It’s the Guru’s policy to not comment on or review courses he hasn’t played, so the following are five of my absolute short course favorites.
I’ve also provided a list at the bottom of this post of exceptional short and par-3 courses that golf writer friends have highly recommended to me.
1. Winter Park 9
I’ll let the video introduce you to this wonderful short course in Winter Park, about 3 miles north of downtown Orlando. It has a little bit of everything from exceptional undulating greens, a hole that winds around a cemetery, trains that occasionally chug behind the 5th tee, a short driveable par 4 (No.9) and perhaps, best of all, $2 dollar Bud and Bud Light brewskis at the clubhouse.
2. The Cradle at Pinehurst
Gil Hanse’s masterful design incorporates the native sandscape and wiregrass common to the original courses of Pinehurst. With holes that meander along the rolling terrain, The Cradle’s greens subtly blend into the surrounding landscape and are protected by rough-hewn bunkers, all features that have long been hallmarks of Pinehurst golf. The Cradle is situated in the same area where Dr. Leroy Culver carved the first nine holes out of sand at Pinehurst in 1898. At 789 yards, the 9-hole course features holes ranging from 56 to 127 yards.
3. Top of the Rock at Big Cedar Lodge
It’s one of the best par three courses I’ve ever played. Ever. Anywhere. The first Jack Nicklaus Signature par three ever built, the course debuted in 1996 in Branson, Missouri. It’s part of the PGA Champions Tour Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf Tournament. The park-like setting has native grasses and trees and beautiful wildflowers everywhere. There’s also a 70,000 square-foot putting complex designed by Tom Watson and an Arnold Palmer designed practice facility.
4. Golf Club at Ocala Preserve
A design collaboration by Oklahoma-based architect Tripp Davis and PGA Tour and Champions Tour star Tom Lehman, the course is a revolutionary routing arrangement built on 50 acres that can be played in multiple configurations. Set in Ocala Preserve, a 623-acre, master-planned community on rolling hills, it’s situated about 75 minutes north of Orlando. It can be played in a variety of ways: As a six-hole, par-24 routing with one par 3, four par 4s and one par 5; as a six-hole, par-18 course or as a a full-length layout by playing three times with multiple tee complexes providing an 18-hole, par-72, 6,700-yard routing
5. Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course
You’re gonna be hard pressed to find an oceanside golf experience at these prices. From Monday to Thursday you can play this awesome par three course (18 holes walking) for as little as $28.23. Friday and Sunday, the price bumps up to $28.28 (walking). They also have also sorts of deals depending on the time of day you want to play. The Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course sits on 39 palm-dotted acres of oceanfront and intracoastal property in South Florida. Re-designed by Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd in 2009, the layout offers holes ranging from 81 to 211 yards.