10 of the Most Challenging U.S. Golf Courses

Every year, Golf Digest, Golf Week, and other golf magazines publish a list of the toughest sets of 18 holes around the country.

Not only can these courses make you sweat for hours on the tricky terrain, but they will delight you with their breath-taking scenery and fine landscaping. Check out our list of 10 courses around the country that are widely recognized as some of the best.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Kiawah Island Resort
Located a short distance from Charleston, South Carolina and home to five beautiful oceanside courses, each with distinct challenges. Among the five, the Ocean Course offers a view of the blue waters from all 18 holes, and is one of only four golf courses in the nation to host all four major US golf tournaments.

Purgatory Golf Club

Purgatory Golf Club
Often hailed as one of the most visually appealing courses, the name "Purgatory" may not be so apt. Located in Noblesville at the center of Indiana, the club offers a tournament tee with over 7,000 yards of playing course, plus many easier tees for golfers with higher handicaps

The International Golf Resort

The International
One of Massachusetts's--and the United States'-- most renowned golf resorts, located less than an hour's drive from Boston. At The International you can choose to play either the world-famous Pines course, or the shorter Oaks course. The Tiger Tee on the Pines is the world's longest, at over 8,400 yards.

Ko'olau Golf Club

Ko'olau Golf Club
As you would expect from any inland Hawaiian resort, the Ko'olau Golf Club on Oahu offers golfers some of the most beautiful vistas of volcano-formed mountains. But don't let the tranquil scenery fool you; this course is one of the most difficult in the U.S. The 7,300-yard tournament tee has a course rating of 73.5 and a slope rating of 152.

Black Wolf Run Golf Course

Blackwolf Run
One of two courses at the American Club Resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, Blackwolf Run is the creation of renowned golf course designer Pete Dye. Blackwolf Run is two courses in one: the River course and the Meadow Valleys, both of which will host the 2012 Women's Open. While you stay in Kohler, visit Blackwolf's sister course, Whistling Straits.

Grand Traverse Golf Resort

Grand Traverse Resort
Located in Traverse City Michigan, the resort includes three top-ranked golf courses: The Bear, The Wolverine, and Spruce Run. Jack Nicklaus designed The Bear to offer a different challenge at each hole, while being enjoyable for golfers at any skill level. At each of the three courses you can find a variety of wildlife and terrains.

The Shoals Golf Trail

The Shoals
Perhaps the most challenging of the eleven golf courses along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, The Shoals lies along shore of the Tennessee River between the Wilson and Wheeler dams. Its signature course, the Fighting Joe, was for a time the longest in the country, at over 8,000 yards. The Schoolmaster, though less treacherous than the Fighting Joe, offers the same spectacular views of the river.

Furnace Creek Golf Resort

Furnace Creek Golf Resort
Located in California's Death Valley, the Furnace Creek Golf Course is the world's lowest course, elevation-wise. Challenge-wise, Furnace Creek is near the top of the list. The 18-hole, par 72 course poses unique challenges to even the most experienced golfers, due to the higher gravity and barometric pressure.

Chena Bend Golf Course

Chena Bend Golf Course
One of the toughest golf courses of the far north, Chena Bend is a US Military golf course located just east of Fairbanks, Alaska in Fort Wainwright. Because the golf course is just a couple degrees below the Arctic Circle, it is only open for a few months out of the year during the short summers. When it is open, you can enjoy clear skies and long daylight.

Ross Bridge Golf Course

Ross Bridge Golf Course
Another stop along the Robert Trent Jones Golf trail and just a short distance from the Birmingham Renaissance Resort and Spa. The Ross Bridge course features 18 holes and over 8,000 yards. In spite of its fame as one the country's most demanding golf courses, it also offers shorter tees for beginning and intermediate golfers.

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