The answer to the above question is what I have been searching for this past week. I was wondering out loud (yes, I do talk to myself) if more birdies are scored on par 3's, par 4's or par 5's. My first thought was the longer holes, but I'm really not sure.
As I researched the topic, I found out that I wasn't the only golfer who was wondering about this phenomenon. In fact the first thing I found was a thread that I think is worth repeating to you, my faithful readers. Though it was posted in 2008, it still is very insightful and interesting. Here is how it went.
THREAD STARTER: from Big Oak
I believe statistically that professionals make the most birdies on par 5's. I kept track and in the last 5 rounds I had the most birdies on par 3's. What about you?
Here are three responses to the inquiry.
Dent: Par 5's as well. Although at my home course on this 335 yard par 4 I've gotten nothing but birdies.
All right, Mr. Dent let me put this to you succinctly. You sir, are a prevaricator. I can't fathom that you have birdied that short hole every time you have played it. If so, then most of your birdies have probably come on par 4's and most likely from that very hole.
So many things can go wrong on even the shortest hole that scores of par or worse had to happen occasionally. I take umbrage with your statement (nothing but birdies) unless of course you are Jim Dent the former professional. In that case I apologize because you are very good and really big!
Alex B: According to Scorecard, in my last 32 rounds I have:
3 birdies on 131 par 3's (2.29%)
14 birdies on 318 par 4's (4.4%)
12 birdies on 127 par 5's (9.45%)
So, I make a plurality of my birdies on the par 4's (because they are the most common par-hole by a mile) but my birdie percentage is clearly highest on the par 5's.
He finished by drawing a sad face and saying "I don't make a lot of birdies."
As for my thoughts on Alex, I'm impressed he has statistics on his last 32 rounds, can properly use the term plurality and is self-deprecating. He birdies nearly every 10th par 5 he plays and I would guess that is not too bad.
Octuple Bogey: A self-described hacker, Mr. Bogey had this to say: Interesting question. My first par and first birdie ever both came on a par 3, my first eagle on a fice, but really I've never kept track of it. I suspect that I do better on par 5's and 3's than 4's but I really don't know. More things can go wrong en route to a par 5 or 4 than a 3, but if I do things right on a par 5 I'm usually faced with a much shorter approach shot. I'd say that for me long par 4's are the worst because they require a long, crisp second shot to get on the green in regulation, and that's provided I didn't screw up the first shot altogether.
The Bogey man (is octuple really a word?) makes some great points especially the concept that the longer the hole, the greater the potential to do something stupid. I tend to look forward to par 5's until I hit that one shot that ruins the hole.
So let's take a purely unscientific look at the question at hand. Which par-hole yields the greater number of birdies? Here then are some arguments.
Par 3: A birdie on this type of hole only requires two shots, ergo less chance to hit a stinker. Also your approach shot (since it comes from the tee) will always come from a good lie. The problem here is that many par 3's are lengthy and require a shot over an intimidating object such as a large body of water. Then again a few area holes are some 100 yards in length so a birdie is a distinct possibility.
Par 4: Depending on the length, this type of hole may be the toughest to birdie. As Alex points out however, there are more par 4's on the typical course than any other type of hole, so by shear repetition you have a greater chance here. Drivable par 4's give you the best chance, but it seems there are fewer of those than earlier in my career. And yes, I am aware that the distances on holes I used to be able to drive have not changed!
Par 5: I still think this is the best chance for birdie. Despite that fact that Bogey is right on when he suggests that more things can go wrong "en route" to a par 5, two good shots will give you a short approach or the chance to two-putt for a birdie. The easiest birdies come from only needing to two-putt to get one.
There you have my unbridled attempt to answer the question. For my part, I have recorded 23 birdies this year. If you are interested, seven have come on par 3's, seven on par 4's and nine on par 5's. A pretty even distribution if you ask me, and shedding no bright light on our question.
So I will turn to you, my fellow golf buffs. Let me know about your own propensity for birdies. Where do they come from? If, like Alex, you want to track your next 32 rounds of golf, so be it. Just remember for you occasional players - I'm not getting any younger - so you'll need to play more frequently.
Yes, you may tell your spouse that it was my idea!
Al Stephenson is The A-T's golf columnist.
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