The "Other" Courses
By mjaber on 3/22/13
Not all golf courses are created equal. If you ask an average non-golfing person about a golf course, they are going to tell you what they have seen on TV. Par (if they know what it is) is 70 or 72 for 18 holes. Since the golf season in the northern states is just about to start, I want to spend a little time on the other courses, and their benefits.
  1. The Pitch-and-Putt Par 3

    These are short courses, hence the term "pitch-and-putt." Typically the cost will be significantly less than any other course. All of the holes are par 3, and usually under 100 yards. If your short game is giving you trouble, this is the place for you. The one by me, if you go when it's not busy, they'll let you play 3 or 4 balls, all for the low price of $10 for 9 holes. Bring your wedges and your putter and have at it.

    The other, and probably bigger, reason for these types of courses is for kids. I have a 2-year old daughter and the early signs are there for her to play golf. She has already requested to play once. My wife is all for it, too. She would like nothing more than a Saturday Daddy-daughter golf day, because that means she gets to sleep in, or go out by herself. The same nearby course has Saturday morning clinics, complete with golf pro, to teach the basics of swinging a golf club. I believe they offer these clinics free of charge. There is no doubt in my mind that in a couple years, we will be playing there.

    Keep in mind that these courses will not have a USGA rating or slope. The rounds will not count toward your handicap.

  2. The Executive Par 3

    These are also short courses, though not as short as the pitch-and-putt. There are very few of these in my area, though I'm told they are numerous in other areas, like Florida. The one I have played has a fairly diverse length of holes. The lengths on each hole vary depending on tee marker placement, but the longest hole can play to about 215 yards, while the shortest would play to a maximum of about 95. They actually have enough space to turn it into a 9-hole par 36, which they do once a year for a tournament. I try to play here early in the season, after a couple trips to the range, to get back into the groove. The cost here has become a bit difficult for me to swallow, since I can play a par 72 for less, and it's closer to home, but I would still recommend it for any new player, or someone who has some health-related problems preventing them from enjoying a full 18.

    I don't believe these courses will have a USGA rating or slope rating. I know the one near me does not.

  3. The Executive Course

    These courses seem to be more prevalent, since they don't take up as much real estate as full courses. Typically, they will be 9-hole courses, as they were originally created as a means for executives to get a quick 9 in during lunch, or for holding "business meetings." They will range in par from 30 to 36, and will typically be easier than a comparable 9 on a full size course. The cost to play can be prohibitive, though, as they are normally in closer proximity to homes and other higher valued properties, meaning their property taxes will be higher. I have seen the cost for 9 holes at executive courses range anywhere from $15 to well over $40 for 9 holes.

    These courses will usually have a USGA course and slope rating.
All of these courses have a use, even if you are a single-digit handicap. While the round itself may not help your handicap, the adjustments you need to make to score well at these courses can be beneficial to you when you go out for your next round, or when you get into that big tournament. They can also give you a boost in your confidence. We can all get into a funk, and need something different to change our perception. I used to play pool a lot. I have 3 cues. When I would start to get in to a funk with my favorite cue, I would change to the other one. It makes you go back to the basics, and think about what you are doing, instead of just going through the motions and expecting everything to go the way it's supposed to. Try it. It might be just what you need to get to that next level.

Also, keep your "new-to-golf" friend in mind. If you're a bogey golfer, or better, taking your buddy to your favorite challenging course is not the best way to get him hooked on the game. The pitch-and-putt may not be the best bet either. I would suggest the executive Par 3 as a starting point for anyone who is out of middle school and looking to get into golf. It is challenging enough to give them a taste, but easy enough that they won't have to spend a weeks pay on golf balls.

This was written by Mike Jaber, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

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Image via Flickr, danperry

[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
Thanks for the well written and interesting article. As a kid in Massachusetts, we mainly played short courses falling anywhere from a par 3 course to a short executive-style layout.

The USGA does not allow a normal course rating & slope for courses under 3,000 yards (or 1,500 for 9 holes). You are correct that many Executive courses have a rating even though they are not standard length. One of the sportier layouts I have played is Mountain Shadows (3,081 yards; Par 56; 57.3/95 rating).
jfurr says:
Nice writing, Mike. Executive courses do not seem to be popular around my area. I have never played one - the only one I have seen is at Garden City in the Myrtle Beach area. Around my area we have one poor quality pitch and putt and three longer halfway decent par3 courses. I haven't played them in a long time. One afternoon I did an unlimited play at one of them and walked it 5 times trying to shoot par, best round was +2. The longest hole at about 185 uphill, greens were not too bad.
joe jones says:
Good subject Mike. When I lived in Las Vegas we had a 18 hole executive course (Eagle Crest @ Sun City Summerlin) That was very difficult even for single digit players.The green complexes were very hard due to the valley effect playing at elevation. You had to allow 3 to 4 times the break you would read and until you got used to them nobody scored well. Billy Casper designed the course and when he dedicated the course by playing with our pro's he was asked how he liked the way the course turned out he said he "Would like to shoot the dumb s.o.b that made those greens" That coming from one of the best putters of all time.
onedollarwed says:
Though slope ratings will disagree, I find par 3's tougher than 4's or 5's. Playing shorter, tighter courses - especially with wind/water/bunkers - can really sharpen up my game. However, I find the older courses almost useless at times because they rarely have yardage markings, and if they do, they are terribly misleading. While in general I don't have a problem with unmarked courses, and find them refreshingly old fashioned (150 bush anywhere from 120 to 180), they can befuddle an otherwise useful practice session/tune-up.
redvines13 says:
There are many 9-hole and even some 18-hole executives in the Minneapolis area. Most are on the site of a regulation course, which is real convenient. I agree, a great way to switch it up.
legitimatebeef says:
Pitch n putt is the true miniature golf. I have always liked it. Real golf only scaled down. My gf and I play a few times a year and from these outings she's learned a lot about basic rules and etiquette as well as the art of grinding out a score. I think she's now ready to graduate to full courses. No better way to get started in golf IMO. Good stuff Mjab.
birdieXris says:
Excellent article. I can say that as I was learning I've been to every course. Cut my teeth on an executive par 3 with my grandfather. I don't know if it's still there but I'd love to go back some day and play it. Also spend st of my childhood on an executive 9 hole course. They used to have a great rate. 12 bucks and play all day. My mom used to drop at the course at 6 am and come back for me at dinner time. Those were the days. Now that same course is $24 for 18 holes.
joe jones says:
My first experience with golf was on a par three at Grant Park in South Milwaukee, Wi. When I was 16. A family friend that was 17 and a high school star and a scratch golfer took this visiting kid from Brooklyn under his wing. On the opening 150 yard par three he handed me a seven iron and said "just hit the hell out of it".It went over the green, over the tree behind the green and never to be found afterward.Freddy said "Oh my God your strong". I was hooked for life. The only difference now is that to hit that distance I need a seven wood. Oh Well!!!!
Tim Horan says:
We have a short course at Wildwood. They tried to make it difficult to make a real challenge...they certainly did that! It was so difficult with the carries over water, sand and rough that the juniors and beginners would not use it. It cost the club thousands to maintain each year with little to no revenue. Even the societies give it a miss. The club have decided to let it go wild now and are considering building lodges on the land. So Sad!
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