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An Homage to the Short Par 3

“In this era of obscene power, the likes of which the game has never witnessed, why not strive to induce a little fun into the mix and at the same time present a true test of delicacy and accuracy?” – Ben Crenshaw

This quote from an essay in Geoff Shackelford’s book Masters of the Links resonates with me.  In the work I have been doing at Canal Shores (read more about it here), I am coming to appreciate short courses and short holes more and more – especially short par 3s.

Therefore, I would like to pay homage to short par 3s here by constructing an 18 hole course out of some of the best.  Mr. Crenshaw provided a list of 11 in his article:

  • Pine Valley #10
  • National Golf Links #6
  • Whitemarsh Valley #9
  • Merion #13
  • Royal Melbourne #7
  • Pebble Beach #7
  • Cypress Point #15
  • Royal Troon #8
  • Chicago Golf Club #10
  • Augusta National #12
  • Kingston Heath #15

I’ll round it out with 7 (plus a bonus) of my personal favorites to play:

  • Bandon Trails #5
  • Crystal Downs #14
  • Kingsley Club #2
  • Maidstone #8
  • Shoreacres #12
  • Streamsong Blue #5
  • Old Macdonald #5
  • Bonus Hole: Friar’s Head #17

Why do I love to play short par 3s?  Because they are great at causing internal conflict.  The shorter distance makes me think that I should be able to easily execute the shot.  That expectation of success can cut both ways: it comes with a boost of confidence, and extra pressure.  In much the same way that a 5-footer can break you down, so can a short par 3.  I have to try extra hard to focus on execution, and stay off the result.  Easier said than done when standing on the tee with a wedge or short iron.  Good golf shots are rarely produced with one’s head twisted into a pretzel.  I love taking on the mental challenge presented by short 3s.

I am working on concepts for several short par 3s for Canal Shores and they are great fun to contemplate and discuss.  Removal of distance as the primary challenge also removes creative constraints.  The player won’t be challenged by length, but there are so many other ways to interest and mentally torment – green size, contours, site lines, orientation, hazards, elevation change, etc.  Let it not be said that a shorty can’t test skill and fortitude.

It is my hope that architects continue to find ways to incorporate devilish little par 3s, and short holes of all kinds, into their designs.  In the age of the long ball (in every sense of the phrase), the shorties add so much to the game.

Do you have favorite short par 3s that I missed?  Post them here in the comments, or on Twitter – tag me at @JasonWay1493 or #short3s.


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2014 Geeked on Golf Tour

The leaves and the first snow have fallen in Chicago.  My golf calendar looks as desolate as the landscape for the remainder of this year.  It’s a good time to revisit the wonderful courses I was privileged to play in 2014.  Those memories will be enough to take me through the winter.

With an extra project on my work plate in the spring, I did not get out for as much golf adventuring as I would have liked.  However, there were several highlights:

  • I joined the Kingsley Club and got 15+ rounds in at my new home course.
  • I checked off two more Coore & Crenshaw gems – Streamsong Red and We Ko Pa Saguaro.
  • My buddies and I made our second trip to Long Island and hit Bethpage Black, The Bridge, NGLA, and Friar’s Head.
  • After many invites, I finally got out to Tom Doak’s Lost Dunes and also popped over to Mike Keiser’s Dunes Club – both special places.
  • In addition to Bethpage, I checked two more U.S. Open venues off my list – Skokie CC and Erin Hills.
  • I spent plenty of time at my other “home” courses – Bryn Mawr CC, Arcadia Bluffs, and Canal Shores.

Without further ado, here are the photos.

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In addition to this embarrassment of riches, I ended the year with numerous invites and plans left on the table – Seminole, Old Elm, Glen View, Crystal Downs, Olympia Fields, The Course at Yale, Sleepy Hollow, Riviera, Whisper Rock, Stonebridge, Strawberry Farm, Oakmont, Merion, Oakland Hills, to name a few.

Looks like 2015 is going to be a great year…


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Copyright 2014 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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The Art of Course – Why Golf Channel Needs a GCA Show

There is much hand-wringing and serious conversation these days about the state of the game.  Rounds are down, and so are the total number of players playing.  The talk revolves around how to get the game growing again through future-forward change and progress.

Making the game more fun is certainly part of the solution.  Initiatives like Tee It Forward, Play 9, and Relaxed Rules are well intended and, hopefully, effective.  However, efforts to make golf more fun are, by their nature, superficial.  If golf wants to remain healthy in the long run, its stewards need to guide current and potential players to connect at a deeper-than-superficial level.  Golf can touch minds and souls with its unique magic, but the current golf culture often distracts players from discovering that magic.

And that is why Golf Channel should have a show dedicated to Golf Course Architecture.

I’m a businessman and realist, so let’s get the business case out of the way first before returning to the idealism.  Golf Channel makes money when it engages its audience.  The digital era has allowed media outlets to target content toward ever-finer niches.  The existence and success of Golf Channel is evidence of this trend.  So, the question is, is there an audience for GCA content that could be engaged?  And even further, is that audience one that could be monetized by Golf Channel through advertising?

First, the audience size.  There is ample evidence that an audience interested in GCA exists:

  • Matt Ginella’s course design and development updates are highly anticipated and never fail to cause buzz.
  • Morning Drive’s themed “Architects Week” was a smash hit.
  • Architects like Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, Tom Doak, and Gil Hanse have not only become widely known, they have become icons.
  • The rabid engagement of communities surrounding websites like GolfClubAtlas.com is at a peak.
  • Thought leaders like Geoff Shackelford and Brad Klein are no longer “niche” – they have reach and power.

Second, the audience quality for advertisers.  GCA devotees are the people who get on planes and travel to places like Bandon Dunes and Streamsong.  They buy golf equipment and clothing.  They have considerable spending power beyond their golf habits.

The audience exists and it is a good audience for the right advertisers to reach, but that is only the commercial argument for Golf Channel’s GCA show.  The intangible, yet larger, argument is that as a force in the game, it is in Golf Channel’s best interest to cultivate the game’s magic.  It is golf courses that are the source of that magic.

The course provides us with an outdoor adventure, exercise, and connection to nature.  The course also provides us with quiet space in our hectic lives to connect with family and friends, and ourselves.  The course is the opponent, providing us with endless challenges, both obvious and subtle.

Beyond the basics, great courses touch us at the deepest level.  When witnessing the beauty of man’s artistic vision merged with mother nature’s creation, it is hard not to be stirred.  Great courses also stimulate the mind – they give us options, sometimes confounding options.  They bait our egos.  They test our ability to think strategically, as well as remaining focused and confident in our strategic decisions.  Great courses are marvels of design, planning, engineering, technology, agronomy, and attention to detail – they are a magical blend of art and science.

Without the course, golf is a trip to driving range.  Without understanding of and exposure to the depth of great courses, people will not know why golf is the greatest game ever invented.  Superficial fun won’t keep people engaged without the deeper connection.

So, among informative and entertaining programs that Golf Channel produces, this is my call for them to give golf course architecture and golf courses their due attention.  The audience is there, and the game needs it.

I’m conducting a Twitter experiment to see if we can create a groundswell to get a show on the air.  GCA nerds and stewards of the game, join me in tweeting to @golfchannel to ask them to create the show.  Use the hashtag #GCAonGC so that we can track progress.  Let’s make this happen.

(Feel free to share your ideas for GCA show episodes as comments to this post, or tweet them to me at @JasonWay1493 and I’ll do it for you.)

If you are not Twitter inclined, you can also post to the Golf Channel Facebook page here.  Use the same hashtag in your post if you do: #GCAonGC.

Or, if you are just not into social media at all, you can email Golf Channel at programming@golfchannel.com and/or morningdrive@golfchannel.com.

Regardless of what media you use, if you think that a GCA show would be great TV (and good for the game), share your thoughts with Golf Channel.  If you don’t feel comfortable expressing yourself, then send them a link to this post and let my words do your talking.

If enough of us speak up, they will respond.

UPDATE: While we’re working on getting this show aired, I have started to compile links on this GCA Video Archive page for exploration.  Hope you enjoy!