Par-3 golf courses may seem like they hold less prestige than regular 18-hole courses, but the par-3 course holds a backseat to no other type of course. They require accuracy, talent, and are the ideal choice for golfers on a budget or with a limited time to hit the links.
In the past decade, par-3 courses have become all the rage for golfers of all skill levels, with even PGA National adding a par-3 course over the last year. They offer a suitable, fun, and challenging alternative to traditional courses, all while giving you plenty of time to knock back a few brews or cocktails. If you’re intrigued by the idea of a short course, get your calendar out and plan your next golf outing to one of these best part-3 courses in America.
Before diving into the best par-3 courses in America, you probably have a burning question: Why would I do a par-3 course when I could just do the real thing? Well, you have plenty of reasons why you may want to consider a par-3 course—all of which make you a better golfer on the hole.
Some of the advantages of playing a par-3 course include:
Now that you’re aware of the advantages of a par-3 course, it’s time to learn more about some of the most challenging and prestigious options available to you. So without further ado, here are the best par-3 courses in America.
Designed by the former PGA golfer Ben Crenshaw, Bandon Preserve at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is a 13-hole, par-3 course that combines a challenging course with the scenic beauty of the Pacific Ocean.
Featuring holes between 63 and 150 yards, this course rewards great wedge and short-iron play, as well as superb putting. One of the most interesting features is that the course stops atop a sand dune and slowly rolls down toward the ocean. If you’re a golfer as well as an avid outdoorsman, this course is sure to scratch you where you itch.
Prices start at $50 during the off-season.
Overlooking beautiful Table Rock Lake in the middle of the Ozark Mountains, Top of the Rock at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri is widely regarded as one of the most demanding and best par-3 courses in America.
According to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, “if there was ever a par-3 course worthy of PGA Tournament play, Top of the Rock is it.” That’s a mighty compliment, but one that the course lives up to.
Featuring nine golf holes, this course was designed by Jack Nicklaus—one of the legends of golf and golf design. It blends natural beauty with challenging greens, dramatic 100-foot drops from the tee, waterfalls, an island green, and more. Perhaps the gem of the course is a barn located on the property of Arnold Palmer that was painstakingly move to the Top of the Rock, which adds an even more interesting appeal.
During the off-season, you can try this interesting golf experience for as little as $90, including a golf cart and greens fees.
Part of Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, the Back Yard at Oxmoor Valley is one of the newest and most heralded par-three courses in the country. Commissioned to build 18 golf courses over the course of several decades, Oxmoor Valley is the final piece on the Golf Trail, only having opened in September of 2022.
This walking-only golf course features holes ranging from 59 to 132 yards, but it’s one of the more forgiving par-3 courses out there. It doesn’t have any water features and only has a handful of bunkers, making it an option for beginners.
But to truly master the course, you’ll need to bring your accuracy. Just one errant shot can derail your chances of par, and the sloping greens always present a challenge—even for golfers with a solid handicap.
Prices start at just $65 to give this course a try.
Consistently listed at the top of the rankings of the best par-3 golf courses in Florida, the Palm Beach Par-3 Golf Course is a must-play for any visitor to the Sunshine State.
Once you emerge from the pro shop, you’re surrounded by palm trees, well-manicured greens, and a cool breeze courtesy of the Atlantic Ocean.
Created by famed designer Raymond Floyd, the course has been home to the LPGA Pro-Am event for years. That is to say—it’s one of the best par-3 courses in America for a reason.
The holes play a bit longer here, ranging from 82 to 211 yards. But with fast greens, water hazards, and numerous bunkers, you also have to make sure you play an excellent approach shot, as fairways aren’t as forgiving as other options.
You can play this beauty for as little as $46 with an additional $16.19 charge if you want to use a golf cart.
Northern Michigan isn’t regarded as a golfing mecca, but the aptly named Threetops par-3 course at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan, certainly garners the attention of top players.
Named one of the “baddest par-3 courses in America,” Threetops has been the home of the ESPN Par-3 Shootout for eight years. Interestingly, Lee Trevino hit a hole-in-one on the 150-yard, 7th hole to net a $1 million prize, which is perhaps the greatest prize ever won on a single hole.
When you hit the links, you’re in for a treat. Seven out of nine holes slope significantly downward, while bunkers and thick foliage provide a number of different hazards. The putting surfaces are also dramatically angled, providing an even more challenging game.
Plus, you can attempt to navigate this course for the paltry sum of $50—giving you plenty of cash for the clubhouse afterward.
Although Pinehurst is home to one of the most expensive courses in the world, it’s also the location of the Gil Hanse-designed Cradle. Widely regarded as a mix of relaxation and entertainment while still putting your links skills to the test, The Cradle has nine holes for pure golfing pleasure.
The holes are relatively short compared to most other par-3 courses, ranging from 56 to 127 yards and earning its moniker, “the most fun 10 acres in all of golf.” If you’re in the midst of improving your wedge game, this is the optimal hole for you.
While Pinehurst No. 2 fetches a price of $495 a round, you can try your luck at The Cradle for only $50, plus discounted rates for replays.
With deep bunkers, pint-sized greens, the need for great tee shots, and a variety of other difficult obstacles, par-3 courses aren’t for the faint of heart. Just like a regular course, you need the proper skill set to dominate them or at least win your preferred golf betting game.
To master a par-3 course, putts, chips, and strong iron play are all a necessity. That’s when practice makes perfect. So buckle down on your putting drills, bust out the wedges and irons at the driving range, and you should see results that make you proud you took a chance on the par-3 circuit. Sometimes, your best golf is only three shots away.