Non-Traditional Golf – Par 3 Courses

By R.J. Smiley






Sunday Evening – The Psychic flopped into his easy chair and carefully placed his Arnold Palmer, complete with Ketel One Vodka, on the side table. It had been a whirlwind weekend of golf. As the recliner extends, the Psychic closed his eyes and relives the past three days of TOTALLY UNIQUE GOLF.

The Dirty Dozen, his traveling golf group, had spent three days in a mini golf marathon:

Friday – The group experienced TopGolf, many for the first time. The combination of a comfortable private hitting bay, great food and drink, plus target golf with the latest in technology was very entertaining.

Saturday – The Dirty Dozen migrated to a local Muni for the annual Superintendent’s Revenge Par-3 Scramble. Every hole was a par-3 with the hole cut in devilish positions.

Sunday – The Dirty Dozen mounted two SUVs and traveled to Brainerd, where twelve golf buddies spent three enjoyable hours learning the nuances of the brand-new Gravel Pit Golf Course. The putting course gave the players advanced notice of what was to come on the Scott Hoffman par-3 adventure. (Hoffman designed The Classic at Madden’s.)

On the clubhouse terrace high above the Gravel Pit Course, the DD rehydrated with a cold beer and refueled with a great burger. Overlooking the moon-scape-feel of the golf course each was lost in his own thoughts as they attempted to wrap their arms around the golf experience. When the mustard was wiped from their chin and another round was ordered they began to discuss their experience.

They loved the entertainment experience, but a few questioned some of the seemingly unfair bounces and extreme contour of a few greens. One crusty member of the Dirty Dozen made the statement, “This is not golf – I think there are some unfair holes.”

Another DD member added a more rational interrogation, “From the beginning of golf it has been played with a club, a ball, and a hole as the target. And who said that golf was supposed to be fair? The game was created to provide a recreational experience where participants are entertained. My questions to you: Did you play the game with a club and a ball? Was there a hole as the final target? Did you have a good time with a few laughs?”

The answers to all three questions were unanimous, “Yes.”

The Psychic rolled from his recliner took a long pull of his AP and headed directly for his study. Assuming his familiar position facing the crystal ball he questioned the future of non-traditional golf. 

Deep in the see-all crystal he witnessed shepherds whacking stones with their crooks into holes in the turf. Next, he sees Scottish Noblemen creating a crude eighteen-hole course where golf would be played. The reason for 18 holes? That is how many shots of whisky in a bottle, one shot for each hole. Finish with an empty bottle.

As the historic journey unfolds the Psychic is treated to an ever-improving series of golf courses, each with 18 holes, most with four par-3 holes, four par-5 holes and 10 par-4 holes. The manicured turf and perfectly smooth sand bunkers give the golf courses the look of a picture drawn with a very sharp pencil.

The Psychic recognizes many of these beautiful golf courses. Many are venues for Major golf championships, and private members’ playgrounds for the ultra-rich.

Gradually the golf courses take on a more natural look where much of the design is blended into the foundation created centuries ago by Mother Nature or more recently where excavation to retrieve raw materials created drastic changes to the topography. Sand Hills, Bandon Dunes, The Quarry at Giants Ridge and Streamsong.

Sprinkled into the mix is the occasional 9-hole executive golf course where beginners and those who want a quick round to play. The scene changes to the Master’s par-3 tournament where the world’s best compete along with their children wearing Master’s caddie coveralls.

Next the Psychic is treated to a whirlwind tour of putting courses complete with pirate ships and windmills. Then his all-time favorite Tiger Woods is seen in his brainchild combination of a restaurant and indoor putting course. As the stampede of images gain velocity, the Psychic is treated to a glimpse of every sort of game played with a ball and a club with a hole as the target. There is no set number of holes. There is no set number of clubs required. There is a blend of real outdoor golf that contain many of the images of famous golf artist, Bud Chapman, paintings. There is golf played in augmented reality and tournaments played on simulators where golfers can create a golf course blended from famous courses. 

As the images become a blur, that resemble the blending of a smoothie, the Psychic pushes away from the table where the crystal ball rests and retreats to the safety of his recliner.

After another long gulp of AP’s nectar, he realizes that the weekend variety of non-traditional golf experiences are only stepping stones in the yet to be written history of golf.