Most challenging golf courses in Europe

Jack Nicklaus designs feature alongside layouts in Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Sweden and France in our list of Europe’s toughest tracks.

Green Eagle Golf Courses: North Course, Germany

Green Eagle Golf Courses

The ‘Green Monster‘, as rock star and golf enthusiast Alice Cooper is believed to have once called it, this incredibly hard course is set in a scenic area 25 minutes from Hamburg and hosts the European Open on the DP World Tour. At 7,845 yards, it’s the longest course on Tour and one of the longest anywhere in the world.

17 holes have water hazards, some of which go along the fairways from the tee, and bunkers are strategically positioned close to the greens. It’s widely regarded to be the most difficult course in Germany, but there are several tees. The club warns: “The course is extremely long and very challenging. We only recommend the white and yellow tees to very experienced golfers. All other players please play from the blue and red tees to enjoy the course and bring at least one ball home.”

Le Golf National: Albatross Course, France

Albatross Course

The Albatross Course at Le Golf National hosted the Ryder Cup in 2018. It’s a demanding course of great diversity, with links and target-golf characteristics. The quick greens are especially tricky, protected by several water hazards and strategic bunkers.

The course has also been chosen to host the Olympic Games golf tournament staged in Paris in 2024. It’s risk/reward in nature throughout and the par four final hole has a huge water hazard to the left side of the fairway and areas of dense bunkering on the right side. It can make or break your round.

Castelfalfi Golf Club: Mountain Course, Italy

Castelfalfi Mountain Course

This club comprises 27 holes of superb golf set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, around 45km southwest of Florence. The 18-hole Mountain Course is a championship-level layout with steep slopes and large water hazards with the fairways bordered by groves and olive trees.

Appealing to more experienced players, this course requires accuracy and strategy as it winds through valleys, along ridges and down cliffs. The 9th is a downhill par three with a 100ft drop to a green surrounded by water, and the 18th is a tough ending dogleg par four to an island green.

Monte Rei Golf & Country Club: North Course, Portugal

Monte Rei North Course

One of only a handful of Jack Nicklaus ‘signature’ courses in Europe and the only one in Portugal. Opened in 2007, it offers stunning panoramas of the Atlantic and the Serra do Calderon mountains. The main challenge is the placement of the water hazards and bunkers across its 7,224-yard-long layout.

Water features on eleven holes, but the difficulty does not stop there with fauna, greenery and undulating terrain. The 13th is a downhill par four with bunkers at the landing point and a lakeside green that undulates. The 14th has a tee shot which must carry a lake, while the 18th is a par five with a lake that’s in play for both second and third shots.

Camiral Golf & Wellness: Stadium Course, Spain

Camiral Stadium Course

The Stadium Course opened in 1999 and hosted the Spanish Open on the European Tour in 2000, 2009 and 2014. Oak trees, well-placed bunkers and numerous water hazards are just some of the obstacles that grab your attention. This parkland/woodland layout designed by Angel Gallardo is tough from the opening hole onwards.

The first tee requires an elevated drive to a dogleg left par four where a long iron or fairway wood is needed to make the green. For higher handicap golfers, a bogey would be seen as a good score. From here on in, the greens are well bunkered and undulating and the large lakes have been used to form tough semi-island greens.

Bro Hof Slott Golf Club: Stadium Course and Castle Course, Sweden

Bro Hof Slott Golf Club

Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes near Stockholm, Bro Hof Slott Golf Club offers two distinct championship-level courses, the Stadium Course and the Castle Course, both renowned for their rigorous challenges and immaculate design.

The Stadium Course is particularly daunting, stretching over 8,000 yards, making it one of the longest in Europe. It features large, undulating greens, expansive water hazards, and strategic bunkering that demand precision and power. The signature 17th hole, a par-3 surrounded by water, is a true test of nerves and accuracy.

The Castle Course, while slightly shorter, does not relent in difficulty. Its layout meanders through historical parklands with natural water bodies that come into play on several holes. This course is characterized by its natural beauty, strategic design, and the historical castle that enhances the scenic backdrop. It challenges golfers with its narrow fairways, strategic bunkering, and several risk-reward holes that can make or break a round.

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