Top 20 Hardest Golf Holes in the World

Last updated on May 4, 2023 in Best of Golf 0 comment.
hardest golf holes in the world

The game of golf can be quite unpredictable. You may feel disheartened and ready to give up one moment, but the next time, it surprises you and reminds you of your love for the sport. On the other hand, just when you think everything is going well, you may encounter a hole that seems impossible to conquer. All over the world, there are 20 particular holes that are notorious for making even the most experienced golfers consider quitting. Despite the visually stunning beauty, these hardest golf holes in the world will, for sure, let you down for some moment.

1. The 19th at Entabeni Safari Reserve (Par 3, 395 yards)

The 19th at Entabeni Safari Reserve

This golf hole is considered to be the most peculiar and undoubtedly one of the hardest holes in golf. The anticipation begins when you finish your round at the 18th hole and board a helicopter to ascend to the peak of the nearby Hanglip Mountain for your tee shot. It is the longest tee shot for any par three in golf, and it takes nearly 30 seconds for the ball to land. A spotter on the ground is briefed on the general direction of the shot before embarking on a search for the ball. Despite these difficulties, 15 players have incredibly managed to score a birdie on this hole.

2. The 17th at St Andrew’s – Old Course (Par 4, 495 yards)

The 17th at St Andrew’s – Old Course

The 17th hole at St. Andrews, famously known as the “Road Hole,” is one of the most renowned holes in golf. The green is relatively small, but has an extremely deep bunker in front of it, making it challenging for players to make a play for the pin. The tee shot adds to the difficulty, as it is entirely blind, and veering right off the fairway will cause the ball to go out of bounds.

The Road Hole is considered the most famous in the Open rotation and has a reputation for being the toughest par 4 in championship golf. A well-executed drive should carry for 260 yards over the replicated railway sheds to reach the fairway’s right edge. While approaching, it’s advisable to aim for the right side of the green to avoid the Road Hole Bunker. A too-long hit will result in a shot from the road behind the green, which is undoubtedly unpleasant.

3. The 1st at Oakmont Country Club (Par 4, 482 yards)

The 1st at Oakmont Country Club

Right from the start, Oakmont Country Club’s brutish first hole can unnerve even the steadiest golfer. With a fairway that is only 24 yards wide, surrounded by bunkers and rough terrain, there is no room for error. If the tee shot falls short, approach shots may be hit blind, and to make matters worse, the green slopes from front to back. If you’re someone who gets first-tee jitters, or if you need time to warm up, this hole is not going to be in your favor.

The 1st hole at Oakmont Country Club is a Par 4 and 485 yards long, making it one of the hardest golf holes in the world. The course boasts 210 deep bunkers that can trip players up, with two of them on the first hole bordering the fairway. However, the green is the most challenging aspect of this hole, with its constant movement. To conquer this hole, you must be a pro.

4. The 12th at Augusta National Golf Club (Par 3, 155 yards)

The 12th at Augusta National Golf Club

One of Augusta’s landmark holes, and possibly the scariest par three in golf, has caused many Masters hopefuls to fail. With swirling winds all around, Raes Creek in front, and blooming azaleas behind, this hole is a challenge. In 1980, Tom Weiskopf, a four-time Augusta runner-up, hit five balls in the water, leading to a score of 13. Nick Price aptly summarizes the hole, stating that it requires absolute mental commitment. Regardless of the wind, if a player lacks commitment, they will pay serious consequences.

The 12th hole at Augusta National Golf Club is a par three, only 155 yards long. While it may not sound like much, golfers know that the shortest holes aren’t always the easiest. Some short holes terrify golfers, and this is one of them. Even professional players like Jordan Spieth aren’t certain which clubs to use. Overhitting the shot results in a pair of bunkers to contend with, along with pines. Going short leads to a bunker and Raes Creek. Lastly, the swirling winds, known for wreaking havoc at Augusta, must also be accounted for.

5. The 6th at Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Par 4, 428 yards)

The 6th at Royal Melbourne Golf Club

Alister MacKenzie, the designer of this course, has created a nightmare for golfers, who must navigate a group of expertly crafted bunkers that are so deep and expansive they might as well be in the middle of a desert. After navigating a sharp dogleg to the right, the approach shot may seem relatively straightforward. However, the real challenge comes on the green, which is elevated and has such a steep slope from back to front that some players have even put it right off the surface and ended up in one of the sand traps that surround it.

6. The 18th at Whistling Straits (Par 4, 500 yards)

The 18th at Whistling Straits

The 500-yard Par 4 18th hole at Whistling Straits, known as “Dye-diabolical,” has made it a nightmare for even the most skilled golfers. Many pros have been tripped up by its challenging design over the years. It gained notoriety as one of the hardest holes in golf that ultimately foiled Dustin Johnson’s win at the 2010 PGA Championship.

Despite its stunning setting, serious golfers don’t let the picturesque view distract them from making par. Players must contend with the unpredictable winds during their approach, as well as numerous hazards that surround the green. This hole is considered one of the most breathtaking and hardest holes in golf.

7. The 8th at Royal Troon Golf Club (Par 3, 123 yards)

The 8th at Royal Troon Golf Club

The 8th hole at Royal Troon Golf Club, also known as ‘Postage Stamp,’ is one of the hardest golf holes, and it is easy to see why. It is aptly named for its small green, which is reminiscent of a postage stamp. The green is not only small but also located on a sandhill, making it one of the toughest to hit in all of links golf.

From the elevated tee, golfers must hit a precise shot over a gully and avoid the deep bunkers that surround the green. The green itself is also heavily contoured, adding to the difficulty of hitting it and holding the ball on the surface. Due to its small size and strategic location, this hole has been the source of many thrilling moments and heartbreaking defeats over the years, especially during the Open Championship.

The ‘Postage Stamp’ is a testament to the challenges of links golf and the importance of precision and accuracy on the course. Golfers who can navigate this hole with ease earn a great deal of respect from their peers, while those who struggle can only hope to avoid the hazards and walk away with a respectable score. For golfers who relish a good challenge, this hole is a must-play and a true test of their skills on the links.

8. The 15th at Cape Kidnappers (Par 5, 650 yards)

The 15th at Cape Kidnappers

As you step up to the tee on this par-five hole, you can’t help but feel a sense of trepidation. At 650 yards from the tee to the hole, it’s one of the longest holes you’ll ever encounter, and that’s just the beginning. It is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic and hardest holes in golf, drawing golfers from all corners of the globe to take on its fearsome reputation.

The first challenge you’ll face is the narrow fairway. There’s no room for error here – one mis-hit and your ball will be tangled in bushes or worse. But that’s not the worst of it. The fairway is flanked by sheer drops on either side, plummeting down into the abyss. This is what gives the hole its nickname, ‘Pirate’s Plank’. As you make your way down the fairway, the sheer scale of the hole becomes apparent. You’re playing 800ft above the Pacific Ocean, and the views are breathtaking. But you can’t afford to be distracted; just focus on every shot, as any mistake will be severely punished.

9. The 18th at Doral (Par 4, 473 yards)

The final hole at Doral, Florida is infamous for its degree of difficulty and aptly named the Blue Monster. As a par four with a length of 473 yards, it presents a significant challenge. Even the most seasoned golf professionals said it to be one of the hardest holes in golf. The fact that no one has made an eagle on this hole since 2005 is a testament to its unforgiving nature.

The hazards that lie in waiting for players are numerous and treacherous. On the left side of the fairway, there is water that threatens to swallow up any errant shots. On the right, trees loom ominously, waiting to catch a stray ball. And if that isn’t enough to contend with, there are bunkers scattered throughout the hole that is sure to add strokes to any player’s score. The 18th at Doral is widely regarded as one of the most challenging finishing holes in golf, and many would agree that it’s an “impossible hole.”

10. The 16th at Cypress Point (Par 3, 219 yards)

The 16th at Cypress Point

Considered one of the hardest holes in golf, the 16th hole at Cypress Point, nicknamed ‘The Sistine Chapel of golf,’ poses a unique dilemma for players. Alister Mackenzie designed the hole with two options, drive over the Pacific Ocean to reach the green, or play it safe and land on the left fairway. Despite the potential risks, many golfers can’t resist the urge to attempt the 219-yard carry to the tiny green.

During one year’s Bing Crosby Pro-Am, Jack Lemmon had to be supported by Clint Eastwood, Peter Jacobsen, and Greg Norman to prevent him from falling down a 30-foot cliff after playing his second shot from the precariously positioned green. Three-time Masters champion Jimmy Demaret aptly described the hole, stating, “There is no relief. The only place you can drop the ball over your shoulder is in Honolulu.”

11. The 15 at PGA National Golf Club (Par 3, 179 yards)

This hole marks the beginning of a challenging stretch of three holes called ‘The Bear Trap’ in honor of the legendary golfer and course designer, Jack Nicklaus. Although it may seem deceptively simple on a calm day, the wind conditions can make all the difference. A strong wind blowing from right to left can cause your tee shot to land in the bunker at the rear of the green. Alternatively, if the wind is a headwind, you may find your ball taking an unexpected dip into the lake that surrounds the green on three sides, as experienced by Raymond Floyd during the 1994 Senior PGA Championship. He famously blew a four-stroke lead with just four holes to play by rinsing his ball in the lake not once, but twice on this challenging hole.

12. The 18th at Carnoustie Scotland (Par 4, 444 yards)

The 18th at Carnoustie Scotland

Scotland boasts some formidable golf courses and the hardest golf holes in the world, with Carnoustie being among the most difficult, as even seasoned professional golfers have discovered.

The 18th of this course is a par four, stretching 444 yards in length, and poses such challenges that an amateur golfer would do well to complete it in six strokes. To begin with, the player must fly the Barry Burn twice, which is no mean feat when the winds blowing in from the North Sea are at their strongest. Moreover, there are out-of-bounds to the left and fairway bunkers to contend with. Indeed, this course is fraught with a host of nasty obstacles that will truly test a golfer’s skill and nerves.

13. The 14th at Royal Portrush (Par 3, 210 yards)

Holes that ascend uphill are generally considered challenging, but none more so than the 14th at Royal Portrush, also known as the ‘Calamity Corner’ – one of the hardest golf holes in the world. This hole’s green is guarded by ferocious winds that whip off the Atlantic, thick and punishing rough on the left, and a 75-foot deep ravine on the right, filled with dense rough. The ability to be precise and maintain a steady psyche is crucial; once you have successfully navigated the ‘yawning chasm,’ the green itself poses new challenges as it sits on a precipice with a daunting 100-foot drop.

14. The 17th at TPC Sawgrass (Par 3, 137 yards)

The 17th at TPC Sawgrass

Designed by Pete Dye, the Par 3 hole is one of the hardest holes in golf that makes the Island of Doctor Moreau look tame. The hole puts the nerves of even the best players to the test, as they are tasked with chipping onto the Island Green, which is actually a peninsula accessible via a narrow path across the lake. If you don’t land your shot safely, you’ll be forced to play your third shot from the tee.

Although it’s technically well within the capabilities of professional players, the unpredictable, hazardous swirling wind created by the position of the trees over the hole makes it a daunting task. As a result, more than 100,000 balls are lost in the water surrounding the hole every year.

The 8th hole at Pebble Beach is one you’ll always remember, whether with a fondness for conquering it or abject terror for failing to do so. This par 4, 428-yard hole presents challenges from the start with a blind tee shot. Overhit it and your ball will disappear into the abyss of the Pacific Ocean. The approach shot is no less dramatic, to a green resembling a pinhead that’s protected by five bunkers and slopes off towards the sea.

16. The 5th at Pinehurst Golf Resort (Par 4, 475 yards)

The 5th at Pinehurst Golf Resort

The Pinehurst Golf Resort in North Carolina is widely regarded as one of the most breathtaking yet challenging courses worldwide. Measuring 475 yards, the Par-4 5th can feel like a par six, and even experienced players may struggle to make it in six strokes. To successfully navigate the hole, one must execute a flawless drive to reach the narrow fairway which may require a second approach shot. The final shot must hook around to the green using a long iron while evading the bunker on the right and the trees on the left.

17. The 5th at Bethpage Black (Par 4, 478 yards)

The 5th hole at Bethpage Black, located on Long Island, New York, poses a challenge even for the most skilled professional golfers. The diagonal hazards that protect the fairway, the bunkers that tightly line the right side, and the trees that obstruct the left side of the green all contribute to the difficulty of this hole. Success requires executing two opposing shots to reach the green for a par four. The difficulty of the hole has only increased as the tee has been relocated approximately 25 yards back, making the total distance 478 yards. Scoring a par four on this hardest hole in golf would be an impressive feat.

18. The 18th at Atlanta Athletic Club (Par 4, 507 yards)

The 18th at Atlanta Athletic Club

The 18th hole at the Atlanta Athletic Club presents an immediate challenge that doesn’t let up. This par four measures 507 yards, and a daunting drive awaits you from the tee, onto a narrow 30-yard-wide fairway. Though it may seem wide enough, there’s no room for error, with bunkers to the right and a lake to the left. Even if you manage to avoid the hazards, the green is still surrounded by bunkers and slopes, so a miscalculated carry could land you in the sand.

19. The 6th at Royal Birkdale (Par 4, 488 yards)

The United Kingdom boasts some of the world’s most exceptional golf courses, and the Royal Birkdale in Southport may be the cream of the crop. Its 6th hole, a par four at 488 yards, is one of the most expansive and hardest golf holes to master. The green is encompassed by dunes and fairway bunkers, but it’s the long uphill approach that often troubles golfers. Once on the green, the significant contours require putting skills like those of a professional to avoid three-putting.

20. The 4th at Pretoria Country Club (Par 4, 511 yards)

This is also one of the hardest holes in golf, known for its difficulty, with bogies being more common than birdies. In 2015, the hole recorded only 29 birdies out of 191 bogies or worse, which explains why the average score was 4.49. The hole’s length of over 500 yards is one of the significant reasons for the struggle. Additionally, players have to contend with a vicious dogleg that goes from right to left. Despite being long, even the most skilled players have a hard time with this hole, with the highest recorded score being an 8.

>>> Read more: Top 15 Toughest Golf Courses in the World

Above, we have introduced you to the list of the top 20 hardest golf holes in the world. To seek more knowledge about golf and golf courses all over the world, you can refer to our Golf Blog or contact our Golf Experts for fantastic information.

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Linh Chi

I am an avid traveler who loves to play golf and have experience in tourism golf in Vietnam and Asia countries. I'm here to provide you with useful information and help to plan a perfect golf holiday in Southeast Asia.

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