The 18 undisputed, unchallenged, scientifically factual best golf holes in the world

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The 18 undisputed, unchallenged, scientifically factual best golf holes in the world

December 01, 2015

Photo By: Getty Images

18th hole, Old Course at St. Andrews

The town of St. Andrews helps sculpt a natural coliseum around the Old Course's final hole. The panoramic backdrop of Hamilton Hall, the Royal and Ancient clubhouse and Martyrs' Monument, coupled with onlookers from porch over-hangs, is more breathtaking than any picture a Hollywood green screen can paint.

16th hole, Cypress Point Golf Club

The 15th might be more photogenic, but the 16th is cosmetic in its own right. Moreover, with a 200-yard-plus carry over water, cliffs and treacherous bunkers, it's one of the toughest par 3s in the world.

Fourth hole, Old Head Golf Links

Old Head offers many picturesque holes, but the 427-yard, par-4 fourth -- aptly named "The Razor's Edge" -- offers a cliffside view of the sea, as well the lighthouse. Just off the coast resides the remains of the RMS Lusitania.

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12th hole, Augusta National Golf Club

Lloyd Mangrum once called this the "the meanest little par 3 in the world," while two-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw blames the hole's difficulty on an old Indian burial ground. One thing is for sure: You're not changing the channel when a shot of the 12th comes across your TV screen.

Third and fourth holes, Oakmont Country Club

Yes, technically these are two holes. But due to their proximity to the Church Pew bunkers, the third and fourth -- much like peanut butter and jelly or Beavis and Butthead -- exist as one awe-inspiring entity.

18th hole, Pine Valley Golf Club

You could make the argument the each hole at Pine Valley could be its signature hole. However, the 18th, with its traps, tight confines and elevated green -- makes a claim as the best of the best of the New Jersey course.

17th hole, Old Course at St. Andrews

The 17th at the Old Course goes by multiple names: the hardest hole in the world, the most memorable par 4, the most exciting. But one label stands above the rest: the Road Hole. For the uninitiated, the 17th is just a small, 450-yard par 4 that requires a tee shot over a railroad shed/hotel to a blind, dogleg-right fairway surrounded by heather, with an approach to a narrow green guarded by a bunker that's harder to escape than most prisons and a stone wall lining the back of the hole that garners overrun balls. So yeah, not a walk in the park.

13th hole, Augusta National Golf Club

You would think modern technology would take some of the bite out of this relatively short, 510-yard par 5. That the 13th remains one of the pivotal holes every year at the Masters -- a place where the Green Jacket is not necessarily won, but often lost -- speaks to its inherent virtue and merit.

18th Hole, Harbour Town Golf Links

The candy-cane lighthouse has become iconic, but the 18th hole is more than just a seaside tower. With dunes and marsh hugging the hole on the left, players that bail right have to contend with pines. And the approach is no breeze either, as bunkers come into play.

Fourth hole, Royal County Down

At 220-plus yards, the fourth at Royal County Down requires more than distance, as the green is guarded by gorse and a handful of bunkers. The challenge isn't over when you reach the green; at a front-to-back roll, it's often just beginning.

17th hole, TPC Sawgrass

Honestly, I think this course is one of the more overrated venues in the game. I SAID IT. But, to its credit, the stadium seating and make-or-break nature of the tee shot makes the 17th hole at Sawgrass must-see theater. Perhaps the greatest compliment to the hole is how often its design is duplicated around the world.

16th hole, National Golf Links of America

The 17th is often noted as the course's No. 1 attraction, but from a combination of aesthetics and difficulty, the 16th is National Golf Links' top spot. Your elevated tee shot on this dogleg par 4 heads to a windmill, leaving a blind approach to punchbowl green.

Seventh hole, Crans-sur-Sierre

This Jack Nicklaus design is nestled in the Swiss Alps, providing some of the most marvelous backdrops in golf. The course itself is quite the challenge and home to the Omega European Masters. The seventh hole is lined with out-of-bounds markers, making it a risk-reward hole that some players find too difficult. Yet, the venerable golf photographer David Cannon listed the seventh as one of his favorite holes in the world, and who are we to argue?

Third hole, Mauna Kea Beach

Allegedly, Robert Trent Jones told hotel backer Laurance S. Rockefeller, "If you allow me to build a golf course here, this'll be the most beautiful hole in the world." Enough said.

Eighth hole, Pebble Beach Golf Links

You see the 18th hole framed in every clubhouse in America, but if you want to know what makes Pebble Beach "Pebble Beach," the eighth is the epitome of the course. A challenging tee ball begets a second shot into a seemingly impossible approach, with water and sand blanketing the green. Taking on this obstacle in the panorama of oceanside awe makes the eighth one of a kind.

Eighth hole, Scioto Country Club

You know how everyone believes their hometown has the best buffalo wings in the world, even though they're probably exactly the same as everybody else's? This is my personal claim to the list. Scioto is one of the best maintained courses in the country, as the par-5 eighth is so beautiful it brings one to their knees. Plus, I'm three under on this hole in my two tours of the Columbus course. You're damn right that was a humble-brag.

13th hole, Pacific Dunes

Anyone who's played Pacific Dunes discusses the 13th in reverential tones, on par with a religious experience. At more than 440 yards, draped in bunkers, mounds, cliffs and the ocean, it's easy to see why.

13th hole, North Berwick (West)

Nicknamed "The Pit," the 13th green is guarded by a stone wall. Go to far left and your ball will sail away in the Firth of Forth.

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