Follow these 3 pieces of advice to birdie short par 3s with ease

The breathtaking 5th at the Wilderness Club in northern Montana is perfect for staying aggressive and striving for birdie.

The Henebrys

Some months ago, in this very space, I gave you a neat four-word phrase: aggressive swings, conservative targets. In other words, play with confidence but employ a safe strategy, too, in order to stave off disaster and keep your round alive. But some shots in golf demand a slightly different, higher-upside approach. That’s right — we’re talking short par 3s. A short par 3 can be a course’s crown jewel.

It’s often scenic, tantalizing and a golfer’s greatest chance for glory — like the breathtaking 5th at the Wilderness Club in northern Montana (above), which tips out at 161 yards. If you can get over the view, these holes are perfect places to get aggressive. Here’s how.

1. Acknowledge the trouble

By the time you hit your shot, I want you to have blinders on, but you don’t have to put them on right away. Denial is unhealthy. It’s okay to acknowledge the trouble on the hole. Face your fears. Take a deep breath. Then start to zone in.

2. Pick your target

On a short par 3, picking a target can be as simple as gunning at the flagstick itself. But depending on slopes, hole location and how you expect the ball to react on the ground, you may want to adjust that starting point. The important thing is that you do settle on one particular spot. Good news: Now all your decision-making is done!

3. Take dead aim

Harvey Penick’s immortal advice bears repeating — and clarifying. “Take dead aim” means trusting the shot you’ve already picked. It means locking on to that target. It means choosing a positive thought (I want to hit it there) instead of a negative one (I want to avoid that trouble). It means trusting your body and your swing to do what you know they can: Hit that golf ball in the direction of the target. Plus, if you’re standing on the 5th tee, take a look at your surroundings. Life’s good. What’s the worst that could happen?

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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.