I've honestly never even THOUGHT of laying up on a par 3. Maybe it's the young blood in me, but this "strategy" makes NO sense to me. Par 3's are designed for you to be on in one. And since 99% of us aren't playing U.S. Open courses, why are we bringing up ridiculous Par 3's where laying up MIGHT make sense? (Granted, yes, some of you do play some ridiculous Par 3's, but still, MOST of us aren't)
And hey, anything bad can happen on a lot of shots. What's the difference in going for the green on a par three versus shooting a wedge into a green from 120 out w/ a guarded green on a par 4 or 5?
If you lay up, who's to say you make a decent second shot to save par, or even bogey? I can't believe some would play a Par 3 for a bogey and be fine and/or happy w/ it.
I salivate when coming up onto Par 3's. A 160 yard Par 3 w/ a heavily guarded green is just fine w/ me. I, for one, love holes such as those.
Bring it on!
Dredging up an ancient thread here simply because I'd been thinking about this exact same subject.
I play a course with a 185-yard par three. From the tee box all the way to the green is water on the left, extending about half the width of the hole. The green is more skinny than wide. On the front-right is a collection area, but on the far right and long is nasty junk. Oh, and there's a bunker thrown in for good measure.
I'm a relatively high handicapper. The last time I played this hole, I blocked my tee shot out to the right, into the junk. Fortunately, they had just mowed it, so I found my ball (which normally is impossible). However, now I've got a 30-yard pitch onto a skinny green that slopes away from me to the water. Naturally, I left the pitch short in fear of knocking it in the water. I pitched on with my third-shot and 2-putted for my double.
Had I just hit an 8-iron down into the collection area, I would have had a perfect lie, with a perfect angle. Chances were very high I would at worst chip on and two-putt. I might have even parred it with a good chip and putt. Such a good chip would have been much more likely because I would have been coming off a perfect lie, uphill to the hole, with the water not in play.
Now, why is that any different than just going for it and chipping on? Well, because golf course designers aren't stupid. If you miss in the right spot, you're OK. If you miss in the wrong spot, you're dead. You may well end up with a second shot that has two possible outcomes: perfection or disaster. If you lay up, you are dramatically increasing the chances you're going to be in the right spot.
Can you flub a second shot? Sure you can. But your chances of badly flubbing a chip are not as high as missing the green in the wrong spot with a 4-iron. Par 3's are one of the biggest killers of scorecards. Is that because people are always laying up when they didn't need to? Heck no. It's because your wayward tee shot puts you into an impossible position, and you take a double or triple as a result.
I think the right thing for higher-handicap golfers to do is to use the 7/10 rule. If you don't think you can hit that green with your 4-iron 7 out of 10 times, lay up. I'd be willing to bet I hit that green less than 50% of the time when I hit my 4-iron. Why am I doing that to myself?
Should a high handicapper be satisfied with a bogey on a par 3? Heck yeah! Take that bogey and run. I'd be willing to bet that if most high-handicappers took bogey on each of the four par-3's on most courses, they'd save themselves somewhere between 2 and 6 strokes a round.
For the lower handicapper who has a much better chance of hitting the green and/or controlling his miss, absolutely, go for it every time.
Now, just in the interest of full disclosure, there's another par 3 on the course which is even longer at about 195, and I go for it every time. Why? Because there's nowhere to lay up. There's water all between the teebox and the hole, so you might as well hit your 195 club and just hope you hit it on.
Edited by wadesworld - 10/30/12 at 5:38pm