PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — For the avid golfer like myself, playing at a par 3 course can diminish the anticipation and excitement that accompanies the typical round. We all love to hit driver and test ourselves against a regulation course with the many obstacles it offers.
There are exceptions, however. On my recent trip to Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course, a little 39-acre layout shoehorned between the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway, I got everything one could hope for in a game of golf. It was challenging, riveting, peaceful and interesting.
For starters, you can leave your driver at home. The longest hole – No. 4 is 211 yards from the tips – but the bulk of tee shots will require either a wedge or short iron.
The first three holes are fairly benign, but then you are smacked with two gorgeous and difficult holes squeezed up against the Intracoastal on your left. I may have donated a golf ball to the fish on No. 4 before a nice bounce back birdie on No. 5.
For a string of nine holes in a row, all you need is a pitching wedge, your putter and maybe an extra wedge in case of a missed green. However, the winter winds can wreak havoc, causing the course to play quite differently depending on the direction. Some holes could require a pitching wedge one day and a 5-iron the next.
Halfway through the back nine, you reach the wonderful No. 13 that begins the closing ocean stretch. My favorite hole on the course is No. 16, a little downhill par 3 with water wrapping around the green and warped palm trees sticking out in the distance.
The 18th tee is a special spot bordering the ocean, not unlike the 14th tee at nearby Seminole Golf Club. The hole runs directly along the property boundary with the green sitting precariously near sea grape bushes providing a buffer between golf course and beach.
It’s often been called the best par-3 course in the country, and that title is certainly deserved. There’s nothing like a winter day playing golf by the beach.