Here’s a selection of Australian par 3s that pack a punch

[Photos by Gary Lisbon]

New South Wales: 6th hole – 185 metres
Renovated in recent years, this most iconic of short holes features a spectacular setting highlighted by a tee set on the rocks of Cape Banks. Shots from that rear tee are fired across an inlet of Botany Bay to a well-bunkered green benched into a hillside in what is a genuine white-knuckle moment.

Royal Melbourne (West): 5th hole – 161 metres
A tee on one platform, a green on another. It seems such a simple design philosophy, yet this most brilliant par 3 pulls off the concept better than anywhere else. Perhaps it’s the greenside bunkering or the steepness of the swale fronting the putting surface. Maybe it’s the canted green itself. Whichever design asset stands out most, combined they make for a scintillating short hole.

Kingston Heath: 15th hole – 142 metres
Uphill shots are difficult to get right in design circles. Hiding features is rarely a positive architectural move, however Kingston Heath’s best short hole nails it with a green complex where all manner of sand is in play and where the various pin positions (and conditions) call for a different play each day.

Lake Karrinyup: 8th hole – 201 metres
As noted above, uphill par 3s are hard to make great from an architectural standpoint, as are long par 3s. So what if a hole is both? While rising only mildly from tee to green, Karrinyup’s 8th feels more uphill thanks to the prominent front bunkering, and at 201 metres from the back tee, it’s plenty of golf hole. Part of its appeal is how there’s no way of fluking a good shot, as only the best strike will do.

The National (Old): 7th hole – 121 metres
If you were to drop a bland curtain behind this par 3, it would still be a gem to play. The fact it has Bass Strait as a backdrop only heightens the sense of awe. The sprawling hourglass-shaped green and gulch of gnarly vegetation ringing the target create a pressure-filled dilemma on the tee.

Peninsula Kingswood (North): 2nd hole – 160 metres
Something of a rendition of the fifth at Royal Melbourne West, this magnificent par 3 occupies one of the most desirable parts of the 36-hole property and really stars from a photogenic perspective in certain lights. It stars from a playability perspective on a permanent basis.

Sanctuary Cove (Pines): 13th hole – 201 metres
Water – and a lot of it – will always draw a golfer’s attention because a miscue hurts you in the hip pocket as well as on the scorecard. And the beauty of all par 3s is that everyone faces the same shot (sometimes more than once). This beast exemplifies the horror felt by golfers on long par 3s and water carries by merging the two challenges.

Noosa Springs: 4th hole – 141 metres
Unlike its Queensland neighbour, this hole provides a bailout option that high handicappers welcome. Yet it still sucks golfers into thinking they have the shot to nestle a ball close to the pin and avoid the water lining the left edge of the target and curling behind the green, making it almost an island green. It’s a classic case of the shortest hole on a course often being the most fiendish.

Palmer Coolum: 2nd hole – 167 metres
Known to so many as the 11th hole, this water-lined nemesis to golfers now falls much earlier in the round thanks to a switch of the two nines. From an elevated tee, the target is a kidney bean-shaped green that wraps around a vast lake on the right. Yet those who veer left face an ominous pitch from a deep swale.

Yarra Yarra: 11th hole – 168 metres
Lauded as a supreme one-shotter, the 11th at Yarra owes its majesty to the union of a cleverly contoured green guarded by a yawning front bunker and another bunker long and left. It’s another example of a hole where the examination changes simply by moving the flag and where the ‘can’t miss it here’ spots move with it.

Tura Beach: 5th hole – 181 metres
Not all the great short holes are found on top-tier courses. Sitting close to the lowest point on this undulating layout, a diagonally set lake runs the length of the right side of the hole and asks golfers to bite off as much as they dare. The braver the line, the longer the carry. Mounding at the rear of the green provides a backstop as not a grain of sand is used in defending this one-shotter.

Monash: 14th hole – 194 metres
Here’s another long, uphill par 3 that’s well executed from a design viewpoint. The lake the tee is set against isn’t really in play for most golfers as instead the greenside bunkering and two-tiered putting surface become the prevailing features, and obstacles.

Links Hope Island: 9th and 17th holes (156 and 188 metres)
It’s a case of something new and something old here, as the ninth hole has been in play for just 15 months while the 17th has haunted golfers for Hope Island’s full 30 years. The former is short with few bailouts, the latter is long but with a safer avenue to house the more timid play. Both are highlights in any round at this Gold Coast icon.

Mollymook (Hilltop): 17th hole – 172 metres
A true, downhill scene-stealer at a crucial point in the round. From a tee set high amid the stunning flowers the Hilltop course is known for, the challenge becomes evaluating the descent to a green protected by bunkers right and short-left and more trouble long. It’s a good place to know how far you fly each iron.

Royal Adelaide: 7th hole – 167 metres
Eight bunkers encircling the green might seem like overkill for what is a par 3 of middling distance, however it’s the slightly uphill shot that makes the front traps in particular the prominent visual intrusion in the golfer’s mind. Once aboard the putting surface, this hole reveals no tricks – it’s getting there that’s the principal hurdle.

Joondalup (Quarry): 3rd hole – 134 metres
The setting is the hero here, alongside the danger in the form of what looks like a bottomless pit. Without the disused quarry playing sidekick, this hole would be a fairly bland short par 3. But to ignore the unique hazard is impossible, as even with a wedge or short iron in hand, a miss short or right is not at all palatable.

Ocean dunes: 4th hole – 131 metres
The early holes at Ocean Dunes give golfers a strong taste of the King Island location, with a trio of holes lining the rugged coastline. At the fourth, though, you actually have to cross a rocky inlet to reach the target. It’s not an easy shot to the hourglass-shaped green in still conditions, but add even a little breeze and it becomes downright scary. It’s the first installment of four wild par 3s, with the pair on the back nine (the seaside 10th and downhill 14th) giving the layout multiple moments during which to call upon your sharpest iron play.