The best par 3s in the world paint a picture in your mind.
It's easy to see why par 3s provide the most photogenic moments in golf. The challenge and beauty lies right there in front of you -- one swing at glory or defeat.
Only the really unique par-3 holes, though, create an experience remembered long after the round. The par 3s in this feature aren't just golf holes, they produce moments that are talked about at the 19th hole years after the round. Purists might consider some of them gimmicky. But make no mistake: Every golfer wants a crack at them.
No. 17 on The Players Stadium at TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Even the pros in The Players Championship admit they start thinking about the Players Stadium at TPC Sawgrass' famed and feared island green earlier in the round than they should. The shot is just 137 yards, a wedge or 9 iron for most of us. It's the water that messes with your mind. Only 83 percent of the pros hit the green in 2014. I bet the amateur average less than 20 percent the rest of the year. I missed it my first time, too.
Pete Dye, the cruelest of architects, credits (should we say blames?) his wife, Alice, for coming up with the idea of an island green. This hole is permanently etched into golf's lore thanks to all the splashes we see on TV. None of your friends care what you shot during the round. They want to hear what happened at 17.
Hole 3b on Pacifico at the Punta Mita Golf Club, Nayarit, Mexico
I intimately explored Pacifico at the Punta Mita Golf Club's natural island green 190 yards off-shore in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during a recent visit to Mexico's gorgeous west coast 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. The day before I was scheduled to play the Jack Nicklaus-designed Pacifico, another golf writer and I took our sandals off and waded across the slippery, flooded cart path to the green.
We spent a half hour taking photos and climbing the black rock surrounding the putting surface. It is much larger than it looks from land. Good thing we did because the tide was in the next morning, rendering our golf carts unable to reach the green.
My playing partners and I still hit several tee shots -- both of mine sank beneath the waves -- and took more photos before moving on with our round. We were told by management a new amphibious vehicle to transport people during high tide is on order, but another industry source told me not to expect it anytime soon. Either way, I don't mind sacrificing a ball to the golf gods in such a magical setting.
No. 14 at Coeur d'Alene Resort, Idaho
The island greens of the Stadium Course and Pacifico are tough to hit. Landing on the famous floating island green at Coeur d'Alene Resort in northern Idaho is much easier. The massive, manmade island is 15,000 square feet of land, complete with two bunkers, flower beds and even three trees. If I can keep it dry on the first try, anybody can.
The tees range from 95 yards to 218 yards, although the hole can stretch to 270 yards thanks to its unique and costly underwater cable system built by engineers before the course opened in 1991.
"It's basically a ship," resort owner Duane Hagadone told The Golf Channel during an interview that aired on the show "Golf In America" in 2010.
Hagadone said course architect Scott Miller tried to talk him out of the idea but he persevered. "I wanted something with some sizzle," he added.
The "Putter" boat, an electric-powered shuttle driven by a Coast Guard-certified captain, transfers golfers to and from the island. The boat captain gives every player a personalized Certificate of Achievement to commemorate one of the most interesting moments in golf.
The Extreme 19th at Legend Golf & Safari Resort, South Africa
No. 19 at Legend Golf & Safari Resort is one of golf's most amazing experiences, if you ask me. Reaching the tee of this 400-yard par 3 requires a helicopter ride to a cliff atop Hanglip Mountain, a point more than 1,400 feet above a green shaped like Africa.
After teeing off, the ball hangs in the air for at least 30 seconds before hitting the ground. The resort's Web site lists a leaderboard of the 100-plus players who have made par or better (less than 30 have made birdie) and more than 2,500 others who made bogey or worse. All six of my shots ended up in the jungle out of play. After a drop near the green, I eventually got up and down for a humbling 15. At least that was better than the countless others who failed to finish. What a memorable bye hole.
What are some of your most memorable par 3s? Tell us in the comments below.