and with small contoured greens, played in the wind and rain. The thrills and drama and satisfaction I'd then get playing them would more than make up for any lack of, ahem, 'strategy'.
While I fully appreciate the concept of blurred lines between between absolutes of strategy and penal, I couldn't disagree more that there are no ends of the spectrum which are manifested in design.
Ciao
In terms of Adam's question, then, does this mean you think Par 3s can definitely be 'strategic' -- and clearly manifest that 'end of the design spectrum' in marked contrast to penal Par 3s?   

I wouldn't go that far. You described a classic penal par three with a carry requirement and trouble on all sides as your preferred par 3. There are plenty of short holes which offer more choices than that. The Redan is one such type of hole. Although, I would suggest that part of strategy on a short hole can be identifying the miss which offers a decent chance at a recovery par. Because golfers usually choose to ignore these outlets or aren't good enough to take advantage of these outlets on a consistent basis doesn't negate their existence. The real difficulty in the strategic-penal continuum is to keep courses playable, yet interesting for most golfers. Variety is king.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

Mark_Fine

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2022, 06:06:28 PM »
Thomas,
That was #3 at Winged Foot West. 


Adam,
I am late to the party but how are you defining “strategy”?  The strategy (or how best/what options you have to play) some par threes can change dramatically depending on hole location. And what I call the “hazard value” of certain hazards whether it be a bunker, water, a hollow, a tree,….can change significantly as well depending on where the flag is located.  Sometimes a bunker for example can be your friend whereas other times that same bunker can be death.  Our 3rd hole at Lehigh is just one of hundreds of examples.

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2022, 06:34:20 PM »
I've said it before, but because there is no shot relationship inherent in par 3 holes, I like the template or other shot concept holes where the main thing is to hit a certain type of shot for best results.


The precision shot (small green) is great for par 3's, with little strategy, because you can control the distance from all tees.  The


Redan is good, or any hole calling for high backspin, using a kick slope to roll closer to pin (maybe Dell hole). 


I feel like the Biaritzz is okay on other holes, even better than most par 3 holes. 


Calling for a shot pattern for similar reasons is good, i.e., overhanging trees semi force a fade or draw.


A very large green with several smaller targets is good, spreads wear, may make golfer fall asleep.


With a ball on the tee, and yardage control (again) of par 3 holes, a green sitting 45 degrees where you have to combine distance and angle would be good on a medium to long medium par 3.  That is a pretty hard shot from the variety of distances you would get on longer holes.


Most architects have felt water (or native) carries are fairest on par 3 holes, iron in hand, ball on tee minimizes hazard.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2022, 05:24:36 AM »
We can say that par threes generally afford fewer strategic choices than other holes.
If I were to play 16 at Cypress Point with my aged body I might take the strategic choice of playing out to the left.
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Thomas Dai

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2022, 05:54:37 AM »
Doesn't, shouldn't, a players strategy on a par-3 depend on whether or not their handicap gives them a shot or maybe two or more shots on the hole?
And then there's playing into or against the wind amongst a few other variables.


atb

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2022, 07:04:33 AM »
Isn’t strategy a consideration for every hole/shot if the end game is to finish in the least amount of strokes?


No, I don't think so. Let's posit a par three with a very large and almost totally flat green. There is no strategy there, just execution -- how close to the hole are you capable of hitting it?
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Brett Meyer

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2022, 07:45:30 AM »
Unless you're shooting at every flag, there's strategy on par 3s.

As several others have sort-of mentioned, I think that a decision is strategic when you have to multiple decisions to achieve an objective. The objective in golf (usually) is to hole the ball in the fewest number of shots. The strategy is in thinking backwards from the objective and leaving yourself in the best position at each decision node to achieve that objective, taking into account to risk it takes to get to each. Clearly there can be strategy on par 4s and 5s because you need multiple shots to hit the green and there will be more and less risky routes. Thinking backward from the green, you'd want to leave yourself the easiest approach. But that usually requires a riskier first or second shot to get to that position. That's strategic thinking and everyone here understands it.

It's less clear that you have this on par 3s because most people are going for the green in one. But there are par 3s on which there's a decision to go for it in one for most (16th at Cypress Point) and a lot of golfers always have this decision on a par 3. Then there's strategy because you have to consider your score if you take on the risk and fail vs. laying up/bailing out. So long par 3s or ones with a lot of bunkers on one side and a bailout area on the other are strategic.

There can also be strategy on par 3s on a smaller scale. Even if you're going for the green in one, there's a choice whether to play at the pin or play away from it. Even though the difference may only be 30 ft., it still requires this thinking so there's still strategy. Greens with a lot of pin positions that require you to take on risk to get near them are strategic because you might choose to play a few dozen feet away from them. It's not as stark as the long par 3 where you aim away from the green, but it's still strategy. So some of the Mike Strantz par 3s with greens with long skinny sections are strategic. Or even just a green with some heavy contour and a pin where going right at it and missing leaves you with a really tough putt.

But a lot of what we're talking about on par 3s, as others have mentioned, is tactics rather than strategy: not a decision about where you're trying to get but how you're going to get there. The redan is an example of this. You've decided that you want to go at the pin, but you can do that two ways, going right at it or running one in. That's an example of tactics, not strategy. Well, there might be some strategy if you think that the likelihood of getting really close is higher if you go right at it than if you run one in...
« Last Edit: May 17, 2022, 07:48:32 AM by Brett Meyer »

mike_malone

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2022, 07:55:57 AM »
Flynn’s use of angles creates strategy on par threes. When the green angles and the bunker is set at an angle there is green beyond the bunker. The decision is how much bunker to take on or to just use the opening he often provides.


I can never understand bunkers parallel to the green. What’s the strategy?

AKA Mayday

Ira Fishman

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2022, 08:24:09 AM »
Isn’t the Dell at Lahinch a strategic Par 3?


13 at Blackwolf River might be borderline sadistic, but it is strategic.


Links courses when the wind is blowing present several strategic Par 3s.


Ira

Tim Gavrich

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2022, 11:37:52 AM »
Strategy is all about what the next shot is going to be like. As long as there's a next shot, there's strategy.
Senior Writer, GolfPass

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2022, 11:47:10 AM »
Right down to the 4th putt?
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Tim Gavrich

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2022, 11:48:30 AM »
Right down to the 4th putt?
I misplay, I misplay, I misplay, I make.
Senior Writer, GolfPass

Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Strategy in par threes
« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2022, 01:57:39 PM »
Adam,


I just had a thought.  Instead of analyzing par 3 holes in the traditional fashion, could you look at them in light of the Broadie/Fawcette type strategy of modern day?


We have all seen the tee shot strategy, usually knowing that the total dispersion pattern is about 20% of length, i.e. 60 yards on a 300 yard tee shot, so aim at least 30 yards away from trouble, but I'm not sure how they attack the similar strategic thinking on par 3 holes.


My first thought might be that the Eden Hole isn't a terrible concept, especially if there is a deep sand hazard or water vs easier hazards on the other side.  Of course, many greens feature this, but again, the chance to test that statistics strategy from distance controlled tees and the perfect lie might make it even better on par 3 holes?


Also, it seems like at least one par 3, focused on distance control, i.e., shallow greens might be considered in a set of 4, and as mentioned, the 45 degree green, a la Augusta 12 could be an oft used type of green.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

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