I love playing golf. I'm not obsessed with it, but if I could play once a week I'd be a very happy guy. I look forward every year to that first day on the course in the spring when I walk up to the first tee, carefully tee up my ball, take 37 practice swings, walk behind my ball four times to make sure I'm lining up right, take three more practice swings, address the ball, take my unsure yet aggressive swing, and shank the ball at a 45 degree angle left 50 yards into a thick patch of tall grass and other assorted shrubbery.

Golf is a beautiful game played in a beautiful green setting. A game that makes men who think they're better ball strikers than they really are into ugly, cursing anger balls. I am one of those. I couldn't win a poorly attended tournament with half a dozen other bumbling duffers like me and I know that. But because I am just good enough to hit 10 to 15 really good shots per round, I think I should always be able to do that.

Here are four holes that are golfing nightmares for me. These are not the "4 Toughest Holes in the Area," because I know I would leave out holes on courses I've never played. These are just the holes that I have played that make me want to snap all my clubs in half.

  • 4

    Spring Creek

    Google Earth

    #12 at Spring Creek, a 358 par 4, is probably the hardest hole on my list. I can't make it my toughest hole because I have, miraculously somehow, earned several pars and one birdie.

    The fairway is claustrophobic with thick trees on both sides of the fairway. The second shot, even after a well placed drive, is steep uphill to a green with a violent slope from back to front. It's really hard to gauge the distance on approach. If you end up on the back side of the green your first putt may not stop until Brandon.

    I usually get a 5 on this hole, but I don't know how this happens.

  • 3

    Spearfish Canyon Country Club

    Google Earth

    Spearfish Canyon Country Club isn't exactly an area course, but it is one I played a lot while in college at Black Hills State University. It's a fun, gorgeous course with a couple of elevated tee boxes and unique features on the front nine that plays mostly into the Hills. There are several tough holes on the course, but there is one that makes me wish I had never chased the white ball with a crooked stick.

    Hole #5 is a 244 yard par 4. Stop laughing. The entire fairway is a steep incline that rises 70 feet to a platform of a green that is small and shadowed by an out-of-bounds tree covered mountain just a few feet from the back of the green. Even though the green is "reachable" I never saw it done. The green is just too small and the angle is too tough. Good golfers probably think it's easy. For a hack like me it's torture.

    It's been ten years since I last played Spearfish, but I know I never parred the hole and usually ended up with a 6, 7 or 8. I'm really hoping to visit some friends in the Black Hills and play it again this summer.

  • 2

    Bridges at Beresford

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    The first hole at The Bridges at Beresford, my hometown course built in 2005 south of the old course, is the only hole on the course that remains from its predecessor. It killed me when it was a short 410 yard par 5 and it slaughters me more now as a 380 yard par 4.

    It doesn't appear as daunting as it is from the tee. But a big tree on the left gets in my head and makes me worry about hooking. There is a dry or damp creek at about 210 yards if you duff it short. And unless you're a big hitter and can get the ball on or close to the top of the big hill for your approach, a giant pond in front of and left of the green is hidden from view on your second shot. I usually bomb my approach over the green into the bunker or out of bounds. That's only when I don't hit it short into the drink.

    Normal score for me on this hole is 7 or worse. I have never parred this hole. It's all in my head.

  • 1

    Central Valley - Hartford

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    I love playing at Central Valley in Hartford. I hate #11 on that course with all of my soul. The 508 yard par 5 is virtually the shape of a question mark. It's long and open and when you have a tendency to hook the ball, like I do, you will spend the entire hole navigating the trees that polka dot the rough left of the fairway.

    I have played Central Valley on three occasions when I was not part of a best ball tournament. Not one of those times have I approached the green without a tree in my way, nor have I scored lower than a 9. I found a scorecard in my bag last weekend from the last time I played it. That day in August I scored a 12, a septuple bogey.