10 Most Difficult Golf Courses in the World 

There is not a single golf course layout that does not challenge and even sometimes overwhelm the world's best golfers.

    Variables such as weather, pin placement and tournament pressure are some of the factors that determine how difficult a course is.

    But there are some that are always prove a significant challenge no matter the state, variables, strength of the field or importance of the event.

    Likewise, there is not one of these world-class courses that can not be bested by the incredibly talented pros. With that in mind, here are our list of ten of the most difficult golf course layouts.

    1. Bethpage Black Golf Course

    Only the black course at Bethpage is considered an extremely difficult course and is suggested only for well talented players.

    If you want to go there badly, I can only advise you to stay clear of the roughs.

    Put your ego aside and simply accept what this excellent municipal course has to offer: narrow fairways, huge bunkers, plateau greens and the inability to utilize a golf cart.

    Playing from the back yields 7,426 yards. Unless you are a regularly pro golfer, it’s advisable to not play from the back tee.

    The Black Course, designed by A.W. Tillinghast and the golf course, built in 1936, was one of those hidden gems until it hosted the 2002 U.S. Open (at which Tiger Woods was the only participant to come in under par).

    The course's popularity skyrocketed with its worldwide recognition (along with another US Open in 2009). Getting a tee time these days requires patience and a touch of deception.

    If you wish to reserve your tee time, you should contact the course seven days in advance and reserve through the automated system.

    If you are not a resident of the state, you must secure a tee time at least 48 hours in advance.

    This is due to the tight schedules of the many people who want to have this Bethpage experience.

    2. Links at Carnoustie (Dundee, Scotland) 

    Carnoustie Golf Links has left many mature golfers in tears. Carnoustie, affectionately known as "Carnasty" by locals, is the quintessential links-style course, lying on the windswept beaches of Scotland as it sidles up to the North Sea.

    If you are planning a vacation to Scotland, be sure to put Carnoustie on your itinerary.

    Visitors are pleased with recent improvements at The Buddon, the newest of Carnoustie's three courses. Burnside is also an excellent course.

     The Championship course, on the other hand, is known as the Bethpage Black of Scotland.

    Since there are rarely more than two holes in a row facing the same direction, you'll have to constantly re-evaluate your play depending on the wind direction and also deal with the braided bunkers.

    The infamous twisting bunkers with sloping and even convex faces will definitely give you a run for your money –or skill for that matter.

    Carnoustie has been a destination for golfers for nearly 400 years, but it was not until 1842 that it was established as a golf club.

    It is not surprising, therefore, that the course has been significantly altered several times over the decades.

    James Wright's redesign of the last three holes is one of the most notable.

    3. Cape Kidnapper Golf Course 

    Situated in New Zealand, the par-71 Cape Kidnappers golf course, which measures 7,147 yards (6,569 meters) and was created by renowned golf course architect Tom Doak, will test players of all skill levels.

    The magnificent golf course, which opened in 2004, is known as one of the game's greatest modern marvels.

    Cape Kidnappers Golf Course rises on imposing cliffs above the water and is set in a ridge and valley landscape with breathtaking sea views.

    This course features holes that are unlike anything else you will find anywhere in the world, including fairways set 140 meters above sea level and a surface that remains firm and fast.

    The golf facility has a top-notch practice area, putting and chipping greens, a fully equipped golf store and changing rooms for men and women's locker rooms.

    4. Harbor Town Golf Links 

    The PGA Tour has few, if any, courses like Harbor Town Golf Links. The RBC Heritage is played at the distinctive Pete Dye-designed layout each April, the week after The Masters, there must be a reason for this consistency.

    What the course on Hilton Head Island lacks in length, it more than makes up for with narrow fairways, difficult greens and tricky doglegs.

    Big hitters seldom find success on Harbor Town's tree-lined courses, as it takes extreme accuracy, patience, and a sense of short game to master this course.

    Harbor Town was ranked by players as the second most popular course on tour in 2012, behind only Augusta National. Harbor Town was 1,284 strokes over par that year.

    Scoring was just as difficult this year with gusts blowing across Calibogue Sound. Graeme McDowell won the tournament in a playoff against Webb Simpson at nine under.

    5. The Ocean Trail (Kiawah Island, South Carolina, United States) 

    Pete Dye (the designer of the course) must love turning normal people into golf wrecks. The pain is definitely just your imagination, as the course is meticulously maintained all year round with outstanding service.

    The wind will blow you on this links-style course, but what many players do not expect is that the fairways are not hard and springy like on true links courses. Instead, they encounter a mix of softer fairways which becomes sticky and clings when wet and, along with the wind, can cause you to pull your hair out.

    The course is also a lengthy course, measuring 7,610 yards from the back. This is for the courageous ones. So is it worth it? Well, absolutely Yes.

    You can not move the carts off the cart tracks, so just enjoy the beauty, the breeze in your hair, and the outstanding task Dye has given you along with all the other golf lovers and players.

     6. Quail Hollow Golf Club

    Despite being a relatively new addition to the PGA Tour fraternity of hosts, Quail Hollow has a considerable history and reputation that places it among the best courses challenging today's professional golfers.

    Quail Hollow, where the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte is hosted in North Carolina since 2003, was created by legendary architect George Cobb the golf course was opened in 1961 and has since become one of the Southeast's most prestigious courses.

    With undulating fairways, various water hazards and relatively narrow fairways, the course makes great use of the Piedmont landscape.

    The course is known for its difficult closing holes, including the par-3 17th over water and the tricky par-4 18th, which includes a winding water hazard that runs virtually the entire length of the hole to the front of the green.

    As with most challenging courses, you are never safe at Quail Hollow until the very end.

    7. Golf Course at Le Touesserok (Ile aux Cerfs, Mauritius) 

    Bernhard Langer laid out this tough course in the southern part of picturesque Ile aux Cerfs in Mauritius, an island republic that stretches in an archipelago 1200 miles off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

    Every hole on this course offers a view of the sparkling blue Indian Ocean, whether through the trees or as you play alongside it.

    You'll need it as you navigate white sand bunkers, nine lakes, rolling topography, volcanic cliffs, ravines (to keep the lakes company) and three holes that demand tee shots over inlets to reach the fairways.

    Although the tropical setting is home to a forest of flora (including mangrove swamps), the Salam Seashore used on the course allows for precise conditioning.

    Expect to lose a lot of balls on this golf course, but be glad you are getting a solid workout in golf course management. To reach Ile aux Cerfs, take a boat shuttle from Pointe Maurice on Port Louis Island.

    Shuttles run every 20 minutes, starting at 6:40 a.m. and continuing until the last golfer has decided to leave this beautiful spot and return to the hotel. Air Mauritius also offers helicopter transportation.

    8. Palm Course, Saujana Golf Club (Kuala Lampur, Malaysia) 

    Sloping greens and undulating fairways characterize this exquisite golf challenge, dubbed "the Cobra" because plantation owners imported cobra snakes into the region to keep the rodent population in check.

    The Palm Course, one of the two courses of Saujana Golf Club, was built on a former oil palm plantation. It is not the longest course in the world, but it offers a challenging layout with problematic topography. 

    The par-3 second hole, for example, necessitates a tee shot over a ravine, which seems simple at first glance.

    However, never be complacent, as this hole is considered one of the most difficult in Asia.

    Elevation changes, elevation changes, jungle palms surrounding the fairways, and even the occasional monkey will keep you on your toes from the first hole to the last, but the greens are in fantastic condition and the service is excellent 

    Bring along someone who can give you tips and guidance. If you find the first nine holes too difficult, try the much easier back nine.

    9. Snow Mountain Jade Dragon Golf Club (Lijiang, Yunnan, China) 

    Asia has not only wholeheartedly embraced golf, but it also offers one of the world's most difficult courses. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the world's second-highest golf course, was built in a valley of the Himalayan Mountains at 10,000 feet above sea level in Yunnan Province, which borders Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam on China's southwestern border.

    The route is dominated by mountain scenery, and the surrounding city of Lijiang offers travelers a charming trip back in time in its old town district.

    The thin air makes balls fly much farther, which is what you need on Jade Dragon Snow Mountain's 8,548-yard par 72, which includes one of the longest par 3s in the world. If you are not used to the altitude, move slowly to find your ball.

    Part of the challenge on this wonderful course is not passing out from lack of oxygen.

    The 18-hole course is divided into two sections, each with its own unique charm: The front nine is a more traditional Scottish layout, while the back nine is a mountain design.

    Golf course architect Neil Haworth has designed some of the best courses in Asia, and this one is a work of art in its own right.

    When you have finished the course (or not), take a hot soak in one of the clubhouse's Japanese hot tubs and dine in the fantastic restaurant. You'll feel like you have scaled a mountain.

    10. Championship Links, Royal County Down (Newcastle, Northern Ireland)

    If you're dreaming about heather and gorse and stormy ocean vistas, grab your clubs and head to the Championship Links at Royal County Down. The views are breathtaking and the rough consists of natural gorse and purple heather, which is common in this region of the world.

    The zigzagging holes and relatively narrow fairways add to the difficulty of this beautiful course. Each hole offers spectacular views and you'll never get bored as you improve your bump-and-run game on this links course.

    Because of the domed greens and bearded bunkers, good planning is essential and you should employ a caddy to get good advice on blind shots (buggies are not allowed).

    But basically, your caddy will have to urge you to pay attention to what you are doing and stop staring at the views of the Irish Sea and the Mourne Mountains, because the course is difficult. Royal County Down is often considered the best golf course in the world outside the United States.

    Although the Irish weather is not always cooperative, the rain and wind only add to the excitement of trying to beat this landmark links golf course more exciting.


    Top-tier designers have created a plethora of challenging golf courses will put anyone's skills and patience to the test.

    All of the above golf courses are distinguished by their particular topography, weather, elevation and more.

    Although the most difficult golf courses in the world will undoubtedly test a professional golfer, you do not have to be a pro to play them.

    Beautiful landscapes, vistas and challenging courses bring out the best in golf.


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