Florida's par-3 holes can amaze, frustrate and astound

By Ted Curtis, Contributor

NAPLES, Fla. -- Who says that a great golf hole must be 600 yards long with a double dogleg, narrow landing areas and long carries over water? Leave the oversized driver in the bag and check out these terrific all-access par-3s throughout the Sunshine State.

TPC Sawgrass, Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach
Hole 17, 132 yards

You haven't played golf in Florida until you've stared down the most famous, most frightening, most challenging, most exasperating hole that the Sunshine State - and perhaps the entire golf world - has to offer. "You can see some of the most horrendous shots you've ever seen in your life from some of the best players in the world just because of the intimidation factor," says 2002 Players Champion Craig Perks. What can we say? Pick a club, make a good swing at the island green and hold your breath.

Slammer and Squire, World Golf Village, St. Augustine
Hole 7, 178 yards

One of Florida's best replications of the famed Redan style of golf architecture, this hole is fashioned after the 13th hole at Scotland's North Berwick. Middle of the green is always a solid play here, as the large green slopes down from right-front to back-left, with large bunkers to the left and a drop-off slope to the right.

PGA National Resort & Spa, Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens
Hole 15, 164 yards

This difficult start to "The Bear Trap" - the concluding stretch of holes that finish off a recently reshaped Jack Nicklaus design - greets you with quite an intimidating tee shot. A huge bunker front and left of the green, along with water to the right of the putting surface, makes this one of the toughest par-3 tee shots in South Florida. "Whenever you step up to that tee," says 2001 U.S. Senior Open champion Bruce Fleisher, "you just kind of hope for the best."

ChampionsGate Golf Resort, International Course, ChampionsGate
Hole 5, 217 yards

Prepare for a major "Wow!" at this amazing new design. Five old-time, squared-off teeing grounds offer various distances and angles to approach this long and narrow green. The putting surface is protected to the right by water which generally does not come into play and around the green by four bunkers which certainly do.

Key West Golf Club, Key West
Hole 8, 143 yards

The "Mangrove Hole" is aptly named as the tee shot is played directly over the top of thickly intertwined tropical mangroves. Greenside at this Rees Jones design at America's southeasternmost golf course is no picnic either - a pair of long bunkers protect nearly the entire perimeter of the putting surface.

Flamingo Island Club, Lely Resort Golf & Country Club, Naples
Hole 5, 213 yards

The Robert Trent Jones Sr. design course is best known for this "Flamingo Island" fifth hole. The tee shot - which can be played from as close as 103 yards from the nearest of four teeing areas - is played to a well-bunkered island green, in an architectural device that Trent Jones similarly used in Florida courses such as Turnberry Isle in Aventura outside of Miami.

LPGA International, Champions Course, Daytona Beach
Hole 17, 203 yards

The Rees Jones-designed par-3 represents one of then most knee-knocking holes on the LPGA Tour. The tee shot must be played delicately over the water that stretches in front of, left of, and then behind the green. A bunker front-right catches anything played too safely. And toughest of all, the shot usually is played into the wind.

The Breakers, Ocean Course, Palm Beach
Hole 16, 230 yards

When Brian Silva reshaped the historic, century-old course, he added a bit of bite here at the 16th hole. With slight and gradual elevation that leads into a lower-lying depression, the tee shot is confounding, if not completely blind. The long tee shot over a newly created water hazard - which wraps around the front of a sloping green - provides no assurances that the tee shot will remain dry. Make it to the green and you're faced with a sloping putting surface, all of which makes three a great score.

Emerald Dunes Golf Club, West Palm Beach
Hole 4, 169 yards

The hole is named "Emerald Falls" for good reason: the water hazard front and right leads the eye to a beautiful waterfall behind the green. But watch out for designer Tom Fazio's deceptive teeing area at this hole, which tricks many players into pulling the tee shot way too far left.

Westchase Golf Club, Tampa
Hole 3, 212 yards

Don't get caught up staring at the links beauty of this Lloyd Clifton design, best known for its wetlands and wooden bridges. Two gaping bunkers protect the green to the front-left and back-right, leaving virtually no unobstructed angle to the flagstick. And that's only if you can clear the water located in front of the putting surface. Good luck!

Ted Curtis, Contributor

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