The World’s Most Challenging Holes in Golf

Golf is one of the most frustrating sports you can play. It’s a big enough challenge to do well on one of the easiest holes on the course. So, if you can tee up at one of the world’s most challenging holes in golf, the score is only secondary to the story you’ll have to tell.

Par 3 Twelfth at Augusta National

Sometimes, the most challenging hole in golf is one of the shortest on the course. The twelfth hole at Augusta National is one of those holes that can turn the best golfers in the world into mush. What makes “Golden Bell” so challenging is that there isn’t a club in your bag you’ll feel confident about using.

The mental gymnastics it puts you through could lead to you taking too much club and sailing over the green or coming up short and hitting it in Rae’s Creek. Once you add in the swirling winds, you’ll be ecstatic to tee up at a 600-yard par 5 over this hole any day of the week. Fortunately for the 2023 US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson, he faired well on 12, parring it three of his four rounds en route to his 2007 green jacket.

Par 3 Sixteenth at Cypress Point

Lost in the scenic beauty of the sixteenth at Cypress Point is another par 3 that will suck the life out of any golfer. At 235 yards, there’s no margin for error if you want to walk away with a par. The hole is even more daunting because you’re hitting it over the Pacific Ocean. It’s akin to the seventeenth at TPC Sawgrass, but with the distance and wind wreaking havoc on your tee shot, you’re more than happy to walk away with a four and move to the next hole.

Par 4 Fifth at Bethpage Black

Bethpage Black has a reputation for being one of the longest, most difficult courses in the U.S., with its fifth hole being its calling card. What makes this hole menacing is its design and the hazards around it. An errant tee shot will have you hitting your second out of the sand, while a tree line blocks your angle for going at the green for your third shot. Consider it a small victory if you can even reach the green on your fourth shot—let alone putt on four.

Par 4 Eighteenth at Whistling Straits

The eighteenth at Whistling Straight is appropriately named “Dye-abolical,” thanks to Pete Dye’s design crushing your soul. Golf fans may remember this hole’s pivotal role at the 2010 PGA Championship.

Dustin Johnson was cruising to his first major championship when he put his tee shot in the bunker. Sand shots can get the best of any of us, but they especially do when you ground your club. Johnson finished with a triple-bogey, dropping him to a fifth-place tie.

Par 3 Nineteenth at Legend Golf & Safari Resort

You might think there are only 18 holes on a golf course. While that notion is usually correct, the nineteenth hole at Legend Golf & Safari Resort is the exception. This hole is unique because you must hop on a helicopter to even play it. It’s the longest (400 yards) and highest (1,300 feet) hole in the world.

The world’s most challenging holes in golf will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on anyone who gets the honor to play them—but it might not be a positive impact.

By Dianne Pajo

Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.