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7 Of The World’s Hardest Golf Courses

#1 The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island
South Carolina, USA

This is a must play course for any golfer wanting to truly test their skill level.

Kiawah Island is ten miles of wide, immaculate, oceanfront beach resort and boast the most seaside holes in the Northern Hemisphere, with ten running along the Atlantic and the other eight, parallel to them.

It was a course, originally planned to sit behind the sand dunes, until the designers wide suggested they raise the course to give players unobstructed views of the coastline from every hole.  This may have resulted in an incredible and most sought after course to play, but of course the Atlantic breeze is unpredictable and can be quite intense and play is absolutely affected by the wind here.

From one round to the next, you can experience up to an 8-club difference on holes depending entirely upon the wind’s direction and strength.  And as there are no prevailing winds, there are two course designed into one that will suit either the Easterly or Westerly as it blows through.

The iconic course’s combination of huge sand dunes, thorny marshes, devilish pot bunkers and slick greens can reduce even the game’s best to gibbering wrecks.  It’s so tough that when the Ryder Cup was staged here in 1991 the game’s very best players including Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Fred Couples and Payne Stewart were winning holes with double-bogeys.

#2 Carnoustie Golf Links
Dundee, Scotland

A fine test in golf, this is an iconic, world-leading golf destination in Scotland and some call it home to ‘Golf’s Greatest Test’. 

The sport has been played at the Links since the 16th century and it was Carnoustie natives who went on to establish the Professional Golfer’s Associations of America and Australia here.

Laid out along the brutal North Sea coast, Carnoustie quickly earned the nickname “Carnasty” during the 1999 Open Championship, when the course played so tough that it reduced Sergio Garcia to tears after he finished dead last.

Measuring 7,421 yards, par-71 the course can play much longer as the wind whips in from the North Sea on the regular! 

Ko'olau Golf Club, Oahu,
Hawaii, USA

It may look absolutely spectacular, and though not as tricky as our first two, Ko’olau is a monster golf course and can be challenging both mentally and physically.  

Fairways are surrounded by Hawaiian jungle, with over 80 deep bunkers, and six deep ravines making it a test to any player and bringing it in at the number three spot on our top 7 toughest courses.

Whistling Straits
Kohler, Wisconsin, USA

When the world renowned golfer Lee Westwood first saw this course he said, 

“I’d been told there are 10 difficult holes and eight impossible ones.  I’m still trying to work out which the 10 difficult holes are.”

Located on the site of an abandoned artillery range on the shores of Lake Michigan this course boats 967 bunkers, some of which are barely recognisable as bunkers, and have caught out many a pro as they go for that all important shot!!

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club
Lijiang, Yunnan, China

Set in a beautiful valley at the base of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the course was designed with on-site input from China’s No. 1 golfer, Zhang Lian Wei.  

It is also the longest golf course in the world at 8,548 yards, earning a place in the Guinness Book or World Records.  It includes a 711-yard par-five (and two more that measure over 680 yards), a 525-yard par-four and a 270-yard par-three.

The thin air of its location, being more than 3,040 meters above sea level in the Himalayas, may make the golf ball fly further, however it also then is capable of going further left or right!  An extraordinarily difficult course for even the best golfers to break 80.

Palm Course, Saujana Golf Club
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This tough course has been nicknamed “The Cobra” and has tested many of the world’s top golfers, being host to six of the last 13 Malaysian Opens. 

Many of the fairways relined with jungle, and water and sand hazards are in abundance.  It can be a struggle just getting to the green, where you then find the real problem of the wicked fast putting surfaces!  Some of the hardest to putt on in the world.

Bethpage Black
New York, USA

This Long Island course is world renowned and exceptionally designed, but so tough it has a sign reading “The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only for Highly Skilled Golfers”, carefully planted next to the first tee!

It’s been host to the U.S. Open twice — in 2002, when only winner Tiger Woods broke par, and in 2009, when only five players broke par with winner Lucas Glover finishing at four under.  The fairways are narrow and the bunkers are huge and sculptured ,and the late designer  A. W. Tillinghast lovingly called it, a vicious brute of a golf course.

It plays 7,426 yards from the back tees but, unless you’re a true professional or a registered masochist, don’t even think about playing from them.