Presented by Rolex

America's 75 Toughest Golf Courses

These are the courses that haunt golfers' nightmares. Approach them with caution and play them at your peril

January 2012

What is it about the difficult course that holds so much appeal for many golfers? Is it simply, to borrow George Mallory's overused line about Everest, "because it's there"? Or is there something deeper, maybe even a little darker at work? Do you want to suffer for some reason? Do you "deserve" to be punished?

These are questions probably better answered in the company of a professional therapist. But if it's a challenge you're looking for, you've come to the right place.

Presenting Golf Digest's list of America's 75 Toughest Golf Courses. Spend some time with our list. Read it, debate it, make plans to play some of these courses if you dare. Just don't come crying to us if they make you feel like quitting the game.

toughest courses

The last time Golf Digest ranked America's Toughest Courses, in 2007, a group of editors got together and compiled the list based on their experiences. This year we took a scientific approach. We sent a survey to the Golf Digest Panelists, the roughly 1,100 avid golfers who create our 100 Greatest Courses rankings, and asked them to list the 15 courses that wear them out the most. The survey ballot included all 50 courses from our 2007 list, the 100 courses with the highest combined USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating scores, and the 100 courses that panelists rated highest in Resistance to Scoring—one of the seven criteria they use when evaluating 100 Greatest candidates. We also encouraged panelists to include write-ins. Courses earned points for appearing on panelists' top-15 lists: five points for being first-, second- and third-toughest, four points for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-toughest, and so on. The courses appear in order of their point scores. —Peter Finch

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