Why do we fix­ate on length off the tee or num­ber of putts taken when it’s the GIR stat that is prob­a­bly the best mea­sure of skill? I’d hap­pily set­tle for be­ing a steady driver and a steady put­ter if I could be an ex­cel­lent ap­proach player. Plus, isn’t the an­tic­i­pa­tion and joy al­ways height­ened slightly when you play that ap­proach to a par 3? Twelve hours and 557 shots may not have been enough for TG’S Michael Catling to record an ace (Au­gust is­sue) and yet, as per Chris Jones’ edi­to­rial, all it takes is “one good swing, one per­fect strike, one good bounce”. I do be­lieve par-3 cour­ses are greatly over­looked by golfers and some­times even de­rided for not be­ing ‘proper’ golf. Yet there are so many ben­e­fits com­pared with play­ing a full course. They are less time con­sum­ing, cheaper and you get the im­me­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion (or not!) of hit­ting a tee shot to the green. While these can make it use­ful prac­tice for ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers, it can also make it fun and ac­ces­si­ble to those in­ter­ested in try­ing golf for the first time. I be­gan my love af­fair with the game two decades ago at the ex­cel­lent Bethune Park Golf Club in North Lon­don. I re­mem­ber the open­ing hole fondly – a 120-yard up­hiller to a two-tier green – be­cause I once holed a sweet 8-iron from the tee. But does that count as an ace? Af­ter all, it was only a par-3 course…

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