Par 3s are golf without the driver. As from the fairway, the key to a good score is choosing the right club to hit off the tee.
That means, first of all, you have the right club in your bag. I have room in my bag for either a 21-degree or a 19-degree hybrid. I look at the scorecard of the course I’m going to play and take along the one that suits the longest par 3 best.
Base your club selection on the listed yardage plus seven yards. That’s the yardage to play the hole at regardless of where the pin is, unless it’s a deep green. Say it’s a 148-yard hole. Your 150-yard club will be short. Take one more club to get hole high.
Tee up the ball. Never hit it off the ground. The height of the tee should be no more than a half inch. Less than that is better. All you’re trying to do is give yourself a good lie.
The green on some par-3 holes is surrounded by hazards – mounds, bunkers, high grass. Most of that will be in front of the hole or to the side. Forget the pin. Take enough club to land the ball on the green beyond the trouble.
Unless you hit the ball pretty straight, consider deliberately playing short and chipping on if it takes more than 5-iron to reach the green. Such a long par 3 is more likely to be a bogey hole than a par hole, and laying up like this could keep a double bogey off your card.
If the green you’re hitting into has no safe place to bail out to, hit a knockdown shot. Take one more club, and swing it back three-quarters. Think of keeping the clubhead low on the follow-through and continuing straight toward the target after contact. Finish with your hands in front of you.
If there is water in front of the green, find out exactly how long that carry is and take TWO more clubs from there. Grip down halfway and swing normally.
When you miss the green, think carefully about the chip. Start by finding a spot to chip to from where you can easily two-putt, and zero in from there.
Have an overall strategy for the round, too. You can break 90 by parring one par 4. You can break 80 by parring two. (In addition to what you do on par 4s and par 5s, (q.v.).
Don’t leave that to chance, though. Pick the ones you can handle and and go after those.
Final thought: the night before you play, spend some time with a pencil and paper and practice writing 2s. Nice, clear, florid 2s. This is mojo that will pay off the next day.