A buddy of mine once made a one-putt nine on an innocuous 129-yard, water-free, mostly tree-free par 3. Hey, better than a two-putt 10.
Some of the tougher par 3s I’ve encountered in the region are No. 8 at StoneRidge, No. 12 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, No. 8 at Avondale, No. 8 at Indian Canyon, No. 11 at MeadowWood, No. 6 at Palouse Ridge, No. 13 at Circling Raven, No. 13 at the Fairways and No. 4 at Qualchan.
In the latest installment of the pros roundtable, I asked Black Rock’s Trevor Fox, Trailhead’s Chris Johnston and Prairie Falls’ Bryce Bingham to name the toughest par 3 they’ve played, with no limitations on location. They answered that question, and a few more.
The best amateur you’ve ever teed it up with?
CJ: I would say it was definitely Russell Grove. He hit shots I could only imagine hitting. (Grove was recently hired as golf coach at North Idaho College).
TF: I have been lucky enough to play with a lot of great amateur golfers over the years. Some of the guys I competed against in college are now on tour so to narrow it down to one person is pretty tough. With that being said, I am just going to say there are a lot of great amateurs out there.
BB: Brad Arnn is a pro now (at the Highlands) but we have been playing together since we were 13 years old. He is one of the best players I have ever played with period. He is a great ball striker and has an unbelievable short game.
The toughest par 3 you’ve ever played?
TF: The 17th at PGA West on the TPC Stadium Course in Palm Springs. It is 168 yards with an island green. They call the hole “Alcatraz” because it is surrounded by water and with nowhere to bail out.
BB: The toughest par 3 I have ever played is No. 2 at Santa Ana Country Club in California. It has a huge false front and the green is small. It makes it hard to choose the right club.
CJ: I have played many difficult par 3s but the one that sticks out in my head was one I played a long time ago.
It was the 6th hole at the PGA West in Palm Springs, 255 yards with water on three sides.
Designer Pete Dye makes some very tough courses!
What tips would you have for handling nerves in crunch time in a tournament?
BB: Go through your routine!! It will calm you down. Don’t be timid, go for it!!
CJ: The best way to handle nerves when you are playing golf is to have a set routine. I have had the same putting routine since I was 14 years old. It helps a lot when I am in pressure situations. I go through the routine on EVERY putt.
TF: In crunch time, I feel it is very important to control your breathing and to use visualization on the golf course. Big, deep breath and focus on the next shot in front of you and not the final result really does go a long way. Too many players focus on the final results or the “what ifs” in the round. Stay in the moment.
Walk or ride – does it have any impact on how well you play?
CJ: Walking is the best for me. I always have my clubs right there with me at all times. I also like it because of the pace and rhythm it gets me into.
TF: Walk for sure. I think it has a big impact on how I play. Walking gets me in a rhythm and keeps me focused on what is going on. When I ride it is hard for me to stay focused and my pace changes with every shot. Golf for me is all about rhythm.
BB: I always play better when I walk. It gives me a better feeling of my surroundings and keeps me focused.