Bethpage Black and the 25 Toughest Golf Courses in America
Have you ever thought that your weekend golf course was difficult? If you said yes, then there's something wrong with you, you're lying, or you're just that bad.
If you want a hard test, I can give you one.
Just step out onto any of the courses in the next 25 slides, and tell me your score. All of these courses have or would give Tiger Woods and the rest of the PGA a good battle (one course actually demoralized the players).
No. 25: Pinehurst No. 2
No. 25 on this list is No. 2 of Pinehurst, located in Pinehurst, North Carolina. It boasts a rating of 76.0 and a slope of 136.
You may never lose a ball at Pinehurst, but you may never make a putt outside of two feet either. At 7305 yards, it's not the longest, but not the shortest course out there.
With this as 25, we've got a long way to go.
No. 24: Medinah Country Club No. 3
It provided a huge test, and in the end, it was Tiger Woods who last prevailed at Medinah. The next time we will hear from Tiger at Medinah isn't too far off, either. In 2012 it will host the Ryder Cup, golf's great rivalry.
Rated 78.3 with a slope of 152, Medinah plays a testy 7657 yards from the tips. It is by no means a wide course. The fairways are tough to hit, and when you don't hit the fairway, there's a good chance you'll hit a tree.
Look out in 2012, because Medinah will again be the focus of the golf world.
No. 23: Purgatory Golf Club
Maybe it would be better to just get out of purgatory and get where you're going.
This trip through purgatory is in Indiana, lasting 7754 yards, and about 100 strokes for a 10 handicap. Sloped at 142, the course rating of 78.1 provides a little more reality to the situation.
You aren't getting out of purgatory unless you make par.
No. 22: Butler National Golf Club
Located in Illinois, Butler National Golf Club was once known for hosting one of golf's former "majors," the Western Open.
When that happened, the PGA didn't allow the back tees to be used. And for good reason. The course plays 7523 yards, rated 76.6, and sloped 144.
If this were the official course of the Butler Bulldogs, its bark would be as bad as its bite. Too bad it's one state away.
No. 21: The Concord Resort & Golf Club
Kiamesha Lake, New York hosts one of the toughest courses in America. The Concord Resort & Golf Club is that golf course.
Sloped at 137, rated 76.8, and playing 7650 yards, the "Monster" will challenge any person who makes the Concord Resort their destination.
No. 20: Blackwolf Run River Course
Run in conjunction with Whistling Straights under the American Club Resort company, Blackwolf features the Sheboygan River winding throughout the course.
That's in conjunction with the 6991 yards that you have to hit through in order to finish. Under 7000 yards, it is impressive to be rated at 76.3 and sloped 153.
This is one course that would have the cheese heads of Kohler, Wisconsin in fits.
No. 19: Legends Course (Moorland)
If you thought that being under 7000 yards and being sloped so high was difficult, then try being at 6799 yards and still being rated high. Located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, you could toss a rock from the first fairway and hit a different golf course, but you won't find one as hard.
Its rating? 74.0 and 140. Not bad. Good job, Pete Dye.
No. 18: Grand Traverse Resort
Also known as "The Bear," Grand Traverse's Jack Nicklaus design hosts the one of the most difficult layouts you could lay eyes on.
It's nothing overbearing on the legs. Only 7078 yards. It's overbearing on your arms if you can't play a course that is rated 76.3 and sloped 148.
And don't worry about walking, it's cart mandatory.
No. 17: Medalist Golf Club
It seems like a lot of Dye courses are making their name on this list. Greg Norman gave the course his own touch, just to add to the fun.
One positive: you won't ever hit rough.
The negative? You're going to have to dig through swamp and pine needles to find a wayward shot.
No. 16: Hallbrook Country Club
There's a limit for professionals on how many balls you are allowed to carry. However, there isn't for the average hacker. I would recommend about 24. If you lose a ball per green side hazard, that leaves you with nine balls.
After that, you're going to have to navigate 6938 yards of slope 151 rated 75 golf. Kansas may not have much, but its got one tough course in Hallbrook.
No. 15: Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Weighing in at six thousand nine hundred fifty-three yards (6953), this par 72 will give you fits on a sunny day. And if it's foggy, like it is typically, you better have radar to locate your ball in the trees.
After the first five holes leave the sea and seals, you will be left to deal with one of California's finest rated 75.5 and sloped 147.j
You're going to need a spyglass, GPS and possibly overhead spy planes to finish 18 holes.
No. 14: Desert Mountain Golf Club Renegade Course
At 7412 yards, you're going to need a hybrid in to each green to keep yourself in the game.
And that's not to mention the greens, which play faster thanks to that Arizona heat. It's no wonder that this course owns a rating of 76.6 and slope of 138.
Bring a spare shirt; you'll be sweating this one out for about six hours.
No. 13: TPC Sawgrass
While you may say that it belongs higher, one legendary hole does not make TPC Sawgrass a top 10 tough course. Then again, 13th on this list is by no means easy. We all know the story of Sawgrass, so you don't want to hear it again.
You most likely don't know that Sawgrass is a mere 7215 yards, only sloping 155 and rated 76.8. Like I said, 13th is not a bad thing.
No. 12: Tobacco Road Golf Club
This course in Sanford, North Carolina is a winner. The second shortest course on this list from the tips it measures 6554 yards. Some of your local courses may feature blue tees that long.
It won't however, feature five fully blind shots. It's rating does deceive at 73.2, but it is par 71, and sloped 150. Good luck lighting this tobacco on fire.
No. 11: The Tradition at Royal New Kent
The tradition here is high scores. Sharp corners, deep pot bunkers, and seemingly misshapen mounds await you when you approach this beast.
Reality Check: Rating 76.5, Slope 147.
No. 10: Pine Valley Golf Club
To be the tenth course on this list is really no small feat. To do this, you have to design the course equivalent of, well, Pine Valley Golf Club.
It is regarded as the nation's best course, and is no picnic. It's rating isn't too bad, either: 75.2. Slope: 150.
No. 9: Tot Hill Farm Golf Club
The shortest course on this list by only 11 yards. The cause of the lack of length? Rocks. Lots of them. 13 of the holes are lined by Betty McGee's Creek, along with at least that many holes having boulders abound.
If you get through this course without a bounce shot, then you just conquered a 73 rated, 138 sloped course. Numbers don't tell the whole truth here in Asheboro, North Carolina.
No 8: Whistling Straits Golf Club
We all saw this course last year. And we saw a lot of it, including the bunker in the right hand rough on the 18th hole. When this course was first created, it was challenging. When Pete Dye's wife told him to make it harder, it became a beast.
Actually it made it a course with a rating of 76.7 and slope of 151.
No. 7: PGA West Stadium Course
Pete Dye strikes yet again. It's got to be a talent of his, torturing golfers.
With the Stadium course, we have a situation not seen very often: players complained it was too hard. In fact, in 1980, it was successfully petitioned off the PGA Tour Bob Hope Classic.
Now the test for Q-School students, Alcatraz (17th hole) looms for only the aspiring pro.
You don't even need to know the numbers, but yet you will anyway. Slope? 150. Rating? 76.1. Good luck.
No. 6: Winged Foot Golf Club West Course
For the fact that New York is known for bad weather, it sure does have a handful of nice courses. Or ridiculous ones, like Winged Foot.
7229 yards of course stared down the best tour pros, and the most recent loser was of course Phil Mickelson. The winner? Geoff Ogilvy. Sort of.
You probably still barely understand slope and rating, but 145 is the slope, and 76.1 is the rating. All you need to know is that it is incredible for a golf course to be that tough.
No. 5: Koolau Golf Club
This course can be a little soggy at times. I don't know how, with 130 inches of rain per year, any course could be set up to drain it sufficiently.
Probably because it is impossible.
Once you're on Oahu, you will be amazed at the course. It treks through some incredible views, including jungle life and undiscovered reptiles. Not to mention the ravine that lays host to stray shots.
Even though the top slope rating is a 155, Koolau used to be a 162. It is now a 152, and a 75.7 rating.
No. 4: Oakmont Country Club
This is the only course I've seen close up, and it sure is a beautiful one. The church pews, despite being an inevitable intimidation, are just unbelievable to see.
The greens are ridiculous. They seamlessly flow, melding together multiple breaks.
And once you read those breaks, you can figure out the speed of the greens. Good thing for the last US Open they asked the course to slow down the greens. Unfortunately you will never find out the stimpmeter reading for the day, as the greens are too undulated to get an accurate read.
No. 3: Bethpage State Park Black Course
The sign does not lie. If you aren't decent at golf, don't try to play it. Only play if you are good. If you have to think about your talent, don't take the chance.
But seriously, Bethpage is not only one of the toughest courses played, it's a public course that is such a force (much credif to Rees Jones for the revamping for 2002).
Since it's a public course, Jones did leave you a little room to play. The tips are 7366 yards, sloped at 148 and rated 76.6.
No. 2: The International the Pines Course
To be hones, I never heard of this course until today. At 8325 yards, a par 73, and course rating of 80, you aren't getting out very soon.
If you tee off on the back, you'll find the 18th hole, 656 yards into it. If only it were the longest hole on the course. That award, however, goes to the 715- yard fifth hole. And for par 3s? It has you covered. The seventh weighs in at 277 yards. I'd recommend a lay up for anyone who plays that course.
No. 1: Kiawah Island the Ocean Course
Who else but Pete Dye? At 81 years old, he would hate himself for having to play this course.
At a towering 7356 yards, it does not catch The International. It does, however beat it when you figure out its rating is 79.6 and 155 is the slope. That last set of numbers is also the largest combination of Slope and Rating in America.
I would have to say that Pete Dye is the story here, but his courses provide a nice backdrop.