For golf enthusiasts, the allure of a well-manicured green, the smell of freshly cut grass, and the sight of that elusive hole is a magical combination.
But what happens when the magic fades, when the allure turns to repulsion when the golf course becomes a nightmare?
This brings us to our main topic: the worst golf course in the world. A destination that, while it might not offer the best golfing experience, still provides a unique perspective that no golfer should miss.
Here are the 10 worst golf courses in the world:
- Bad Little Nine at Scottsdale National Golf Club, Arizona
- Skyway Golf Course, Jersey City, New Jersey
- Gravity Golf Course, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
- Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Oregon
- Chamber’s Bay Golf Course, University Place, Washington
- Tobacco Road Golf Club, Sanford, North Carolina
- Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club, Front Royal, Virginia
- Sky Mountain Golf Course, Hurricane, Utah
- Furnace Creek Golf Course, Death Valley, California
- Brickyard Crossing, Indianapolis, Indiana
Any golf fan will want to understand what types of courses sit on the other end of the spectrum. Let’s dive in!
What Makes A Bad Golf Course?
Many factors can contribute to a course being classified as a ‘bad golf course.’ Some of these include poor design, inadequate maintenance, overly challenging holes, poor facilities, or even an uninspiring environment.
But it’s not enough to simply label a golf course as ‘bad.’ We must delve into what exactly makes these courses so notorious. To do this, we’ll explore a range of infamous golf courses, analyzing their unique quirks and challenges.
We’ve tried to make our list comprised of bad courses, but a course that you’re friends will love to hear. Let’s dive in!
10 Worst Golf Courses in the World: Location, Fees, & Weirdness Rating
#10. Brickyard Crossing, Indianapolis, Indiana
Known for its unique location within the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Brickyard Crossing presents a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The course design incorporates four holes inside the famed racing track, an unusual choice that leads to a blend of two worlds: racing and golf. However, while this course might appeal to racing fans, it leaves golf enthusiasts grappling with numerous distractions.
Roaring engines, the smell of burning rubber and fuel, and the occasional interruptions from racing events combine to create a chaotic golfing experience. Additionally, the need to close the course during major speedway events can cause frustration for golfers seeking a regular play schedule.
Despite some picturesque spots and well-designed holes, the overall ambiance suffers heavily from its racing influence.
- Reason for inclusion: Set inside a racing track
- Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
- Par: 72
- Green fees: $100 – $110
- Length: 7,180 yards off the back tees and 5,605 yards from the front tees.
- Signature Hole: The 7th hole, located inside the Speedway.
- Weirdness Rating: 89/100
#9. Furnace Creek Golf Course, Death Valley, California
Furnace Creek Golf Course, situated in Death Valley, California, offers an arduous test of endurance and skill.
Holding the title for the world’s lowest altitude golf course, the course faces extreme desert conditions, with temperatures often soaring above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. These scorching temperatures significantly affect the course’s maintenance, resulting in dry, patchy grass and rock-hard bunkers.
As a result, the course’s playability can be incredibly inconsistent, with golf balls often behaving unpredictably on the harsh terrain. While the course offers views of the surrounding desert and mountain landscapes, the harsh conditions pose significant physical and mental challenges, often making golfing at Furnace Creek more of a survival test than a relaxing game.
- Reason for inclusion: Gruelling physical endurance
- Location: Death Valley, California
- Par: 70
- Green fees: $35 – $50
- Length: 6,236 yards off the back tees and 5,151 yards from the front tees.
- Signature Hole: The 5th hole offers a unique desert view.
- Weirdness Rating: 78/100
#8. Sky Mountain Golf Course, Hurricane, Utah
Sky Mountain Golf Course, resting in the shadow of the scenic Zion National Park, has an intriguing name that masks the grueling challenge it presents to golfers. The rugged layout, crafted in the shape of the desert landscape, becomes even more unpredictable with the often fierce winds that sweep across the course.
Any hope of exerting control over one’s game becomes a fantasy as the gusts twist and turn, giving the golf balls a life of their own. However, the woes of this golf course don’t end with the weather or topography.
Maintaining a golf course in the unforgiving Utah desert is no easy task, a fact which Sky Mountain seems to struggle with. The fairways, planted with Bermuda grass to resist the harsh desert climate, often appear burnt and patchy. Inconsistent care leaves the greens unpredictable and frustrating to read.
The stunning views of Zion National Park, the course’s saving grace, do little to assuage the frustration of the golfers. In fact, the breathtaking vistas might serve as a bitter reminder of what could have been a remarkable golf experience.
- Reason for inclusion: Outrageous wind speed
- Location: Hurricane, Utah
- Par: 72
- Green fees: $35 – $45
- Length: 6,383 yards from the back tees and 5,177 yards from the front tees.
- Signature Hole: The 12th hole, which offers a panoramic view of Zion National Park.
- Weirdness Rating: 31/100
#7. Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club, Front Royal, Virginia
The Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club, with its location in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, has an undeniable allure for golfers seeking a scenic experience. However, many who fall for its charms find themselves facing a stern test of their abilities. The course layout is unforgiving, with narrow fairways framed by thick woods. Water hazards are aplenty and the greens are well-guarded by strategic bunkering. Rather than providing a balanced challenge, the course veers more towards punitive difficulty, especially for less skilled golfers.
The steep undulations of the fairways and the unpredictable greens make every stroke a gamble. The stunning Shenandoah landscape, which could have served as a soothing backdrop, often feels like a distraction as golfers grapple with the demanding course.
Poorly maintained facilities, long wait times, and a lack of communication are frequently mentioned issues. Despite the natural beauty of its location, the golfing experience at Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club leaves much to be desired.
- Reason for inclusion: Poor facilities, painfully steep fairways
- Location: Front Royal, Virginia
- Par: 72
- Green fees: $49 – $59
- Length: 7,315 yards from the back tees and 5,215 yards from the front tees.
- Signature Hole: The 4th hole, with its elevated tee and scenic backdrop.
- Weirdness Rating: 21/100
#6. Tobacco Road Golf Club, Sanford, North Carolina
Tobacco Road Golf Club sparks curiosity with its unconventional design. The course, a maze of deep sand pits, blind tee shots, and sudden elevation changes, is unique but also often alienates players with its excessive difficulty. While interesting to navigate, the unusual features can feel like gimmicks, introduced more for the shock value than to enhance the golfing experience.
Flat lies are few and far between, and the punishment for stray shots can be severe. The threat of losing balls lurks at every turn. The feeling of playing this course is akin to walking through a minefield, where every step needs to be measured and every shot, calculated. This extreme challenge often leaves golfers exasperated rather than excited.
Despite the criticism, it’s undeniable that Tobacco Road is visually stunning. The sculpted sand dunes, the sweeping elevation changes, and the strategic placement of hazards create a visually arresting landscape.
While the course may cater to adventurous golfers looking for a unique challenge, the average player may find the experience more frustrating than fun.
- Reason for inclusion: Pointlessly difficult
- Location: Sanford, North Carolina
- Par: 71
- Green fees: $85 – $105
- Length: 6,532 yards from the back tees and 4,593 yards from the front tees.
- Signature Hole: The 5th hole, a daunting par 5.
- Weirdness Rating: 82/100
#5. Chamber’s Bay Golf Course, University Place, Washington
It might be a controversial choice, but the inclusion of the site of the 2015 U.S. Open comes from golfer feedback. Chamber’s Bay Golf Course carries with it an expectation of quality and prestige, but golfers often report that the reality is quite different. The course sits on a gravel and sand pit, which makes the ground hard and unforgiving. A discernable lack of tree cover provides little respite from the harsh wind. The resulting challenges often verge on punitive rather than strategic.
Additionally, the greens of the course have been subjected to a lot of criticism for their poor quality. Known to be extremely bumpy and inconsistent, they make putting a challenging ordeal. Complaints about the course’s maintenance standards have often marred its reputation.
It might not be your cup of tea, but make sure you follow all the rules, as people here take it serious.
While it offers stunning views of the Puget Sound, the natural beauty often falls short of compensating for the course’s drawbacks. In spite of its major championship pedigree, Chamber’s Bay fails to live up to the standards set by its peers.
- Reason for inclusion: Expectations crushed by reality
- Location: University Place, Washington
- Par: 72
- Green fees: $135 – $275
- Length: 7,165 yards from the back tees and 5,253 yards from the front tees.
- Signature Hole: The 9th hole, a par 3 with a view of Puget Sound.
- Weirdness Rating: 7/100
#4. Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Oregon
As part of the esteemed Bandon Dunes resort, one might expect the Sheep Ranch course to uphold the high standards set by its siblings. However, it often falls short of this mark. The design of the course, while innovative, has raised some eyebrows. Unlike traditional courses, Sheep Ranch has no sand bunkers, which some purists find disconcerting.
The course’s location along the coastline brings with it the challenge of strong winds that frequently whip across the open layout. The relentless gusts can make gameplay difficult and unpredictable, especially for those unfamiliar with coastal golf. This harsh weather often makes the absence of trees or shelters on the course glaring.
- Reason for inclusion: Weather often makes it unplayable
- Location: Bandon, Oregon
- Par: 72
- Green fees: $275 – $320
- Length: 6,636 yards from the back tees and 4,882 yards from the front tees.
- Signature Hole: The 3rd hole, a par 3 with the Pacific Ocean in view.
- Weirdness Rating: 81/100
#3. Gravity Golf Course, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Welcome to Gravity Golf Course, a strange creation nestled in Idaho’s scenic Coeur d’Alene area. This unusual course is built on a series of steep slopes, creating unique challenges and forcing golfers to contend with gravity in every shot.
This strange design creates dramatic hole layouts and complicates the game as golfers have to account not just for the typical challenges such as wind and weather but also for the gravitational pull of the downhill.
What makes Gravity Golf Course especially bizarre is the 12th hole – a par-4 named “The Freefall,” where golfers tee off from a severely elevated tee box, watching their golf balls drop dramatically before hopefully landing on the fairway below. I guess golf courses have to do what they need to make money.
- Reason for inclusion: Battle with gravity
- Location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
- Par: 72
- Green fees: $55 – $75
- Length: 7,089 yards of the back tees and 5,500 yards from the front tees.
- Signature Hole: The 17th hole is known as the “Moon Crater.” It’s a par-3 where the tee shot must clear a large water hazard. The green is located on an elevated platform that’s heavily guarded by deep bunkers.
- Weirdness Rating: 91/100
#2. Skyway Golf Course, Jersey City, New Jersey
Skyway Golf Course is situated right in the heart of Jersey City, and though its location might suggest convenience, it’s far from a golfer’s paradise. The course is heavily marred by urban development.
At just 3,200 yards, it’s extremely short for a 9-hole course, and its narrow fairways are plagued with a range of man-made obstacles, including a highway, residential buildings, and an intrusive view of the local landfill. It’s definitely not the most glamorous or largest golf resort in the world!
Course maintenance is a perpetual issue, with greens often found in less than ideal conditions.
- Reason for inclusion: Playing next to landfill
- Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
- Par: 36
- Green fees: $32 – $47
- Length: 3,200 yards from the back tees
- Signature Hole: The par-4 5th hole that is parallel to the highway, and you need to thread your ball through a literal urban jungle.
- Weirdness Rating: 68/100
#1. Bad Little Nine at Scottsdale National Golf Club, Arizona
There just wasn’t another option for number one on our list. It’s so bad, that it’s good!
The Bad Little Nine at Scottsdale National Golf Club is a unique and challenging course that offers a refreshing twist on traditional golfing. Despite its name, this course is far from being a “bad” experience. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
This nine-hole course, nestled within the picturesque landscape of Scottsdale, Arizona, provides golfers with a memorable and unconventional golfing adventure. The course features a compact layout, with creatively designed holes that test every aspect of a player’s game.
The Bad Little Nine at Scottsdale National Golf Club is not for the faint of heart. This challenging course pushes golfers to their limits, both mentally and physically.
One of the reasons why this course is so difficult is its intricate design. Each hole presents a unique set of challenges, demanding precision and strategic decision-making. The fairways are narrow, lined with bunkers and water hazards that require accurate tee shots and precise iron play to navigate successfully.
The greens on the Bad Little Nine are notorious for their undulating surfaces and subtle breaks. Reading the greens correctly and executing well-judged putts is a true test of skill and patience. Even experienced golfers find themselves scratching their heads as they try to decipher the subtle slopes and grain of the greens.
Adding to the difficulty is the presence of strategically placed hazards and out-of-bounds areas. One wrong move can result in penalty strokes or lost balls, adding strokes to the scorecard and increasing frustration.
Up for the challenge?
- Reason for inclusion: So bad, it’s actually good!
- Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
- Par: 30
- Green fees: $75 – $95
- Length: 1,951 yards from the back tees and 1,542 yards from the forward tees
- Signature Hole: The 7th hole, a challenging par 4 with a narrow fairway and strategically placed bunkers.
- Weirdness Rating: 90/100
Where Is The Lowest Golf Course In The World?
The lowest golf course in the world is Furnace Creek Golf Course, located in Death Valley, California, USA. This course sits 214 feet below sea level. It's not just its elevation that makes it unique, but also the extreme heat that can be experienced there due to its desert location.
Where Is The Hardest Golf Course?
The title for the hardest golf course often varies based on personal opinion and level of play. However, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina, USA, is frequently listed as one of the most difficult. It's known for its unpredictable wind patterns, narrow fairways, and strategically placed bunkers. Pete Dye, a renowned golf course architect known for creating challenging courses, designed the course.
If you’re going to Carolina to play, be sure to check out our list of the worst golf courses in Myrtle Beach before you book!
The United States has thousands of golf courses, each with its unique style, layout, and challenges.
While many of these courses adhere to traditional designs and standards, a surprising number deviate from the norm, offering bizarre and unconventional experiences you won’t find anywhere else.
Whether it’s a course built on a landfill or a green in the middle of a racetrack, these “worst” golf courses can provide a memorable, not always enjoyable, golfing experience.
Whether they’re charming or frustrating depends on the golfer’s perspective.
Sam has been playing golf for over 20 years and founded Impact Golfer. As a teenager, he discovered his love for the game using his grandad’s clubs, including a wooden driver! As a golf obsessive, Sam plays whenever possible: regularly competing in matchplay with his friends and in tournaments at his local club. Fortunate to have a close friend who is a club pro– he has tested almost every type of equipment on the market (no freebies yet).