Golf Courses & Travel

America's 20 Toughest Golf Courses

Golf Digest course panelists comment on America's 20 toughest golf courses

January 2012

Note: America's 75 Toughest Golf Courses ranking is available in the January issue of Golf Digest and on the tablet.

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

Merion G.C. (East), Ardmore, Pa.

20. Merion G.C. (East), Ardmore, Pa.

Par 4, 11th hole
Golf Digest Panelist Comments:
"Now that the course is being stretched to almost 7,000 yards, it will regain its indisputable teeth and superb reputation."
"One of the most intimidating opening tee shots in golf -- especially if you tee off at noon when the patio is full. Love the variety in holes that include short 4s and short 3s -- and super long versions of both."
Stephen Szurlej
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