The 11 toughest tee times in America

Fishers Island is hard enough to get to. It’s almost impossible to play.

LC Lambrecht

In our latest US Top 100, courses vary widely in difficulty, and we don’t mean the shots required to get around them. We’re talking easy access, clubs that are hard to get to because they’re so exclusive. With that in mind — and our latest Top 100 as an excuse to revisit this list — here’s a ranking by ranking of the 11 hardest courses.

Augusta National, Augusta, Ga.

Hello friends. Enjoy our broadcast with minimal commercial breaks. Enjoy the blushing colors of magnolias and dogwoods while enjoying the soothing song of birdsong. By Sunday night, you’ll swear you know every hill and rut of Alistair MacKenzie’s most famous course, which is great, because unless your Peyton Manning fan has struck up a friendship, playing it yourself probably won’t. cards. (7th place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, Ill.

One of the five founding members of the United States Golf Association, which was founded in 1894, the Chicago Golf Club has been around long enough to attract many members. There are only a couple of hundred in it. And one must be with you when you play. (13th place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

Crystal Downs Country Club, Frankfort, Mich.

When architecture buffs start to wonder about Alistair MacKenzie’s masterpieces in the state, they’ll surely come to this Northern Michigan treasure that lacks the coastal glitz of Cypress Point and the institutionalized notoriety of Augusta National, but it does in many parts of the country. the eyes are as good as either of these two. (20th place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

Crystal Downs Country Club in Frankfort, Mich.

Patrick Koenig

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Cypress Point Golf Club, Monterey, California.

“Cypress had a big membership one year,” Bob Hope once quipped about the club he owned. “They kicked out 40 members.” Today, a list of about 250 people with immediate access to coastal areas that could belong to a national park survives. (2nd place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

Garden City Golf Club, Garden City, NY

What’s in the name? Devereux Emmet’s luxury design home was originally known as the Garden City Men’s Club, a name that didn’t turn off about half the crowd. Women have very limited access these days. The same goes for the rest of us. (28th place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

Garden City Golf Club in Garden City, NY

Patrick Koenig

Fishers Island Club, Fishers Island, NY

This design by Seth Raynor is an island, literally and metaphorically. Located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the eastern tip of Long Island, this design is only accessible by boat or private aircraft and is well out of reach for the average guy. Money here is old and quiet. In 1979, when GOLF included Fishers Island in its inaugural ranking of the world’s greatest course, a club representative wrote a letter to the editor: Thanks for the compliment, it was read. Remove us from your list now. (9th place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

Nanea Golf Club, Big Island, Hawaii

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Nanea is not Hawaiian for nunya business. But it can also be. Founded by Charles Schwab and supermarket magnate George Roberts, the luxury club has been described as a tropical Augusta, a reference to how it eschews the limelight and is a palm-fringed oasis for the wealthy and their lucky friends. (91st place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

Nanea Golf Club in Hawaii.

Karl Makis

Ohoopee Match Club, Cobbtown, Ga.

At this country hideaway, designed by Gil Hanse and Jim Wager for tech investor Michael Walrath, para means so little that it’s not even on the scorecard. The only thing that matters is how you do against your opponent. OK, it’s also important that you know the member. There are less than 100 and Ohoopee does not allow unaccompanied play. (39th place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

Pine Valley Golf Club, Pine Valley, NJ

Since everyone is interested in data these days, run some numbers. Pine Valley is the highest ranked course in the world and almost everyone wants to play it. Unfortunately, most of its members do not live in the area, and unaccompanied guests are not allowed. Add to that the fact that the club does not hold regular fundraisers or corporate outings (a common way to get access to other premier private courses) and the maths is hard for you. (ranked #1 in GOLF’s 100 Best Courses in the US)

Pine Valley Golf Club in Pine Valley, NJ

LC Lambrecht

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Seminole Golf Club, Juno Beach, Fla.

To get a feel for life at Seminole, imagine your standard gated Florida golf community with an impressive clubhouse, play-money members, and wheelbarrow people everywhere you turn. Now imagine the opposite. “If I were a young man going on the pro tour, I’d try to negotiate to get into Seminole,” Ben Hogan once said of this Donald Ross design. Great advice. Again, Hogan offered a lot of advice that was easier said than done. (21st place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

Sand Hills Golf Club, Mullen, Neb.

Drive deep into the Nebraska cornfields, then drive a little further and a little further until the terrain turns into a rolling dune landscape. When you arrive on the grounds of this intensely private club, home to the Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw stunner that topped Augusta National this year, you’ll realize your mistake: everyone else arrived by private jet. (6th place among the 100 best golf courses in the USA)

josh sen

Josh Sens

Contributor to

Golf, food and travel writer Josh Sens has been a contributor to GOLF Magazine since 2004. and now participates in all GOLF platforms. His work was anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, along with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Fun Yet: A Guide to Cooking and Partying.


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