We have identified the 18 best par 3s from around South Africa and created the ideal short course for you to enjoy a round of fun and interesting golf.
1. THE LINKS, FANCOURT 2nd hole, 216m
This downhill, long par three to a large green features six surrounding bunkers, but more importantly, two severely demanding sand-traps protecting the entry to the green, catching any mishits off the tee. The green has three tiers – one platform on the front, one back left and one back right, which makes a two-putt from one level to another very difficult. The hole is famous for being the site where Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus shook hands and declared the 2003 Presidents Cup a draw, with Ernie Els and Tiger Woods tied in a thrilling playoff.
2. LEOPARD CREEK COUNTRY CLUB 16th hole, 190m
The picturesque hole is the start of what could be recognised as Leopard Creek’s ‘Amen Corner’ on the finishing run in. No good score is ever secure until this tough stretch of the course has been safely negotiated. The wide green juts out into the lake and is reached from strategic tee boxes, creating a spectrum of challenging options. The distance is all carry with mistimed tee-shots sure to find a watery grave.
3. GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB 16th hole, 163m
This hole, which features dramatic views of The Palace and Sun City in the background, plays as the shortest of the par threes during the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Bunkers are the green’s main protection against a birdie as the water short and to the left should not come into play.
4. GLENDOWER GOLF CLUB 3rd hole, 231m
This hole can play anything from 231m (from the championship tee) to 133m off the ladies’ tee. It played the most gruelling hole at the BMW SA Open in 2017, playing 98 over par, at an average of 3.22, which is ample proof of its difficulty. The demanding hole, played from an almost island teeing area, is guarded by water short and up the left side of the green, and even long, which makes par a rewarding experience. Only 69 aces have been recorded by the club’s members since 1937.
5. St FRANCIS LINKS 17th hole, 120m
‘This hole was designed with a purpose-built tilt from the front-right down to the back-left where all the pin positions are,’ says St Francis Links CEO Jeff Clause. ‘We are known for taking guests to the 17th for a ‘‘shoot-out’’ where, in the final round, the nearest shot to the flagstick wins the pot! Not only is it a crowd-pleaser, the contest has produced five aces over the years. Its green is wider than it is deep and angles diagonally away from the tee box right-to-left.’
6. PEARL VALLEY GOLF COURSE 13th hole, 169m
The signature hole of the back nine is a pretty little hole; with a sting in its tail. It is a dangerous hole, placed between two birdieable par fives. At 169m to the green it is not a massively long hole, but with water right and a large bunker left, the elongated green is not an easy target. The left-to-right dominant wind makes it even more elusive.
7. ARABELLA GOLF CLUB 17th hole, 163m
One of the most scenic places on the course, there is a variety of tee boxes to add to the challenge of the hole. The 17th green is well protected by a high, grassy bank on the left and a slope that leads towards the lagoon, the largest of its kind in the country, down the right.
8. ROYAL JOHANNESBURG & KENSINGTON, EAST COURSE 2nd hole, 211m
This hole is a beautiful, long, downhill par three framed by natural grasses and well defended by three bunkers, two of which protect the right of the green, with one bunker on the left providing little room for error from the tee box.
9. HUMEWOOD GOLF Club 6th hole, 130m
Sculpted out of the natural dunes of links land, the 6th hole has become notorious for its ability to impact any round of golf. It is an artist’s dream with its elevated green surrounded by bunkers, a beautiful sea view and an iconic clubhouse in the distance to take your thoughts off the battle to come. At only 135m off the tips, golfers would expect to make par, except the golfer’s mind will play an important part in the outcome on ‘the shortest par four in the world’.
10. EAST LONDON GOLF CLUB 2nd hole, 165m
The short 2nd hole, which is nicknamed ‘The Drop’, provides wonderful sea views from its ‘pulpit’ tee box, and the green below, surrounded by bunkers, can seem postage-stamp in size.
11. WILD COAST SUN COUNTRY CLUB 13th hole, 168m
The tee offers wide majestic views of the slope separating the top and bottom sections. A tee shot missed on the right could yet end up on the putting surface if it catches the bank on the right and feeds down left to the hole.
12. BLAIR ATHOLL GOLF COURSE 6th hole, 196m
The long par three 6th can play as long as 196m off the club tees and almost 30m longer off the championship tees. The green is sure to test one’s skills as it runs almost 55m long, with a severe slope separating the top and bottom sections. A tee shot missed on the right could yet end up on the putting surface if it catches the bank on the right and feeds down left to the hole.
13. SISHEN GOLF CLUB 4th hole, 198m
When the tee is set back, a camel thorn tree blocks the front of it, often forcing the less-experienced player to push his tee shot into the desert-type rough on the right. Two bunkers guard the right side of the green, which slopes down from right to left and back to front, so par is a challenge when the pin is set just over the front bunker.
14. HIGHLAND GATE GOLF AND TROUT ESTATE 3rd hole, 360m
When Ernie Els designs a course, he wants golfers to be torn between hitting the ball and taking photos, and he managed to capture that spirit perfectly on the 3rd hole. Players are struck by spectacular views as they attempt to hit across a valley to a hilltop green that looks out on the mountains for what seems like an eternity. Any shot that does not land and stay on the green will roll down into collection areas that surround the green.
15. ZIMBALI COUNTRY CLUB 5th hole, 167m
Upon stepping on to the tee box, one must not be distracted by the magnificent views of the Indian Ocean or the Balinese-styled Fairmont Hotel on the right. The prevailing winds are normally across the golfer and together with the green being deceptively long from front to back, it plays extensively downhill with water protecting the hole from any shots hit long.
16. EBOTSE LINKS 8th hole, 130m
Arriving at the 8th tee allows golfers to take in 360˚ views of the entire estate across the dam. It is by no means a tough hole, playing around 130m long off the club tees, but visually it is daunting and spectacular. The green slopes from back to front with a small left to right slope at the back of the green, which will test your technique.
17. THE ELS CLUB COPPERLEAF 3rd hole, 256m
A one-of-a-kind short hole, the 3rd can play anything from 150m to 256m off the tee. Even though many a golfer has taken a deep breath and let go of their ego and teed it up with a driver, it is generally a long-iron off the tee, with a very deep green shaped towards the water – making this hole quite intimidating. There is one bunker in front left to protect the shorter shot from feeding into the water and two bunkers behind the green protecting the longer shot from disappearing into the long grass. The hole offers slight margin for error for the shot that comes up short and right, which will leave you with a downhill chip on to the green.
18. STEYN CITY GOLF COURSE 9th hole, 168m
A short hole to test your mettle as an imposing carry over the Jukskei river is required to find the green. The putting surface is guarded by a large bunker that protects the front of the green, with another strategically-placed bunker at the back of the green to grab any overhit tee shots.