Top 25 toughest golf courses in the U.S. according to your reviews

Golf Advisor is counting down the 50 most difficult golf courses in the United States according to your reviews. To view Nos. 50-26 as well as how we determined the courses, click here.

Top 25 toughest U.S. golf courses

25. Woodcrest Country Club

Cherry Hill, N.J.
Yardage: 6,528 | Slope/rating: 138/71.9
Architect: William S. Flynn, Rees Jones, Ron Forse
What they're saying: "Long rough, narrow fairways and well bunkered greens. The course favors right handed golfer hitting a draw." - bambiklr

24. Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort

Kiawah Island, S.C.
Yardage: 7,356 | Slope/Rating: 144/77.3
Architect: Pete Dye
What they're saying: "You'd better bring your a game when you play this challenging course." - DukeSams

23. Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort

Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Yardage: 7,110 | Slope/rating: 148/75.6
Architect: Jack Nicklaus, Pete/Alice Dye
What they're saying: "Excellent design tight varied and hard! This is as challenging as it gets don’t let the lack of overall distance fool you. Lots of bunkers and trees. Top notch Dye design." - ThomasGram

22. Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort

French Lick, Ind.
Yardage: 8,102 | Slope/rating: 148/80.0
Architect: Pete Dye
What they're saying: "My score was a good 10-15 shots higher than my hcp. Fun weekend in the land of Larry Legend." - Bigbluenation

21. Pasatiempo Golf Club

Santa Cruz, Calif.
Yardage: 6,521 | Slope/rating: 143/72.4
Architect: Alister MacKenzie
What they're saying: "This is a great and very challenging golf course. It makes you think about every shot and placement of shots is key." - ngaudreau

20. Pinehurst No. 2

Pinehurst, N.C.
Yardage: 7,588 | Slope/rating: 138/76.5
Architect: Donald Ross
What they're saying: " This isn't a course for novices. You don't have to be single digit, but you do need to be able to stop the ball on these upside-down saucer-like Donald Ross greens." - MikeBaileyGA, Golf Advisor Staff

19. The Bridges Golf Club

San Ramon, Calif.
Yardage: 6,861 | Slope/rating: 144/74.3
Architect: Johnny Miller, Robert Muir Graves
What they're saying: "The Bridges is a very challenging course with forced carries and many ravines off the fairways. Some par 4s in the wind were very difficult for me to reach in two." - 55madman

18. Echelon Golf Club

Alpharetta, Ga.
Yardage: 7,558 | Slope/Rating: 154/77.8
Architect: Rees Jones
What they're saying: "If you have a single digit handicap this is the place for you. If you have a high handicap you might want to buy some balls in the pro shop." - Mobley82

17. Pound Ridge Golf Club

Pound Ridge, N.Y.
Yardage: 7,165 | Slope/Rating: 150/76.0
Architect: Pete Dye, Perry Dye
What they're saying: "One of the toughest courses I have played… This course is very tight with little room for error. There are a number of blind shots and forced carries (200+ yards)." - USGolfWu

16. Olde Stonewall Golf Club

Ellwood City, Pa.
Yardage: 7,103 | Slope/Rating: 148/74.2
Architect: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry
What they're saying: "The 140+ slope on all of the first three sets of tees is no joke. Even the front-most tees play to a 127 and 132 respectively; so there is challenge no matter what tees you choose to play." - Sorenj,Local Golf Advisor

15. Winchester Country Club

Meadow Vista, Calif.
Yardage: 7,144 | Slope/Rating: 139/75.1
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Sr., Robert Trent Jones Jr.
What they're saying: "This course is NOT for beginners. A treasure in the hills of Auburn." - AFCMinistries

14. River Course at Blackwolf Run

Kohler, Wisc.
Yardage: 7,404
Slope/Rating: 151/76.2
Architect: Pete Dye
What they're saying: "The holes are named: Burial Mounds; Made in Heaven (which is); Cathedral Spires and Unter Der Linden are but a few." - Caknox1

13. Conservatory Course at Hammock Beach

Palm Coast, Fla.
Yardage: 7,776 | Slope/Rating: 150/78.2
Architect: Tom Watson
What they're saying: "With water on half the holes and some challenging bunkers, it's a terrific test. Word of warning here, don’t play too far back because long approach shots can make for a long day. This is a really good test of golf and plenty enjoyable." - Mike Bailey, Golf Advisor Staff

12. Lost Key Golf Club

Pensacola, Fla.
Yardage: 6,801 | Slope/Rating: 145/73.9
Architect: Arnold Palmer
What they're saying: "When you make a par on any hole here, you know you've done something. If you hit it crooked, bring plenty of golf balls." - Shragmagtite

11. Woodhaven at The Resort at Glade Springs

Daniels, W.V.
Yardage: 7,122 | Slope/Rating: 149/75.1
Architect: Ault, Clark & Associates
What they're saying:"If you have never broken 100, this course would be very frustrating and you would lose a ton of balls. Course has deep traps (with eyebrows), punishing rough, forced carries of over 100 yds… It is a real test of your golf skill." - NWertz

10. AT&T Oaks at TPC San Antonio

San Antonio
Yardage: 7,435 | Slope/Rating: 148/76.5
Architect: Greg Norman, Sergio Garcia
What they're saying: "There are some devilish pin positions out there, and there really isn't an easy approach shot on the course." - BrandonTuckerGA

9. The Ranch Golf Club

Southwick, Mass.
Yardage: 7,174 | Slope/Rating: 139/75
Architect: Damian Pascuzzo
What they're saying: "This is a shotmakers course, and the greens were in great shape! The course has a lot of heather, so make sure you bring enough balls." - Houseman06

8. PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Yardage: 7,215 | Slope/Rating: 155/76.8
Architect: Pete Dye
What they're saying: "This course is NOT your home course and will kick your butt. I ended up with a disappointing 91 but loved every minute of the challenge." Kirk5986734

7. Black Course at Bethpage State Park

Farmingdale, N.Y.
Yardage: 7,468 | Slope/rating: 152/78.1
Architect: A.W. Tillinghast
What they're saying: "You know what you're getting here...go with proper expectations, expect to take 6 hours, expect to have your golf game made to look like a beginner's, and expect to feel beat up when you leave." JohnKMoore1

6. TPC Stadium Course at PGA West

La Quinta, Calif.
Yardage: 7,300 | Slope/Rating: 150/76.1
Architect: Pete Dye
What they're saying: "Beautiful course. Extremely difficult. Bring your A game. Practice your bunker play well before you get there. You will need it." John8581872

5. Kampen Course at Purdue Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex

West Lafayette, Ind.
Yardage: 7,465 | Slope/rating: 146/76.5
Architect: Pete Dye
What they're saying: "All the classic Pete Dye hallmarks are there. Pick the right tee box, and stay in the sometimes narrow fairway. If you don't, most holes have tall/thick rough, water, and/or sand traps waiting to collect your ball." DrOldSchool, Local Golf Advisor

4. The Shattuck Golf Club

Jaffrey, N.H.
Yardage: 6,764 | Slope/Rating: 153/73.5
Architect: Brian Silva
What they're saying: "Very tight fairways, lots of forced carries and smallish greens make you think your way around this course." MCrowder714

3. Camp Creek Golf Club

Panama City Beach, Fla.
Yardage: 7,159 | Slope/Rating: 152/76.0
Architect: Tom Fazio
What they're saying: "This is a big-boy golf course. Take advantage of the par 5s and the par 3s, because the par 4s ar Camp Creek are burly." BrandonWebb, Local Golf Advisor

2. Ko'olau Golf Club

Kaneohe, Hawaii
Yardage: 7,310 | Slope/Rating: 153/78.2
Architect: Dick Nugent
What they're saying: "I've played some tough courses before, but this course was the toughest by far!!! Loved the course, bring extra balls or play smart & use the drop areas!!!" BaileyDe

1. Straits Course at Whistling Straits

Sheboygan, Wisc.
Yardage: 7,790| Slope/rating: 152/77.2
Architect: Pete Dye
What they're saying: "This is the hardest golf course I’ve ever played, and as a Top 100 list chaser, I’ve played some brutes." - BrandonWebb, Local Golf Advisor

Jun 20, 2018

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Steve's avatar
Steve wrote at 2018-06-25 12:45:16+00:00:

Have played the Shattuck many times ,and yes it's tough but beautiful as well.

One mistake and your looking at a triple bogey..

It's a challenge I guess that's why I kept going back or maybe crazy. .in any event if your in Jaffrey NH ,make a tee time ,and bring plenty of bullets.

Steve E

Larry's avatar
Larry wrote at 2018-06-24 15:24:49+00:00:

Not sure why Concession in Bradenton is not on this list. Slope 155 makes it almost unplayable by the novice golfer.

bob's avatar
bob wrote at 2018-06-22 20:06:56+00:00:

trump philly, was pine hill. thought was harder than the black course

malahini's avatar
malahini wrote at 2018-06-21 15:48:36+00:00:

lived in Hawaii many years, played Koolau golf club. The first time I lost 20 balls. the second time I cut it down to six. This course is not for seniors or high handicappers

Steve Morrison's avatar
Steve Morrison wrote at 2018-06-21 15:03:31+00:00:

I find the Bull just north of Whistling Straits and Black Wolf Run which are on this list to be pretty


oilman's avatar
oilman wrote at 2018-06-21 13:53:47+00:00:

although I have not played many in the top 50 list, but a few, try Rainmakers Golf Club in Alto, New Mexico. This one can be brutal.. they call it the " Painmakers ".

Pat Galbincea's avatar
Pat Galbincea wrote at 2018-06-21 01:23:34+00:00:

I have to think Tobacco Road is much tougher than Tot Hill Farm in the Pinehurst-Asheboro area. Tot Hill Farm is an artistic beauty. Tobacco Road has several blind shots, target golf areas and lots of sand and some amazingly small greens. At Grand Traverse Resort in Michigan, Jack Nicklaus' The (unbearable) Bear is far tougher than most of the other listed Michigan courses.

PatPittard's avatar
PatPittard wrote at 2018-06-21 01:09:50+00:00:

Oakmont.? It is tougher than ...let’s see...50 of the above?

Brandon 's avatar
Brandon wrote at 2018-06-21 12:31:45+00:00:

Read the title. PUBLIC!!!

michael massello's avatar
michael massello wrote at 2018-06-21 00:13:18+00:00:

How about Butler National and Rich Harvest Links???

Charles's avatar
Charles wrote at 2018-06-20 23:48:29+00:00:

I have only played a few of the courses on this list, but I have played Cape Kidnappers, Ballybunion, Lahinch, and Old Head. The two hardest for me in the US were Spyglass, which was 10 strokes harder than Pebble, and The Judge, on the RTJ Golf Trail near Montgomery. The sign next to the first tee says,' Prepare to be Judged."

Frank Russell's avatar
Frank Russell wrote at 2018-06-21 16:26:10+00:00:

The Judge belongs on the list

BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
BrandonTuckerGA Staff wrote at 2018-06-21 17:01:11+00:00:

The Judge was in the Top 100 but not Top 50.

Bob Burchett's avatar
Bob Burchett wrote at 2018-06-20 23:23:14+00:00:

The Davenport Country Club in Pleasant Valley, Iowa is an antique, having had two past Western Opens. It is one of the Midwest's hardest and has an All-American hole (No. 16 Cliff hole). Please check it out for the top 100.

ernaldo's avatar
ernaldo wrote at 2018-06-20 22:28:13+00:00:

I play the Shattuck in New Hampshire a couple times a year (late summer, bugs gone by then). Unless you're a solid hitter, leave the driver in your car. Maximum penalty for scuds (lost ball) on ALL holes. Not long for amateurs, lots of water on the back. Beautiful in early October!

BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
BrandonTuckerGA Staff wrote at 2018-06-21 14:51:20+00:00:

I was surprised to see Shattuck so high. thanks for sharing.

jimmicks's avatar
jimmicks wrote at 2018-06-20 22:22:51+00:00:

Played the Straits course twice and found it to be a true test but not overwhelming. Had a bit of trouble with #s 5 and 18, but other than that, the caddie helped me to stay in play and score reasonably well with my 10 hdcp.

John C.'s avatar
John C. wrote at 2018-06-20 22:21:57+00:00:

Have played Torrey Pines South when I was even a more crooked driver of the ball than I am now. The rough was brutal and each hole seemed so darn long. La Purisima near Lompoc, CA is also extremely challenging with deep bunkers, tough rough and undulating greens

BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
BrandonTuckerGA Staff wrote at 2018-06-21 14:51:50+00:00:

Your Torrey South experience sounds like mine. Thick, wet rough in January. No chance hitting greens out of it.

Steve Weeks's avatar
Steve Weeks wrote at 2018-06-20 22:09:05+00:00:

The difficulty of golf courses has a lot to do with the tees you play from. I have played both the Pete Dye stadium course and Ko'olau in Hawaii several times. If you play them from the forward tees and can hit the ball reasonably straight, you are not thinking all that much about their difficulty and having a really great time. Both of these courses are in my Top 10 that I can play. Those forced carries are not so daunting when you move up. I play the blue tees at my home courses, but have no problem going to the whites on those slope ratings that start at 130 and go up. So that's my advice on these courses if you are just a good to average player. Check your ego at the door, move up and have fun.

David's avatar
David wrote at 2018-06-21 07:52:39+00:00:

I agree. I am a high teens handicap and when I try to keep up with the pack ( ergo ego) I get in trouble. I now play from the middle or front tees and have so much more fun.

BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
BrandonTuckerGA Staff wrote at 2018-06-21 14:52:40+00:00:

Well said. It seems that with a lot of Dye courses, there is a 6,200-yard set and a 6,600-yard set. I'll bet a lot of golfers play the latter when they should play up. Hitting Dye greens with a short iron is a lot easier than a mid iron.

Frank's avatar
Frank wrote at 2018-06-20 22:04:04+00:00:

Have an anybody play the ranch in San Jose

MajorDuffer's avatar
MajorDuffer wrote at 2018-06-21 01:21:23+00:00:

Nasty little course with lots of canyons. forced carries and blind shots. If the wind is up (usually) then

be prepared to loose a few balls. Very under rated and very tough to the point many won't play it more than once.

Spectacular views from many of the tee boxes.

Kyle's avatar
Kyle wrote at 2018-06-20 21:25:44+00:00:

In the past two weeks, I have played two of the top 25 in the Stadium Course at PGA West and the Pete Dye Course at French Lick... I must say, they are both extremely challenging but in two very different ways. One constant they both do have is that Pete Dye was the architect for both! :) Highly recommend the Pete Dye Course at French Lick.

Bill Brandenburg's avatar
Bill Brandenburg wrote at 2018-06-20 21:25:25+00:00:

I've played a number of more difficult courses than those listed. Bull Valley in Woodstock, IL

BrandonTuckerGA's avatar
BrandonTuckerGA Staff wrote at 2018-06-21 14:53:14+00:00:

Good to know. Slope/rating looks tough but needs more reviews on GA to be considered.

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