The hardest golf holes in the world

Published 02/07/2009 09:36:36

You probably think you've played a few tough holes - maybe a 300 yard par 3 or a tricky dogleg par 4 at your local course. Maybe you've played all over the world and feel like you know a thing or two about golf. Either way, nothing can prepare you for these immense, challenging and in some cases beautiful golf holes.


Extreme 19th hole - Legend Golf & Safari Resort, Africa


The Extreme 19th is an optional 470 yard par 3 at the end of the magnificent Legend Golf and Safari Resort in Africa. The hole is so remote you can only access it by helicopter and the fairway is "seeded with Cynodon grass and contoured to funnel the ball to the green below". Then the green itself is shaped like a map of Africa - surrounded by bunker though.


Holing this beauty in one is worth a try - it'll net you a cool $1 million. Padraig Harrington recently became the first golfer ever to par this monster. You can view the video below.



The Road Hole (17th) - St. Andrews Old Course, Scotland


road hole bunker st andrews

This old beauty has been the graveyard of many a professional golfer. A challenging 455-yard par 4, your tee shot must be hit to perfection. A shot to the right will end up in the Hotel, a bad second shot could end up in the huge bunker on the left or on the road to the right. Then there's the deep rough and usually windy conditions.


But this isn't all hyperbole - the hole plays to a stroke average of 4.72 - almost a full stroke over par. Even in a day and age of increasingly advanced equipment and longer drives, this famous hole still provides a tough challenge.


Seve Ballesteros had trouble here at the 1979 European PGA Championship - the Spaniard hit the green with his second shot but somehow managed to putt off the green and into the bunker. He left his first bunker shot in the steep-faced hole and wound up with a triple-bogey 7.


"You are on the green, you can still make double or triple, like I did," Ballesteros said, frowning at the memory.


Escaping with a 7 isn't too bad though - poor Tommy Nakajima took a 9 at the 1978 Open. When his putt slid off the green into the bunker in 3, he took 4 more to reach the surface and then two-putted for a quintuple bogey. Nakajima was asked "did you lose concentration" and famously quipped "No, I lose count."


Golden Bell (12th) - Augusta, USA


golden bell augusta

This hole has been dubbed the hardest hole in golf by the best player of all time - Jack Nicklaus. A 155 yard par 3 and the shortest hole on the course, you'd think this would be easy pickings for golf's elite players. Wrong.


When the wind picks up, this hole eats golfers for breakfast. The green is super-slick and fast due to being mostly in the shade. It's also surrounded by 3 bunkers as well as Rae's Creek directly in front. So keeping your ball on is something of an achievement.


The hole inspires conservative play from golfers, not just for its difficult conditions but the history of calamaties makes golfers play that way (they're a superstitious bunch). Tom Weiskopf famously scored a 13 here in 1980, Tiger Woods hit a 6 here in 2000.


"I throw up grass, but the way it's blowing at the tee is secondary," says Curtis Strange. "The major concern is the flag at 12.


"Honest to goodness," Strange adds, "it's the only shot I hit in a hurry when I get the wind I want, because it can change that quickly."


Elfego Baca Shootout, Socorro Peak, Mexico

Elfego Baca Shootout

This hole is a little different to the others - for starters it's not really part of a golf course. You get to this hole by driving to the top of Socorro Peak to a tee box some 2,550 feet above and almost three miles away from the hole. Sound interesting? This side event to the Socorro Open attracts hundreds of golfers with the promise of hitting for miles.


"I guess it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to go to the top of a mountain and play your way down," said Miguel Griego, defending champion of the Socorro Open. "You're never going to get another chance to hit your first shot 1,000 yards."


Then there's the rattlesnakes, the lions, searing heat, oh and the terrain so rough golfers are allowed to tee the ball up again on every shot. This hole is a fun competition where most of the challenge comes from finding your ball rather than hitting it with precision or perfection.


"You try to hit it right to the top of a cliff if you can, so you're strategically positioned for the next shot," former competitor Stanley explained. "A lot of times, it's not how far you hit it but where."


The course record? A measly 9 strokes. However most competitors average somewhere around the 18 mark. Not bad for 3 miles worth of driving though!


8th at Pebble Beach, USA

pebble beach 8th

A hole that is as beautiful as it is unforgiving. This 416 yard par 4 is most famous for its second shot - straight over Monterey Bay. Of course you could lay up and go straight, but who wants to do that?


“It’s easily the most scenic as well as the hardest hole in the world,” said 2004 U.S. Senior Open winner and seven-time PGA Tour winner Peter Jacobsen. “Even without the wind and rain that you’ll sometimes find there, it’s tough.”




18th at Carnoustie, Scotland

padraid harrington carnoustie 18th

This 499 yard par 4 was most famously the scene of Jean Van De Velde's collapse in the 1999 Open Championship. Padraig Harrington almost threw away the 2007 Open here thanks to a  double bogey at the last. Harrington eventually won in a play-off.


This is a hole that requires nerve and confidence. There are hazards galore and tee shots must be measured perfectly - without overreaching and running the risk of ending up in the drink.


This hole was the second toughest in the world in 2007 - playing to a 4.611 scoring average that year.


1.  13 strokes? jesus christ

comment by French Hater - 02/07/2009 11:05

2.  Wow. Quite a drop off.

comment by Hogan - 08/07/2009 10:14

3.  470 yard par 3? I don't need to click on it to think it's stupid. It might be beautiful but it's just stupid.

comment by Bogeyman90 - 08/07/2009 10:14

4.  I parred that

comment by James - 11/09/2009 18:02

5.  Doing research and need to know the rating of the most difficult holes on Australian courses, most particularly
at Kingston Heath, Australia's #1 course. Thanks

comment by Susie - 22/03/2010 09:25

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