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Hardest Course You've Ever Played (in the U.S.)


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Firestone Country Club North Course. I know the South Course gets all the glory, but it isn't nearly as hard as the North.... I've played both. The North is 7,125 yards. It has many lakes and streams to contend with. I'll probably never get to play it again, but at least I got to play it! I shot 86 that day.

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Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, KS is the the most difficult course I've played. It doesn't kill you with length (just under 7,000 from the back tees), but the native grass (or as locals call it - gunch) swallows any offline tee shot, and the greens are some of the most complex and mind bending I've ever encountered.

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This is probably the easiest golf question for me.  It was Bethpage Black.  I was playing with a very good friend that was a former professional.  He played it from the back after showing his +2 handicap card to the starter, needless to say I moved up a couple of tee boxes.  I felt like it was an 18 hole dogfight, but managed to shoot 95 with an 18 handicap.  I am sure had I not been with my friend, I would have never been allowed on the course.  Fun day, he shot 78 which included a couple of 30 foot bombs and a chip in.  Every time I see the pros play that course it gives me an appreciation for just how well they can play the game.

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On 12/7/2020 at 8:40 AM, Bendreiling said:

Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, KS is the the most difficult course I've played. It doesn't kill you with length (just under 7,000 from the back tees), but the native grass (or as locals call it - gunch) swallows any offline tee shot, and the greens are some of the most complex and mind bending I've ever encountered.

I played that course in a Kansas/Colorado USGA event and I'd agree 100%.  If you aren't in the short grass you are in jail!  Honestly, even after missing the putts I never saw how the ball broke that direction on some of the holes.

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Chanticleer course at Greenville CC.  It is long, and the greens are exceptionally difficult. 

What's in the Bag:

 

Driver - Titleist TS2 11.5, Diamana 70 Stiff Flex

FW - Callaway Razr X 3 Wood

Rescue - Taylormade Rocketballz 4 Rescue

Irons - Callaway Apex CF19, Nippon S. Pro 1050 GH, Stiff Flex

Wedges - Titleist Vokey S4 48, 52, 56, and 60

Putter - Odyssey OWorks Marxman

 

 

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In last few years, it would have to be Wolf Creek in Mesquite NV.   Terra Lago South Course in Indio CA was also a tough course.

Driver: :ping-small: G400 Max 9 degree set to +1, Aldila Extreme Green 55 gram R shaft 

Fairway: :taylormade-small: M4 3W (16.5*) 5W (21*) 7W (24*) -- stock R shafts.

Irons: :callaway-small: Apex CF19 6-9, PW, AW KBSTour Graphite  70g shafts R

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CBX2 52,56, 60 degree wedges

Putter: :odyssey-small: Stroke Lab 7S

Ball: :Snell: MTB-X

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I would have to say Musgrove Mill Golf Club near Clinton SC. I was a non-resident member there in the mid 90s.I was an 8 hdcp on my home course here in Charlotte, but in my three years of playing Musgrove once a month I only broke 80 twice. Back then I played the par 72 6950 yard tees with a rating of 74.4 and a 153 slope. If I played there today I probably wouldn't break 100 even with my 10.8 index. 

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Drive for Show; Putt for Dough

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40 minutes ago, Hoganman1 said:

I would have to say Musgrove Mill Golf Club near Clinton SC. I was a non-resident member there in the mid 90s.I was an 8 hdcp on my home course here in Charlotte, but in my three years of playing Musgrove once a month I only broke 80 twice. Back then I played the par 72 6950 yard tees with a rating of 74.4 and a 153 slope. If I played there today I probably wouldn't break 100 even with my 10.8 index. 

A fraternity brother of mine has been a member there forever! He grew-up in Clinton, and had a couple car dealerships. I never got a chance to play it when I lived in Charlotte, but I always heard great things.

Driver: :cobra-small: King F9 Speedback/:callaway-small:Epic Max LS, Xphlexxx Busa 2 Liquid, XX stiff, 45”

Fwy:  :callaway-small: Epic Speed 4w, MMT 80X

Hybrid: :callaway-small: X2 Hot Pro, 20*, Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105X

Irons: :honma:TR20 Tour P 4-10, :Nippon: Modus 130 stiff, +1”

Wedges: :edel-golf-1: SMS 50D/54V/58D:Nippon:Modus 130 stiff, +1”

Putter:  :edel-golf-1: EAS 1.0

All but putter have Lamkin ST+2 Hybrid Calibrate midsize built to oversize +1

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Harbour Town was incredibly difficult, as there is zero room for error off the tee and the course is so tight that if you’re not in the right part of the fairway you have to be able to shape your shot to have a chance at the green. Great course though, reallY enjoyed shooting over 100 there. 

20 hours ago, Hoganman1 said:

I would have to say Musgrove Mill Golf Club near Clinton SC. I was a non-resident member there in the mid 90s.I was an 8 hdcp on my home course here in Charlotte, but in my three years of playing Musgrove once a month I only broke 80 twice. Back then I played the par 72 6950 yard tees with a rating of 74.4 and a 153 slope. If I played there today I probably wouldn't break 100 even with my 10.8 index. 

I’m not far from there, is it public? I love trying out new courses, even when they’re way harder than I should play. 

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Ping G410+, 9* with draw bias weight setting, 55g Alta CB stiff shaft

Taylormade Burner 3w, stiff shaft 

Mizuno JPX919 Hot Metal 4-GW, regular flex

Cleveland CBX2 54* wedge

Cleveland Smart Sole 58* wedge

Ping Scottsdale Piper C putter

Titleist Tour Speed balls

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On 9/10/2020 at 9:49 PM, Popeye64 said:

Pinehurst #2. The level of difficulty that is as tough as any course out there. Greens that defy description But there is also a gravity to the moment... that you are in the cathedral of golf.
I did not rise to the challenge over all. But had a string of 4 pars on the backside and a final birdie on the closing hole.
I had many big number holes that I had myself out of position and paid heavy prices for.
A place that as you leave you just want a chance to play again.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk
 

My wife surprised me with a weekend at Pinehurst last summer and I played 2 and 7. The timing of the weekend was as terrible as it could be, as I had been working through some swing changes and they were compounded by brand new clubs that I wasn’t used to yet. I still had a blast spraying shots all over number 2, and although I didn’t have a good score, my putter was lights out. I finished with no 3 putts, 29 total putts including several made longer than 30 feet. Definitely an extremely challenging course, and as you mentioned, the atmosphere surrounding it adds another element. 

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Ping G410+, 9* with draw bias weight setting, 55g Alta CB stiff shaft

Taylormade Burner 3w, stiff shaft 

Mizuno JPX919 Hot Metal 4-GW, regular flex

Cleveland CBX2 54* wedge

Cleveland Smart Sole 58* wedge

Ping Scottsdale Piper C putter

Titleist Tour Speed balls

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Harbour Town was incredibly difficult, as there is zero room for error off the tee and the course is so tight that if you’re not in the right part of the fairway you have to be able to shape your shot to have a chance at the green. Great course though, reallY enjoyed shooting over 100 there. 
I’m not far from there, is it public? I love trying out new courses, even when they’re way harder than I should play. 

Harbor Town is definitely narrow & smaller greens, great course to play!


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Rick

 

 

Left Hand, 

Driver; Titleist TSi2, Kuro Kage 50 gr R2

5 Wood; Cally Steelhead 

5 Hybrid; Cally Steelhead, Hazardous Vista Pro R2

Irons; Ping G710 6-GW, Recoil 460 R2

Putter; Waaay too many to list

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On 1/24/2021 at 10:40 AM, Watchnut33 said:

Harbour Town was incredibly difficult, as there is zero room for error off the tee and the course is so tight that if you’re not in the right part of the fairway you have to be able to shape your shot to have a chance at the green. Great course though, reallY enjoyed shooting over 100 there. 

I’m not far from there, is it public? I love trying out new courses, even when they’re way harder than I should play. 

I'm pretty sure  Musgrove is private. You might be able to get a complimentary round if you call and inquire about memberships. 

Thinking about Harbour Town reminded me of Wild Dunes Links Course. I haven't played there in a long time but it's very tight. If memory serves me correctly,  missing the fairway by a few yards could easily result in a lost ball.  Hopefully they've softened it somewhat since the 80s and 90s.  

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Drive for Show; Putt for Dough

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I would rate Purgatory in Noblesville, IN as the toughest course I have ever played. You can have a fun time playing the white tees, but when you play the Purgatory tees it is, well, Purgatory.

scorecard.jpg

:ping-small: G400 10.5° driver

:ping-small: K15 16° fairway

:ping-small: G425 7W

:ping-small: G425 4 hybrid

 PXG GEN3 6-PW irons

:ping-small: Glide 3.0 50° and 54° SS wedges

:ping-small: Glide 3.0 56° and 60° Eye2 wedges

:odyssey-small: Works Tank #7 putter

:srixon-small: Z-Star

 

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On 1/24/2021 at 10:47 AM, Watchnut33 said:

My wife surprised me with a weekend at Pinehurst last summer and I played 2 and 7. The timing of the weekend was as terrible as it could be, as I had been working through some swing changes and they were compounded by brand new clubs that I wasn’t used to yet. I still had a blast spraying shots all over number 2, and although I didn’t have a good score, my putter was lights out. I finished with no 3 putts, 29 total putts including several made longer than 30 feet. Definitely an extremely challenging course, and as you mentioned, the atmosphere surrounding it adds another element. 

I found 7 to be harder than 2.  I played both from the tips and yes, they are both long.  I just found that 7 had a ton of elevated greens with very subtle breaks that are hard to read.  The teeth of #2 is easily the greens, no doubt.  However from tee to green it is not very difficult.  I just think 7 is a beast, plus it has a higher slope rating at 143 compared to #2 at 138.  Just to be clear...Bethpage Black has a slope rating of 144.  Pinehurst 7 is one of my favorites and should be on everyone's list when they visit Pinehurst.

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3 Wood:  :titelist-small: 917 w/ Diamana Whiteboard stiff

5 Wood : :callaway-small: Epic Flash 18* Hzdrs Smoke stiff

4 Hybrid: :callaway-small:  Apex w/Kuro Kage stiff

     Irons:  :callaway-small: 5-7  Apex forged 19 w/ Modus 120 X

                         9-A Apex Pro 19 w/ Modus 120 X

Wedges:  :callaway-small: MD5 52&56 Jaws Dynamic Gold wedge flex

    Putter: :titelist-small: Scotty Cameron Del Mar 34"

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TPC Sawgrass Stadium and Black Wolf Run River course are without a doubt the two hardest courses I’ve played. 
 

Both Pete Dye courses... Darn him, you have to wonder what mischievous thoughts were going through his mind when he designed these courses. 

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:titelist-small: TSi1 Aldila Ascent 40G shaft

:titelist-small: TSi2 18 FW with GD AD IZ 6 Shaft

:titelist-small: TSi1 20 and 23 degree hybrids Aldila Ascent Shafts R

:titelist-small: T300 5-P Tensei  R flex shaft 1/4 long 

:titelist-small: SM8 48F/54/58 D Grinds 

:ping-small: Tyne 4 

:titelist-small: ProV1X Play number 12

 

 

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Top 5 hardest courses by rating (Course / Tees / Rating):
-    Erin Hills - Black – 77.9
-    Whistling Straits (Straits) – Black – 77.2
-    Blackwolf Run (River) – Black – 76.2 
-    Hazeltine National – Blue – 75.7
-    Whistling Straits (Irish) –  Black – 75.6  

 

The Actual Hardest Course Setup:

The hardest course I have ever played was at Hazeltine National when the course was set up for the Superintendents Revenge tournament (and we did not know about it in advance) - it was definitely playing WAY harder than than the 75.7 rating on the card... 

My buddy and I had booked a super early tee time because there was a ‘member event/tournament’ that afternoon and we had to be off the course in time for that (I don't know if we actually saw any other golfers while we were on the course that day).  The entire round we were wondering what was going on because the course was stretched to its absolute limit on the tee boxes (basically one club length from the back of the box on every hole)  and all of the pins seemed to be tucked a few paces onto the green and/or in the hardest spots to hit/putt.  It took us a few holes to really figure out that something was going on.  At first we guessed that the tee markers might have been moved all the way back so that the grounds crew could mow more easily or something like that (plausible, since it was so early), so we played the tees as marked but figured/hoped they’d get moved up by the time we were a few holes in – and tough pins aren’t exactly unusual at that course. After we were a few holes in though, the pattern was pretty evident.  We didn't know why it was set up that way, but we ended up having an absolute blast playing such a wild set up.  After we finished on 18 we chatted with a couple people who were getting ready for the event and they explained to us what a Superintendent's Revenge tournament was and that the course was set up to basically play as hard as it could (we had already figured that part out – but it was nice to have it confirmed). 
 

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Driver:  :cleveland-small: HiBore XL Tour, Aldila VS Proto 

Fairway:   :titelist-small: 980F 15* and 19* 

Irons:  :mizuno-small: MP-32 5-PW and MX-23 3 -4, Rifle 6.0

Wedges:  :mizuno-small:  MP-T4 54*, 60*, TT Dynamic Gold Wedge Flex

Putter:  :scotty-small:  Studio Design 1.5 

Ball:   :titelist-small: ProV1x

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My experience is lacking compared to most of the courses here, but I once played a private course in Maine call the Woodlands. Course and slope are 73.9/145 from the back tees, which is where we played from. I was 17, so I can't remember that far back, but I believe my 9 handicap at the time shot a 90 or higher. 

When my wife asked if I wanted to leave Maine and move to where she grew up, I couldn't say no to Pinehurst, NC. I honestly don't spend much money on golf equipment, but I'm constantly reading reviews in case I ever get ready to buy

I swing left handed and have been the State of Maine Left Hander's champion since 1997, the last year they held the tournament. I'm currently a 6.3 handicap. Trying to get lower, but my gut gets in the way.

WITB

Driver: :taylormade-small: R11 9 degree turned 1 degree lower (Bought since it was on sale at Dick's)

Irons: :titelist-small: 990's S300 Stiff shafts bought when I was in college. (Received a personal use discount, otherwise would've stuck with my Hogan Edge's)

3 Wood: :callaway-small: GBB Epic 15 degree (only club newer than 5 years in the bag)

52/56/60 :taylormade-small: Z Spin wedges (heck of a deal $100 for all 3 at Dick's in 2013)

Putter: :odyssey-small: White Hot XG SRT (bought because I won credit for a long drive in 2010)

 

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TPC Las Vegas...lots of blind tee shots and forced carries, if you missed the fairway it was at least a one shot penalty 

 

 

:callaway-small: XR Driver Matrix Ozik 8m3 Black Tie Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 3W UST Mamiya Chrome Elements 7F4 Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 5W UST Mamiya Chrome Elements 7F4 Shaft

:cobra-small: King F7 4 Hybrid Graphite Designs Tour AD-HY 95 Shaft

PXG 0211 DC 5-PW Mitsubishi MMT 80 Shafts

:cleveland-small: RTX ZIPCORE 50*,54*,58* UST Mamiya Recoil 95 Shafts

:odyssey-small: Metal X Milled #7 with SuperStroke 2.0 grip

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On 4/25/2021 at 7:01 PM, ballplayer002003 said:

I found 7 to be harder than 2.  I played both from the tips and yes, they are both long.  I just found that 7 had a ton of elevated greens with very subtle breaks that are hard to read.  The teeth of #2 is easily the greens, no doubt.  However from tee to green it is not very difficult.  I just think 7 is a beast, plus it has a higher slope rating at 143 compared to #2 at 138.  Just to be clear...Bethpage Black has a slope rating of 144.  Pinehurst 7 is one of my favorites and should be on everyone's list when they visit Pinehurst.

I agree that Pinehurst #7 is very difficult.  I remember #2 being very difficult on approaches with long irons.  I didn't play the tips on #2 and the greens were more receptive given it had rained that week, but it was still hard getting the ball close.  I can see how it would be amazing as test for the world's best with a US Open set up.

I would say that on a typical windy, Fall day in Bandon, OR.  Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes are some of the toughest courses to play in America.  Even with caddies telling you where to hit it, it can still be very hard to hit and keep it on the greens and make putts.  Some par 3s were next to impossible with the wind gusts.  I learned how to take half swing 5 and 6 irons for trajectory distance control.  I should note that I was very impressed at how good the caddies were.  

 

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:titelist-small:  917 F2 16.5 3W Diamana 60  Reg

:titelist-small: TS3 21 Hybrid Tensei AV Blue 65 HY Stiff 

:titelist-small:  4 iron 716 AP2 - DG 300 AMT Reg

Haywood  5-PW iron Signature - DG S300 Stiff

:taylormade-small:  52 - 09 Tour Preferred EF  - KBS Tour Wedge 

Haywood   56 - 12 KBS Tour Wedge

:taylormade-small:  60 - 10 Tour Preferred - KBS Tour Wedge 

:titelist-small:  Scotty Special Select - Squareback 2

 :srixon-small: Z-Star 

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