The Most Extreme Golf Courses on Earth

Navigating the Craziest Holes from New Zealand to the DMZ

Every golf course has that hole.

The one you approach with a mixture of excitement and dread...

The one that makes your heart race and your palms sweaty...

The one that you know you shouldn’t gamble on (but probably gamble on, anyway)...

In spite of this fact, we’ve culled 18 such inordinately difficult, far-flung or legitimately dangerous holes from around the world into one fantastical (or downright nightmarish) track.

We’re calling it The Most Difficult Golf Course in the Universe, because that’s what it is.

You can see the hole-by-hole breakdown below...

Hole 1: No. 1 at Oakmont Country Club

Par: 4

Distance: 485 yards.

Location: Oakmont, PA.

Why It’s So Difficult: It’s the first tee, and already you’re being asked to flush a long drive onto a fairway lined with bunkers in order to give yourself a reasonable approach into a challenging green. All we can say is: we hope you hit the range first.

Hole 2: No. 12 at Torry Pines (South)

Par: 4

Distance: 504 yards.

Location: San Diego, CA.

Why It’s So Difficult: Routinely the most difficult hole on the PGA Tour, this one’s a straightaway par 4 atop a cliff, where you’ll undoubtedly face a next-to-impossible second shot into a slightly elevated green surrounded by bunkers.


Hole 3: No. 17 at St. Andrews (Old Course)

Par: 4.

Distance: 495 yards.

Location: Fife, Scotland.

Why It’s So Difficult: The drive at the classic “Road Hole” requires a significant carry to the right side of the fairway, and anything long on the second shot means you’re scrambling for par from the road behind the green. Hence the nickname.

Hole 4: No. 15 at Cape Kidnappers

Par: 5.

Distance: 650 yards.

Location: Clifton, New Zealand.

Why It’s So Difficult: You’ll face a testy layup to set up your approach, given the deep cavern to your right and a drop off the cliff into the Pacific Ocean to the left. Which, we can assure you, is just as intimidating as it sounds.


Hole 5: The One-Hole Golf Course at Camp Bonifas

Par: 3.

Distance: 192 yards.

Location: U.S. Army Camp Bonifas, in South Korea, 440 yards from the DMZ (separating North and South Korea).

Why It’s So Difficult: One, the green is made from artificial turf, so don’t expect it to hold your tee shot. Two—have you read the news lately?


Hole 6: A Par 4 from the World Ice Golf Championship

Par: 4.

Distance: Unknown.

Location: Uummannaq, a small island off of Greenland.

Why It’s So Difficult: Each year since 1999, extreme golfers have clamored to the nine-hole golf course on Uummannaq, whose layout changes depending on the status of the icebergs in the fjord. We trust that sentence says it all.


Hole 7: No. 11 at Old Head at Kinsale.

Par: 5.

Distance: 526 yards.

Location: County Cork, Ireland

Why It’s So Difficult: Just look at this thing and try to imagine not losing a ball somewhere along this steep promontory. See. Can’t do it.


Hole 8: No. 16 at Cypress Point

Par: 3.

Distance: 235 yards.

Location: Pebble Beach, CA.

Why It’s So Difficult: It’s a long carry over the Pacific Ocean to a green guarded by the bluffs. And it’s not like you’re going to lay up on a par 3...


Hole 9: No. 18 at Ko’olau Golf Club

Par: 4.

Distance: 476 yards.

Location: Kaneohe, HI.

Why It’s So Difficult: There are two forced carries over ravines just to get to the green. Then you have to putt.


Hole 10: No. 6 at Royal Melbourne West

Par: 4.

Distance: 428 yards.

Location: Victoria, Australia.

Why It’s So Difficult: You’ve got a sharp dogleg right from legendary course designer Alister Mackenzie, featuring well-placed bunkers off the tee and a perilous green that spills downward from front to back. In other words: you’ve got your work cut out for you.


Hole 11: No. 12 at Meadows Farm Golf Course

Par: 6.

Distance: 841 yards.

Location: Locust Grove, VA.

Why It’s So Difficult: This one should actually provide you with a chance to make up a few strokes. Yes, at nearly half a mile long, it’s the longest hole in the United States. But it’s also a par 6. So that’s nice of them.


Hole 12: A Par 4 from Coober Pedy Opal Fields Golf Club

Par: 4.

Distance: Unknown.

Location: Coober Pedy, Australia.

Why It’s So Difficult: Simply put: there’s no grass on the entire course. It’s basically just hard sand. Which doesn’t even sound fun, really.


Hole 13: No. 8 at Royal Troon

Par: 3.

Distance: 123 yards.

Location: Troon, Scotland.

Why It’s So Difficult: It may be the shortest hole on this Open Championship track, but finding the tiny putting surface here—what with the gully and the wind and the deep bunkers—is devilishly challenging.


Hole 14: No. 8 at Pebble Beach

Par: 4.

Distance: 427 yards.

Location: Pebble Beach, CA.

Why It’s So Difficult: Your tee shot is blind. Your second shot is to a small green over a deceptive little ocean inlet. And your score is in serious danger.


Hole 15: No. 18 at Whistling Straits

Par: 4.

Distance: 500 yards.

Location: Sheboygan, WI.

Why It’s So Difficult: There’s trouble everywhere off the tee, it’s as long as a short par 5, the wind’s a-gusting and the green is made for three-putts. Other than that, though, it’s pretty easy.   

Hole 16: No. 18 at Doral

Par: 4.

Distance: 467 yards.

Location: Miami, FL.

Why It’s So Difficult: Play to the right side of the fairway to get a clean shot at the green and you risk landing in the rough. Play to the left side of the fairway and you risk either hitting it in the water off the tee or with your approach. Play to the middle and—well, maybe just play to the middle.


Hole 17: No. 14 at Coeur d’Alene

Par: 3.

Distance: 218 yards.

Location: Coeur d’Alene, ID.

Why It’s So Difficult: Perhaps it’s the floating island green, flanked by bunkers, that you can only access via boat. Actually, it’s definitely that.


Hole 18: No 18 at Carnoustie

Par: 4.

Distance: 444 yards.

Location: Carnoustie, Scotland.

Why It’s So Difficult: You’re forced to fly the Barry Burn—the river snaking through the course—twice. There’s out-of-bounds on the left. And if the wind is up, may the golf gods have mercy on your soul.


The 19th Hole: The Extreme 19th at Legend Golf & Safari Resort

Par: 3.

Distance: 395 yards.

Location: Limpopo Province, South Africa.

Why It’s So Difficult: Accessible only via helicopter, you’re teeing off from 1,300 feet above an Africa-shaped green 395 yards away. Needless to say, club selection will be tough.  

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