As the US Open starts, and the players play on the Chambers Bay course for the first time in history, we take a look at some of the World's toughest golf courses
- Carnoustie - Nicknamed as "Carnasty" by the media, and best remembered for the epic collapse of Jean van de Velde, this course, with its bunkers, fast running fairways, wind, slopes on greens, and the meandering Barry Burn, is a particularly tough one to beat.
Picture (right): Chambers Bay
- Kiawah Island (US) - Host of the infamous 1991 "War on the Shore" Ryder Cup, this South Carolina course, designed by Peter Dye, boasts some stunning holes. The course's combination of huge sand dunes, thorny marshes, fiendish pot bunkers and super slick greens however, will reduce even the game's best to gibbering wrecks.
- The Pines at the International (US) - At 8,325 yards, this Bolton, Massachusetts course is the longest in America. The closing hole is 656 yards, and it's not even the longest par 5 on the course. There's also a par 6, the 715-yard fifth hole, and the par 3 seventh is 277 yards. The fifth green is 91 yards long and takes more than an hour to mow, and the 11th, a modest 590 yard par 5, has 24 bunkers.
- Oakmont (US) - The only course that was asked by the USGA to slow down the greens for the pro golfers, and with sadistically placed bunkers, Oakmont has hosted more major Championships than any other course in the U.S. and it's considered by many to be the toughest golf course in the world.
- PGA West (US) - Pete Dye designed this course to play mind games with the world's best players, and he succeeded. With holes like the island-green 17th called Alcatraz, it's not a wonder that Jim Murray once summed up the course with these words: "You need a camel, a canoe, a priest and a tourniquet to get through it."
- Ko'olau Golf Club (US) - Fairways surrounded by Hawaiian jungle, over 80 deep bunkers, and six deep ravines make this course a brute to play. With parts of the course receiving 130 inches of rain a year, this is a soggy one, and used to have a Slope Rating of 162, even though the maximum possible is 155.
- Shinnecock Hills (US) - One of the five founding members of the USGA, the windy bleakness of this course evokes feelings of the British seaside links. The terrain is hilly, and the native grasses are thick, so Shinnecock Hills is challenging both off the tee and from the fairway. Ben Hogan once wrote, "Each hole is different and requires a great amount of skill to play properly." Shinnecock is hard, but it is fair.
- Whistling Straits (US) - When current world No. 3 Lee Westwood first saw the course he said, "I'd been told there are 10 difficult holes and eight impossible ones. I'm still trying to work out which the 10 difficult holes are."
- Royal County Down - Its fairways are narrow strips bordered by purple heather and golden yellow gorse. Beautiful, yet almost impossible to recover from. Many of its deep bunkers are also almost impossible to get out of. Huge sand dunes isolate each hole from the others, but they won't protect you from the wind that usually blows in from Dundrum Bay, beside which the course is laid out.
- Winged Foot (US) - When asked what difficulty rating out of ten he would give the course, Jack Nicklaus famously replied, "11, or maybe 12". A nightmare to get up and down from around the greens, with fearsome bunkers and severely sloping greens, this golf course was designed by A.W. Tillinghast in 1922, to the brief "Give us a man-sized course."
- Bethpage Black (US) - Its narrow fairways, tangly rough, plateau greens, and huge sculptured bunkers combine to make the Black Leopard, as the late designer A. W. Tillinghast lovingly called it, a vicious brute of a golf course.
- Jade Dragon (China) -The longest golf course in the world at 8,548 yards, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain includes a 711 yard par 5 (and two more that measure over 680 yards), a 525 yard par 4 and a 270 yard par 3. Of course, the thin air of its location, more than 3,040 metres above sea level in the Himalayas, does make the golf ball fly further. But it also makes it fly further left or right, making it an extraordinarily difficult course for even the best golfers to break 80.
- St Mellion - The toughest inland course in the UK, the Cornish layout in the Tamar Valley has unfortunately not hosted a professional event since 1995. This was Jack Nicklaus's first European design and he was thrilled by what he created. The bunkers and water hazards are brilliantly placed and the greens are multi-tiered. A proper test.
- Cape Kidnappers Golf Course (New Zealand) - Designed by Tom Doak with many holes completely exposed to winds whipping in off the Pacific Ocean, just keeping your ball on line is tough. This isn't just a tough golf course, it's a dangerous golf course, with 183 metre cliffs plunging straight into the sea close to the edge of several fairways.
- Meland Golf Club (Norway) - Located to the north of Bergen, the 18 holes that make up this course are set in a stunning fjord location. When it opened in 1998, it's first PGA professional event saw not one of the players break par. With narrow fairways, indecipherable wind directions and large greens, it is a huge challenge.
To view a gallery of these courses, click here.
For ten things you need to know about Chambers Bay before the US Open, click here.