What are the worst golf courses in the United States?
Whether you’re a hacker or a golfer with a low handicap, you want to play at a course that provides a great experience.
Out of over 15,000 golf courses in the country, we managed to narrow this list down to the 9 golf courses you’ll want to avoid.
Read on to find out what they are.
What Makes a Bad Golf Course?
Ranking the worst golf courses is a purely subjective endeavor. However, there are some criteria that were used to create this list.
We took into account what makes a great playing experience. Fast play without feeling rushed and greens where you can actually make putts matters to golfers. The driving factor for most golfers having a good experience is the condition of the course and the price paid for the round.
Put it another way, if you paid a lot of money for a round at a course where there was no electricity and the grass was overgrown, you would think that’s a horrible course.
Here’s what else we took into account.
Golf course designers don’t have an easy job. They have a piece of land to work with, elements like wind and water to contend with, and they have to design a great golf course.
Designers can be known to go overboard with water features or try to cram in too much in a small space.
Good design should challenge every golfer, have a personality or theme, and take advantage of the natural beauty of the landscape.
That’s why courses like Pebble Beach and Augusta National constantly rank at the top of listings. They’re beautiful courses that are challenging.
It’s expensive to maintain a golf course, and if a course is struggling financially, that can impact your golf experience.
In 2016, the average maintenance budget was roughly $700,000.
There is a lot to maintain at a golf course. There’s the greens, trees, labor, fertilizer, fairways, and sand traps all take money to maintain.
Then there are capital expenditures to make improvements to the golf course. Maintenance equipment like water pumps and lawn mowers have maintenance needs of their own as well.
1. Chambers Bay Golf Course
Chambers Bay opened up in 2007 in Tacoma, WA. In 2015, it was the host of the U.S. Open. It may be known for its wild design and hard to read greens.
Former U.S. Open winner Gary Player tore the course apart, calling it “impossible to play on.” and not being accessible to the average golfer because it was so challenging. At almost 7600 yards, be prepared for a long day out.
2. TPC Louisiana
This is a course that average players seem to love, but pro players hate. There’s a reason why that players have avoided the Zurich Classic. The flat and unimaginative design leaves players feeling like they’re uninspired during play.
3. Furnace Creek Golf Course
Would you golf in the middle of Death Valley, CA in the middle of summer? You can at Furnace Creek Golf Course. It is open for play all year long, but it’s the summertime heat that will get you. You’re 214 feet below sea level golfing in 115-degree heat.
At that point, your golf game becomes about efficiency. No practice swings, and make a few movements as you can.
Gameplay can be difficult with ground temperatures hot enough to melt a golf ball. Not only that, but it’s difficult for anything to survive, even the sand. It can easily blow away in windstorms. That’s why you’ll see grass bunkers there.
4. Walt Disney Resort – Palm Golf Course
You might think that a trip to Disney means pristine golf courses that are well worth the price of admission. You might want to think again.
It’s the host of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic and some pros aren’t fans of the course, even after a 2013 redesign.
The fairways are much wider with plenty of water traps. The sand dunes are deceivingly deep, and the greens are harder to read.
5. River View Golf Course
This golf course in Santa Ana, CA can seem like a great idea if you’re in the area and you have your clubs with you.
On the plus side, the course is an excellent value.
On the downside, you need to bring your A game and you need to pay attention during play. The greens are very narrow, making this course challenging to play on. The layout overlaps, which can make finding the fairways and tees very confusing. You’ll need to bring a GPS with you to get around.
6. Pelham Park
This public course in the Bronx, NY made the list for maintenance reasons. The layout is fine, but the course conditions and staff can leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth.
It may be worth it if you get a discounted rate, but even then, you’re pressing your luck.
7. Kinloch Golf Course
Kinloch Golf Course is a favorite for some, but it could be because they’ve golfed there before and know what to expect.
If it’s your first time there, be prepared. First is that there are no golf carts. That’s right, play golf the old fashioned way – with caddies. It can be challenging to navigate and if you’re out and about with family, you may not find this to be a great experience.
8. Torrey Pines
If you’re going to spend time in San Diego, you may be tempted to pay a visit to Torrey Pines Golf Course. With the history and prestige, you’d think that it’s worth every penny to go.
Don’t do it. It’s only pretty on TV. The reality is that the upkeep is lacking, which makes the course a huge disappointment.
9. Liberty National Golf Course
Jersey City, NJ is the home of the worst golf course on the pro tour. At a price tag of $250 million, you’d expect a much better review.
The setting is incredible, with the New York skyline in full view, but the gameplay leaves a lot to be desired.
The Worst Golf Courses in America
The worst golf courses in America all have a little something in common. They have poor design, try to be too much, and they’re not well maintained.
The bottom line is that they didn’t make a great golfing excursion.
If you’re looking for tech tools and tips so you can be a better golfer, check out our blog today.
6 thoughts on “9 of the Worst Golf Courses in the United States”
Nice to see someone sharing the worst courses for a change. I have to agree with you on the River View Golf Course. I went their a few months ago. Although it does have a beautiful setting, the narrow greens are just too much! It took the fun out of the game and left us feeling short changed.
The irony is that most of these courses are in the Top 10 courses in their respective states, and are constantly making the Nations Top 100 overall.
TPC Louisiana for example is constantly ranked #2/3 overall for the state of Louisiana and is absolutely beautiful and extremely well maintained, but defined as “flat.” News Flash – Louisiana is at or below sea level in most places. Of course it’s flat.
It appears the author is choosing courses at random, or simply according to what pro’s say or he/she read elsewhere online.
I want to read about the 10 DEAD GRASS, NO GREENS, BUMPY, ROCKY, UGLY WORST golf courses. Not 10 extremely visually appealing courses.
Just look up Hillcrest Event Center, I don’t even call it a course
I would like to add Oakwood GC of Lake Wales Florida as a candidate for the worst golf course in America. The practice green is so bad that the ruts in the green make it unusable (besides all of the grass is dead). The course is not much better. After teeing off on the second hole, I looked out at the remainder of the par 5 and saw only sand, no grass! The rest of the course was no better. Hole after hole, tee boxes were sand boxes, fairways were weed patches and greens were were… The ratings do not go into the negative numbers.
Thanks for sharing, I think they’ll be changing their course style. But most of the courses are top 10 positions in the United States.