Anyone who lives and breathes golf like we do has likely created a bucket list of some of the best courses in the world they want to someday play. Many courses, like Pebble Beach or Augusta, are pretty traditional in nature, but there are some unconventional courses to add to your list, too. From a snow-covered golf course in Iceland to an Indonesian golf course that’s right next to an active volcano, this article will explore some of the world’s most interesting golf courses. Golf may have a reputation for being boring, but these courses are anything but.
Legends Golf & Safari, South Africa
Known as the toughest par 3 in the world, the 19th hole at Legends Golf and Safari Resort in South Africa is about as extreme as they come. So extreme, in fact, that one wrong move could send you plummeting to your death. Accessible only by helicopter, the 19th hole is situated 1,300 feet above the green. Even without the precarious 19th hole, this course is still one of the toughest in the world, and you could even come face to face with lions, elephants, giraffes, and rhinos during play. If you do somehow make it to this course, make sure you come prepared with the right golf apparel and a helicopter or two.
Home to The Drambuie World Ice Golf Championship, Uummannaq is located 370 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The two-day, 36-hole tournament is played by 36 golfers who compete on a course made entirely of ice. Temperatures often drop below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and the contest rules are pretty much the same as a standard game of golf, except the holes are shorter, the cups are larger, and everything is frozen--including the golfers. Although it began in 1997 as an annual tournament, it’s been cancelled multiple times due to poor weather. Our tip? If you do attend the championship, stock up on super warm golf apparel and hope you don’t freeze to death.
Merapi Golf Course, Indonesia
In Hawaii, you can play golf and visit active volcanoes. In Indonesia, you can do both at the same time. The Merapi Golf Club sits at the base of Merapi Volcano, which is one of the more active volcanoes on Earth. In 2010, Indonesia raised its alert for Mount Merapi to its highest level and ordered locals to evacuate, but that hasn’t stopped golfers from heading to the course. Smoke can be seen emerging from Mount Merapi about 300 days a year, and smaller eruptions happen approximately every two to three years. A round at Merapi will produce some great vacation pictures, so be sure to pack a camera with the rest of your golf apparel. Worst case scenario? Be prepared to run for your life!
Furnace Creek Golf Course, California
Located in Death Valley National Park, Furnace Creek Golf Course sits 214 feet below sea level, making it the golf course with the lowest altitude in the world. This course should be played in the winter, unless playing golf in 130 degrees sounds like your cup of tea. Temperature aside, it’s one of the most gorgeous courses in the world, set against a picturesque backdrop of the orange and red Funeral Mountains. If you do head to Furnace Creek in the summer, take more than enough water, ultra-light golf apparel, and keep your eyes peeled for signs of dehydration. And if that wasn’t hot enough for you, head to the 19th Hole Cafe for a Mulligan Burger, crafted with green chili, sauteed onions, and cheese.
Prison View Golf Course, Louisiana
Prison View Golf Course is located on the grounds of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, and just might be the only golf course in America that requires a background check before you’re able to book a tee time. Despite its location, Prison View Golf Course is a public golf course, but that doesn’t mean it’s rules are the same as other golf courses. All guests must submit personal information, including social security number, at least 48 hours before play and play may be suspended at any time due to institutional need or at the Warden’s discretion. With €10 green fees and €5 cart rentals, we’re guessing they aren’t as strict when it comes to wearing the right golf apparel or following traditional etiquette.