Creative Shot-Making on Short Par 3s

By • Category: Approach shots with irons, Features

Some of the toughest shots in this game come when you are right in-between distances with two high-lofted clubs.  Many of us use the Hawks, and most of us dread shots from 80 yards out — this is because the 9-iron sets up for 100 yards and the Sand Wedge sets up for 60 yards.  So, you either try to muscle up the SW or thumb the 9-iron, but that doesn’t always work out so well.

With the introduction of Golden Tees, we now have more flexibility to fill those gaps!  You don’t often think of changing the tee height with high-lofted clubs, but it can be extremely beneficial in some cases and save you a stroke or two.

Let’s talk through a couple examples where I applied this strategy recently.  First, I had a setup on Timber #8 where the flag was on the front left, narrow portion of that green about 90 yards out, with a wind of 10 in my face.  I had to use a 9-iron, but I couldn’t use backspin with that wind, otherwise the wind + spin would suck the ball right into the water.  I was also uncomfortable not using backspin, because that shot would require perfect distance control for me to have a short putt.

My solution was a high-teed 9-iron with backspin.  I knew that as long as I landed anywhere on the green with this combo, the ball would back up just slightly.  I knew the ball would go a bit farther, and I knew there’d be just a few feet of backspin once the ball landed.  Sure enough, I landed towards the back of the green and saw the ball back up to the center, leaving an easy birdie putt.

Here’s an even better example from Timber #16.  I had the pin at the front of the front circle of this awful green, 80 yards away, with a tail wind of 10.  SW sets up at 60 yards to land short in the water, and 9I sets up at 100 yards to land long on the hill.  I knew that I’d be able to hammer the SW and reach that first circle, but I had no idea if the ball would stop on the green since that portion is so small.  I’d have to just barely land the front of the green with no backspin and hope it stopped — a very difficult task.  9I was also a bad option because it would be hard to thumb it softly enough to land short of the hill on the green.

The solution here was a low-teed 9I with backspin.  I knew the low tee would take off distance to keep from carrying all the way to the hill, and backspin was a must to draw the ball back towards that tough pin spot.  Sure enough, that shot landed just short of the hill and spun back in the middle of the green, giving me an open birdie putt.

Keep in mind that Golden Tees also allow you to move backwards, and sometimes forwards, to further assist with distance control.

Finally, it’s worth reminding that you can also take off a bit of distance by playing a B1 or B3-type shot.  When you aim for a target straight ahead but start the ball our towards 1 or 3, you can expect to drop a few yards in distance.  Of course, it’s harder to control your accuracy and these shots require practice.  Keep in mind that a typical B1 shot with a high lofted club will NOT return all the way to center, so you’ll have to pull back a bit left of center to stay on target (revisit the “schwerve” article here).  This shot should be another one you keep in your back pocket when you need it.

SO, the next time you’re faced with a tough, short par 3, keep in mind all the ways that you can alter your distance and shot type to give yourself the safest shot possible in that situation!

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is a Golden Tee addict from Chicago, IL, thirsty for tips and tricks!
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One Response »

  1. i use standard clubs

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