Golf question: why do golf courses never begin or end with par 3's or 5's?

Pretty much what the thread title says. Why don’t golf courses ever put par 5’s or 3’s on the 1st or 18th holes?

I don’t know of any courses that end with a par three, but there are a lot that end with a par five. Pebble Beach, for one.

As a teenager I used to work at a golf course that ended in a par 5.

The average par-72 course usually contains 14 par-4 holes as opposed to 4 each of par-3 and par-5. Now, in my (admittedly very limited) experience in talking to course designers, I get the sense that most designers like to start their course with an “easy average” hole: not too long, straight, nothing overtly tricky. They also want to start their course with something that’s fairly descriptive of what you’re going to get over the rest of the 18. You don’t want to start a very difficult course with a too-easy opening hole–that would lull your golfers into a false sense of security. So, a relatively straight, mid-length par-4 usually fits the bill. If the course is going to be tough, it’ll be loaded with bunkers and tight lies. On an easy course, it’s going to be wide open.

But what does that have to do with the last hole? Back in the old days, you played “out” on the front 9, and “in” on the back 9…the 9th green would be farthest away from the clubhouse, and you’d play back towards the clubhouse starting on the 10th. The 1st hole and the 18th hole would be relatively parallel to each other and end up being about the same length, so if the 1st hole was a straight par-4, the 18th would be too. Nowadays not every course is set up this way. There are a lot more courses where both the 9th and the 18th end at the clubhouse (that’s what happened where I worked), so there is no need for the 1st and the 18th to be parallel to each other.

The crappy publinx course I play starts with a short par 5, and the venerable Pasatiempo Golf Club in California ends with a par 3.

Usually, courses start with a par 4, but not all of them. Same with the ending holes.

And I just noticed Spyglass starts with a par 5.

As to the par 3’s, you’ll never see a par 3 on the 1st or 10th because it would clog things up. Par 3’s are notorious for delays, since people must completely finish the hole before the next group goes. The last thing you want is a lineup on your 1st hole. Not a good impression.

For par 5’s, you do see that occasionally as a first or last hole, but the main reason is like Duke said, the course introduction should be a pleasing, well designed hole that’s not too easy, gimmicky, or too hard. Same thing for the last impression.

I guess I was wrong about “never.” I think Duke’s answers, in particular, make a lot of sense. Thanks for the replies.

Adding to that for par 5 opening holes, there’s always some guy that thinks they can get on the green in two, adding time and back-up to the beginning, precisely where you don’t want it. Spyglass sort of gets away with it, as it’s near impossible for mortals to get on that green in two. (That PGA tour pros do it sometimes is just further proof for me that Nicklaus was right in demanding that something be done to nerf the ball these guys use)

OTOH, I love the par 5 closer, as a way for people to go for broke when settling up their golf wagers. Nothing like watching some guy try to hit driver off the deck because he agreed double or nothing at 17.

Many, many courses begin with par-5s. Riviera Country Club in LA for one notable one.

Even more courses end with par-5s. Pebble Beach already mentioned.

As for par-3s: Most courses don’t want to start you off with the challenge of having to put a precision shot into the green on the first hole, and also it potentially slows up tee-times as you are stuck right off the bat if the group on the green has trouble (greenside play is quite time consuming). The Asilomar Course in Pacific Grove, CA, starts with a short par-3 on hole #1 of the oceanside nine.

Ending with a par-3 is rare because it’s not thought to be demanding or dramatic enough, usually. There are a few that end that way, though.

That set-up is only true of a limited number of existing Scottish courses, though it was more prevalent in olden days in Scotland, where the game was born. Almost no American clubs play an “out” and “in” nine that way.

True, but that’s kind of what I was getting at by “in the old days.” Golf design is very hidebound.

Also, nobody caught my “14 holes are par 4, 4 each are par 3 and par 5” mistake :smack:

Royal Lytham and St Annes, (in the British Open Rota), has a par 3 first hole. It is the only championship golf course that I know of that begins with a par 3.

Many golf courses start with a par 5, Olympic Golf Course in San Francisco (a frequent US Open course (last one in 1998) starts with a par 5.

The US Open course at Baltusrol (lower?) ends with two par 5’s.

Torrey Pines (2008 US Open) has a par 5 finishing hole.

The finishing hole at the 1997 US Open at Congressional was a par 3.

The course that was used for the Texas Open for many many years finished with a par 3.

East Lake in Atlanta finishes with a very long par 3 (~235 yds). They will be playing the PGATour Championship there next week.

If i was designing a golf course, I would make the 1st hole either a par 4 or a virtually unreachable par 5. reachable par 5’s tend to be bottlenecks.

It is highly unusual for 1st holes to be par 3’s but two of the local munis’s I played when growing up both had 200 yds par 3’s to start. I have probably played 300 courses since then, and I don’t ever remember another par 3 to start the round with.

This famously cost Ian Woosnam a 2-shot penalty in the final round of the British Open, when he was in contention for the title. He had an extra driver in his bag, which wasn’t noticed until the second tee. Had the first hole not been a par three, he’d likely have noticed the extra driver and avoided the penalty.

Oak Hills in San Antonio, TX has hosted pro tournaments and the front and back nines each end with a par three.

St. Pierre Golf Club in Chepstow, just into Wales, is a championship ciourse that begins with a par-5 and ends with a brute of a par-3 - 235 yards, over water then uphill, out-of-bounds on the left. There is a plaque by the tee describing someone who came to the 18th with a ridiculously good score, and then proceeded to take an 11.

As already mentioned, East Lake ends in a long par 3. This is also over water and uphill. The one time I played it, I parred it courtesy of a 40ft putt (but I was not playing the back tees).