The Highest Single Hole Scores in the History of the PGA

By Mike Southern
Kevin Na took a 16 on a par-4 during the 2011 Valero Texas Open.
Kevin Na took a 16 on a par-4 during the 2011 Valero Texas Open.

Every golfer has made an embarrassingly high score at some point. Some, such as the late Seve Ballesteros, have taken it with more humor than others. When asked how he four-putted a green during his round, he replied "I miss, I miss, I miss, I make." Ballesteros's quadruple bogey would have been a welcome score for the players on the list of highest single-hole scores in PGA Tour history. There is some disagreement among sources, so the scores listed here are the records that are agreed upon.

12-Over Par

Kevin Na's score of 16 on the par-4 9th hole at TPC San Antonio during the 2011 Valero Texas Open is the most recent single-hole score on the list. It is also one of the most well-known, thanks to YouTube. According to PGATOUR.com, the score included "an unplayable lie from the tee, a two-stroke penalty after the ball ricocheted off a tree and struck him, and five consecutive strokes from the woods." During the 2012 Valero Texas Open, Na good-naturedly returned to the scene with a camera crew. He helped clear some of the area with a chainsaw, then left the shirt he originally wore as a "sacrifice" to the golf gods.

13-Over Par

Golf Digest reports that Gary McCord carded a 16 on the par-3 16th at Colonial, but it doesn't say when that happened and PGATOUR.com doesn't mention it in an article about the worst scores. According to PGATOUR.com, however, a score of 13-over was posted by John Daly, who required 18 strokes to complete the par-5 6th on the course at Bay Hill Club & Lodge during the 1998 Arnold Palmer Invitational. His score included six shots into the water.

18-Over Par

The Silver Scot, Tommy Armour, is on record with a 23 on a par 5 at the 1927 Shawnee Open. Ironically, that was the same year that he beat Bobby Jones to win his only U.S. Open. It was the first instance of an "archaeopteryx," a single-hole score of 15 or more over par. It happened the very next week after the Open, proving that even the legendary players of the game have experienced horrible scores in the midst of their greatest triumphs.

19-Over Par

The worst single-hole golf score of all time on the PGA Tour -- at least the one one which most sources agree -- is Ray Ainsley's 23 on the par-4 16th at Cherry Hills during the 1938 U.S. Open. While the tour didn't keep records of single-hole scores at that time, his 19 over par is still recognized by the PGA Tour as the worst ever. It's a place in golf history Ainsley would probably have preferred not to have.

About the Author

North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.

Photo Credits

  • Hunter Martin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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