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What is the hardest golf course in the world?

What is the hardest golf course in the world that would test even the most skilled professional?

A view of a golf course without anyone playing.
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You’ll get to a point in your golf game when you might get tired of your usual local course. Maybe you want to show off your swing on a more difficult green. Perhaps you are just one of those pain equals progress kind of athletes. What is the hardest golf course in the world if you think it’s time to test your skills, both physically and mentally? If you want to see if the toughest golf courses would challenge you, here are the greens to take your clubs.

The hardest courses outside the United States

Man golfing near sand.
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Royal County Down, North Ireland

The Royal County Down in North Ireland should be first on your list when you take your irons overseas. The terrain is as harsh as it is gorgeous, with even the tiniest mistake costing you. The majestic yellow gorse and mesmerizing purple heather will suck you in while sending your ball on a journey where you will never find it. Seriously — if you’ve never played there, you get a local caddy to set you on the right path and keep track of the balls.

If that doesn’t sound like enough fun, the winds from Dundrum Bay won’t make anything easier. The upside is the constant view of the Mourne Mountains, so there’s that.

Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand

With a name like Cape Kidnappers, we wouldn’t go into it thinking we’d come out winners. This is another course where the wind will get you. The Pacific Ocean kicks up all it has to throw your ball off course, but the cliffs are the most dangerous part. Fairways skinnier than one would like to cross butt right up to those cliffs, making it almost insane to play a round here. Add in the chasms filled with trees, rough, and scrub, and you’ll understand why a major tournament has not been played on this green yet.

Le Touessrok Golf Course, Mauritius

To even get to Le Touessrok Golf Course, you have to hop on a helicopter or bop over by boat. We guess two-time Masters champ Bernhard Langer wanted to make sure the course was memorable when he designed it. Putt across bunkers as long as 200 yards, water hazards, and mangrove swamps for a start, all with strenuously long carries from fairway to green. Keep looking at the gorgeous views around the island and of the Indian Ocean each time you want to give up.

The toughest courses in the United States

A golf course along the water.
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Ko’olau Golf Course, Hawaii

Imagine a course so insane the USGA Headquarters didn’t believe the difficulty rating, sent a team to prove the course wasn’t that bad, and wound up giving it an even higher difficulty score. That’s what happened with the Ko’olau Golf Course in Hawaii. When it opened, it was given a rating of 162, which sent red flags to the USGA, as 155 was a top-tier rating for hard courses.

An examination by the Headquarters then bumped them up to 171. Those Hawaiian jungles must really be treacherous. A restructuring of the course still left it with over 80 bunkers but lowered the score to 152.

Bethpage Golf Course, The Black Course, New York

They say New Yorkers are tough, but only the most athletic golfers should try to take on The Black Course at Bethpage. Take note of the sign before you even set up for your first tee telling people it is an extremely dangerous course for only the most skilled golfers. Signs throughout the course reminding how hard it is will either break your ego or give you the drive to finish.

Whistling Straits, Wisconsin

Whistling Straits might sound like a country group, but this course located along Lake Michigan isn’t so smooth. There are a staggering 967 bunkers for you to battle with. Yes, 967 bunkers. One of those bunkers cost Dustin Johnson the 2010 PGA Championship on the last hole, so know you are never safe when playing this course.

Lee Westword, who is responsible for ending the reign of Tiger Woods as the number one golfer in 2010, summed the course up best when he admitted, “I had been informed that there are ten difficult holes and eight impossible ones. I am still attempting to determine which the ten difficult holes are.” No, thank you.

The hardest golf course in the world

Ocean Course in South Carolina

What is the hardest golf course in the world, overall? Everyone has their opinion, but if you go by the course rating system, the honor goes to the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. With a Slope Rating of 155 and Course Rating of 79.6, it’s another excruciating course designed by Pete Dye — who also gave you Whistling Straits. Pete’s Dye-abolical courses have earned him the nickname the Marquis de Sade, after a French writer well-known for his torturous works.

Anarchy and tears are themes while playing at Ocean Course. The 1991 Ryder Cup was played there, and pros christened it Looney Dunes after at least five players won holes with double bogeys.

If learning about the hardest courses pumped you up to try your hand at them, we wish you the best of luck. Surviving a round at any of these would be an accomplishment, so know what you’re getting into before you take your first swing. And if anyone tells you they’ve played on these courses, give them the respect they deserve.

Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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