A Quick Nine: What's the toughest par 3 in golf?

The Postage Stamp
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The Postage Stamp, Royal Troon's 123-yard par 3, is noted as one of the most difficult holes in golf.
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: A Quick Nine

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | 9:27 a.m.

Over the weekend at the Players Championship, we saw once again why the par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass isn't only one of the most recognizable holes in golf, but also one of the most maddening for the top players in the world.

Sergio Garcia was enjoying a fantastic tournament until two water balls on the 17th at TPC Sawgrass did him in.

With all of that fresh on everyone's mind, we posed the following question to our PGA.com Facebook fans: What's the toughest par 3 in golf?

Obviously, there are tons of great par-3 holes to choose from, so this is a totally subjective question. Here are the top answers we received from you:

9. The 235-yard, par-3 16th hole at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Bermuda. Here's the official description of the hole:

This is truly one of the most spectacular holes in world golf. There are four teeing areas so golfers of all standards can play this hole. The tee shot will require a solidly hit shot across the ocean to a green perched high above the ocean on its own peninsular, A well bunkered green offers the player a small target to find and, with the prevailing winds, this hole has the ability to fool the strongest of minds. A shot to the right will be safe from the ocean but missing the traps will be a challenge.

PGA.com Facebook fan quote:

"The 16th at Port Royal in Bermuda." -- Clem Lamarre

8. The 207-yard, par-3 17th hole at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. Yardage-wise, it's not the most intimidating hole in golf, but the visuals from the tee box on No. 17 at Bethpage Black are scary -- deep bunkers, seven in all, surround the green. Outside of that, you're looking at long, nasty fescue. There may not be any water on this hole, but trust us, the green is the only place that's safe.

PGA.com Facebook fan quote:

"No. 17 at Bethpage Black." -- Andrew Crossin

7. The 245-yard, par-3 18th hole at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga. Talk about a brutal way to end a round of golf! This uphill par 3 can play anywhere from 220-245 yards. While the pros don't have to worry much, amateurs immediately notice water in front of the tee box. If you're short, the ball will roll way down the hill. If you're right, you're in a big bunker. Short left? Another bunker.

PGA.com Facebook fan quote:

"No. 18 at East Lake from the tips." -- Josh Robinson

6. The 162-yard, par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course in Scottsdale, Ariz. OK, let's call a spade a spade. In terms of difficulty, there probably isn't much here. It's less than 165 yards from the tips. However, as our Facebook friends noted, there may be in harder hole in golf than when the 16th at TPC Scottsdale is transformed into a Coliseum for the Phoenix Open each year. With thousands of people screaming, this hole is as fun, but as intimidating as it gets.

PGA.com Facebook fan quotes:

"16th TPC Scottsdale during the Phoenix Open." -- Oy Yellowman

"No. 16 at TPC Scottsdale on a Saturday." -- Keegan Collins

5. The 288-yard, par-3 eighth hole at Oakmont in Oakmont, Pa. Registering in as the longest par 3 in championship golf, this beast at Oakmont requires most players to use a driver. The left greenside bunker is 100 yards long -- there are great par 3s (No. 7 at Pebble Beach comes to mind) that cover less yardage than that bunker!

PGA.com Facebook fan quotes:

"Oakmont -- No. 8, 288 yards." -- Jeb Tyler Morris

"The eighth at Oakmont." -- Mark House

"No. 8 at Oakmont... 288." -- Nick Dorian

4. The 123-yard, par-3 eighth hole at Royal Troon in Troon, Scotland. It's the shortest par-3 hole in Open Championship golf, but also one of the most difficult and one of the most famous. Nicknamed the Postage Stamp, here's a description of Royal Troon's eighth hole:

The tee is on high ground and a dropping shot is played over a gully to a long but extremely narrow green set into the side of a large sand hill. Two bunkers protect the left side of the green while a large crater bunker shields the approach. Any mistake on the right will find one of the two deep bunkers with near vertical faces. There is no safe way to play this hole, the ball must find the green with the tee shot. Many top players have come to grief at this the shortest hole in Open Championship golf.

PGA.com Facebook fan quotes:

"The Postage Stamp at Troon." -- Steve O. Campbell

"Postage Stamp at Troon in the wind. Tiny target. Like the 17th at Sawgrass only smaller and with horrible drop offs and rough all around instead of water." -- Chris Malton

"Postage Stamp, Royal Troon, 120 yards!" -- Archie Cochrane

3. The 231-yard, par-3 16th hole at the Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, Calif. Here's the official description:

The signature hole is No. 16, which requires a 231-yard tee shot over the Pacific to a mid-sized green guarded by strategically placed bunkers, offers all the dynamics you could imagine on a majestic oceanfront par 3. With the famous back-to-back par 3's, No. 15 and No. 16, not to mention the spectacular par-4 17th, set in the most exquisite natural location ever imagined for a course, the back nine is truly the Holy Grail of golf.

PGA.com Facebook fan quotes:

"16th at Cypress Point. No contest." -- Paul Jeantrout

"Are you kidding? The toughest par 3 in the world is the 233 yard 16th at Cypress Point in California. How many people have seen a professional lay up on a par 3?" -- Bruce Effisimo

"16th Cypress Point." -- Sam Steen

2. The 137-yard, par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Arguably the most recognizable hole in all of golf, the 17th at TPC Sawgrass features the incredible island green.

PGA.com Facebook fan quotes:

"No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass!" -- Gabriel Massé-Barbeau Vizib

"17th at Sawgrass no ifs ands or buts about it." -- Danny Teague

"17th TPC Sawgrass." -- Geraldine Lavender

"17 at Sawgrass." -- Paul Bouchie

"Sawgrass No. 17... too much water in the vision field!" -- Deborah Woock

1. The 155-yard, par-3 12th hole at Augusta National Golf Club. Nicknamed, "Golden Bell," the 12th at Augusta National is right in the heart of Amen Corner. The shortest hole on the course? Yes. The easiest? Far from it. The tee shot at No. 12 requires the player to carry the tiny, yet intimidating Rae's Creek.

PGA.com Facebook fan quotes:

"No. 12 at Augusta National." -- Bill Simmons

"I still think the 12th hole at Augusta National." -- Robert Wilkins

"No. 12 at Augusta... is there really a contest?" -- Jeff Houck

"The 12th at Augusta. Amen Corner. Enough said." -- David Biggers 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.



The no. #2 hole, par 3 at Miami Whitewater publinx course, approximately 160 yards to a severely slanted to the left green is almost unfair and impossible to land and stay on the green, but the 288 yd. hole @ would also be tough if you couldn't hit your driver over 270. For that hole, I would suggest practicing putting and chipping only.


#6 at Royal Dornoch. If you can get a ball to stay on that green either downwind or into the wind you are a magician.


I know it's very difficult to get out on, but #5 at Pine Valley is the most difficult Par 3 imaginable. 238 yards, uphill the whole way, OB left, bunker short (with shrubbery) and then bunkers right as well. If you go right of the trap it's jungle and you're gone. Oh, and a huge, diabolical green with a swale in the middle. An absolute nightmare. I loved it...


198 yards of the back markers - everything from an 8 to driver, the wind with, against, left to right or right to left and spiralling up the slope face only 20 yards directly in front of the tee box.
Last Saturday May 11th, 142 club members played it in competition, 0 eagles, 0 birdies,18 pars, 55 bogeys, 29 double bogeys, 5 triple bogeys, 1 quadruple bogey and 37 did not finish out the hole with better than a 7......it was just a tad breezy.