It is not always the hardest rated handicap hole, or a signature hole, but they all have one thing in common for me — par is a fantastic score!

Having been at Lake of the Ozarks for more than 25 years I have played all of the golf courses many times. Each course is unique and challenging in its own special way.

I have analyzed them all from my personal experiences and pinpointed the most challenging hole on each course according to my game. It is not always the hardest rated handicap hole, or a signature hole, but they all have one thing in common for me — par is a fantastic score!

They may not be the longest holes on the course but for whatever reason I have trouble on these holes each and every time.

Let’s start our tour in Eugene at Redfield Golf Course. Many a good round has been spoiled on the par 5 17th hole. Playing 578 yards from the back tee, this hole challenges me with two separate water hazards. Off the tee water comes into play at the end of the fairway.

Depending on the tee you play you may have to lay-up short of the water. A well-positioned tee shot will leave you 160 to 200 yards from the next water hazard. Depending on the wind, your lie and the distance will determine whether you try to clear it. If you are successful you leave yourself a short iron approach to the green, but if you lay-up or hit your ball in the water you are left with 150 to 180 yards for your approach to this green.

Our next stop is Eldon Golf Club and the par 5 7th hole. This very narrow uphill hole is challenging from start to finish. Depending on the tee you play you could have as much as a 210 yard carry over a small creek that cuts through this hole. With trees on both the right and left sides accuracy is a must.

If you manage to clear the creek and hit a quality 2nd you are left with a short to mid-iron uphill to this very narrow deep green. Missing the green left, right or short will leave you a near impossible chip to this elevated green.

Rolling Hills Country Club in Versailles features the difficult par 4 16th hole. This long uphill slight dogleg right features a semi-blind tee ball. If you have not played the hole before, it is best to drive your cart up ahead to get the lay of the land.

Be a little off line with your drive, you may find yourself in the tall fescue that lines the right hand side of this hole. A well-placed tee ball will leave you with a mid-to-long iron or possibly even a fairway metal into this long narrow green depending on the wind.

Indian Rock Golf Club in Laurie features one of the shortest holes on the countdown, the 340-yard par 4 6th hole. This short downhill hole features a pond at the end of the fairway that forces you to lay-up with your tee ball. A well-placed drive will leave you a short iron approach to one of the most difficult greens in the area.

Slopped severely from back to front you want to avoid being past the flagstick at all costs. Two putts is no guarantee from anywhere on the green and 3 or 4 putting is common if you find yourself on the wrong side of the hole.

The Club at Porto Cima’s 458-yard par 4 2nd hole may be the hardest hole for me to play at the Lake. Two fairway bunkers narrow the fairway considerably off the tee and usually a good drive of mine will find its way into one of those. Not being able to blast my tee ball over these leaves me to lay-up short of them or take my chances trying to split the middle.

If successful, I am left with a fairway metal into this uphill green guarded by a bunker on the left. Many times I am hitting my 3rd from the deep rough, short and left of the green. The approach slopes severely right to left and any ball not reaching the green will inevitably end up in the left rough. You are now left with an awkward semi-blind uphill approach. I’ll take five most days and head to the third!!

Old Kinderhook Golf Resort’s par 5 14th hole is another visibly challenging hole. Off the tee only the right side of the fairway is visible and out of bounds is just a few paces from the cart path on the right. A large pond guards the left which is not visible from the tee.

Once in play a very large fairway bunker guards the right side of this fairway and another guards the left leaving a very small opening if you are not able to carry the bunker on the right. A large undulating uphill green awaits your approach and it is difficult to get your ball to stop close to the pin. Watch out for the bunkers short and right of the green that attract many a stray approach.

Across the street we challenge the par 4 455-yard 4th hole at the Lake Valley Golf Club. This lengthy par 4 plays slightly downhill on the drive and severely uphill to the green. If you are lucky enough to split the fairway here you will be left with a long iron approach with a large bunker guarding the right side of the green.

The challenging part is splitting the fairway. If you find your ball just a little right or left of center a large grouping of very tall trees will impede your approach on either side. Hitting over them is normally not an option so being able to shape your ball left or right will be the only play to the green. Oh, did I mention the creek running across the middle of the fairway!

Heading toward Osage Beach we find ourselves at the Golf Club at Deer Chase and their par 4 17th hole. One of the narrowest holes anywhere will challenge any player. Out of bounds right, and underbrush and trees to the left, hitting the fairway is your only option.

The problem here is the fairway slopes severely from right to left, so you are forced to play your shot towards the out of bounds on the right or hit a soft cut shot into the slope to keep it from running across and into the underbrush. Once you manage to get your ball in the fairway the approach shot is no picnic. The shot plays slightly uphill to a two-tier green and a bunker guards the right side.

In Osage Beach we find The Oaks and Hidden Lakes at the Tan-Tar-A Resort. The par 4 18th hole at The Oaks is long and difficult. This dogleg left plays uphill off the tee and downhill to a very small and sloped green.

Originally designed as a par 5 the green was intended to receive short iron approach shots not mid-to-long iron semi-blind approaches. Most approach shots that land on the green fall off to the right and you are left with an uphill pitch. This is preferred over missing the green to the left however. Missing left will find you in a bunker or awkward lie pitching to a green that is slopped away from you. If you find yourself here you might as well be content with finishing your round with a bogey or worse.

The par 4 3rd hole at Hidden Lakes will have you waiting to tee off to time your shot with the traffic. State Road KK runs parallel to the right of the hole and many a ball ends up on the road or across it. One of the most demanding and scariest tee shots you will hit at the Lake. Once you do find the fairway the uphill approach plays a club longer and a large steep bunker guards the majority of the green so make sure you hit an extra club.

Bear Creek Valley Golf Club’s 438-yard par 4 13th hole is next of the most challenging list. This dogleg right uphill hole plays much longer than the yardage indicates. From the back tee it takes a tee shot of over 200 yards to reach the fairway. Leave your tee ball on the right side and you are blocked out by a stable of trees.

The green is small and slopes left to right so a precise semi-blind long iron is a must to have any chance of par. Missing the green to the right will find your ball in an impossible up and down position.

The Lodge of Four Seasons gives us The Ridge and The Cove. The Cove’s signature hole the par 3 4th hole, tops out at over 230 yards. This hole plays uphill surrounded by bunkers and you must play over “witches’ cove” of the Lake of the Ozarks. Beautiful and picturesque, this hole will take its toll on any round. Take plenty of clubs, and if you are going to miss the green, aim a little left to the small and only bail out area on the hole!! The Ridge features one of the most difficult par 5 holes anywhere.

The 6th hole starts with a very demanding elevated tee shot to an extremely narrow fairway with water right and underbrush left. Successfully hitting the fairway will enable you to lay your second shot up to set up your approach over the creek to this severely uphill shallow but very long green. If the pin is back left on the third tier of this three-tiered green it is almost impossible to get the ball close. Two-putts are not the norm on this hole and either is a par!

Osage National Golf Resort is our last stop around the Lake and is where we find the challenging par 3 4th hole on the River nine. It can play as long as 240 yards this demanding tee shot plays over a creek to a green that runs away from the player from left to right.

The severely-slopped green is no picnic to two-putt and the only place to miss it to have a good chance of making par is short left leaving yourself a somewhat uphill pitch. Long and left is where many a shot will end up and from there bogey is a good score. If you are fortunate enough to birdie this hole, take pride in ringing the birdie bell as you exit the green and take your well-deserved honors to the 5th tee.

I hope you have enjoyed the tour of the Lake of the Ozarks most challenging and demanding golf holes. Now get out there and make your own memories this summer, and make some birdies you will be proud of. I know there are a lot of birdies to be made as I can count on one hand the amount I have made on these holes. Best of luck and enjoy!