One of the perquisites of directing a tweener-aged golf camp is the exposure to shorter courses. We have executive layouts in the area, like Delaware Park (sub-70 pars with more than 5 par three holes) but the true par three course is all 3s, all the time.
Mike Keiser (he of Nichols education and Bandon Dunes fame) recently opened his Cabot Links (recently like two days ago!) on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Last year, he opened the Bandon Preserve, the 5th course at Bandon and the first non-championship layout. It’s 13 holes are all one-shotters and play like a championship-quality approach should. Other par three courses, like Threetops in Michigan and Sandstone Hollow in New York, have garnered acclaim for their rigor and beauty.
In Buffalo-Niagara, we don’t have a top-tier par three course, but we have a few where time is well spent. Chief among them is Bob-O-Link, the Orchard Park institution recently featured in the Buffalo News. Bobo, as I like to call it, is unique in that it encompasses 18 holes. All other shorties stretch only to nine holes. Harris Hill, in Lancaster, fits the bill and issues the challenge. Rolling Hills, in Pike, presents a different conundrum: its holes ignore the wedge and stretch from 137 to 203 yards in length. The municipalities check in in Amherst, with the Audubon Par 3 course along Maple Road.
Some of the elite private clubs of the world (Pine Valley, Augusta National, Hamilton Farm) have short courses of unspeakable beauty on their property. None of the area clubs has one, although CCBuffalo and Cherry Hill certainly have the space, should they wish to establish one.
If you’re struggling to convert good drives into birdie chances, take a break from the full game and head to one of the course mentioned above. You’ll marvel at how tough it is to hit 3 or 6 or 9 greens in regulation, but your approach game will improve.