The latest in our instructional blogs from Steve Mitchell PGA, head Professional at Etchinghill Golf Club, Kent.
“Golfers spend a lot of time on a driving range perfecting their tee shots. Good.
This is then taken to the golf course and, if executed correctly, should leave the golfer with an approach shot to the green. Does golf then become a Par 3 competition?
Well yes, pretty much.
The skills of playing par 3s well include sound distance control, strategic play and a good, solid straight shot. The latter part can be practised on the driving range along with tee shots, but where can you go to really practice distance control and shot making in ‘true’ conditions? However good the driving range is, is it always a bit tricky to see exactly where the balls land and finish in relation to any distance markers. The back fence is apparently “reached” more often than not for this reason alone!
So where can we practice distance control and shot selection? You’ll find that there is nearly always a Par 3 course or Academy course near you, where you should be practising this. This has huge advantages over the driving range too; using your own ball, hitting from grass, realistic sized targets as well as having the opportunity to convert any birdies or up and down any loose shots – exactly what you will do on every hole during a round of golf. It’s also a relatively quick way of playing compared to the usual four or four and a half hours that a full round tends to take. Nine holes takes about an hour, less on your own. You can learn a lot in that hour!
Etchinghill Golf Club in Folkestone has recently opened an Academy Course which enables you to work on all of these very important elements of your game. As a coach I see it as an invaluable facility for helping students improve and take their game forward. It’s a perfect practice course. But explore the par 3 courses where you live, I bet you’ll find an undiscovered gem!
Par 3 courses can no doubt be an excellent training ground for the newer golfer, but they can also be an ideal situation for friends and families of all levels to compete. Add to this the benefits they can deliver for more experienced golfers too and they’re very much a part of the golfing equation. If you haven’t already tried playing one, I’d suggest you give it a go.”