Hardest holes in golf
Oakmont CC: 1st Hole
The par-4, 482-yard first hole at the Oakmont Country Club doesn't give golfers any time to settle into their round. Bunkers crop up on both sides of the 24-yard-wide fairway, and the hole doesn't get easier from there. The second shot directs the ball toward a fast green that slopes both from front to back and right to left.
Oakmont CC: 3rd Hole
The third hole at Oakmont showcases the course's most notable feature: the "Church Pews" bunkers. The 428-yard hole boasts a tricky set of bunkers on the left side, spanning 102 yards in length and containing 12 turf islands, each of which are about three feet in height and are surrounded by sandy slopes. Aiming the ball toward the right of the fairway doesn't help a golfer avoid trouble completely, as that side has five fairway bunkers.
Bethpage State Park (Black): 5th Hole
A diagonal hazard makes the 445-yard fifth hole at Bethpage Black extremely difficult to master. With the fairway offset to both the tee and green, a golfer must strike the ball well to avoid a waste bunker on the right. Getting the ball on the green isn't much easier, as many balls roll off the shallow green even if they initially land there.
Pinehurst No. 2: 5th Hole
From a downhill tee shot to an uphill second shot and from a sloped fairway to a tabletop green, the fifth hole at Pinehurst No. 2 is a study in extremes.
Royal Melbourne Golf Club: 6th Hole
The par-4, 428-yard sixth hole at Royal Melbourne features an abrupt angle in the fairway, making the shot off the tee one of critical importance. If the tee shot doesn't travel a minimum of around 218 yards, the second shot will be difficult to direct toward the pin. What's more, the green is elevated and slopes toward the front, so a ball hit too short will roll back.
Pebble Beach Golf Links: 8th Hole
A spectacular coastline snakes along the right side of the 416-yard par-4 eighth hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Golfers who excel at long, straight drives will find themselves in trouble, as the course veers off to the side and many balls drift into the sea. If the weather calls for wind and rain, pack a number of extra balls.
Pebble Beach Golf Links: 9th Hole
On the 462-yard par-4 ninth hole at Pebble Beach, it's easy to get wrapped up in the view. It's more pleasant to admire the sights than it is to contemplate the challenges of getting the ball nicely situated on the green. With the ocean on the right and a massive bunker on the left, a precision shot is necessary. In 2007, the 466-yard par-4 ninth hole at Pebble Beach allowed just a 4.439 scoring average at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Augusta National Golf Club: 12th Hole
Famed golfer Jack Nicklaus doesn't just think the 12th hole is the hardest at Augusta National, but he also thinks the 155-yard par 3 may be the hardest hole in tournament golf. Also referred to as "Golden Bell," the hole is the shortest on the course. Part of "Amen Corner," the hole's pin is boxed in by Rae's Creek in front and bunkers on the other sides.
Southern Hills: 12th Hole
The signature hole at Southern Hills Country Club is the 458-yard par 4. The course's dogleg left means golfers must drive long to set up their second shot. The challenge then becomes avoiding both the water and bunkers that almost completely surround the green.
Augusta National Golf Club: 13th Hole
The "Azalea" hole at Augusta National was already hard, but then 25 yards were added in 2002, making it even more difficult. Part of Rae's Creek traverses in front of the green, and four bunkers stand guard behind the 510-yard par-5 hole.
PGA National (Champions): 15th Hole
The first of three holes that comprise "The Bear Trap" at PGA National Resort & Spa's Champion Course, the 179-yard par-3 15th doesn't provide any safe route for golfers to favor. Bunkers play havoc with golfers who stray to the left, and the small green extends out into a lake on the right.
Cypress Point CC: 16th Hole
The private Cypress Point Club opened in 1928, and the 16th hole has simultaneously amazed and scared golfers ever since. In order to get to the pin on the 230-yard par 3, the ball must travel over the ocean. The frequent crosswind plays havoc with those shots.
Merion Golf Club (East): 16th Hole
A quarry protects the approach to the 428-yard par-4 16th hole at Merion Golf Club and forces golfers to take a blind shot off the tee. A small but deep bunker sits on one side of the fairway, and a long bunker and cluster of trees loom on the other side. Golfers then face a tough read on the two-tiered green, making the hole even more of a challenge.
Bay Hill Club: 17th Hole
Bay Hill Club & Lodge
The 219-yard par 3 at Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge poses a formidable strategic challenge for golfers. A short drive could land in the pond in front of the green or in either of the two bunkers on the front side, and a drive that overshoots the table-top green could find a deep bunker on the backside.
Olympic Club: 17th Hole
There are an estimated 40,000 trees that line the fairways of the Lake Course at the Olympic Club, and the course's 522-yard par-5 17th hole has its fair share. Hitting the fairway precisely and avoiding the towering trees and the many bunkers around the greens are both critical elements of escaping the hole with a par.
Pebble Beach Golf Links: 17th Hole
An hourglass-shaped green and seven large bunkers make the 178-yard par 3 at Pebble Beach a precarious hole. Adding to the difficulty golfers face there is the wind blowing away from the pin and causing many drives to fall short.
TPC Sawgrass: 17th Hole
The 132-yard par-3 17th hole is one of the most famous in the world. Nicknamed the "Island Green," the water surrounding the hole, which is actually a peninsula, claims around 120,000 balls each year.
St. Andrews (Old Course): 17th Hole
The "Road Hole" bunker on the 17th hole of the Old Course at St. Andrews isn't extremely wide in diameter, but it is extremely cavernous and treacherous. Of course, that isn't the only challenge golfers face on the hole; missing the fairway to the right on the blind tee shot puts the ball out of bounds.
Whistling Straits: 17th Hole
If your ball drops off the cliff on the left side of the 223-yard par 3 at Whistling Straits, you'll understand why the hole has the nickname of "Pinched Nerve." A series of bunkers line the cliffside, and it may take a number of shots to get the ball back up the 40-foot drop to the green.
Riviera CC: 18th Hole
A blind tee shot marks an ominous start to the 18th hole at Riviera Country Club. Not only is getting the ball to the left-to-right sloping fairway difficult on the 475-yard par 4, but the second shot forces golfers to navigate a narrow, sloping green surrounded by wide bunkers.
Ko'olau Golf Club: 18th Hole
It's only fitting that one of the hardest courses in the world, Ko'olau Golf Club on Oahu, Hawaii, would also have one of the most difficult holes. One-hundred-foot-deep ravines line the fairway on the 476-yard par-4 18th hole, so if a ball strays to one side or another it's lost.
Trump National Doral Miami: 18th Hole
It's indicative of the allure of the 18th hole that a nickname originally used just for it now refers to the entire Doral course, known as "The Blue Monster." The 443-yard par 4 features a fountain and lots of water, hence the "blue." The frequent wind makes hitting the green difficult and hitting the water much easier.
Whistling Straits: 18th Hole
The 489-yard par-4 18th hole at Whistling Straits is nicknamed "Dyeabolical," giving golfers an immediate sense of the challenges that await as the course's final challenge. On the 489-yard par 4 golfers must decide whether to take a safe tee shot and a long approach or an aggressive line off the tee which yields a shorter approach but requires a precision shot to avoid tricky dunes and bunkers. If golfers overshoot the downhill area on the fairway, the ball could find its way either into the sand dunes on the backside or, even worse, into Seven Mile Creek.
Bay Hill Club: 18th Hole
Missing the approach shot short on the 441-yard par-4 18th at Bay Hill sends a ball into the water. Missing the shot long sends the ball spinning away toward challenging bunkers and heavy grass. Finding the balance between the two at Arnold Palmer's course is the hole's greatest challenge.
Coober Pedy Opal Fields: Entire course
No grass? No problem at the Coober Pedy Opal Fields Golf Club in Australia. The entire 18 holes are played on sand. Although the sand is routinely sprayed with grease to keep it from swirling around with the wind, it's nothing like any other course with which most golfers have experience, even if the rules do allow golfers to carry around bits of fake grass to ease the shot off the tee.
Ice Golf Championship: Entire course
A golfer's feel for his club may be one of his biggest assets, but playing in frigid temperatures eliminates that advantage as golfers must wear gloves. That's the case at the World Ice Golf Championship, which is played at various glaciers and fiords. As the greens are white, the balls are painted red.