The Top 5 Most Difficult Holes in Golf

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Golf is a difficult sport to master, even for the professionals. For the vast majority of players, just achieving par on any course—even an easy one—means you’ve had a very good day. Of course, there are tough courses as well as easy ones, and there are a few golf holes that rank among the most difficult challenges anyone will ever face.

5 Elfego Baca Shootout

Socorro Springs Open

The Elfego Baca Shootout in New Mexico is a golf competition run on a single hole—3 miles long. The hole runs down a 2,500-foot mountain, across canyons, through patches of thorny cacti and past dangerous mine shafts. Snakes and scorpions skitter underfoot, and the desert terrain is so inhospitable to a decent golf shot that participants are allowed to tee up every shot and have three spotters watch the flight of the ball and track where it lands.

4 Augusta National Golf Club Hole 12

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The deceptively short 155-yard No. 12 at Augusta, nicknamed the Golden Bell, is known as the toughest hole on a very tough course. Golfers must take heed of three big bunkers and the burbling waters of Rae’s Creek, which guards the front of the green. A bunker shot from the back of the green will head straight for the water, and if you manage to hit the green off the tee, a swirling wind is likely to play the ball unpredictably across a slippery, sloping surface.

3 Legend and Resort Hole 19

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At the Legend and Resort course in Pretoria, South Africa, the par-3 “Extreme 19th” hole lies a ridiculous 400 meters below the level of the tee. The tee as well as the green, ringed by bunkers and built in the shape of the African continent, is only accessible by helicopter, and the club has a standing offer of $1 million to anyone who achieves a hole in one.

2 Pebble Beach Hole 8

Evan Schiller

The coast-bordered eighth hole at Pebble Beach in California leads many golf professionals into a sea of troubles. Although it measures a modest 416 yards, this par 4 challenges golfers with the steep Cliffs of Doom on the right, and an approach shot that requires the golfer to pitch the ball over a wide, rocky chasm. The tricky coastal winds, and even modest slicing towards the right, can easily direct your ball into the Pacific Ocean surf, never to be seen again.

1 Oakmont Country Club Hole 1

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Most golf courses offer a fairly uncomplicated first hole, but the Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania goes a little too far the other way. Oakmont’s par-4 Hole 1 presents a narrow fairway flanked by sand traps, then a downhill approach shot to a hidden green, which slopes from front to back and right to left. The first hole is just a warmup for what many consider to be the country’s most difficult golf course.

Tom Streissguth has worked for over 15 years in the legal field as a writer and legal assistant, and has authored numerous articles on Social Security disability law. He has many nonfiction and reference titles in print, including works for The Gale Group and Lerner. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University.

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