By Ryan Asselta
The par three. Whether it’s the shorter distance, the allure of a possible hole-in-one, or a breathtaking scenic backdrop, the par three is often the illustration of the most fond and lasting memories from a particular golf course.
With that in mind the premise is simple: If you could create a nine-hole golf course comprised of your top par threes in the world, what would it look like?
I’m calling it my “Dream Nine,” consisting of some holes I’ve had the pleasure of playing and a few I’m still dreaming about.
What’s on your par three Dream Nine?
Friars Head: 10th hole (205 yards)
Baiting Hollow, N.Y.
I’ll kick off my Dream Nine on the east end of Long Island. I had the rare opportunity to play this Coore & Crenshaw design and its raw, sandy terrain set a few hundred feet above Long Island Sound. The water views are spectacular, but No. 10 at Friars makes the list for its unique test. With a waste bunker up the entire right side of the hole and a large mound creating a blind spot on the left quadrant of the green, a near perfect tee shot is required.
Port Royal Golf Course: 16th hole (142 yards)
I dub the next three holes on my Dream Nine the “Aqua Trio” featuring three of the most scenic oceanside holes in the world. The 16th at Port Royal is 100 percent nerve-racking, especially with a full gallery watching you, which happened to me back in 2016 at the Bermuda Golf Classic. With stiff gusts coming off the turquoise water of the Atlantic Ocean, golfers may choose to draw it using the breeze as a buffer or roll the dice and ride the wind out over the water with a high fade.
Cypress Point Club: 16th hole (218 yards)
Pebble Beach, Calif.
This is where the “Dream” portion of my nine starts to take shape. The 16th at Cypress Point has long been considered one of the most difficult holes in golf—both in playability and the ability to simply land on the golf course. Visually, this is the most stunning course in my par three image bank.
Mahogany Run Golf Course: 14th hole (147 yards)
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
I played Mahogany Run back in the late 1990s and experienced the second of a trio of holes known as “The Devils Triangle.” Left is death on this hole, which is 85 percent carry over a cliff that runs down to the Atlantic Ocean. Sadly, the golf course suffered severe damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria and has been closed since 2017.
Bethpage Black: 17th hole (195 yards)
Strong is the best way to describe the 17th at “the Black.” Five bunkers surround this shallow green that if you’re lucky to land and hold will leave you with either a treacherous uphill or downhill lag putt. It’s the final punch to the gut from the Black before you head towards a much kinder stroll up the 18th, if there is such a thing on this behemoth.
Pebble Beach Golf Links: 7th hole (98 yards)
Pebble Beach, Calif.
I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never played one of the most iconic holes in all of golf—sad, but true. The short downhill par three backdropped by Stillwater Cove and the Pacific Ocean is THE par three of my dreams and sits securely at number one on my current golf bucket list.
Sleepy Hollow Country Club: 16th hole (150 yards)
Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
This hole, labeled “Panorama,” provides golfers with a wow-factor that is through the roof, complete with a full view of the Hudson River and the finest New York State foliage. This relatively short par three requires a well-struck shot over a ravine to a horseshoe-like green completely surrounded by a wraparound bunker. Extreme fun with a view!
TPC Sawgrass: 17th hole (121 yards)
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
True story—back in 2000, I was in Jacksonville on a golf trip and while we weren’t able to play the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, one evening we walked out to the famed 17th hole to get a look. Low and behold, someone had left their 9-iron on the tee box of one of the most famous tournament holes in golf. After each of us miraculously found a ball behind the 16th green, we all teed off. Three shots, three greens in regulation, and three pars all in flip flops with the same club!
Augusta National: 12th hole (145 yards)
What better way to finish than arguably the most famous par three in golf? I had the opportunity to play Augusta National the Monday after the 2016 Masters. Approaching the 12th tee and the view that stands before you evoked the purest form of golf joy I have ever felt.