The 20 Hardest Golf Courses in the World

The hardest golf courses in the world can turn any experienced or professional golfer into an amateur. It’s a humbling experience for anyone that prides themselves on their golf swing and a great challenge for those that want to test their golf swing. There’s truly nothing quite like it. 

Not only that, but the hardest golf courses in the world make an excellent addition to your bucket list. They’re located in some of the most beautiful places in the world — packed with breathtaking scenery that make for perfect photo opportunities. Again, there’s nothing quite like it. 

When you visit the hardest golf courses in the world, you gain newfound respect from your golf buddies and are given an opportunity to lower your handicap. If you play well, you’ll own bragging rights that you didn’t possess before and you’ll become more confident in your swing. 

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Ranking the 20 Hardest Golf Courses in the World

The 20 Hardest Golf Courses in the World Katherine Welles / Shutterstock

When ranking the hardest golf courses in the world, there are a lot of factors you need to consider. The elevation, weather conditions, layout, fairways, putting surfaces, hazards (bunkers and water), and total distance all play a major role in how difficult the course is. 

One thing you’ll notice as we rank the hardest golf courses in the world is that some of them were designed by the same architects. Names like Old Tom Morris and Pete Dye are a common occurrence when looking at some of the hardest golf courses in the world. 

With that said, let’s not waste anymore time. We’ll start our list off with some honorable mentions that easily could’ve find their way onto the master list, but didn’t quite make the cut.

Honorable Mentions: Le Golf Nationale, TPC San Antonio, PGA Catalunya Resort, Winged Foot Golf Club, Black & White Golf Resort Bratislavia, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Postolowo Golf Club, Old American Golf Club, Woodhill Spa Golf Club, and Grand Traverse Resort

20. Butler National Golf Club – Oak Brook, Illinois

Course: Butler National 

Established: 1974

Architect: George Fazio 

Length: 7,523 yards

Home of the Western Open from 1974-1990, the Butler National Golf Club is longer than most golf courses out there at above 7,500 yards. It’ll challenge you from the first tee to the 18th hole. It’s as narrow and tough as it gets — and you better have a good drive because you’ll need it!

19. Innisbrook Golf Resort – Palm Harbor, Florida

Course: Copperhead Course

Established: 1974

Architect: Larry Packard

Length: 7,340 yards

Home of the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship, the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort is nothing short of difficult. The par-4 16th hole welcomes quite the struggle with an average score of 4.3. It features a rolling terrain that’s lined with pine trees and filled with water.

18. Oakmont Country Club – Plum, Pennsylvania

Course: Oakmont

Established: 1903

Architect: Henry Fownes

Length: 7,254 yards

Oakmont Country Club is home to one of the oldest top-ranked golf courses in the United States. It has hosted the most major championships of any course — including nine U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships, two Women’s U.S. Opens, and five U.S. Amateurs. 

17. Quail Hollow Club – Charlotte, North Carolina

Course: Quail Hollow

Established: 1961

Architect: George Cobb

Length: 7,600 yards

Home of the Kemper Open from 1969-1979 and now the Wells Fargo Championship from 2003-present, Quail Hollow Club is no easy task. In fact, it got much more difficult in the past five years with three new holes — the first, fourth, and fifth. Good luck getting a par on them.

16. Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, Georgia

Course: Augusta National

Established: 1932

Architect: Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie

Length: 7,475 yards

Home of the Masters Tournament since 1932, Augusta National is one of the most famous golf courses in the world. It’s also one of the few that doesn’t have an official rating from the USGA. It features elevation changes, quick greens, towering pines, and difficult water hazards. 

15. The Greenbrier – White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Course: The Old White Course

Established: 1914

Architect: Charles Blair Macdonald

Length: 7,229 yards

Home of A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier (the Greenbrier Classic) from 2010-2019, The Old White Course at The Greenbrier is one of the hardest golf courses in the world. There’s a stream running through the entire course, dramatic doglegs throughout, and reshaped bunkers.

14. French Lick Resort – French Lick, Indiana

Course: The Pete Dye Course

Established: 2009

Architect: Pete Dye

Length: 8,102 yards

Home of the 2015 Senior PGA Championship, The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort features narrow fairways that are sloped — making quality tee shots hard to come by. If you miss the fairway at any point, be prepared for plenty of tough shots from difficult positions. 

13. Cog Hill Golf & Country Club – Lemont, Illinois

Course: Dubsdread Course

Established: 1964

Architect: Dick Wilson and Joseph Lee

Length: 7,554 yards

Also known as Course 4, Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club features plenty of elevation changes, deep bunkers found everywhere, slick greens, and trees getting in your way. At over 7,500 yards, it’s not a short course by any means, so it’s a daunting task for anyone. 

12. Torrey Pines Golf Course – La Jolla, California

Course: South Course

Established: 1957

Architect: William Bell Sr.

Length: 7,800 yards

Home of the Farmers Insurance Open PGA Golf Tournament, the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course is one of the longest courses on this list at 7,800 yards. You’ll find a lot of elevation changes, lengthy par-4s that require an accurate swing, and a daunting 612-yard, par-5 hole 13. 

11. Pine Valley Golf Club – Pine Valley, New Jersey

Course: Pine Valley

Established: 1913

Architect: George Arthur Crump

Length: 7,181 yards

Home of the Crump Cup (an amateur tournament), the Pine Valley Golf Club might not be one of the longest courses on the list, but that doesn’t take away from its difficulty. With the amount of turns and angles on this course, you have to decide when to play it safe and when to take a risk.

10. Cape Kidnappers Golf Course – Te Awanga, New Zealand

Course: Cape Kidnappers

Established: 2004

Architect: Tom Doak

Length: 7,147 yards

One of the most intimidating courses in the world, Cape Kidnappers Golf Course wasn’t built for the faint of heart. Not only do the cliffs feature drops of up to 600 feet, but the course is elevated and you’ll experience extremely windy conditions throughout. Be prepared for a lot of frustration.

9. Saujana Golf & Country Club – Shah Alam, Malaysia

Course: Palm Course

Established: 1986

Architect: Ronald Fream

Length: 7,124 yards

Known to many as ‘The Cobra,’ the Palm Course at the Saujana Golf & Country Club has hosted the Malaysia Open seven times. There are a lot of elevation changes throughout, jungles lining the fairways, monkeys looking to steal your ball, and undulating/fast greens on every hole.

8. Kiawah Island Golf Resort – Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Course: The Ocean Course

Established: 1991

Architect: Pete and Alicia Dye

Length: 7,876 yards

Home of the Ryder Cup in 1991 and the PGA Championship in 2012 and 2021, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort features windy conditions from the Atlantic Ocean, large sand dunes, thorny marshes, pot bunkers, and slick greens that put your swing to the test.

7. Royal County Down Golf Club – County Down, Northern Ireland

Course: Championship Course

Established: 1889

Architect: Old Tom Morris (with George L. Baillie, Harry Vardon, Harry Colt, and Donald Steel)

Length: 7,186 yards

One of the hardest golf courses in the world, the Championship Course at Royal County Down Golf Club boasts a flurry of troubles — even for experienced golfers. It’s lined with gorges, has narrow fairways, domed greens, huge bunkers, windy conditions, and a lot of blind shots.

6. Bethpage State Park – Farmingdale, New York

Course: Black Course

Established: 1936

Architect: A.W. Tillinghast

Length: 7,465 yards

One of the few courses in the world to host the U.S. Open Championship, The Barclays, the PGA Championship, and soon the Ryder Cup, the Black Course at Bethpage State Park is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s so difficult that there’s a warning sign and you aren’t allowed a golf cart. 

5. Île aux Cerfs Golf Club – Île aux Cerfs, Mauritius

Course: Île aux Cerfs Golf Course

Established: 2003

Architect: Bernhard Langer

Length: 7,046 yards

Once known as La Touessrok golf course, the Île aux Cerfs Golf Club is one of the most isolated courses in the world — it’s only accessible by a designated boat. With island views, the course features nine lakes, volcanic rock, white sand bunkers, jungles of foliages, and gulleys. 

4. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club – Lijiang, China

Course: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Established: 2001

Architect: Neil Haworth

Length: 8,548 yards

Not only is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club home to the longest regulation golf course in the entire world, but it sits at an incredible 10,800 feet above sea level. It’s the second highest elevated course in the world and features an 800-yard par-5 hole that tests your swing.

3. Whistling Straits – Kohler, Wisconsin

Course: Straits Course

Established: 1998

Architect: Pete and Alicia Dye

Length: 7,790 yards

The Straits Course at Whistling Straits, associated with The American Club, has hosted the PGA Championship (three times), U.S. Senior Open, and the Ryder Cup. It features over 900 bunkers and an unconventional landscape that will lead to plenty of frustrating hits. 

2. Carnoustie Golf Links – Carnoustie, Scotland

Course: Carnoustie Championship Course

Established: 1842

Architect: Allan Robertson and Old Tom Morris

Length: 7,400 yards

The Carnoustie Championship Course at Carnoustie Golf Links played host to the Open Championship eight times, the Senior Open Championship twice, and the Women’s British Open twice. Be prepared for windy gusts, tight fairways, snaking streams and difficult bunkers. 

1. Ko’olau Golf Club – Kaneohe, Hawaii

Course: Ko’olau Golf Course

Established: 1992

Architect: Dick Nugent

Length: 7,310 yards

The Ko’olau Golf Club is home to one of the hardest golf courses in the world and there are plenty of golfers out there that agree. Not only are you playing in the middle of a jungle, but you have to work your way around six ravines and soggy conditions that add to the difficulty. 

Have You Played at Any of the Hardest Golf Courses in the World?

Now that we’ve ranked the 20 hardest golf courses in the world, how many of them can you say you’ve played at? Here’s a better question, how many of them do you plan on playing now that you know which ones to target? For those that get the opportunity, know that it’s a huge honor.

Not many people can say they’ve played some of the hardest golf courses in the world. Even fewer people can say they’ve posted a good score at these golf courses. If you’re one of the few that have, know that you’re in a league of your own because it’s not an easy task to accomplish.

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Now it’s time to grab your golf clubs and make your way to some of the hardest golf courses in the world. Don’t forget to stock up on golf balls because you’ll definitely need them if you plan on testing your swing at any of the courses listed above! Either way, as long as you have fun!

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