This month’s British Open at Royal Troon features one of the shortest holes in major championship golf: the 123-yard par-3 eighth. “Postage Stamp” is wee but wicked—its green measures just 10 yards at its widest. (You know a hole is tough when the left-front bunker is named “Coffin.”) Any score is possible, from a 1 (Ernie Els in 2004) to a 6 (Tiger Woods in 1997). Whatever course you’re playing, here’s how to make short work of a short par 3.
1. HIT A KNOCKDOWN
WIND CHEATERS FLY STRAIGHTER: Hitting a full pitching wedge or 9-iron is tempting, but big swings with lofted irons launch the ball too high, leaving your fate to the wind’s whim. Grab an extra club and make a three-quarter knockdown swing. Slower swing speeds create less spin, so the ball will fly low and straight. To hit a knockdown, stand a few inches closer to the ball. A “tighter” stance shallows out the club’s angle of attack, resulting in a lower, more piercing trajectory. — Scott Munroe
2. TAKE A PRACTICE DIVOT
A PRE-SWING FIX FOR BETTER RHYTHM AND CONTACT: A common swing error is poor contact due to poor rhythm. Make several back-and-forth practice swings without stopping—focus only on tempo, and try to hit the ground in the same spot each time. Then simply step up and repeat the motion when it counts. — Mark Hackett
3. PICK AN ANGLE
AVOID HAZARDS RIGHT FROM THE START: The pin is slightly right of center here. So is the closest hazard. To create a target line that eliminates all the trouble, tee the ball as far to the left as you can. (A general rule: Teeing the ball on the opposite side of the flag usually provides the safest route.) If the wind is up, use the side of the box that lets you hit into the breeze. You may have to take an extra club, but you know the wind won’t blow the ball off-line. — Kellie Stenzel