The Approach Course in Golf

An "approach course" is a type of golf course that is much shorter than a regulation-sized golf course, and is designed specifically for golfers to work on their approach shots into the greens.

On an approach course, the golfer will be using irons only off the tees, probably short irons — maybe even just wedges. Approach courses are most commonly nine holes, but some are built to 18 holes.

How short is an approach course? That depends on who is using the term.

In recent years it has become more common for upscale golf facilities to build golf courses that can also be called a par-3 course or an executive course, but use the term "approach course" instead.

The par-3 course or executive course features holes of varying lengths, but typically under 200 yards and more commonly of 150 yards and less. Such a course allows golfers to employ different irons in the bag to hit those approach shots from the tee.

More traditionally, approach course is a term that was applied to even shorter golf courses, ones with nine or 18 greens and with lengths of fairway in front of each green that might measure 50 yards or less.

On an approach course of that nature, there might not be specific teeing areas. The golfers drop balls on the fairway grass and hit pitch shots, lob shots, chip shots into the greens. Such an approach course can also be called a pitch-and-putt.

So generally, an approach course is a golf course comprised of short holes that allow golfers to work on their approach shots into greens. Specifically, the term might be applied to what are also called par-3 courses or executive courses, or (even shorter holes) pitch-and-putts.

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