4 ways to stay out of trouble on a postcard par-3

The 17th hole at whistling straits.

A view of the par-3 17th at Whistling Straits.

2018 PGA of America

You know the feeling. You’ve arrived at a gorgeous par-3. You snap a photo. Marvel at the scenery. But then comes the tough part: actually playing the hole. Take the par-3 17th at Whistling Straits (Straits course), the host of last month’s Ryder Cup. With trouble lurking left, do you bail out right to safety or gun straight for the pin? This hole alone provided a ton of memorable moments from Ryder Cup week. (Right, Jordan Spieth?) As always, let’s strip things back to the very basics.

1. Pick a smart target

No, you’re not going to aim directly at this flag, tucked near the left edge of the green. If you do, your margin for error suddenly becomes half as wide, because missing left could cost you two shots or more. Instead, pick a specific spot halfway between the left edge of “safe” and the right edge of “safe.” Hit it there.

2. Check your setup

Boring advice, we know. But hitting an exciting shot is all the more reason to focus on the basics. Are your feet, hip and shoulder lines (and the clubface) all pointing at the target? That should give you the confidence to let ’er rip.

3. Choose the right ballflight

Ben Hogan used to aim at trouble and work the ball away from it, because it forced him to commit. Nick Faldo did the opposite, because then he felt the ball was moving the slowest as it turned toward trouble. What’s your typical ballflight? If it’s a fade, hit a fade! If it’s a draw, hit a draw! Unless you’re playing No. 17 in the Ryder Cup itself, don’t fight your natural move.

4. Make a proper swing

In this case a “proper” swing means your proper swing. Visualize the perfect shot soaring at your target. Finish your backswing. Then hit all the way through the ball, holding your finish like a pro. You do want a good photo after all.

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Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a 2014 graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.