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Beyond the Postage Stamp: Play the legendary par 3s of the golf courses of Scotland and Ireland

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor
Royal County Down No. 4
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No. 4 at Royal County Down plays over a sea of gorse to a small green and stunning mountain backdrop. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)

From No. 11 on the Old Course at St. Andrews to the "Postage Stamp" at Royal Troon, from Old Tom Morris' "Dell" hole at Lahinch to No. 4 at Royal County Down, Scotland and Ireland boast many of golf's most influential par 3s.

Good things come in small packages at Scotland and Ireland's most legendary par 3s.

Some of these famous - and infamous shorties have been immortalized by the triumph or follies of famous British Open competitors. Others have earned their reputation as original and influential holes to be duplicated in the coming century all over the world.

And the greatest thing today about these world-renowned holes is that unlike the private clubs of America, each golf course offers at least limited public play - helping to keep the legends alive and well.

From the quirky "Dell" at Lahinch to the famous "Postage Stamp" at Royal Troon, Scotland and Ireland have countless storied and influential par 3s. Here's a look at some of the most iconic.

Legendary Par 3s of Scotland and Ireland

No. 14 at Royal Portrush, N. Ireland - "Calamity" is a slicer's worst nightmare, playing more than 210 yards over a steep slope of tall grasses - far more intimidating than any pond or gorse. Try as you might, a nervous swing is going to find trouble way down there more often than not.

"A lot of members will hit it down there," said Head Professional Gary McNeil. "They'll be able to see the ball and still won't go down and get it."

No. 11 at the Old Course at St. Andrews - The last of only two par-3s on the Old Course, the "High" hole is where legendary Bobby Jones admits he experienced perhaps his lowest point in golf at the 1921 Open Championship, taking four shots to get out of the vicious "Hill" bunker before picking his ball up and quitting the Open. Two other potential round-ending bunkers, "Strath" and "Cockie" are worth avoiding as well.

No. 8 at Royal Troon, Scotland - The legendary "Postage Stamp" is among the most replicated par 3s on the planet, which earned its name when Willie Park described its green as, "a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp." Its championship yardage is only 123 yards but is one of the most feared par 3s in the Open rota.

No. 4 at Royal County Down, N. Ireland - One of golf course architect H.S. Colt's finest additions to R.C.D. during his 1920s redesigns, the fourth plays gently downhill over a sea of gorse to a small, crowned green with the Slieve Donard Hotel spire and Mountains of Mourn as an ominous backdrop. The safest spot to miss is in front - an area you can't really see due to the overflowing gorse.

No. 5 at Lahinch, Ireland - Nicknamed "Dell," this may be Old Tom Morris' ultimate signature hole, playing to a slanted hourglass green narrowly tucked within a collection of dunes. Only the smallest edge of the green on the right side is visible - with only a white aiming stone serving as your line. Experienced players will try and play long off the back slope and let the ball kick down towards the green. Local caddies at Lahinch have a reputation for sending one up to forecaddie, then put one ball in the hole to please their touring group - and hopefully get a larger gratuity - a practice the club says stopped years ago.

No.16 at Carnoustie - The 2007 Open venue, this long par-3 16th hole that can often play into the wind is one of five demonizing holes that make up Carnoustie's brutal finishing stretch. Sergio Garcia bemoaned his "bad luck" after his tee shot struck the flagstick in his playoff with eventual winner Padraig Harrington.

No. 15 at North Berwick - The "Redan" hole at North Berwick, built in 1869, created an entirely new genre of a golf hole. It's a par-3 that slopes away from the tee, front-to-back and right-to-left with a bunker guarding the green on either side, with the green blind from the tee. Today, most modern golf architects have their own interpretations of a "Redan" hole somewhere in their body of work.

No. 6 at Ailsa Course, Turnberry - "Tappie Torrie" is the Ailsa's longest par-3 at 231 yards and requires almost all carry uphill. The hole is the first of a series of Turnberry's finest that plays right along the coastline and straight towards the lighthouse. Women actually tee up from behind the championship tees and play this brute as a par 4.

No. 6 at Royal Dornoch, Scotland - "Whinny Brae" isn't long, just 161 yards, but its crowned green built into the side of a gorse-filled slope is surrounded with bunkers, miss your shot to any side and you're faced with a treacherous pitch back up. The slightly elevated tee allows just enough visibility to show you all the trouble and thoroughly intimidate you.

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Dell Hole at LahinchWhinny Brae at Royal Dornoch
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Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.

 
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