One of the great thrills of golf is whacking the heckfire out of the ball and watching it sail down the fairway or, usually in my case, off the fairway and into the woods.
But, I also love interesting, little par-3s that require a deft touch and a little thought process. I've run into scores of great par-3s in Florida. Here are what I consider the best and most interesting in North Florida, with later editions to come.
-- No. 16, Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, Ocean Course: It's only 131 yards, but three- and even four-putting is a real possibility here. The green is three-tiered and surrounded by water. Yes, this is believed to be one of the first island greens, long before its more famous counterpart to the north, No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass.
I'd also mention No. 16 at the Inn's Lagoon course.
-- No. 3, Palencia Club. They call it the "Leaning Tree," an apt description since the green is guarded by an oak growing almost sideways. It's really weird -- either you go high here over the tree or hit a grounder under it. No. 6 here is also a beautiful one-shotter.
-- No. 7, Golf Club of North Hampton. North Hampton is known for its tough par-3s, and No 7 is the most interesting to me. I also like No. 17 with its deep green.
-- No. 6, Hyde Park. This, of course, is known as "Hogan's Alley," where the legendary Ben Hogan carded an 11 during a Jacksonville Open. It isn't particularly long, but a high bunker guards the right side of the green, forcing the tee shot to the left where a miss will often roll down the slope into a pond.
-- No. 8, Panther Creek. This is another course with tough par-3s, mostly over water. The green at No. 8, nicknamed "Rock Island," is elevated from the island tees boxes, so most smart golfers use an extra club here.
-- No. 17, TPC Sawgrass. I'd be shot if I didn't include this hole, one of the world's most famous, most photographed and most knee-knocking. Not the original island green, but the one that spawned legions of imitators. Oddly, I've never had a problem with this hole. Then again, I don't have a million dollars on the line.
-- No. 4, Golf Club of Quincy. This is an under-appreciated course and No. 4 is actually a very difficult, atypical hole in the hilly, Joe Lee design. The hole is 231 yards from the back tees over water. Yikes!