It's a bold move for any architect to design a wee par 3 playing 140 yards or less.
Most golfers will dismiss them. In theory, really good players will destroy them. No matter your handicap, grabbing a wedge or a 9-iron promotes a false sense of security that the hole is "easy." The best short par 3s are anything but. They're just as likely to give up a 5 as they are a 2.
The key to building a great one is where it fits in the routing. The setting better be compelling. The green and its surrounds should be unique and memorable, too.
Even great architects like Dr. Alister MacKenzie can swing and miss. To me, the wee par 3 at MacKenzie's Sharp Park - the 99-yard 8th - near San Francisco feels wedged into the land as an afterthought, although the overhanging trees do make it a tricky shot.
I've scoured scorecards of the hundreds of public courses around the world I've played to come up with this collection of 18 of the best short par 3s on the planet, listing them from big to little. All of the yardages come from the back tees. Make sure to scroll to the end: The shortest might be the sweetest.
Have you played one? Have a better choice to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Hole 7, 106, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula, Calif.
Playing downhill, this 106-yarder at Pebble Beach - which might be the most beautiful hole in golf - is normally a half-wedge. It's stunning to hear stories of pros hitting 5 irons into the gusts of February's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am and U.S. Opens past.
Editor's Note: Holes on par-3 and executive courses were not considered.
Hole 3, 107, Mountain course at Ventana Canyon, Tucson, Arizona
This 107-yard shot on Ventana Canyon's Mountain course is almost do or die. Hit the green or disappear into the Sonoran desert. The good news is it comes early in the round, so you've got time to recover if a timid swing causes a trainwreck.
Hole 17, 115, Bay Course at Seaview Golf Club, Absecon, N.J.
Five bunkers squeeze a tiny green to make it feel even smaller. A 115-yard wedge is normally no big deal for pros, but when you're trying to win the LPGA Shoprite Classic on Seaview's scenic Bay course, it gets a little tougher.
Hole 9, 118, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Pawleys Island, S.C.
The artistry of Mike Strantz is evident on the yawning bunker of this 118-yarder at Caledonia. The lip of this large trap swells like a wave near the green. The giant lip can get in your head, making an otherwise simple shot more intimidating. Some golfers appreciate the hole for its uniqueness. Others don't like it at all. Gotta give Strantz credit where it's due. He's always polarizing.
Hole 8, 123, Royal Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland
The 123-yard "Postage Stamp" at Royal Troon is the mother of all short holes. It has derailed rounds at The Open and brought pros and amateurs to their knees. The three pot bunkers seem to have a gravitational pull. The 'Coffin bunker' on the left is what the name implies: dead.
Hole 9, 126, Cabot Cliffs, Inverness, Nova Scotia, Canada
Cabot Cliffs by C&C has shot up the world rankings, mainly due to holes on the cliffs like this 126-yarder. When the wind picks up, so does its propensity for trouble. But the option to hit a low shot - even a putter - along the left side down to the green is an option.
Hole 17, 126, Grayhawk Talon course, Scottsdale, Arizona
An island green in the Sonoran desert? Blasphemy! Actually, the 126-yarder called "Devil's Drink" fits in the routing of the Talon course beautifully. It's the shortest hole at the 36-hole Grayhawk property and one of the most dangerous. Don't let a mistake near the end derail a good round.
Hole 13, 130, Mammoth Dunes, Sand Valley Resort, Nekoosa, Wis.
The bunker fronting this 130-yard par 3 at Mammoth Dunes looks more like a mortar blast. It's deep. Missing long should be the play, at all costs.
Hole 13, 130, Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula, California
Spyglass Hill - widely known as the toughest course at Pebble Beach Resorts - won't even give an inch on this 130-yard hole. Although the hole plays downhill, don't club up. The ball never carries in the heavy sea air. Drowning short feels like a mega failure.
Hole 13, 131, Ocean South at the Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach, California
Of the 36 glorious holes at Pelican Hill, this 131-yarder - the second of back-to-back ocean-front par 3s - is a favorite of almost everybody who tees it up. When I played, a family of five pelicans flew overhead, almost like they were released by the marketing department. The setting above Crystal Cove beach is so beautiful that Tom Fazio could have designed a pitch-n-putt hole and I wouldn't have complained. Of course, Fazio delivered a unique twist - alternating greens.
Hole 17, 132, Mauna Lani North, Hawaii Island
Mauna Lani's North course visits the shore twice on the front nine (holes 2 and 9), but its back nine roams the hills and lava rocks of Hawaii Island's interior. The reward for leaving the beach is finding the "Lava Bowl", a 132-yard shot to a green surrounded by volcanic rocks.
Hole 5, 133, Bandon Trails, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Oregon
Bandon Trails, a Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw creation, is home to the shortest par 3 at Bandon Dunes - the 133-yarder called "Biarritz". The green is the most undulating on the course, so it's best to hit the proper tier ... if you clear the bunker.
Hole 17, 137, STADIUM course at TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
The island green is iconic. It's a 137-yard torture chamber for the pros at the Players Championship. Those guys are good, but even a little water, and a big dose of Pete and Alice Dye, can get in their heads.
Hole 7, 137, Cove Club, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
The old seventh was my favorite hole on the Ocean course at Cabo del Sol. The new 137-yard hole at newly rebranded Cove Club looks equally glorious right on the beach, although I've yet to play it.
Hole 15, 138 yards, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Stanley Thompson's two famous par 3s in the Canadian Rockies, "Devil's Cauldron" and "Cleopatra," get most of the attention, but don't sleep on Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge's lakeside 15th hole, lovingly coined "The Bad Baby." It's just 138 yards and the tiny, elevated green with bunkers and falloff areas all around leaves little room for error.
Hole 12, 140, The Gailes at Lakewood Shores, Oscoda, Michigan
I couldn't help but slip in The Gailes at Lakewood Shores, since it's the landing spot of my first ace. In 2011, pitching wedge was all I needed for 140 yards. Today, it's likely a baby 8 or nuked 9. It's a delicate shot to a plateau green. Misses left into the grassy dune-like hill are trouble. The three bunkers are no picnic, either.
Hole 16, 140 yards, TPC Colorado, Berthoud, Colorado
Don't let the views of the McNeil and Welch reservoirs and the mountains distract you at TPC Colorado, host of a Korn Ferry Tour event. The target is narrow. Most bunkers sit well below the putting surface, leaving a tough up and in. This 140-yard par 3 is also located adjacent to the new 15,000-square-foot clubhouse. You might have an audience.