The very best golf course names accurately depict their settings and entice you to play. Think Pebble Beach, or the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Some course names entice you with prospects of comfort, such as California’s Friendly Hills or Nebraska’s Happy Hollow.
Other course names are more forbidding. Either they repel by their very nature, or they tempt with the promise of stern challenges and obstacles to overcome. A few of our favorite chilling course names that have gone away are Bloody Point, The Witch (both in South Carolina), and Murder Rock in Missouri, a 2007 John Daly design. Nonetheless, countless examples remain of course names that signify fear and foreboding in the round ahead.
Here are the 10 fiercest golf course names in the U.S.
Bayonet at Puppy Creek (Raeford, N.C.)
Owned by Carolina Turf Inc., a family with three generations of growing grass, this 1995 Willard Byrd design understandably enjoys excellent conditions and gets high marks for service, too. Its challenge is robust, a 7,021-yard layout that sports a 74.1 rating and 142 slope, comparable to the Bayonet course in Monterey, Calif., which owns a 74.9 rating and a 137 slope. The Tar Heel State course name gets the nod for fierceness, however. There’s something vaguely unsettling about mixing bayonets and puppies.
The Fortress (Frankenmuth, Mich.)
Located roughly halfway between Flint and Saginaw in a town known as “Little Bavaria” for its German heritage and architecture, The Fortress is certainly a sturdy test, with a 74.2 rating and a 142 slope from the Black tees. A Dick Nugent design from 1992, The Fortress boasts a No. 1 handicap hole that’s nearly impenetrable—the 443-yard par-four 13th, with water left and right off the tee and four sizable bunkers guarding the green. It usually plays into the wind, which renders the tee shot one of the most intimidating in Michigan.
Purgatory (Noblesville, Ind.)
As described in religious texts, purgatory is a place (or condition or process) of purification, suffering, and temporary punishment where souls who die in a state of grace are readied for heaven. If that sounds like your idea of four-and-a-half hours of fun, you’ll adore this 23-year-old Ron Kern design in suburban Indianapolis. Play it from the plus-handicap tips and you’ll pay penance over a 7,754-yard par-72 layout with a 78.3 rating and a slope of 148. Massive bunkers frame the fairways and guard the greens, notably at the No. 1 handicap hole, the 474-yard par-four 16th. Its motto, printed on the scorecard reads: Tempur In Nortrum Situm Bene Premiatur, which means, “Time spent here is well rewarded.” We’ll leave that judgement to a higher power.
Tallgrass (Wichita, Kan.)
Do you want to intimidate right off the bat? Just name your golf course, “Tallgrass,” which portends a day of searching for errant shots and exhausting yourself with vicious recovery swipes. In reality, Tallgrass is a mostly pleasant, private 1981 Arthur Hills design of 6,758 yards, par 71. As its 73.2 rating and 141 slope attests, however, it can play pretty tough, especially when the prairie winds blow, which is often. A recent renovation featuring select tree removal has enhanced shot options and also allowed for more shots to reach the tall grass. Do they prize the thick stuff here? The club’s restaurant is called the Rough Hunter’s Bar & Grill.
Dubsdread (Orlando, Fla.)
Not to be confused with Top 100 course and PGA Tour stop Cog Hill No. 4 near Chicago which is nicknamed “Dubsdread,” this Orlando muni actually goes by that name. It’s also not to be mistaken for Dub’s Dread in Kansas City, Kan., which in the early 1960s laid claim as the world’s longest course, at 8,101 yards. Today that course measures 7,158 yards. Florida’s Dubsdread is the original, built in 1924 by Carl Dann. It’s said to derive its name from the intent of installing dread in “dubs” or novice golfers. There’s little dread these days in its 6,153-yard par-70 layout, with a rating of 70.0 and a slope of 123. However, it’s hosted some legendary names over the years, from Sam Snead to Ben Hogan to Claude Harmon, and after a 2008 renovation, remains a superb Orlando alternative for value-seekers.
Prison View (Angola, La.)
The Prison View Golf Course at Louisiana State Penitentiary is fiercely—and aptly—named. A Louisiana Travel website states: “Number 1 tee box is elevated approximately 75 yards into the Tunica Hills, offering a spectacular view of Louisiana’s only maximum-security prison.” When I think “spectacular,” I think of the Pacific Ocean or a forested mountain, not of a maximum-security prison, but to each his own. Its nine holes sit on the grounds of the penitentiary, so personal and vehicle searches are part of the pre-round ritual. Still, the holes are inexpensive to play, they’re sprinkled with bunkers and water hazards, and they coexist with a practice facility and a clubhouse. And did I mention—you get a view of a maximum-security prison.
The Prison View Golf Course located on the grounds of the maximum-security Louisiana Penitentiary. pic.twitter.com/VOvW8vD4gc
— Ripley's Believe It or Not! (@Ripleys) December 13, 2015
Devils Knob at Wintergreen Resort (Wintergreen, Va.)
The course name itself yields a certain edginess. It’s not just one devil—it’s multiple devils, with no apostrophe. And that pesky knob—certain to redirect your ball into a worse place, rather than a better one. In truth, Devils Knob is angelic in its beauty, and utterly fair in its presentation. Designed by Ellis Maples in 1977, it is the state’s highest course in elevation at 3,850 feet and is cut from forested slopes. At a modest 6,712 yards, however, with flattish, if narrow fairways, it is eminently playable. A slope of 138 and a rating of 72.3 means that it’s tougher than the yardage would indicate, but it’s pure fun for resort guests.
The Creek Course at Hard Labor Creek State Park (Social Circle, Ga.)
Hey, it’s such a nice day, let’s take off work and play a relaxing game of golf. Where do you want to play? How about Hard Labor Creek State Park? Um, I think I’ll go play pickleball instead. Perhaps that conversation is pure fiction, but then, it’s quite possible that the fierceness of the course name has diverted its share of would-be golfers. At 6,612 yards from the tips, with a rating of 71.5 and a slope of 133, the Creek at Hard Labor will stimulate without suffocating. The course dates to 1968 and players have labored with the 392-yard uphill par-four 1st hole since opening day, but the one that will linger longest is the 175-yard par-three 5th, which features a working waterwheel on the creek to the front-left.
The Bog (Saukville, Wis.)
The name itself evokes images of a 1980s horror movie, complete with dense mist and gurgling sounds where the teenagers’ car was slowly sinking. Actually, this is an excellent 1995 Arnold Palmer design situated 25 miles north of Milwaukee. The rugged, wetlands-infused layout will drown any greedy player’s hopes. Its Black tees stretch 7,221 yards, with a 75.3 rating and a 143 slope. The 415-yard par-four 6th is the No. 1 handicap, thanks to tons of left-side trouble, including a bunker, trees, and a barn (from which there is no relief). Bang your approach long and right and that ominous bog awaits. Cue the scary music.
Hell’s Point Golf Club (Virginia Beach, Va.)
In southeast Virginia, if you tell people that your golf game has gone to hell, that’s not always a bad thing. One of the better layouts in Virginia Beach is this 1982 Rees Jones creation with a name that will frighten some golfers, and certainly raise eyebrows in others. The 6,766-yard par-72 spread will test without brutalizing, with a rating of 73.3 and a slope of 130. Most memorable is the par-four 17th, which arcs to the right around the lake. It’s drivable these days, but 40 years ago, Rees Jones deemed it to be a great hole for other reasons. “I like it because it plays like two par threes.” he said. Much has changed in four decades, but the course name itself remains as fierce as they come.
What other fierce course names did we miss? Let us know in the comment section.