Have you considered building a par- 3 golf course? It can be highly
lucrative and attract new audiences.
A six-, nine-, 12- or 18-hole, par- 3 course will attract a varied cross
section of people, but more importantly, it will open your club to a much
wider and more diverse group of players, all of whom are potentially
If it’s well designed and well maintained, it is not uncommon for a
prominently located par- 3 course to have more than 15,000 rounds
played annually with green fee revenues of between £50,000 and
£100,000 ($62,000 and $123,000).
Could you have a par- 3 course at your club?
An interesting nine-hole, par- 3 course only uses 12 or 13 acres of land
and can easily be added to your course maintenance program. A stand-alone par- 3 course can be busy, especially if you include a driving range,
golf instruction, an adventure golf course, a cafe and golf retail facilities.
The concept of nine shorter par- 3 holes goes back many years, and a
number of golf clubs have benefited from including this type of facility
in their overall offerings. Thousands of golfers started playing golf, and
still regularly play golf, at par- 3 courses.
You will be in great company, as some of the best-known clubs in the
world have par- 3 courses, such as Valderrama Golf Club (host of the
1997 Ryder Cup) and Augusta National Golf Club.
What are the benefits of a par- 3 course?
If you are still not convinced of the merits of a par- 3 course and why it
would be a good investment for your club, here are my top reasons for
giving serious consideration to building one:
1. A much less daunting proposition: Golf is a difficult game to master, and it’s a fairly long process from taking up the game to attaining
reasonable proficiency. For raw beginners, the first hurdle is to make
contact with the ball; the second is to take their ball-hitting skills onto
the course and actually play golf – a daunting proposition for many.
A par- 3 course provides a much lower level of intensity and is a steppingstone toward a full-length course. Therefore, new golfers often
feel more comfortable on a par- 3 course.
2. Less time to play: ”Golf takes too long to play” has been the message
from golfers and non-golfers at all levels for a few years. The nine-
hole, par- 3 course addresses that issue head-on, since in most cases
it can be played in less than an hour. It can be played before or after
work, on the weekend or on a holiday because it does not take a large
chunk of time out of the day. Clubs with par- 3 courses are able to
promote this opportunity and attract an audience that also may use
other club facilities.
3. Attracts juniors, ladies, seniors, families and friends:
Par- 3 courses can be enjoyed by many groups of golfers:
juniors with their parents or grandparents; husbands
and wives; seniors who just want a few holes; or groups
of friends who just want to have fun. For many, playing
golf is a social occasion that offers some mild exercise
as well. A par- 3 course is perfect for those who are not
necessarily looking for competitive play or club membership.
4. A steppingstone for new golfers: Participation levels
are still declining, and the game needs new players.
Par- 3 courses are a great first step for those new to golf, and are a part
of the progression from golf lessons, to practicing between sessions,
to trying out your game on a par- 3 course.
5. A par- 3 course is a sound financial proposition: In most cases, a
nine-hole, par- 3 golf course requires a relatively small piece of land,
but the percentage of return can be far greater than what the main
course generates. Although they require upkeep, the time and manpower needed is much less than for your main course, making par- 3
courses very cost effective when you consider return over investment
and daily running costs.
6. They are great fun and break down the “golf is an exclusive game”
attitude: Par- 3 courses offer the opportunity for golf clubs to tap into
more markets than just experienced golfers wanting membership.
For many, par- 3 golf is their introduction to the sport. If you provide
them with a positive experience, the long-term benefits for your club
If your facility has spare land or can carve out an area to build a few
par- 3 holes, get in touch with a golf course architect to discuss how your
club can take advantages of the many benefits that come from building
a par- 3 course.
A par- 3 course will reap rewards and will be a sound investment for
Alan Walker is a PGA Master Professional and golf course architect. He
is a member of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects.
Looking to boost revenue and attract new members?
Why not add a par- 3 facility? BY ALAN WALKER