The 10 toughest golf courses in America revealed

TPC Tampa Bay

Research analyzing reviews of golf courses  claims to have nailed down the 10 toughest courses to play int he United States of America.

Premium golf apparel brand Galvin Green analyzed keywords related to a difficult golf course, such as ‘advanced’ and ‘elevation change,’ in the TripAdvisor reviews written by average golfers for over 800 courses in the US.

For those with at least 50 reviews, they looked at the average number of keywords indicating difficulty per review to determine which course Americans find the hardest. And here are the top 10.

10 The Champions Club at Summerfield

In 10th is The Champions Club at Summerfield, Florida, which sports an average of 0.943 of the marker keywords per review.

The Champions Club course is celebrated for its challenging layout, with narrow fairways and strategically placed hazards that require precision and strategy.

They offer a par-72, 18-hole course designed by Tom Fazio, plus a full driving range, putting green, and a recently-added chipping area.

It has a total of 53 reviews, which include 50 keywords. Overall, it holds a 4 star rating.

9 PGA West Pete Dye Stadium Golf Course

In ninth place is the PGA West Pete Dye Stadium Golf Course in California. It has an average of 0.944 of the telltale keywords included in each of its 178 TripAdvisor reviews.

The course is rated 4.5 stars overall, with the term ‘tough’ appearing 33 times, while the term ‘fast greens’ appears 17 times.

It is a legendary course known for its difficult design, offering one of the toughest tests in golf.

At 7,300 yards, the Pete Dye Stadium Course has the highest stroke (76.1) and slope (150) ratings of all the courses at PGA West, However, with five sets of tees, the Stadium course is ‘playable’ for all skill levels.

8 Tot Hill Farm Golf Club

Tot Hill Farm Golf Club in North Carolina takes eighth place, with 0.956 keywords per review on average. The course has 68 TripAdvisor reviews, which include 65 difficulty-related keywords.

The North Carolina gem is known for its rugged terrain and dramatic elevation changes, but this course is not for the faint-hearted. The word ‘challenging’ appears 20 times among the reviews, with an overall rating of 4 stars.

Architect Mike Strantz intended for Tot Hill to become a bucket list golf destination experience, and he nailed the challenge aspect to a tee.

7 Shell Landing Golf Course

Next up is Shell Landing Golf Course in Mississippi, with an average of 0.963 keywords used in each review.

Water hazards and strategic bunkering present a significant challenge to golfers of all levels in this course. The term ‘challenging’ appeared the most, included in 19 reviews. Overall, it has 52 keywords spread across 54 reviews, and a rating of 4.5 stars.

Its challenge doesn’t come at a price that will break the bank as the green fees start at a modest $62.

6 Wentworth Golf Club

With an average of 0.982 keywords per TripAdvisor review, Wentworth Golf Club in Florida ranks sixth.

Known for its tight fairways and small greens, the course has 55 reviews, which contain 54 keywords. With an overall rating of 4 stars, precision and careful shot planning are essential to score low on this layout.

Steve Smyers, the brains behind the Tampa gem Old Memorial, outdid himself with this exquisite championship golf course that gracefully winds through natural, undulating terrain teeming with wildlife.

5 Cinnabar Hills Golf Club

In fifth place is Cinnabar Hills Golf Club, California, which has an average of 0.984 difficulty-related keywords in each of its 61 reviews. The course combines natural beauty with a demanding design.

It’s diverse holes and tricky greens make it a favourite among skilled golfers seeking a tough round, with the most common keyword among reviews being ‘challenging,’ which appears 11 times.

The course that presents a stunning blend of championship-caliber golf with spectacular views was designed by award-winning architect John Harbottle III.

4 Stone Ridge Golf Course

Arizona’s Stone Ridge Golf Course ranks fourth, with an average of 1 keyword used in each review.

It offers a unique challenge with its elevation changes and rugged terrain; golfers need to bring their A-game to navigate this course’s tricky layout.

The keyword ‘fast green’ appears six times, while ‘elevation change’ appears 11 times. Overall, it is rated 4 stars, with 74 reviews in total.

Course architect Randall Heckenkemper said: “StoneRidge is one of the most beautiful and challenging designs I have ever created. This golf course is a desert/mountain course hybrid, with picturesque desert views and dramatic elevation changes.

But a lot of times on mountain golf courses, the shots are too difficult, which makes a course lose its appeal. That’s why we were careful to examine the layout of each hole on this course and make adjustments that would help StoneRidge be more player-friendly, while still offering challenge and beauty. It’s a very solid course and one I’m very excited to complete.”

3 Wine Valley Golf Course

Next on the list is Wine Valley Golf Course in Washington, with 1.088 keywords used per review on average.

Renowned for its tough conditions and breathtaking views, it has 80 reviews on TripAdvisor, including 87 keywords.

Its wide fairways can be deceiving as the course demands precision with its strategic bunkering and undulating greens, with the most used term in the reviews being ‘challenging.’

The breathtaking Dan Hixson design unfolds on a grand scale, playing over rolling hills in the shadow of the Blue Mountains.

Their pledge is that each hole will afford multiple lines of play, ensuring a pleasant round for every golfer and a true challenge for those who seek it.

2 Bethpage Black

In second place is Bethpage Black, which has an average of 1.112 keywords per review.

The New York municipal golf course has 107 reviews in total, with 119 keywords included in them.

Bethpage Black is infamous for its difficulty and has hosted several major tournaments, including the US Open.

Its reputation for punishing roughs and long fairways makes it a favourite among golfers looking for a serious challenge, with the most common keyword in the reviews being ‘tough.’

1 TPC Tampa Bay

At the top of the list is TPC Tampa Bay, located in Florida, with an average of 1.2 difficulty-related keywords in each review.

Known for its demanding layout, this course pushes golfers to their limits with its strategic design and natural obstacles.

Overall, it has a 4.5-star rating, with 105 reviews containing 126 keywords. The term ‘fast green’ appears the most, used in 22 reviews.

The stunning course winds through natural wetlands, cypress heads and lagoons, which provide the perfect backdrop for outstanding golf if you are up for being challenged.