They call it Qualifying School, but it’s really a series of cruel exams. Each year, 170 hopefuls are taught a lesson as they bid for 30 spots on the PGA Tour. Are you ready to test your own mettle at these Q-School venues?
Oak Valley Golf Club
Beaumont, Calif. – 7,003 yards, par 72; Greens fee: $40-$75 951-769-9771, oakvalleygolf.com
One of Southern California’s best bargains, it has greens with the glassy look of Augusta National, the pride of a superintendent as finicky as Felix Unger.
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PGA West Stadium Course
La Quinta, Calif. – 7,266 yards, par 72; Greens fee: $170-$195 800-742-9378, pgawest.com
Pete Dye designed this demanding track as the anti-resort course, doing away with forgiving fairways and jealously guarding his greens with sand.
PGA of Southern California (Champions Course)
Calimesa, Calif. – 7,377 yards, par 72; Greens fee: $55-$75 877-742-2500, scpga.com
This layout is rougher-hewn than Oak Valley, but the views of the San Bernadino Mountains are terrific, and the price is right.
Hombre Golf Club
Panama City, Fla. – 6,831 yards, par 72; Greens fee: $75 850-234-3673, hombregolfclub.com
The Hombre might tempt you to try the red tees. Of its 27 holes, the original two nines are called the “Bad” and the “Ugly.”
Orange County National
Winter Garden, Fla. – Crooked Cat: 7,277 yards, par 72 Panther Lake: 7,175 yards, par 72 Greens fee: $75-$130 888-727-3672, www.ocngolf.com
The two courses here — Crooked Cat and Panther Lake — are different animals. Panther Lake can be a beast, with pine-lined fairways and forced carries over water. Crooked Cat’s fairways are forgiving, but the back nine plays into the wind and is one tough tabby.
TPC of Tampa Bay
Tampa, Fla. – 6,898 yards, par 71; Greens fee: $75-$153 813-949-0090, tpc.com
This TPC course curls naturally through reedy wetlands. The Champions Tour holds its Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am here, which is fitting since holes like the 452-yard, par-4 15th with water on the left are bigger bites than you can chew.