9 Of The World's Most Unusual Golf Courses
By Josh Lew,
Mother Nature Network, 14 April 2015.

Natural design

People are rarely indifferent about the game of golf. They either define it as a challenging and exciting sport or write it off as too boring and elitist.

The one area of agreement tends to be an appreciation for the design and landscape architecture that goes into creating the world’s best golf courses. These natural spaces are laid out to be both beautiful to admire and challenging to play.

But not all fairways and greens look alike. Here are nine examples of courses that are wildly creative in their designs or that have unique traits that make them unlike anything else in the world.

1. Merapi Golf Course, Indonesia


About 30 minutes from the city of Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java, Merapi Golf Course sits in the shadow of a very active volcano. This is a public par-72 course known for its stunning surroundings. Merapi has always been a popular stop for residents and visitors. The club is more than 2,000 feet above sea level, so it is much cooler and cleaner than the nearby city.

The course’s namesake volcano is constantly smoking in the background. It occasionally erupts, covering the fairways and greens in ash. Though past eruptions have caused death and destruction, today the mountain is carefully monitored for seismic activity.

2. Leopard Creek Country Club, South Africa


The Leopard Creek Country Club has a world-class golf course that has hosted professional tournaments. It is widely thought of as one of the world’s most nature-friendly courses. In fact, the natural world still thrives at Leopard Creek. The course’s 13th hole has a water hazard that is famous, not for its difficulty, but for its animal inhabitants. Crocodiles swim in the pond here.

Leopard Creek sits right next to one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, Kruger National Park. Not only are the toothy crocs a common sight, but players can also sometimes see elephants, hippos and buffalo. Though the course is private, it is possible to book a round through a number of the safari lodges that are in the area.

3. Coober Pedy Opal Fields Golf Course, Australia

Photo: AusEmade

Saying that the Opal Fields Golf Club at Coober Pedy is unique is an understatement. The owners claim it is the only course in the world that has reciprocal rights with Scotland’s famous St. Andrews. The fairways and greens look very different from your average country club. However, Opal Fields does have the standard 18 holes and a total par score of 72.

Because of the desert surroundings, you won’t find green fairways here. This is a completely grassless course. Players hit off a piece of artificial turf and the “greens” are soaked in a type of oil so that they remain packed and the sand does not blow away in the sometimes heavy winds.

4. Legend Golf Resort, South Africa


At 690 yards, the 19th hole at South Africa’s Legend Golf Resort is very long but is only a par 3. The tee is more than 1,000 feet above the green on the slope of Hanglip Mountain. You actually have to reach the top by helicopter.

Legend is an unusual course even without the “Extreme 19th.” It features 18 holes each designed by a different golfer. Despite the distance of the 19th, at least 15 people have managed to make a birdie.

5. Le Touessrok Golf Course, Mauritius


Situated on the island nation of Mauritius, Le Touessrok is a stunningly beautiful course. Holes run right up to the water and white sand beaches that characterize this part of the Indian Ocean. Many courses in the world have challenging island holes, but few have their own island. That’s right, aside from the 18 tees, fairways and greens, there is nothing else on the island.

To get to this course, players have to take a 10-minute boat ride. The island’s mangrove forests, beaches and lagoons are a part of the landscape. The course was designed by two-time masters champion Bernhard Langer.

6. Uummannaq, Greenland


The small town of Uummannaq is about 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle. This is the home of the World Ice Golf Championship, which was first held in 1999. It was originally created by a local hotel owner, but it’s not a gimmick.

Golfers from all over the world come to play here and the rules are strictly applied, with some variations to account for the conditions. Certain types of clubs cannot be used because they shatter at such low temperatures. Hazards include seal dens and crevasses, and players are taught how to spot frostbite before they tee off.

7. Royal Thai Air Force Golf Course, Thailand

Photo: Alec Wilson/Flickr

There are golf courses near airports, but the Royal Thai Air Force course at Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport is certainly the strangest. This course has absolutely no separation from the tarmac. When planes land, a red light is illuminated to tell golfers not to tee off. The holes do not cross the runway, but a shank could easily connect with a plane. The public can play at this course, and the fees are surprisingly reasonable.

8. Nullarbor Links, Australia

Photo: Chris Fithall/Flickr

Nullarbor Links is the world’s longest golf course. It stretches along the Eyre Highway in southern Australia. Despite its claim to fame, this is not the kind of course where you hit the ball down the side of the blacktop as trucks whiz by. Nullarbor is actually a standard par-72, 18-hole course. The distance between the green and the following tee is what makes it so long.

The Eyre is known as a desolate highway that is mostly travelled by “land trains,” which are trucks with multiple trailers. The course is an attempt to bring tourists to the region. Local golf courses, small towns and “roadhouses” along the highway each take care of one of the 18 holes. In all, players have to travel over 800 miles along the highway to complete the course.

9. Forest Hills Golf Course, Wisconsin, USA

Photo: Jim Bauer/Flickr

Sometimes, hazards can be dangerous for more than your golf ball. That is the case at the Forest Hills Golf Course in La Crosse, Wisconsin. This rural course not far from Minneapolis-St. Paul has active railroad tracks running through it. The line runs through the first and 18th holes. Luckily, players get a free drop if their ball lands on the tracks or the rock bed that sits on either side of it.

[Source: Mother Nature Network. Edited.]

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