Every course has its brute, a hole where you’re happy to walk off with a bogey. And though these holes provide a great challenge, they’re card-wreckers, even for the pros.
Have you heard the saying, ‘Take a par and skip to the next tee’?
Water, out of bounds, deadly bunkers – some terrifying holes have a combination of all three.
The 18th at your home club may take some negotiating, but some holes have a different kind of scare factor.
Here’s our list of the 10 most difficult holes in golf…
17th – TPC Sawgrass
The 17th at TPC Sawgrass is just a par-3, a mere flick of the wedge. The problem is, it’s surrounded by water.
Once you find the peninsula, there’s the small matter of negotiating the large undulating green – although most amateurs would be happy if their tee shot remained dry.
Maybe its difficulty has been exaggerated a little over the years, but when golf’s ‘fifth Major’ – The Players Championship – is on the line, there’s no question that even the pros get a little shaky on the tee.
See for yourself why it’s one of golf’s most notorious holes…
18th – Carnoustie
Golf architects seem to take pleasure in creating final-hole brutes. However, finishing with a ‘strong one’ is a core part of the game.
The 18th at ‘Car-nasty’ is most definitely that, as Jean van der Velde will tell you.
It was here where the Frenchman’s quest for the Claret Jug unravelled in 1999.
Barry Burn winds its way through the fairway. Even if you take an iron off (which is often a good tactic), there’s still danger, with the water coming back into play.
Elsewhere, there are fairway bunkers and penal rough to contend with – and quite often a less-than-helpful wind blowing off the North Sea.
It’s just nasty.
17th – St Andrews Old Course
We’ve seen the top players overcome the famous Old Course in recent times, but rarely does anyone have an easy ride at the ‘Road Hole’.
Taking your tee shot down the right over part of a hotel has its rewards, but that aggressive line requires a great deal of nerve.
Instead, many commit to the left side of the fairway, which leaves a longer second shot into a narrow green.
The Road Hole bunker is positioned on the left side and the road on the right.
Four perfect shots are required to get out of here with a par, which is no easy task when a Claret Jug’s on the line.
12th – Augusta National
‘Golden Bell’ sets the alarm bells ringing as soon as players near the turn at Augusta.
Take out Rae’s Creek in front of the green, and it wouldn’t be anywhere near as daunting.
The tee shot only requires a medium or short iron, but the water and a swirling wind get inside the heads of the world’s top golfers.
It’s easy to go long and into the azaleas or the bunker, or come up short in the sand – but at least you’ll have a chance of saving par from the latter.
However, roll down the bank and into Rae’s Creek, and you’re looking at a double.
Take a trip to the drop zone, and players face one of those delicate pitches, a shot that’s easy to catch heavy.
Many of the world’s best players have come up short at this famous par-3 and seen their Green Jacket hopes sink – which is what happened to Jordan Spieth in 2016.
18th – Doral
This hole is also known as the ‘Blue Monster’, which tells you everything.
The water down the left will make anyone who suffers with a pull feel unwell.
As such, the right side of this hole sees a lot of action – but it’s also home to plenty of palm trees and sprawling bunkers.
Even the professionals are happy to sign off with a bogey here.
16th – Cypress Point
This stunning par-3 is regarded by many as the most picturesque short hole on the planet.
There are plenty of contenders in that regard, but what sets this beauty apart is the Pacific Ocean, which many find a little too close for comfort.
Over the water, you go to a tiny green, which isn’t easy to find from over 200 yards.
Land in a bunker, and you won’t be too disappointed. You might even breathe a sigh of relief.
13th – PGA National
We’re so used to seeing professionals tear tough courses to shreds that it’s nice when we get to see them face a challenge. This certainly the case when they enter ‘The Bear Trap’.
The ‘Golden Bear’, Mr Nicklaus, designed the course, and the trio of holes from the 13th is the centrepiece.
The wind can cause havoc here, especially when a lake surrounds the green on three sides.
The 18-time Major winner does like his water hazards.
18th – Whistling Straits
A hole known as ‘Dyeabolical’ in tribute to the course designer Pete Dye, the last at Whistling Straits is, well, diabolical.
It’s actually stunning.
Find the right side of the fairway, and you’ll be in good shape, although the approach is likely to be lengthy.
The other option is to carry the swarm of bunkers down the left side, but you’ll need to hit one out of the screws.
Manage that, and all that’s left is the small task of evading Seven Mile Creek.
It’s time to produce your best ball striking.
1st – Oakmont Country Club
There’s nothing like a long par-4 to start your round – just open your shoulders, and away you go.
One that’s approximately 500 yards long might not concern the professionals too much, but this one is cruel.
The fairway is fiendishly narrow – around 25 yards wide – and well guarded with bunkers, which is very much a feature of this notoriously difficult championship layout.
Up ahead, the green is semi-blind and slopes away from the fairway.
There’s no easing your way into a round at Oakmont.
8th – Royal Troon
The sight of out of bounds posts and water hazards might send chills down your spine. Never underestimate a short par-3 – certainly not one that’s on the Open Championship rota.
‘The Postage Stamp’ features a small green well protected by deep bunkers – the kind you don’t always get out of straight away.
Par-3s don’t need to be long to be demanding, and there’s no better proof of that than this little gem at Troon.
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