SHORT & SWEET; GOLFERS AT ALL LEVELS BENEFIT FROM PAR-3 COURSES.
Byline: Dave Shelburne Staff Writer
Dick Saatzer hunkered down in front of a television near the massive and ancient fireplace at Verdugo Hills Golf Course last week and watched the leaders in the best major field of the year substantiate his theory.
In less than an hour, he saw Tiger Woods Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled. putt from the fairway for birdie, Mike Weir
Michael Richard Weir C.M., O.Ont. (born May 12, 1970) is a professional golfer on the PGA Tour.
Weir was born in Brights Grove, Ontario, Canada. He attended St. pitch over a bunker for eagle and Sergio Garcia hack out of wretched greenside green·side
Situated beside a putting green: a greenside bunker.
Adj. 1. rough to salvage par in the 81st PGA Championship The PGA Championship (often referred to as the U.S. PGA Championship outside of North America) is an annual golf tournament conducted by the Professional Golfers Association of America as part of the PGA Tour. .
It was as if the playing pros were contributing visual aids visual aids
objects to be looked at that help the viewer to understand or remember something to what Saatzer has been voicing for much of his 44-year teaching career:
``The game of golf is played from 80 yards in,'' said the Verdugo Hills head pro, who believes par-3 courses - such as his own and six others in the area - are the best place to learn and hone those vital short-game skills.
Par-3 courses are sometimes dismissed as a sort of stepchild step·child
1. A child of one's spouse by a previous union.
2. Something that does not receive appropriate care, respect, or attention: "Demography has a reputation for being the stepchild of . . . to ``real golf'' by those who would rather test themselves on regulation courses, which emphasize par-4 and par-5 holes and give players the opportunity to hit woods or long irons.
But Saatzer and other proponents of par-3 play - managers and instructors at those courses as well as players there - call it not only a great way to start but also a great way to stay sharp.
Par-3 golf, they contend, is an invaluable resource for beginners, who can learn scoring skills as well as course safety and etiquette in an environment generally a lot more tolerant of slow play than might be expected on larger courses.
It's as if even the scratch players 1. One that starts from the scratch; hence, one of first-rate ability. at par-3 courses realize everyone has to start somewhere, while golfers playing at regulation courses are expected to have a certain skill level and understand the pace of play.
The amount of grumbling routinely heard at larger courses over slow play would seem to indicate par-3 golf is something more players could use to their own and others' advantage.
Judy Thompson of the National Golf Foundation in Jupiter, Fla., said studies her organization has done indicate par-3 courses - which comprise 846 of the nation's 16,365 golf courses - can help smooth the transition:
``People still want to play regulation courses, and that's just the truth of it all, even if they are unable to execute the shots or lack the experience,'' Thompson said. ``That's the job of par-3 courses - to give them a lesson, as it were, on how to play a regulation course.''
``They fit in great for learning,'' said Saatzer of the role 3-par courses play in golf's pecking order pecking order
Basic pattern of social organization within a flock of poultry in which each bird pecks another lower in the scale without fear of retaliation and submits to pecking by one of higher rank. For groups of mammals (e.g. . ``It's like a minor-league to a major-league golf course. When you get to a major (regulation) course, you find 60-70 percent of it is short-game play. Those are the shots you learn on a pitch-and-putt course.''
Chick Epstein, who operates the San Fernando San Fernando, city, Argentina
San Fernando (săn fərnăn`dō), city (1991 pop. 144,761), Buenos Aires prov., E Argentina. It is a district administrative center in the Greater Buenos Aires area. Valley-based Fairways Golf Camp for juniors, has utilized area par-3 courses in his playing program for 13 years.
``People who hit wedges and 9-irons and learn those shots are going to be well ahead of the game,'' Epstein said. ``If you were to ask any successful golfer, you'd find that's where the game needs to be learned.''
The opinion is echoed at Van Nuys Golf Course, where manager Paul Tanner Paul Tanner (born October 15 1917) is an American musician.
Tanner is famous today for playing trombone with Glenn Miller's band (1938-1942). He later worked as a studio musician in Hollywood. calls the par-3 game ``necessary to the future of golf,'' and at Vista Valencia, where general manager Warren Leary describes pitch-and-putt play as ``a stepping stone'' in the learning process.
Cal State Northridge men's coach Jim Bracken bracken or brake, common name for a tall fern (Pteridium aquilinum) with large triangular fronds, widespread throughout the world, often as a weed. agrees but says par-3 golf can be more than a primer for beginners. He believes it can help his team challenge for the Big Sky Conference title in the upcoming school year.
Bracken, who in January took over as general manager of the Mission Hills Little League par-3 course, plans to have his Matadors tune their pitching, chipping and putting skills regularly there as part of a game plan to reverse last year's last-place conference finish.
``It's just great for your short game,'' said Bracken, who especially likes the fact that Mission Hills' ball-grabbing kikuyu grass kikuyu grass
see pennisetumclandestinum. fairways force players to follow missed greens with well-aimed lob (1) See BLOB.
(2) (Line Of Business) Refers to people, job titles and product lines, all of which pertain to a specific product or service area of the business. shots if they are to save par.
``With the kikuyu, you can't bump-and-run the ball up onto the green,'' Bracken said. ``You've got to work on your touch and flop shots A flop shot is a shot in golf in which the player uses a lofted club, such as a sand wedge or a lob wedge, rotates the clubhead to an open position, and strikes down on the ball. This causes the ball to be launched at a very high angle and not travel very far. .''
But as important as par-3 courses are to advanced players, they traditionally have played a bigger role in the recruitment and education of new generations of golfers - several of whom have gone on to success beyond a single-digit handicap.
At Van Nuys, where Tanner's clientele includes a large number of junior golfers, many from Epstein's Fairways program, the list of accomplished alumni is headed by 1996 U.S. Public Links champion and current state amateur champion Tim Hogarth.
Four-time SCGA SCGA Southern California Golf Association
SCGA Software Carrier Group Alarm champion Craig Steinberg got his start in the game at Studio City par-3, while current PGA Tour The PGA Tour is an organization that operates the USA's main professional golf tours. It is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA. Its name is officially rendered in all caps as “PGA TOUR". player Bob Burns - winner of the 1998 Nike Tour Championship - played as a youngster at the Mission Hills Little League par-3 course.
Jason Gore Jason William Gore (born May 17, 1974) is an American professional golfer.
Gore was born in Van Nuys, California. He attended Pepperdine University. Gore plays on the PGA Tour after moving from the Nationwide Tour midseason in 2005. , the 1997 state amateur and state open champion now playing on the Nike Tour, was introduced to golf at Vista Valencia's par-3 Chica course. Chica also has been a home away from home for current Santa Clarita Valley The Santa Clarita Valley is the valley of the Santa Clara River in Southern California. It stretches through Los Angeles County and Ventura County. Its main population center is the city of Santa Clarita. The valley was part of the 48,612-acre (19,672. wunderkind wun·der·kind
n. pl. wun·der·kin·der
1. A child prodigy.
2. A person of remarkable talent or ability who achieves great success or acclaim at an early age. Brandon Christianson, 13, who had three holes-in-one in 24 hours during the 1997 Junior World Championship.
At Verdugo Hills, the clubhouse wall of fame includes a photo of youngster J.T. Kohut, posing with two-time Senior PGA Tour Player of the Year Jim Colbert James Joseph Colbert (born March 9, 1941) is an American golfer. He was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He attended Kansas State University, where he finished second in the NCAA golf championships in 1964, before graduating and turning professional in 1965. after Kohut, then known as Jerome, set a still-standing Verdugo Hills record of 11-under-par 43.
``Nine birdies and a hole-in-one,'' recalls Kohut, a nationally ranked junior who spent countless hours chipping and putting at Verdugo Hills and credits his par-3 roots for helping him earn a golf scholarship to UCLA UCLA University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA University Center for Learning Assistance (Illinois State University)
UCLA University of Carrollton, TX and Lower Addison, TX this year.
Par-3 golf has paid less spectacular but no less satisfying dividends for many others.
Jeff Knott, 39, never played on a regulation course before he tried out for the Crescenta Valley The Crescenta Valley is a small inland valley in Los Angeles County, California. Its name derives from its crescent-like shape, with the convex portion facing roughly northeast and the concave portion southwest. High team in 1976 but wound up a starter, he believes, because of par-3 golf at Verdugo Hills.
``Put it this way,'' Knott said. ``When I started playing at a regulation course, I already knew how to play fast, how to get along with other golfers and how to putt. It might have taken me five shots to get to the green, but when I got there I got down in two putts.''
For every par-3 course that contributed to the nationwide total of 26.5 million golfers who played in 1998, Knott's words must sound like ``mission accomplished.''
PAR 3 COURSES
Address: 1500 E. Walnut, Burbank
Telephone: (818) 843-9762
Vital stats: 9 holes, 725 yards, no lights, (18-hole regulation course and lighted driving range also on site)
Cost: Weekdays $2, weekends $3 ($1.50 for juniors and seniors)
The skinny: Beginner-friendly hillside course has no bunkers, no hole longer than 110 yards and most inexpensive greens fees in area.
Address: 24700 W. Trevino Drive, Valencia
Telephone: (805) 253-1870
Vital stats: 9 holes, 1,000 yards, no lights, (18-hole executive course and lighted driving range also on site)
Cost: Weekdays $10; weekends $13
The skinny: A challenge and a bargain, hillside Chica tests golfers with bunkers, water and OB but rewards with day-long play for one greens fee.
MISSION HILLS LITTLE LEAGUE
Address: On grounds of Veterans Administration Hospital, corner of Haskell Avenue and Plummer Street in Mission Hills
Telephone: (818) 892-3019
Vital stats: 9 holes, 1,150 yards, no lights, no driving range (putting green in plans and expected to be ready in three months)
Cost: Weekdays $5, weekends $6, replays $2.50 (senior rate $4.50 Monday-Friday; junior rate $3.50 daily)
The skinny: Flat but challenging layout with raised greens and kikuyu-grass fairways, course is operated as a non-profit fund-raiser for Mission Hills Little League baseball.
Address: 4141 Whitsett Avenue, Studio City
Telephone: (818) 761-3250
Vital stats: 9 holes, 1,000 yards, no lights (lighted driving range on facility)
Cost: Weekdays $7, weekends $9
The skinny: Part of a golf-and-tennis complex, this course challenges players with large trees and some extremely narrow fairways.
Address: 980 Madera Road, Simi Valley Simi Valley (sē`mē, sĭm`ē), city (1990 pop. 100,217), Ventura co., SW Calif. in an oil, fruit, and farm region; laid out 1887, inc. 1969.
Telephone: (805) 581-4599
Vital stats: 9 holes, 1,088 yards, no lights (driving range on site)
Cost: $7 weekdays, $9 weekends
The skinny: Sinaloa GM Lynn Shackelford, a former UCLA basketball star, lets everyone play free the Monday after UCLA beats USC An abbreviation for U.S. Code. in football.
Address: 6433 La Tuna Canyon Road, Tujunga
Telephone: (818) 352-3161
Vital stats: 18 holes, 1,805 yards, lights (lighted driving range also on facility)
Cost: Weekdays $7 for 9 holes, $8 for 18 holes; weekends $9 for 9 holes, $10 for 18 holes
The skinny: Course has elevation changes, well-defined kikuyu-grass fairways, distinct rough and challenging greens that are sloped and fast.
Address: 6550 Odessa Ave., Van Nuys
Telephone: (818) 785-8871
Vital stats: 18 holes, 2,181 yards, lights (lighted driving range and lighted 9-hole executive course also on site)
Cost: Weekdays $6 for 9 holes, $10 for 18 holes; weekends $7 for 9 holes, $12 for 18 holes (senior rate $5 for 9 holes, $9 for 18 holes Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays; junior rate $4 for 9 holes, $7 for 18 holes weekdays until 4:30 p.m.)
The skinny: Longest par-3 course in the area puts a premium on good middle-iron play as well as short-iron accuracy and putting skills.
4 Photos, Box
PHOTO (1--2--Color) Top right, Andrew Breitman, 12, who has played for four years, chips at the Van Nuys Golf Course. Above, Benji Davis, 12, in his second effort at playing, also likes the Van Nuys course. Beginners can learn and advanced players can hone their games on local par-3s.
(3) Matthew Jaffe, 13, practices putting at Van Nuys Golf Course. A number of tour players got their starts at par-3s.
(4) Paul Tanner manages the 18-hole, 2,181-yard Van Nuys Golf Course, where golfers can play nine holes for $6.
David Sprague/Staff Photographer
BOX: PAR 3 COURSES (see text)