Bad Little Nine: We played the world’s hardest par 3 course


Bad Little Nine: A Par 3 course that’s so tough, the man who owns it will give you $1,000 if you break par when the pins are tucked away

Par-3 courses conjure up images of pitch and putt layouts where non-golfers have fun on their family holidays. But if you’re a multi-billionaire, mad-keen golfer who loves to gamble – and insists on creating the best – a “normal” pitch and putt course just won’t cut it.

That’s why PXG founder Bob Parsons set out to create possibly the world’s toughest par-3 course, and he’ll even give you $1,000 if you finish under par when the flags are in their trickiest locations. When we played it last winter, only one player had ever shot under par to those flags, PGA Tour star James Hahn. And he needed two attempts. The course record of four-under par (to daily flags) is held by LPGA Tour winner Austin Ernst.

Depending on your persuasion, the Bad Little Nine is par 3 heaven or hell. The course is sculpted from the Arizona desert at Scottsdale National Golf Club, and it was intentionally designed to be incredibly difficult. And difficult it is. The idea is that well-heeled members and guests play with a cold beer in one hand and a fist full of dollars in the other.

The course is just 972 yards in length, with holes varying from 79 to 153 yards. There are no easy pars. Some holes have massive boulders in the middle of the green; others have a putting surface the size of a snooker table. Every hole has treacherous bunkers, carefully manicured humps and hollows and wickedly slopey surfaces to guide shots away from the flag into inescapable cracks and crevices.

And while the course can be set up to be fun (so balls feed towards the hole), when it comes to Friday the greenkeeper sets up the course at its hardest and Parsons personally puts up that big-money reward.

Don’t get any ideas about pitting your short game skills against the Bad Little Nine any time soon, though. The course is only open to members of Scottsdale National, where there’s a $300,000 joining fee plus $60,000 annual subs…

So what makes the Bad Little Nine so TOUGH? Bob Parsons used every trick in the book to make it difficult… but enormous fun

• Slopes on the greens are designed to funnel the ball into the hazards.

• If your ball topples into one of these desert crevices, you just can’t get it out.

• To make birdies you must go at the pins, but there’s such a small margin for error.

• See that little ledge on the far left? That’s where the Friday pin is located!

• Enormous boulders in the middle of the green are a regular hazard.

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