Golf is a sport that’s been getting more and more followers over the years. An increasing number of people are picking up golf clubs, are beginning to enjoy days out at their local courses. Of course, golf has always had its loyal fans. But a lot feel that the sport is stuck in the dark ages. There’s a lot to be said for tradition. But golf has to get with the times. It’s been starting to do that, has become more inclusive, and is starting to appeal to a broader range of people.
One reason why people love golf is because it’s fun but is also mightily challenging. There are plenty of tear your hair out moments, but the thrill of conquering a challenging course makes it all worth it. It’s all about technique and strategic planning. It makes getting a decent score on a tough hole all the more memorable.
There are a number of seriously challenging courses and holes in the world. Just like some people dream of being able to conquer Everest, people flock to these courses from all over the world to test their metal, show off their golfing prowess. For these golf enthusiasts, these holes are their Everest.
America is home to some of the world’s greatest golf courses. There are some truly stunning locations dotted around America. There are also some seriously tough holes. But over the years, various resorts have begun creating their own courses. They know that creating a challenging hole will attract visitors. These 10 have attracted plenty over the years. These are 10 of the most difficult holes in America, and 10 of the toughest around the rest of the world.
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20 U.S. – 6th at Spyglass Hill (Par 4)
As just mentioned in the intro, this is one of those holes that attracts people from around the globe. It’s such a popular course, that getting a tee time is tough enough. Once you accomplish that, probably after having queued all night, you better have your wits about you, better have brought your A-game, because the course as a whole, especially the 6th hole, presents a serious challenge.
It has fairway bunkers, a forest to contend with, coastal dunes and if that wasn’t tough enough, a sloping green.
One mishit shot and your ball could be lost for good. This is a seriously tough par four.
19 International – 11th At Old Head Kinsale (Par 3)
This is a pretty imposing par three. It looks spectacular and mightily challenging. It is just that. You can’t afford to make any errors on this hole. Every part of your game from driving to putting, needs to be precise. Proper club selection is a big part of this hole. Overhitting the ball is a real danger. If you do so, you’ll have to contend with the rough and the long grass. The course is also sloped with plenty of hills. But getting your ball lost for good by overhitting it into the sea is the real danger on this hole. If that wasn’t enough, there are also the standard hazards, bunkers and ridges.
18 U.S. – 1st Oakmont Country Club (Par 4)
This course gets underway in style. There is no room for first tee jitters. You’ve got to hit the ground running at the Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh. This hole is a par four, but it’s a massive par four at 485 yards. There are two bunkers on this hole bordering the fairway. But that’s not the difficult aspect of this hole. What gets a lot of people is the green. Not one bit of the green is straight or level. It’s a green that’s constantly moving this way and that. This hole will test your putting game to the max.
17 International – 6th At Royal Melbourne West (Par 4)
As its name suggests, this course is situated in Australia. It’s a par four and is 428 yards. But it’s all about the first two shots on this hole. They’re tricky opening shots to play, have tripped up many a pro over the years. The first hazard you have to contend with is the heath. Then there are strategically placed bunkers. You have to decide whether you want to go over the bunkers, or take up another position.
Each shot is fraught with risks.
Putting is also pretty tricky on this hole as the green slopes quite dramatically. It slopes from front to back.
16 U.S. – 18th At Riviera (Par 4)
This par four at the 18th at Riviera might not seem all that tricky. It’s tricky because it’s simple, if you get my drift. Those golfers amongst you will be nodding your heads in agreement. It’s simple and it’s tricky because of the straight shots. It’s a par four but you need to hit two of your shots as straight as anything. That’s notoriously difficult because of the wind, the angle the ball’s hit, other environmental factors etc. Hitting these shots gun-barrel straight are going to be tricky enough. But they’re also uphill, just adding to the level of difficulty.
15 International: 19th At Legend Golf & Safari Resort (Par 3)
The 19th hole at the Legend Golf and Safari Resort in South Africa is one of the most difficult holes on the planet. It’s a par three, but most, even the pros out there, would feel a great sense of accomplishment if they’d be able to get it in five. It’s that tough. It’s also unique. It’s the longest and highest in the world. You have to take a helicopter ride on top of a mountain just to tee off. That just about says it all. Then the hole itself, shaped like Africa and littered with hazards, is going to test your golfing ability to the max.
14 U.S. – 12th At Augusta International (Par 3)
The Augusta National is a course of beauty. But you won’t be spending too much time focusing on the sights on this hole. This hole is a beauty in itself, designed to test the best golfers out there. It’s a par three and is 155 yards.
It might seem pretty straightforward, but seeing as it’s at Augusta, it’s not going to be as simple as it sounds.
You’ve got to be precise with pretty much everything on this hole. There are bunkers, pines and Rae’s Creek. Then there’s the swirling winds which would make avoiding these hazards and getting a par three an incredibly tough ask.
13 International: 15th At Cape Kidnappers (Par 5)
This hole at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand sends the fear of god into people due to its sheer size alone. Sure, it’s a par five but it’s a massive par five at 650 yards. It’s in a dramatic location and is sure to provide you with some dramas from the moment you tee off. The fairway is very narrow. Miss the fairway and your ball will be lost for good in the vast expanse of nothingness down below. It’s called ‘Pirate’s Plank’ for a reason. For some, playing this hole will seem like walking the plank. It’s 800ft. above the Pacific.
12 U.S. – 18TH At Doral (Par 4)
This course at Doral, Florida, is nicknamed the ‘Blue Monster’. It is a monster of a course with plenty of water hazards to trip you up. It’s tripped up many a pro over the years. Even someone with the pedigree of Bubba Watson has gone as far as to say that this course, this hole in particular, is an “impossible hole.” In addition to the water hazard, there are trees on the right that you have to contend with. And then there’s a massive bunker as you approach the green. It’s a seriously tough par four, a challenging finishing hole.
11 International: 18th At Carnoustie (Par 4)
This is a par four and is 444 yards. But you should give yourself a pat on the back if you get the ball down in six. It’s one of the most difficult courses in the world and is one of Scotland’s best.
A lot of the challenges of the course are down to environmental factors.
There are pretty much always swirling winds which wreak havoc from the North Sea. Then there are numerous other hazards throughout this hole. There are bunkers on the fairway, and then out-of-bounds on the left. But it’s the Barry Burn that gives golfers that sinking feeling on this hole.
10 U.S. 6th At Olympic Club San Francisco
Many top golfing events take place at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. That’s because the course is a picture but is also mightily challenging. It can present an extremely infuriating and incredibly rewarding day out. The course as a whole is pretty tough, but the 6th hole at the Olympic Club stands out. The biggest hazard of this hole is the fact that the fairway is tree-lined. You’ve got to be precise using your three-wood to get onto the fairway. Then there’s a strategically placed bunker hampering your approach to the green. Even Tiger Woods has fallen prey to this bunker in the past.
9 International: 6th At Royal Birkdale (Par 5)
America has its fair share of tough courses. But Europe, especially the UK, has some challenging courses of its own. This one in Southport is up there as being one of the toughest. The Royal Birkdale in Southport is up there as being one of the biggest and most challenging courses around. This hole itself is massive. It’s a par five and is 488 yards. The difficulties on this hole start with the long upwards approach to the green. The green itself is far from straight. It’s constantly moving. But due to the dunes and bunkers, you’d do well to reach the green without hitting one of the hazards in the first place.
8 U.S. – 18th At Bay Hill Orlando
This is a spectacular course, one that looks really dramatic. If you can tear yourself away from the sights long enough to focus on what’s in front of you, that sense of awe might quickly turn to dread. The 18thpar four at Bay Hill Orlando is that kind of hole. Everything has to be seriously precise.
Landing smack dab in the middle of the fairway is a must.
But the wind is pretty strong and you’re going to have a tough time clearing the rocks and the water hazard. Again, precision is needed to get onto the green. Go short and you’re in the water. Overhit your shot and you’ll land in one of the three bunkers guarding the hole.
7 International: 17th At Old Course St. Andrews (Par 4)
This is a par four, but at 495 yards, it’s a seriously long par four. Even golfing aficionados, Stephen Gallacher and Bruce Sorley, have testified that they think this is up there with being one of the toughest holes in the world. Playing into the swirling wind is what trips people up on this hole. What seems like a relatively straightforward shot onto the fairway often sends people searching for their ball in the thick rough. There are also bunkers, which have been widened. The hole itself has actually been lengthened too, but 50 yards. That may not seem like a whole lot, but remember, it is a par four.
6 U.S. – 18th At Whistling Straits (Par 4)
Remember this hole? Dustin Johnson certainly does. He doesn’t have fond memories of this hole. He had some nightmarish moments at the 18th at Whistling Straits at the 2010 PGA Championship. Many other pros have fallen prey to the numerous hazards throughout this hole. It’s a par four and is 500 yards. That alone starts to ring alarm bells.
It’s as if the wind starts to get stronger when playing this hole. The other hazard is that there’s plenty of rough. If you manage to contend with all of this and get onto the green, your putting game has to be on point. The green is continuously moving.
5 International – 12th At Montgomerie Links Danang City (Par 5)
There are lot of great courses popping up in Asia. The Montgomerie Links course in Vietnam is regarded to be one of the best. Experts have given it world-class status due to the challenges that every golfer who plays there will inevitably face. The 12th hole is particularly challenging.
There are wind-blown dunes and plenty of well-placed bunkers.
When I say plenty, I mean 17 bunkers on this hole alone. It’s a par five, and you’ll do well to avoid the sand on this hole. If you manage to navigate your way around the bunkers, there’s a tricky uphill putt waiting for you on the green.
4 U.S. – 5th At Pinehurst (Par 5)
This par four is 475 yards. But even a lot of pros struggle to get par on this hole. When it was first designed, it was actually a par five. But it was soon changed to a par four, which explains why many find this to be one of the most challenging holes in the world. Every shot needs to be hit with absolute precision. But it’s the approach shot to the green that people find the most challenging. A long iron needs to be used to hook the ball around onto the green. You’d do well to avoid the trees and the bunkers.
3 International – 2nd At Sentosa Golf Club Singapore
The Sentosa Golf Club is Singapore’s most exclusive golf venue. The course is considered to be a masterpiece in terms of its design. The tropical flora and swamps have been carved away. Now there’s hilly terrain and up and down hills. You’ll experience the lot while playing the second hole. Here, you’ve got to keep your shots in check, otherwise your ball will be lost for good in the South China Sea. The likes of Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson have had this problem. This hole has Platinum status and is regarded to be one of the most challenging holes in Southeast Asia for a reason.
2 U.S. – 8th At Pebble Beach (Par 4)
Golfing fans come from all over the world to try and get a tee time at Pebble Beach. It’s the ultimate golfing venue. It’s a course that will test your metal as a golfer, none more so than the 8th hole. The 8th is a par four at 428 yards. You can’t ease yourself into this hole with a couple of straightforward shots. You’ve got to tee off blind.
The danger here is that your ball could get lost for good in the Pacific Ocean.
The green itself is tiny. It’s guarded by five bunkers. Then, to top it off, the green slopes downwards towards the ocean.
1 International: 18th At The Dunes At Shenzhou Peninsula Hainan China
Hainan is a resort that’s developing at a rapid pace. Part of its development as an attractive resort, is the design of a world class golf course. Tom Weiskopf was entrusted with the task. He carved the course out of the local indigenous flora and the dunes alongside the coastline. The 18th hole plays fast and it plays long. The rugged dunes combined with the swirling winds from the ocean wreak havoc for golfers on this hole. Of course, there are bunkers and also plenty of rough to slow your game down. Gazing out over the spectacular vistas across the peninsular, will provide you with some rest bite though.