- Golfer Benefits
About a month ago we brought you the six longest holes at daily-fee public courses in Massachusetts. Now, we’re doing the opposite as we reveal the results of our search for the shortest par 3s at regulation golf courses you can play any day of the week in the Bay State.
No matter your handicap, grabbing a wedge or a 9-iron might trick you into thinking this hole is easy. But as Bill Belichick might say “No [holes] off.” They deserve as much respect and attention as any challenge a course might present. Just ask Brooks Koepka who made a double bogey on the shortest par-3 in U.S. Open history (hole 15, 81 yards) this year at Los Angeles Country Club, likely costing him a shot at a sixth major title and second of 2023. The wee par-3 11th at The Country Club also got the best of runner-up Scottie Scheffler in 2022, as he carded a double bogey and a bogey over his last two rounds.
We understand the pros are playing a much different kind of golf than your average amateur, but par 3s are often the great equalizer. With this in mind, consider a visit to any of these courses and see how you fare on these little “one-shotters.” We hope you walk away with a birdie — perhaps an ace — but as you’ll find out, sometimes a par will be plenty to smile about.
Editor’s Note: To create a consistent standard for our list, we measured from the back tees at each public course. Holes on par-3 and executive courses (total length under 5,000 for 18 holes from the back tees) were not considered for the main list.
For those with a tendency to miss shots to the right, there’s a chance you get a sneak peek at this hole while playing the long, par-5 5th. Leaky second shots on the hole before this shorty can come to rest in the side runway to the 6th. (See image below) But don’t be fooled, it’s not as easy as it looks from the side.
This 115-yarder emphasizes distance control. With an intimidating front bunker that gives a lion’s mouth appearance and a long, skinny bunker beyond, players have just 10 paces of green to work with when the hole location is to the right.
Pro Tip: Don’t go flag hunting when the pin is tucked to the right. Playing to the fat of the green (left side) will leave a manageable two-putt to almost any hole location. But make sure you’re committed to your yardage, as the left side of the green is sneaky long and stretches over 60 feet front-to-back.
Architects: Michael Hurdzan (1986), John Sanford (1996).
Local Attractions: Nobska Lighthouse & Woods Hole Science Aquarium. The Patriots just unveiled their new lighthouse inside Gillette Stadium, however many of the state’s actual iconic lighthouses are situated along Cape Cod. The closest one to Brookside that is open to the public is Nobska Point Lighthouse in Woods Hole (Falmouth), which offers breathtaking views of the coastline and boats going back and forth to Martha’s Vineyard. Just down the road is Woods Hole Science Aquarium, which displays approximately 80 species of marine animals found in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. waters. The aquarium is designed for self-guided tours of the main exhibits and a behind-the-scenes look at aquarium operations.
Note: Pictured below are the iconic hedges on the course, which can be seen from I-93 just south of Boston.
Presidents is a short yet profound 5,700-yard, par-70 that holds some of the smallest and toughest public greens in the state. The course is named after presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, who hailed from Quincy, it was previously called Wollaston Golf Club until Tom Fazio built a new course.
After being tested right out the gate on the challenging first hole at Presidents you come to the short demanding par-3 2nd. The hole offers a few challenging pin positions, the toughest being the front right which brings the greenside bunker into play. There are only 10 yards of green to work with before the green ends and a tough collection area makes for a difficult up and down.
Pro Tip: “The smart play is to aim 10 yards left of the pin to take the bunker and collection area out of play. It’s a risk-reward type of shot. The mostly flat green has a great shape which allows for another tough pin position back left. The green narrows in the back which doesn’t leave a lot of room for shots missed right or left. With the wind blowing – as it usually does here – it’s a wise choice to just hit the middle of the green and take a two-putt par and move on to the 3rd.” — Bill Drohen, winner of the 2023 Norfolk County Classic, held annually at the club.
Architects: George and Thomas Fazio (1972). [Previously Wollaston Golf Club, 1895].
Local Attractions: USS Salem & U.S. Naval Shipbuilding Museum. If you prefer to stay outside of Boston for the day, check out the USNSM, which is home to the USS Salem, the world’s only preserved Heavy Cruiser. Onboard exhibits feature memorabilia of over 100 U.S. Naval Cruisers, and there are other areas of casual exploration for visitors.
In keeping with the local tradition, the ninth is yet another par 3 guarded by a stone wall. This time, a flashing of sand distorts the view of the green which sits several feet below and behind the top of the wall. This short yet perfectly fun hole features a punchbowl green that accepts many types of approaches, provided they don’t come in too low or with too much pace. When playing this hole for the first time, take note of the Colosseum-like stone arch behind the tee box and embrace the excitement that a blind finisher can provide, especially if the match is on the line. This hole is the essence of Marion Golf Club and is hopefully the conclusion of just one of many future loops around these historic links.
Pro Tip: It has the potential to wreck a clean card or help you redeem yourself after a double-bogey on the difficult 8th. Every round has excitement built into the final moments as players make their way to the hidden green surface. Does the ball resting two feet from the hole have the markings of the group’s scratch player or the 37-handicap? On any given day, it could be either. Our advice: Just give it your best shot.
Architects: George C. Thomas Jr. (1903).
Local Attractions: Uncle Jon’s Coffee & Edaville Family Theme Park. Need a quick bite to eat or a cup of joe to warm up either before or after your round? Look no further than the charming and friendly Uncle Jon’s Coffee. If you’re seeking family entertainment, head to the heritage railroad and amusement park at Edaville. In addition to the train rides, there’s a Ferris wheel, playhouse, and arcade, but it is especially popular for the Christmas Festival of Lights.
Sandwiched between a couple of curling par 5s, this hole gives every player a shot at success. Tipping out at 112 yards, it will likely be a wedge or short iron for most, and test of true accuracy. The green is perched above with two bunkers below, awaiting balls like a gutter at your local bowling alley. There is also an assembly of trees to the right, which might affect those who like to work the ball right-to-left.
Pro Tip: A gettable hole due to its length? Absolutely. Free of danger? Absolutely not. Don’t let the scorecard fool you into unwarranted comfort. Focus must be maintained, and commitment made to the shot at hand. A yard too long is much preferred over a yard too short on this one.
Architect: Rowland Armacost (1982) [Previously Mountainview Golf Course, 1927].
Local Attractions: Wahconah Falls State Park. Western Massachusetts is home to some of the state’s best waterfalls. Wahconah Falls Brook flows over several smaller falls before ending in the 40-foot Wahconah Falls. The cascade is scenic any time of year but is especially impressive during the spring runoff. Visitors can also relax, picnic, or fish in the shade of the northern hardwood forest.
Like many par-3s on this list, this short hole comes early in the round. It’s a great test to dial up your go-to wedge or short iron, as Ledges has several short par-4s that will put your approach game to the test. Playing from an elevated tee, you play to a wide green that has just one bunker protecting the front, but anything long or too far out wide will be trouble. Even if you hit the green, a 3-putt is very possible.
Pro Tip: “Use the two club lengths behind the tees if you need it. It plays downhill so it’s shorter than it looks, and aim for the middle of the green. Everything is reachable from the middle. You get in trouble on three sides of the green so instead of pin hunting, go par hunting.” — Amanda Fontaine, superintendent at Ledges Golf Club, who was on the maintenance team at the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach.
Architect: Howard Maurer (2001).
Local Attractions: National Basketball Hall Of Fame – Springfield. To make it worthwhile trip out to Western Mass (that is if you’re not from the area), take the 20-minute drive from Ledges down I-91 to check out where the world’s best basketball players are enshrined. With new, interactive features, you could spend an entire day there if you were so inclined.
If you’ve ever wanted to play an island green, now is your chance. We won’t go as far as comparing it to the legendary 17th at TPC Sawgrass, but you might have an audience with all the houses surrounding the green. This hole is a thought-provoking tee shot as deep bunkers, water, and weeds surround the odd-shaped green with a narrow opening in the front.
We must point out, that the course is temporarily closed for the season due to renovations, but if you’re planning a trip to the Cape next year, consider stopping in for a round either on your way there or way back. It beats sitting in traffic.
Pro Tip: Hitting the green is one thing but getting the ball to stop on the green is another. Pick the club that will be on the green 100% of the time and match it with the number of the center. This isn’t any time to get cute with what might make it if you max it out or should be fine if you take your swing down a few notches. If you get too aggressive, you’ll likely find the bunker, or worse, the water. Trust the number, trust the club.
Architect: Geoffrey Cornish (1964).
Local Attractions: Cape Cod Canal. Each year, more than 3 million visitors enjoy activities such as hiking, fishing, biking, picnicking, and ship-watching along the 7-mile stretch of the canal.
There are a few excellent short par-3s that fall in the executive course category. One is Berlin Country Club, a wonderful spot for fall golf and a previous stop on the Mass Golf Staycation series. Another is Wenham Country Club, one of the oldest public courses on the North Shore.
Note: Pictured below is the iconic 9th hole at Berlin CC
The second of three par 3s at Berlin, this one is the friendliest of the bunch. The short seventh hole is situated at the perfect spot on the property as well. After players march their way up the difficult 6th to contend with the most severe green at Berlin, players are given a chance to catch their breath (both figuratively and literally). While golfers feel welcomed upon reaching the seventh hole, the iconic 9th (pictured below) awaits in the distance with a much more difficult test in store. As highlighted in Golf Staycation Trip No. 4, be sure to visit Berlin CC in the fall, as it offers one of the most beautiful during the leaf-peeping season.
Pro Tips: Take an extra deep breath before hitting the tee shot here. After marching up the hill on 6, and battling with a green that’s impossible to keep your ball on, it’s important to reset. With a real birdie opportunity in front of you, the hole should be played with a clear mind.
“Pick up a bunch of the colorful leaves and bring them home to freeze them. Then, on Thanksgiving morning, break them out as part of your centerpiece/table decoration.” — Maria from Golf Staycation Trip No. 4
Architects: Unknown / Martinath Family (1950s) [Previously Pinecrest Golf Course].
Local Attraction: Berlin Orchards. This family owned and operated apple orchard, features a variety of traditional fall offerings from pick-your-own apples to cider donuts, pumpkins, squash, local honey, and cider.
This one-shotter parallels Main Street, so the player hitting often receives unsolicited advice from passing motorists, as is the case on hole 3, since the two tees join to form an “L” shape. The postage stamp green demands pinpoint accuracy. Out of bounds is left (Main Street) and back (stone wall protecting the driveway). There are three bunkers: one left at green, one right, and one center front.
Pro Tip: “Anything out left will be difficult, as you’ll be flirting with the street. Best shots will be aimed toward the right edge of the center bunker. If you can get over the right bunker but miss the green, there is room to chip on.” — Gary Larrabee, golf historian and author.
Architects: Orrin Smith, William F. Mitchell (1899).
Local Attraction: Salem Haunted Happenings. Wenham is located just six miles north of Salem, a hub of activity in the fall as people celebrate Halloween. Dive into history at a museum, find an adrenaline rush in a haunted house, seek out your future at a psychic fair, or explore Salem’s countless stories on a tour. Just don’t light any candles you aren’t supposed to.