One of the most appealing things about golf is getting to travel from place to place, taking in breathtaking views and finding courses with new and challenging ways to practice and develop your golfing skills
It’s true that no two golf courses are ever the same and each one comes with it’s own ambience and atmosphere, not to mention the different ways in which it’ll throw obstacles in your way and get you thinking differently about how you approach each shot.
Let’s remember, also, that playing the same course over and over again can often lead to muscle memory, and before you know it you’ll find yourself feeling bored and uninspired. That’s why grabbing the opportunity to play on new and exciting courses is never one you should let pass you by.
All across the country there are hundreds of golf courses just waiting to be discovered, but which ones are the very best? Below, we've compiled a State-by-State list of the best golf courses to play in America for 2020, each of which is guaranteed to both challenge and entertain you as well as provide you with some amazing views and a relaxing place to kick back after a long day on the course.
Routed through a natural and secluded environment, the golf course at Shoal Creek Club is our top pick for Alabama, and with it’s views of Double Oak Mountain to the East of the course it truly is one of the most stunning places you could ever wish to play a round of golf.
It’s also a really challenging course and makes good use of it’s naturally formed creeks and ponds to provide hazards, whilst also having several unforgiving bunkers dotted throughout the landscape for extra difficulty.
Nestled in the Cumberland Plateau of the Appalachian Mountains, and set at 1500 feet above sea level, The Ledges Country Club has a golf course that incorporates stone walls, rock formations and creeks into it’s route to create a truly challenging course that isn’t for the faint of heart.
Boasting a huge variety of holes, some of which are protected by ponds and huge oak trees for an extra challenge, the course at Farmlinks is one to go for if you’re looking to play a round of golf that will allow you to put your skills to the test whilst providing you with beautiful surroundings.
This challenging course is set situated at the foot of the Chugach Mountains, and is home to the longest hole in state which measures in at 640 yards. It also features two fairways that are routed through reclaimed gravel pits which adds to the quirkiness and interest of this course.
It’s not only the layout and design of this course that makes a round of golf here phenomenal. You’ll also be offered amazing views of the surrounding mountain range as well as the opportunity to spot moose, bears and foxes whilst you play.
Set within a massive 2000 acre estate, Settlers Bay Golf Course provides you with unparalleled views of both the Chugach Mountain Range and Cook Inlet. And, as if the views weren’t enough to entice you to this course, you’ll also be guaranteed a unique round of golf with greens situated around artificial beaver dams and each hole offering you something different.
This golf course twists and turns it’s way through Alaska’s undulating landscape, and features a particularly formidable 3rd hole set on a boomerang-shaped green with a steep grassy bank to the left. The 6th hole on this course makes for another challenging shot with a deep body of water to the left.
Considered to be Arizona’s premier golf course, Forest Highlands is set amongst Ponderosa Pine, Oak and Aspen trees and situated at 7000 feet above sea level, giving you some absolutely breathtaking views.
It also feels like a very naturalistic place to play a round of golf, and the course routes it’s way through tree lined bluegrass fairways, streams and canyons. It even features a signature hole that requires you to drive the ball across a stream and then dogleg left to a green nestled within trees.
Built high up on a desert plateau, this course runs across 150 acres of land underneath the Northern slope of Pinnacle Peak and offers you spectacular views of the city below. Several greens surrounded by dense, desert vegetation call for skilled and precise shots, as do a few of the holes that are surrounded by gigantic boulders.
Amongst it’s many memorable holes, it’s the 6th, 8th and 13th that are particularly challenging on this course with each of them being played to a split fairway. Paired with angled greens and tiny platforms, this is one of the most challenging courses you’ll ever play on.
Widely recognized as one of the most difficult courses in the entire world, the golf course at Diamante Country club sprawls across a massive 7,560 yards from the back tees. It’s not just it’s overall size that is formidable however, with five of the eighteen holes played in excess of 470 yards.
You’ll also need to call upon all of your skills to negotiate your way around undulating greens, multiple water hazards and deep, unforgiving bunkers. It’ll all be worth it though when you relax with a drink in the clubhouse and look back at the course you conquered that day.
It’s the seemingly ever-changing terrain of the course at Hot Spring Country Club that makes it such a joy to play on, and it is enough of a challenge to swing on without becoming overly difficult. This also makes it relatively easy to walk across which, paired with mountainous views, gives this course a relaxing atmosphere to unwind in.
You’ll find wonderful views of downtown Little Rock at this course, as well as the Arkansas River Valley, cliffs and river. The greens are super fast and slick, and although each hole throws a different challenge at you, it’s the signature 13th that you’ll need all of your skill for as you negotiate the enormous water hazard.
Set at the foothills of the St Lucia Mountains on the very tip of the Monterey Peninsula, the golf course at Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, California, is a world-renowned course and is well known for being both varied and thrilling.
Each of the 18 holes presents a different challenge which even the most experienced golfer will have to think about upon approach, with the 16th hole posing a particular difficulty as the Pacific Ocean is the ultimate water hazard on this 231-yard one-shot hole.
Playing directly along the oceanside comes with the challenge of negotiating your ball around the sea winds, but it’s the holes away from the ocean stretch at the Pebble Beach golf course that are particularly difficult with complex green stretches and steep slopes.
The layout of the golf course at Los Angeles Country Club is nothing less than thrilling, with hills, ridges and valleys to negotiate around and each of the 18 holes is varied and spectacular. Notably, the 7th is the toughest one of all of them and measures only 240 yards from the tee, calling for a precise and skilled shot.
Located within a huge Colorado Dunescape, the course at Ballyneal Golf Club has been cleverly designed to fit in with the look of the existing land, building a golf course around what was already there rather than creating a generic-looking playing field.
The holes are all equally as unique as the course itself and hole 17 has made a name for itself as one of the most notoriously difficult to master due to sweeping doglegs and natural, downward slopes. So, if you’re looking for a golf course that is as natural and wild as it gets, this is one you need to get yourself to.
There are almost too many details to go into when considering each of the unique holes at Cherry Hills Country Club, however it’s the 18th (named after President Eisenhower) that is notorious for throwing golfers off their game right at the end with a lake of the left of the hole that is so beautiful it can easily distract you from performing the perfect shot.
Golf courses built at higher altitudes have a tendency to send the ball around 10% further than you were planning on hitting, and with the course at Castle Pines sitting at 6500 feet above sea level you’ll need all of your skills to navigate your way around each hole efficiently.
Stretching across 700 acres of beautiful Connecticut woodland, the Yale Golf Course is truly one of the most magical places you can find to play a round of golf in. It also makes for one of the most challenging courses you can find, and is featured in the book “Golf’s 100 Toughest Holes”.
This is due to the fact that the 10th hole is set upon a very steep, uphill slant along with an elevated fairway that doesn’t only completely block the view of the hole but is also lined with dense vegetation on each side. There’s also a deep bunker that extends across the front of the hole, just waiting to catch short shots.
There’s no shortage of outstanding holes on this course, but arguably the best of them all is (and certainly the most challenging) is the 13th, which requires you to negotiate your ball across both a creek and a pond, before reaching an L-shaped green that is ringed with deep bunkers.
If there’s one thing the golf course at the Tamarack Country Club is renowned for, it’s the ‘deep and steep’ bunkers that are heavily dotted across the entire route. The most famous of these has been affectionately nicknamed ‘Big Bertha’, and is located on the 17th hole where it protects the elevated green like a mighty warrior.
Expanding across a massive 7,545 yards the course at Bayside Resort Golf Club has been designed to allow you to experience the thrill of three different golfing experiences all at the same time. This is due to the variety of holes, with some being richy lined with trees, others being routed through marshland and the rest located in wide open fairways.
Particular highlights of this course include raised green on the 3rd hole that is located next to marshes, and the 6th that has a fairway which merges seamlessly into a large wetland area. Perfect for amateurs and experienced golfers, this course has something for everyone.
The fairways of this course wind their way around a huge residential development on the Indian River Bay, making for some absolutely gorgeous views and delivering a sense of calm as you make your way through each of the eighteen holes.
Spanning 6,748 yards, this course is laid across hilly terrain and has regular, dramatic elevation changes that will add some extra challenges to your round. It’s also a pretty unique course, and even features a stone ruins on the fairway shared by the 12th and 14th holes.
Situated along the Atlantic side of Florida’s coastline, the golf course at Seminole Golf Club is not one for the faint of heart, and has a mixture of small greens, bunkers and other hazards that only the serious golfer will be able to maneuver their way around.
Numerous sand dune ridges flank fairways that are directed towards uphill green sites, all of which are angled and narrowing so require a keen eye and a confident swing to successfully get past. And, although each hole is unique, it’s the 11th and 14th that are particularly memorable for their uphill approaches.
Another one for any golfer looking for their next challenge, the course at Calusa Pines Golf Club features playing surfaces that are connected by huge sand bunkers and water hazards. There are also over 100 mature oak trees interspersed with Sable Palms and Mature Pines that provide a beautiful backdrop for your round of golf.
Located in the Central Florida lake region, this course dates back to 1915 and is a particularly good course for anybody new to golf to play on as the ground has a fair amount of rise and fall without being too drastic. The fairways are also pretty wide, making for some stress-free golf.
Home to the Masters championship, Augusta National Golf Club is beautiful, challenging and is one you’ll definitely want to visit if you want to play in the same environment as a professional golfer.
Given it’s famous status there’s no way that this course is going to be suitable for less experienced golfers, and only those with a certain skill set will be able to handle it’s super fast, closely-cropped greens and unforgiving bunkers.
Peachtree Golf Club
Tall pine trees, evergreen azaleas and flowering dogwoods are all part of what makes playing a round of golf at the Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, an absolute delight for all the senses. It’s also pretty challenging, and each hole grows in difficulty as you make your way through the course.
Located on the shores of Lake Oconee (which also happens to be the second largest body of water in the State), this golf course has deep, ragged bunkering and areas that are created using native grasses for a natural look that works beautifully with the woodland scenery.
Fairways framed with tall, native grasses and sporadically placed Norfolk Pines provide some beautiful scenery, however it's the breathtaking backdrop of the glistening Pacific Ocean that really makes this one of the most amazing places to play a round of golf.
The course itself is varied with a good mixture of uphill shots and downward slopes, but it’s the 11th hole and it’s large bunker where you’ll really get to challenge your skills whilst trying to not get distracted by that killer view.
Built on the black lava fields of Hawaii’s big island, the course at Mauna Kea is renowned for stretching even the world’s best golfers to their limit. Greens set above volcanic rock and greens formed with hybrid grasses require skill to get around successfully, however it’s totally worth it for the amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
With a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean from almost every hole, you’ll need to bring your skill and concentration to your game at this course to prevent yourself from giving up altogether and simply admiring your location. Each hole grows in difficulty as your progress as well, and any complacency you might have at the start of the course will soon disappear.
Located on an elevated, forested peninsula, the golf course at Gozzer Ranch can be summed up simply using the world ‘spectacular’. Both woodland and lake views are on offer here, and there is a real atmosphere of calm around the entire route.
There are many elevation changes across the 7,226 yard course which helps to keep you on your toes and encourages you to approach the ball from a different angle. And, although each hole is different, it’s the view that accompanies each one that will really try to steal your focus.
This course features a couple of signature holes including “Grassy”,the 217 yard 3rd hole, and “Medicine Man”, the 253 yard 13th that requires a long carry across an expanse of native vegetation to clear. Set across 620 acres, it’s not the biggest course but is definitely one that’ll test you.
Famed for it’s floating green on the 14th hole, which has a distance from the tee to the putting surface that is changed by computer every day, this course is as fun as it is challenging. You also need to board an electric powered shuttle boat to get this hole, and you even get awarded a certificate upon completion!
Chicago Golf Club - Wheaton, Illinois
The course at Chicago Golf Club in Illinois is not only beautiful but is also steeped in history, being home to a lot of golfing ‘firsts’. In 1897, it was the first golf club outside of the North East to host the US open, and it was also the first club to use bent grass greens.
You’ll be faced with a series of bunkers throughout the course, as well as water hazards on the 9th and 10th holes that require some real skill to negotiate your ball around. The rough is also fairly unforgiving when both short and knee-high, so if you’re looking for a golf course that will really allow you to put yourself to the test, then this is one you need to visit.
Unique and interesting, Shore Acres offers you a challenging course and features several ravines and creeks that need to be avoided with meticulous skill. The greens are also fast and heavily bunkered, and the fairways are narrow and lined with large trees.
Host to the 1922 US Open, which was the first to ever sell tickets in order for spectators to enjoy the tournament, the course at Skokie Country club is famous for it’s challenging holes, most notably the 11th which is heavily bunkered from fairway to green and features a brook on the right of it.
Both challenging in it’s design and offering spectacular views of the Indiana countryside, the course at Victoria National Golf Club features ravines and deep water that will take all of you skill to maneuver your way around.
The course also features greens and roughs made from a mixture of bent grass and blended bluegrass, which doesn’t only add to the difficulty levels when trying to negotiate with the ground, but also adds to the visual beauty of the entire landscape.
Home to several major championships since 1982, Crooked Stick has a golf course that will really make you work hard for each shot. Pot bunkers, wooden sleepers, small greens, blind spots and super undulating fairways are all in store for you when you attempt this professional-level course.
One of the most unique aspects of this course is the way it is laid out into two different groupings. The first nine holes take you across beautiful, open countryside whilst the final nine take you one a magical meandering journey through forested terrain. Definitely one to ignite all of the senses.
The course at Cedar Rapids Country Club has been designed in such a way that the greens almost seamlessly merge together and connect with the natural surroundings so well that you’d be forgiven for forgetting that you’re even playing on a man made course at all.
Each hole is unique and will really get you thinking about how to approach the shot, but it’s the 14th on which you’ll find an extremely unique hole located upon a massive, raised mound that is surrounded by bunkers.
Stretched out across varied terrain, the course at Spirit Hollow features bentgrass tees, fairways and contoured greens as well as continuous elevation changes and natural creeks at more than half of it’s holes. This really is a course that will take all of your experience to master.
One of the oldest eighteen hole courses in the country, Waveland is set within hilly, wooded terrain and is truly remarkable as both a challenging course and a beautiful place to golf thanks to it’s fabulous scenery.
Despite being set right in the heart of America and offering stunning countryside views, the golf course at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Kansas has characteristics more commonly associated with classic seaside links.
This course has an all-natural aesthetic to it, and there is sand, sand and even more sand as you play your way through each of it’s holes. This, of course, makes it a fairly challenging course to negotiate, and when you throw the ever-present Kansas wind into the mix, you’ll find yourself with a course that requires a great deal of skill to complete successfully.
This is a golf course that will really test your skills to the limit, and you won’t only have hilly terrain and uneven surfaces to deal with, but you’ll also need to navigate your way across a total of 24 acres of water hazard on 8 of the most challenging holes you’ll ever play.
Although surrounded by residential development, this course is lined with and bordered by trees that totally block out the housing and give you a feeling of being at one with nature. This course also features a great variety in hole lengths, with the shortest coming in at 146 yards and the longest at 506 yards.
Laid out across 7000 yards of Kentucky countryside the golf course at Hurstbourne Country Club is another challenging one that puts your skill to the test right from the start. Arguably, the toughest hole on the entire course is the 2nd, which is fronted with a daunting pond at the tee box and also has another pond halfway along the fairway.
The 18th hole is another one that you’ll need some experience to negotiate as it plays across a small valley and is located on a small, raised green that is entirely encircled by sand. This is definitely one to try out if you’re looking for a golf course that’s filled with character.
With a name that translates into English as ‘Hall of the Slain’, it should come as no surprise that Valhalla is one of the world’s most challenging golf courses. Built across multiple terrain, water and open space it’ll really keep you on your toes throughout your entire round, but it’s the 6th hole with it’s wide open creek and tree surrounded area that’s the biggest beast to defeat here.
With local notoriety as one of the toughest golf courses in Kentucky, Permission Ridge is another one that you should only date to attempt if you’re confident in your skill set. Several holes located right next to water hazards require you to land your ball with ultimate accuracy, and the entire course is also studded with trees that can really affect your shots.
Host to the PGA Tour since 2005, the 18 hole course at TPC Louisiana is definitely one try if you’d like to get a feel for what it’s like to play in a professional tournament. Coming in at a huge 7,425 yards from the tips, it’s also a course that you’ll need to set an entire day aside to complete.
Not only is each hole different from the last, but the terrain itself is the real challenge you’ll face as you play your way around the course, laid out across swampy marshland, bayous and wetlands. You’ll also need to avoid natural hazards such as Cypress Tree groves, Oaks and rolling hills as well as over 100 pot-like bunkers.
Measuring over 7,200 yards from the back tees, the course at Black Bear Golf Club is filled with undulating greens and heavily slopes that will put any golfer to the test. However the real focal point of this course is the 3,000 acre man made lake that isn’t only beautiful to look at but also plays host to a variety of water-based recreational activities. Truly a wonderful course for anybody that enjoys both observing and taking part in sports.
Designed with wide fairways and a moderate amount of bunkers, this course is perfect for anybody new to golf and looking to develop their skills further. There are, however, plenty of water hazards to avoid as well with holes laid out along the waterways that link Lake Charles and Prien Lake together.
Despite it’s name, the golf course at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club doesn’t actually feature many water hazards. Instead, it’s the rocky outcrops and stone boulders that line the fairways that will mask your landing areas and try to throw you off your game.
There’s also an elevational shift of several hundred feet as the course progresses, however the course has been cleverly designed so that only one of the holes has been placed on an upward slope. Walking the course is encouraged here, and doing so will give you an opportunity to really take in the views and atmosphere. You’re even allowed to bring your dog along for company!
Tucked away between Cadillac and Dorr Mountain in Bar Harbor, Kebo Valley runs across 6,100 yards and is designed in the classic nine-in-nine-out fashion. It’s the 13th hole on this course that is the toughest to conquer, and is placed at 339 yards from the tee and features chocolate-drop shaped mounds in front of a sharply sloping green.
Rated as one of the best golf courses in Maine since it’s 1985 debut, Sugarloaf has a demanding layout that will really keep you second guessing your approach to the ball. Most notably, it’s the 11the hole that’s the most challenging here, with a green sitting 120ft below the elevated tee.
With several fairways routed through attractive areas of woodland, the golf course at Caves Valley is situated within the rolling hills of Baltimore County and is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to combine stellar views with a challenging round of golf.
The 4th hole on the course is one of the standouts. Set at 224 yards from the tee and protected by water, it also has the largest putting surface of any hole on the course. The 8th is also protected by water, but has the extra difficulty of a well bunkered green and small valley to contend with whilst you try to land your ball.
This is a very long course that measures in at 7,375 yards and is laid out across undulating terrain and steep slopes. This makes it naturally challenging, but you’ll also need a fair amount of skill to tackle the final hole on the course which is home to a water hazard on the left and a rock-rimmed home green.
More than half of the holes at this course are laid out alongside the tidal marshes of Assawoman Bay, providing you with some outstanding views of natural beauty and a calming atmosphere. And, with both the 11th and 12th hole lying directly on the riverside, you’ll really need to concentrate in order to not lose focus.
Located on a patch of land within an area of pine hills close to Cape Cod Bay, the course at Old Sandwich Golf Club has an extremely natural appearance to it, and has undergone very little architectural work since it opened in 2004.
The greens are expertely contoured which makes them both interesting to look at and challenging to play on, and the bunkers that are dotted throughout the course are expertly designed with some even built into raised greens.
A fairly difficult course to play, each of the holes at the Essex County Club are designed to be different, and whilst you think you’re off to a flying start you’ll soon be faced with the notoriously difficult 3rd hole which is nearly as long as the two holes that precede it combined!
Each and every hole at Myopia offers you a unique and challenging experience, however it’s the 12th that will really separate the amateurs from the pros. Not only is it guarded on the left by dense woodland, but there is also a large rock on the right that completely masks the landing area. In fact, this hole is so notoriously difficult that it even features in the book “Golf’s 100 Toughest Holes”.
Famed for it’s super fast greens, the golf course at Crystal Downs Country Club in Frankfort, Michigan is loved by both amateur and professional golfers. Matched with gorgeous countryside views, it’s the perfect place to tackle a challenging round of golf whilst taking in the gorgeous scenery.
There are several unique holes to play as well, such as the split fairway between the 5th and 17th, whilst the mixture of bunkers, trees and native grasses provide natural obstacles to work your way around. And, at the end of the day, the clubhouse gives you a cozy place to unwind and look back over the course you’ve just completed.
The classic nine-in-nine-out design of this golf course is routed through mature hardwoods and pine trees, giving it a really natural feel that’s paired with a calming atmosphere. Each hole challenges you to think differently about how to approach your shot, and the small, understated clubhouse makes a perfect place to unwind after a day on the green.
Laid out on a tight tract of land located to the North West of Detroit, Franklin Hills is a course that will challenge you right from the start of your game. The opening hole is downhill and is followed by a blind shot from uneven ground onto a sloped, tiered green. This course definitely isn’t one for amateur golfers, but it’s one you’ll definitely get a feeling of accomplishment from once you’ve completed it.
Routed across rolling ground and hilly terrain, the undulating greens at Interlachen Country Club makeup just a small portion of the challenges you’ll face when you play a round here, as water hazards, tree-lined fairways and several daunting bunkers will all try and stand in between you and your target.
This course’s signature hole is the 9th, set at 530 yards from the tee and featuring a right dogleg fairway and a lake on the inside bend of the green that could prove a challenge for even the best golfer. Interlachen is definitely a course to try if you’re looking to push yourself to the limit.
Set on a rolling hillside and dotted sporadically with wetlands and ponds, the course at Spring Hill is as beautiful as it is challenging. Several tree lined fairways connect holes 1-6, whilst 14-18 are accessed by a tunnel that runs underneath the road. A truly unique course.
Designed in three separate sections to allow for the 100 foot change in elevation, this course is played across a gentle hillside for the opening and closing holes, features a transitional section for holes 4,5 & 13, and a flat upland section for remainder of the course. Worth playing a round on if you’re looking to practice across a variety of undulating terrain.
This walking course is laid out across rolling pastures where the native grasses and sporadic oak trees work together to give it an all-natural feel and, despite there only being 18 trees on the course all together, it’s been designed in such a way that you’ll feel as though you’re amongst dense woodland.
The tees and greens are in fairly close proximity to each other, and the ground plays fast, but it’s the total of 103 bunkers that you really have to try and avoid here which are renowned for being difficult traps to free yourself from and are in abundance throughout the course.
Considered a modern classic, the course at Old Waverly is well planted with an abundance of trees and has a unique parkland, lakes and links-style all in one place. Every hole here features either a lake or grassy wetland, so you’ll need to practice ultimate control in order to keep your score card looking good.
This is a really challenging course to take on, and features fairways that are literally carved from a dense pine forest that are routed in two large loops through 1700 acres of woodland. Wetland areas also come into play on several of the holes and the BIg Biloxi River itself makes an appearance as the round closes.
Routed around a winding creek, which is also used as a hazard feature on nine of the holes, this course has been a firm tournament favorite for several decades and is definitely one to visit if you want the chance to play like a professional.
Undulating greens and bold bunkering add to the challenges of this course, and each of the 18 holes has been carefully architected to get you thinking about how to approach your shot. However it’s the 6th that you’ll really need to give some thought to if you’re to navigate your way across the oblong, mounded green that’s fronted by a pond.
Although it’s a fairly modern course, the Zoysia fairways and Bluegrass roughs matched with the beautiful, undulating forest landscape gives it an old-world feel and has a natural, calming ambience around it. Several large, natural water hazards come into play, but it’s not a course that is so challenging as to exclude those just starting out with golf.
The natural turf made up of native grasses, fescue and bent grass help to add to this course’s tranquil setting, however may be lured into a false sense of security as this is one challenging course. Dips and contours on the greens are well disguised by the bent grass, and your ball could land in a difficult position that you didn’t even know existed until it’s too late.
Measuring in at 7,466 yards from the back tees, the course at Rock Creek has been designed to cater for golfers of all experience levels. Rugged, rock-strewn terrain, natural undulations and changes in elevation all come into play here for a varied round of golf, and you’ll also be faced with several daunting bunkers as you make your way across the course.
The view is one that simply demands attention with it’s 10,000 foot backdrop of the (occasionally snowcapped) Flint Creek Mountain Range. The clubhouse also echoes the spirit of the Wild West, and is certainly a unique place to unwind after a day on this golf course.
This mountain course sees dramatic changes in elevation that are accompanied by sensation views, both of which certainly make for a memorable round of golf. Each of the 18 holes is designed to challenge you, and the 12th is a particularly tricky one that plays downhill to a green fronted by a creek that feeds directly into a pond.
Of all the fine holes on this golf course, it’s the signature 5th named ‘Flue’ that is the one golfers from all over the country flock to this course to play. Framed by a large structure behind the green, this is an uphill shot that takes you onto a two-tiered putting surface that’s trickier to master than you might think.
Located within the beautiful Sandhills region of Nebraska, the golf course at Sand Hills golf club has been sculpted by nature, and has a natural look and feel to it which makes for both a challenging game and a distinctly wild aesthetic.
Wide, generous fairways wind themselves around huge bunkers constructed naturally within sand dunes, each of which is almost crater-like and should be avoided at all costs! Holes 4 and 15 are regarded as the most difficult, with elevated greens flanked by these giant bunkers.
If you’re new to golf and are looking to practice on an unfamiliar course, then Wild Horse could be the right one for you. It’s not overly challenging, and also isn’t as heavily bunkered as some others, so you’ll have a better chance of making your shot and building your experience without getting frustrated. Having said that, it’s definitely not designed to be overly easy either, and the 11th hole is one that will call upon everything you’ve learned so far to master.
Elevation changes are plentiful at this golf course which is laid out across open former-farmland with a forested ravine cutting straight through the Northern end. Notable holes here are the 307 yard 2nd which plays directly across a gully, and the 12th which doglegs to the right around some native territory.
Routed through towering Pine Trees and prominent rocky outcrops with several stone piles along the way, this course offers you a visually stunning place and a relaxing atmosphere to play a round of golf.
Each of the holes is unique with some featuring elevated greens and others with multi-tiered greens that mask a six foot undulation from front to back. Arguably, however, it’s the 17th that is considered to be the most exhilarating on the course, playing downhill into an intimidating area of large boulders and native grasses with a contoured green fronted by sand.
With a 360 degree view of red rock mountains, steep cliffs and deep ravines, this golf course is a truly spectacular place to play a round in. A mix of long and short holes gives this course great diversity as well, whilst elevation changes and the surrounding scenery can create optical illusions that you’ll need to get your head around before taking your shot.
A golf course unlike any other you’ve seen before, the rugged beauty of Coyote Springs simply needs to be seen to be believed. The holes are dotted throughout the harsh, desert landscape and landing your ball on anything other than a fairway or green will see you swinging from hard ground that’s dotted with loose rock and cacti.
Situated within a large 450 acre property, the course at the Golf Club of New England offers you the opportunity to take in the beauty of it’s undisturbed, natural surroundings one each and every hole.
It’s not only beautiful but also challenging, and you’ll be faced with tree lined fairways, pond and natural wetlands as you make your way to the 18th. The 16th hole is perhaps the most difficult shot on this course, doglegging to the left along the Winnicutt River.
Tree lined holes are routed across relatively flat ground at this course, however the lack of undulations doesn’t make it any easier and you’ll have to face water hazards at eight of the holes. The 17th is a particularly tricky hole to master, with a creek crossing the fairway on the way to the green.
Located on an undulating 260 acre woodland property, this course offers you stunning views of Wadleigh State Park and Lake Sunapee. Amongst it’s memorable holes is the 504 yard 15th that plays to the only water protected green on the entire course.
Pine Valley Golf Club
Located on the New Jersey Side of Philadelphia, Pine Valley Golf Club is one of the most famous golf courses in the world and has a reputation for being notoriously challenging due to it’s varied holes and undulating greens.
A deep bunker lies just short of the 10th hole, and is one that you’ll definitely want to avoid unless you’re planning on spending a full day trying to free yourself from it. All in all, the golf course at Pine Valley is one that should only be taken on by a golfer particularly certain of their skill set, and will leave you feeling proud and fulfilled once completed.
Offering plenty of variation, this course is both challenging and beautiful, and has an unusual layout that winds it’s way around the mixture of open terrain and dense woodland. An extra challenge is added to the course by dominating bunkers surrounding several of the unique holes, however it’s the 15th hole that is perhaps the most difficult.
Hidden landing areas and back-to-front raised green have been incorporated into this course’s design to give you that extra challenge upon approach, yet it’s not so difficult that it can’t be enjoyed by those new to golf. The 11th hole is the most difficult here, and landing your ball too short of the green will result in it rolling down into the course’s deepest bunker.
Designed with fairways that rise and fall between huge formations of sandstone, the course at Black Mesa Golf Club has to be one of the most breathtaking places to play a round of golf in the entire world.
It’s remoteness also provides a sense of calm as you make your way around the course, which is set out across undulating terrain that, when paired with the sharply contoured greens, really gets you thinking about the best way to take your shot.
With holes routed across rocky outcrops, arroyos and native vegetation, you’ll need to be at a particular skill level to take on this course. The most difficult hole here is undoubtedly the 4th, which has earned itself the nickname “Dye-abolical” and features a triple-tiered green that measures 100 yards from front to back.
An abundance of breathtaking scenery can be found at this course which is situated in a rugged remote area where the boundaries of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet. The 15th hole here has perhaps got the best view of all, and sits on the edge of a cliff that is backdropped by striking rock formations.
The expansive 300 acre golf course at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York offers you stunning views of Peconic Bay, giving you a relaxing ambience that adds to the general aesthetic of the overall atmosphere.
Of course, with sea views comes windy conditions, and that is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as you make your way around the grassy greens and fairways. There are also several bunkers placed throughout the course that need to be avoided, and you’ll need to call upon all of your skills and mental training to avoid getting your ball blown into one.
Offering you a dramatic and varied playing field, the golf course at National Golf Links of America is located in New York and is set in 250 acres of rolling Long Island landscaping with beautiful, captivating views at each hole. Amongst it’s challenging aspects are the wildly undulating greens that make putting a particular difficulty, and is only emphasized by the sheer vastness of the greens themselves.
Set, almost romantically, on a narrow island that is just two miles wide and eight miles long, the golf course at Fishers Island Club in New York has a naturalistic aesthetic to it and looks as though it has never been touched by an architect. It also has numerous, plateaux-like greens that are flanked and protected by massive, cavernous bunkers that you’d be well advised to try and steer clear of!
The Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina is home to golf courses that are cleverly designed and routed through over 2000 acres of land, however it’s Course Number 2 that is the one you really want to get a chance to play on.
It’s greens are perhaps the ultimate test in all of golf, and feature wicked fall-offs around the edges and have a way of appearing much larger than they actually are, playing havoc with your depth perception. Of course, it’s not all about the greens, and this course also has a number of world-class holes that present their own challenges.
One of the most challenging aspects of this course are the greens that are severely canted and really need to be approached with sense and skill if you’re to get past them in under three putts. Many of the greens are also dented with bunkers akin to the lunar landscape, which only adds to it’s difficulty.
Although considered as a mountain course, Wade Hampton has undulating greens and slick fairways that are reminiscent of any woodland course. The elevation changes are also fairly subtle despite it’s mountain location, however you’ll need to be prepared and adequately skilled to maneuver your way around numerous water hazards
Panoramic views of the local landscape are on offer at Hawktree Golf Club, and this is due to the changes in elevation that can be found all over the course, however they are most prevalent at the 3rd and 18th holes.
This course has one thing that really sets it apart from any other though - black sand! In actual fact, the bunkers are filled with black coal slag that gives them a distinct, black sand effect. This isn’t so much a design feature as it is a necessity, and prevents sands from leaving the bunkers when fierce Mid-Western storms blow through the course. This is definitely one to check out for it’s uniqueness as well as it’s challenging holes.
Some of the highlights on this course include the left-doglegged 4th hole that’s laid out along the banks of the Little Missouri River, and the signature 15th which plays downhill to a very small green that falls away on every side. Skill and patience are required for this course, but the surrounding views will have no trouble in helping to relax you before taking your shot.
Measuring in at exactly 7,004 yards from the tips, this course is located along the Missouri River and is sheltered by giant cottonwoods that give it an almost fairytale-like atmosphere to play in. Water hazards and bunkers are dotted generously throughout the course as well, and are positioned in a way that’ll really get you thinking about how to make your shot.
Set amidst the undulating Cincinnati countryside, The Camargo Club has some of the most beautiful and breathtaking views offered by any golf course, and is also famous for it’s one-shot holes and innovative routing.
The greens are absolutely huge, and are contoured in a variety of unique shapes. They also feature really large drop offs, so you’ll need to use all of your skills if you’re going to avoid those as well as the recently restored bunkers.
Water hazards, extreme bunkers and narrow fairways that require super accurate shots are all a part of what makes the course at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio one of the most sought after destinations for golfers all over the world. There is also a river that runs entirely through the middle of the course, which doesn’t only make for a difficult hazard but is also a beautiful focal point.
Old world design meets modern landscaping at this course, and the traditional parkland style is made even more challenging with contoured greens and restored bunkers. The wind is one of the biggest difficulties you’ll be contending with here, especially on the front nine where the playing field offers nothing in the way of protection.
Laid across rolling, mountainous terrain the course at Oak Tree National has more than it’s fair share of challenges to overcome, and it’s definitely one to be attempted by players that have a few years of experience behind them.
Each hole is different, and as you make your way through the course you’ll find yourself facing long tee lengths, wild rough, obstructive oak trees, super deep bunkers and contoured greens that are deceptively difficult. Throw in lakes and streams at thirteen out of the eighteen holes and you’ve got a course that you’ll be proud to have defeated.
Although most of the corridors at Karsten Creek are relatively wide, one wrong shot and you’ll find yourself searching for your ball in the dense woodlands that line the fairways. The 17th hole here is regarded as the toughest, and stretches 464 yards with water guarding the entire left side.
The holes on this course will take you on a journey through winding streams and rocky outcrops, and play starts and ends on a cliff with a drop of more than 130ft onto the fairway. Deep bunkers scattered throughout the course add to the challenge, but the welcoming atmosphere of the clubhouse will give you somewhere to sit back and reward yourself with a drink after a tough day on the green.
Host to a plethora of tournaments since 1952, the course at Waverley Country Club is laid out across a tight piece of land running alongside the Williamette River. The greens are short grassed and super fast, whilst clever bunkering can lure you into a false sense of security as you step up to the tee.
Some highlights of this course include the 6th hole, known as “Trap”, which plays downhill and ends on a left-to-right sloping green. The 8th is also pretty challenging, and has a fairway that bends slightly to the left whilst being protected by a series of bunkers on the right.
Routed in the classic nine-in-nine-out fashion, this is a challenging course that is almost as scary as it’s Halloween-esque name. The 5th is the toughest hole here, with water protecting the shallow green from the front right and three large bunkers waiting at the rear to swallow up overly-eager shots.
Measuring a modest 6,700 yards from the back tees, there’s no denying that this course certainly isn’t the biggest in the State. Don’t be deterred by this however, as it’s certainly still one of the most challenging. Even at the very start of your round you’ll need to send your ball in an accurate line through an avenue of trees, and there’s no letup at the 2nd either with it’s elevated tee.
The golf course at Oakmont Country Club sits in second place as the home to more major championships than any other course in the US (beaten only by the Augusta National), and with this comes the notoriety of being one of the toughest golf courses in the world.
Hidden away in the Pennsylvanian hills, you’re offered stunning views across the vast greens, which are particularly fast. The bunkers at this course (of which there are over 200) are also rather breathtaking, but you’d be well advised to steer clear of them for their sheer depth.
Although an inland course, Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, has a distinctly coastal feeling to it with it’s framework of mounded, undulating greens and patches of sand and earth. Ideal for golfers of all experience levels, the course features heavily contoured fairways and angled green surfaces that really put your skills to the test.
The tone of this course is set right from the off, with an opening hole that plunges downwards into a valley before rising uphill to a well protected green. A number of demanding doglegs greet you at every hole on the outward half, and the back nine features narrow fairways and water hazards that you’ll need all of your concentration to get past and keep your score card looking good.
As you arrive at this course you’ll be greeted by the beautiful clubhouse that is set within 400 acres of the highest points of Rhode Island, and has the most amazing views of both the surrounding area and the golf course you’re about to take on.
The start of the course dictates how the rest will play out, and you’ll need to skillfully navigate your ball downhill and past a large bunker before you find your way onto the green. The challenges don’t let up too easily either, with water hazards and rough edged, bearded bunkers being heavily laden throughout.
Laid out over a humble 104 acres, this course certainly isn’t going to be hosting any championships anytime soon. However, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in character. Surrounding trees give the whole course a naturalistic and relaxing ambience, and each hole has it’s own unique charm. The 12th is the most famous here, and is fronted by a gigantic bunker known affectionately as ‘The Sahara Desert’.
Routed across a diverse landscape of wetlands, woodlands and parkland, this course is one of the best places to play a round of golf whilst admiring it’s natural beauty. Many of the fairways here are routed close to Echo Lake, where a large creek and wetland areas encroach at a number of holes and become natural hazards.
Unique features such as horseshoe contours on the green make for a challenging round at the golf course at Yeamans Hall Club, and it’s signature hole (the 6th on the course) features a narrow green slope that is framed by magnolias and oak trees. You’ll need to stop yourself from getting too distracted by this natural beauty, however, as there are three bunkers located at the back of the hole which the putting surface slopes steeply into!
It’s mixture of old-world charm and world-class putting surfaces makes this golf course a favorite amongst golfers looking for some escapism, whilst the staggered bunkering and occasional water hazards give you a new and exciting place to develop your skills even further.
Laid out across relatively flat ground that is flanked with Pines, and smallish greens that haven’t been designed to trick or deceive in any way, this course is a fantastic place to visit if you’re new to golf or if you’re looking for somewhere to take a family vacation. It’s not entirely easy though, and there are plenty of excellent, strategic holes to try your skills out on regardless of your experience level.
Despite being located so close to the ocean front, and with many holes throwing you the challenge of battling with the ocean breeze, this course has more of a countryside feel to it and is heavily planted with beautiful oak trees, and features marshes and ponds as hazards throughout. Definitely one to try if you’re looking for a challenging game that will ignite the senses!
The only course in South Dakota that is open for play all year round, Red Rock has multiple tee placements on every hole which can vary the layout from 5,032 to a whopping 7,114 yards. You’d be well advised to go for the latter, however, if only for the dramatic landscape and surrounding scenery.
There are a few small creeks here to contend with, but as far as water hazards go the only real threat is the pond that protects the green on the 10th hole. Dramatic elevation changes and heavily fringed fairways throw some extra challenges your way as well, as do the links-style bunkers.
Sat on top of a spectacular cliff that overlooks Lake Oahe, the course at Sutton Bay Golf Club is considered to be one of the most exhilarating places you can play a round of golf not just for it’s amazing scenery but also for the excellence that each hole has to offer.
Located close to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, this course offers up gorgeous countryside views and has been designed in a way that makes each hole a little harder than the last. The toughest of the 18 here has to be the 12th, which requires a 200 yard drive over water before landing on the green.
A demanding course that uses both length and water to throw most of it’s challenges in your way, Spring Creek features eight holes that measure in excess of 430 yards and has water hazards on a massive fourteen of it’s eighteen holes.
The toughest of the holes here are the 6th, which doglegs around water, and the 9th which is played to a pond protected green. However it’s the 14th that most find to be the biggest challenge and, whilst it doesn’t have a water hazard, it is a huge 519 yards from the tee point. So, if you’re up for a challenge, this is definitely a course you need to visit!
Amongst it’s many fine holes, highlights at Chattanooga include the run of riverside holes that stretches from the 7th to the 9th, and the 18th where the green sits adjacent to the recently renovated clubhouse, which incidentally is also a fine place to kick back and unwind after a full day on the course.
If there’s one word you can use to sum up the course at Black Creek, it would be ‘quirky’. Square-shaped greens and deep, grass faced bunkers make for unusual landscape features, and the 17th hole has a 70 yard long raised putting surface that is split in two by an enormous swale to create a Biarritz green.
Another challenging course that’s not for the inexperienced golfer, Carlton Woods is long and demanding with tree lined fairways and several small ponds and lakes dotted throughout it’s entirety.
Although there are few bunkers, it’s the creeks here that are the real hazard. This is most apparent on the 15th hole, featuring a menacing creek that crosses the fairway twice from tee to green. The 18th is a real challenge as well, and you’ll need to navigate your way around a right dogleg before going in the opposite direction to avoid a lake running to the left of the fairway.
Built on a former cattle ranch, this golf course offers you the choice of four tee points at every hole which in turn varies it’s size between 5,349 yards and 7,064. The inward half is considered the easier of the two nines, however the way back certainly steps things up a gear and you’ll have to defeat a variety of challenging hazards before you can kick back at the clubhouse.
Weaving it’s way through dense pine forest and around four small lakes, this course really gives you the feeling of playing in a natural setting and has amazing woodland views. The 11th hole is regarded as the most memorable here, and features a large sandy area that runs right across the fairway. The closing hole is also pretty special, and doglegs to the right past a water hazard and onto the home green.
This Championship course extends out across 7,300 yards and offers up amazing views of surrounding red rock outcrops. The course also features pronounced changes in elevation, particularly on the outward nine which, when matched with numerous bunkers, presents a real challenge for even the most experienced golfer.
The signature hole here is the 15th, which has come to be known as “Devil’s Throat”. As you might have guessed, this is not an easy hole to get past, and features no less than eleven tee boxes and plays downhill to a two-tier green which is protected by knee high grass and bunkers, as well as being located on a cliff that skirts around to the left.
Situated 7,000 feet above sea level, you’re given the most spectacular views of the surrounding mountain range as you play your way around this course. Each hole is unique, however a special mention needs to go to both the 11th and 17th which calls for the tee shots to be played across wetlands and water.
Several hundred feet of elevation changes mean that playing at this course will require all of your skill, and indeed almost every club in your golf bag! Every hole offers stunning views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains, and the course itself is carpeted in bent grass, with roughs made up of Rye Grass, Bluegrass and Fescue.
There are two contrasting halves to play at the Country Club or Vermont, with the outward nine set out across open, rolling terrain that is sporadically dotted with wetlands, and the inward half taking you on a home journey through undulating, heavily wooded territory.
This itself creates separate playing conditions all in one course, and each half also has it’s own memorable holes to contend with. The 9th is a particularly difficult hole on the way out, and you’ll need to negotiate with wetlands and bunkers that have been placed between the green and the hole. On the way back, it’s the 14th that you’ll need to call upon all of your skill for, with a sixty foot drop from the tee onto a sloping, two tiered green.
This is a great course for people that are new to golf and are looking to extend their skill set, offering up several challenging holes that aren’t impossible to complete. The holes are also laid out in a fashion that has them starting off fairly simply, and then gradually increasing in difficulty. All the while, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the surrounding countryside and will be playing in a calming environment.
There isn’t a single dull hole at this course, and each one has been designed with a challenging hazard attempting to stand in the way of your victory. Contoured greens, water hazards, bunkering, rivers and gigantic trees all feature in this course and all of them will have you second guessing about how you’ve approached your shot.
Set in 274 acres of beautiful parkland, and with a 70 acre lake as it’s central focal point, the course at Kinloch Golf Club is one that will offer you beautiful surroundings and a relaxing ambience as you play your way around.
Holes one through nine are routed through forest and feature a cliff on the 6th, 7th and 9th. One the inward nine, you’ll be taken on a journey around the lake which acts as a hazard on every hole. The signature hole here is the 8th, which plays over the crest of a hill and is positioned at 45 degree behind a pond.
This is one for the more experienced golfer, with the outward nine holes needing to be played strategically to get through the long-distanced tees and severe doglegging, let alone the deep bunkers that are dotted throughout the landscape. The inward nine aren’t much easier either, and require a lot of precise, straight shots in order to keep your score in good shape.
There are some spectacular elevational changes at this course, which presents a natural challenge as you play around it. However it’s the closing hole that will really put your skills to the test here, which plays through the middle of a ravine down onto a naturally formed 21,000 foot punch bowl green. Panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are also on offer here, making it a visually stunning place to enjoy a round of golf.
The expansive, minimalist design of the course at the Wine Valley Golf Club offers stunning views of the Blue Mountains as it’s backdrop. The sheer size of it’s wide open spaces is daunting in itself, and the contoured greens and broad fairways offer up their own challenges when it comes to putting.
The 7th hole is the most memorable on the outward nine, playing to a deceptively large punch bowl green. One the way back, it’s the 470 yard 15th that presents itself as the biggest challenge with an uphill fairway that leads to a shallow, offset green.
With a canyon running directly across the middle of the course, this is certainly one of the most unique places you’ll ever play a round of golf on. Feature holes here include the 6th, which is double-doglegged and has a blind tee shot, and the 13th which has contoured greens that even the most experienced golfer will need all their skill to navigate successfully.
All 18 holes at this course lie between water and a steep hillside, which doesn’t only make each one memorable and challenging, but also means that each one has amazing scenery to admire whilst playing. The 12th hole here is considered to be the hardest to navigate, with a heavily contoured, punch-bowl green set amongst the natural sand dune bunkers.
Water is the main hazard you’ll be contending with at this course, and it comes in the form of ponds, creeks and streams. This, paired with wide landing areas and multi-level, bent grass putting surfaces makes it a challenging one to play, but one that is totally worth it if not only for the breathtaking views of it’s mountain backdrop.
There are almost too many memorable holes here to mention, however stand outs include the 196 yard 7th which plays downhill to a green protected by no less than ten bunkers, and the closing 18th which requires you to drive the ball over a stream running downhill to the left of the fairway.
With no carts of paths, this course is one that you’ll need to walk as you take on each of it’s challenges. There are two sets of tees to choose from as well, varying the course in length from 7,588 yards for professional and super experienced golfers to 6,725 yards for those looking to extend their skill set without finding the course impossible to complete.
A mixture of challenging and easier-to-manage holes at this course make it a great place for golfers of all experience levels to visit. The easiest is considered to be the 6th, but it’s also the most memorable for it’s spectacular design that plays around part of the lake onto beautifully contoured green. The 17th poses as the biggest challenge, with a fairway protected by wetlands and large trees and the putting surface guarded by a series of bunkers.
Laid out across a rugged landscape that was naturally formed by glacial movements thousands of years ago, this course uses the natural curves and elevation of the earth to provide it’s biggest challenges.
Definitely not a course for the amateur golfer or for the faint hearted, you have the option of teeing from several points and varying the course length from 5,434 yards to a gargantuan 7,845 yards. There are several bunkers dotted throughout that you’ll want to avoid at all costs, and the 18th hole has earned a certain notoriety for being the most difficult on the entire course, playing uphill and surrounded by a total of six bunkers.
Designed in a figure-eight style, this course mixes tradition with modern architecture to create an interesting playing route. It also uses the natural elements on which it’s built upon to the best advantage, creating bunker after bunker of deep sand that you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
You’ll need to have perfected a certain level of accuracy before attempting the course at Milwaukee Country Club, which features unforgiving, difficult holes. The most memorable of these is the 9th, which has an extremely narrow landing area that is immediately followed by an uphill shot to a green protected by a gigantic, cavernous bunker. Not one to attempt if you’re not 100% confident in your skills, but definitely a course to try out if you’re looking for a super challenging game.
This course has been cleverly designed to make the most of the natural surroundings, and is draped across heavily contoured land and interspersed with sagebrush and cottonwoods. Snake River itself also comes into play at several of the holes, creating a natural water hazard.
Unlike many courses, however, everything is in view from the tee at every hole so you’ll have the opportunity to see how best to approach your shot each time. The most difficult hole here has to be the 8th with its narrow, 15 yard fairway that leads to an elevated green protected by bunkers and set adjacent to the river.
This is an absolutely massive course that is laid out across 7,777 yards and has an altitude of 6,200 feet above sea level. This, of course, makes it a naturally challenging course to play a round on, but it’s the 4th hole here that you’ll have to really think about, with a sand flanked fairway to the right of the green and a water hazard to the left.
A combination of elevation changes and dramatic views make for an exciting round of golf here that is guaranteed to light up all of your senses. Each hole is completely different, and only two run parallel to each other, so you’ll be taken on an exhilarating journey throughout the entire course. The 4th and 15th measure in at 640 yards from the tees as well, so this is going to be a real challenge for even the most seasoned professional.
The Last Word
As you can see, there is a huge variety of golf courses in America just waiting to be discovered in 2020 and each one is as unique as the next.
From super challenging courses filled with contoured greens and studded with bunkers and hazards that only the most experienced golfer would dream of attempting, to more subtle courses that are perfect for those new to the sport, there really is something for everyone.
So why not pack up your golf clubs, jump in the car and hit the road or charter a private jet?! You’ll be glad you did, and you might even get the opportunity to improve your game along the way.