WHEN PEOPLE TEE up for a game of golf, chances are they’re preparing to play nine or 18 average holes. For people looking for something more challenging than rough grass, sand, and water hazards, here are nine unusual golf courses around the world guaranteed to be more memorable than the local links.
At nearly 850 miles long, this 18-hole, par-72 golf course is the longest in the world. There is one hole in each participating town along the Eyre Highway from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia; the average distance between each hole is 50 miles on average. Each hole has a standard tee and green with the raw Australian backdrop serving as the landscape along the fairways.
The first 18 holes at this golf course make up the longest golf course in South Africa, but it’s the optional 19th hole that puts this course on the map. It is a par-3 course, but golfers need to ride a helicopter to reach the tee, which is 1,410 vertical feet high. Tracking equipment and four video cameras allow golfers to track the flight of the ball. The green is in the shape of Africa in honor of the African Renaissance.
North of the Arctic Circle, golfers gather at the course created in Uummannaq for the World Ice Golf Championship. The event is a 36-hole competition played over the course of two days, but competitors get a feel for the course via a “Ryder Cup”-style tournament held the day before the championship begins. The creation of the nine-hole course is dictated by the weather, sea, and ice, and only good weather and safe ice conditions determine whether the championship will be played each year.
When course designer Scott Miller decided to create a course that offered a stimulating round of golf, I’m not sure anyone envisioned a floating green. Today, the 14th hole at this course is the site of the world’s only floating green, which hovers 150 yards offshore. The putting surface is 15,000 square feet and can only be reached via the Putter Boat shuttle. Upon completing the hole, golfers receive a certificate of achievement.
Reaching the “green” at this golf course is anything but green. This 18-hole grassless golf course has small patches of grass planted at the tees, but beyond those areas, the Coober Pedy Opal Fields Golf Course is essentially one long sand trap.
Some people visit Indianapolis to watch the races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Others go to golf next to—and inside of—the same track. For the most part, Brickyard Crossing is an average golf course, except that four of its 14 holes are located inside of the 2.5-mile track. There’s even a water hazard in the shape of a lake within the confines of the track.
Named the World’s Most Dangerous Golf Course by Sports Illustrated in 1988, this single, 192-yard, par-3 hole is located in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. It is bordered on three sides by minefields. Upon entering the course, players are advised not to retrieve balls that have strayed off course.
This par-72 golf course sits right on the border of Kruger National Park, which overflows with wildlife. It’s just another day on the course if golfers encounter elephants, giraffes, or zebras while making their way down the fairway.
For more wildlife sightings, check out North Star Golf Club, North America’s northernmost golf course and probably the only golf course in the world that includes an animal checklist on the scorecard. Those teeing off in the early morning and late afternoon are most likely to see the animals that wander near and on the course, which include moose, waterfowl, muskrat, eagles, fox, hawks, and coyotes. Though rare, grizzly bears and lynx have been spotted on the course as well.