St. Andrews. Pebble Beach. Augusta National. It’s easy for any golfer to rattle off the top courses in the world. But this story isn’t about green jackets and pristine fairways. It’s a study in hyperbole. In the search for the most unique courses, terms like longest, highest and craziest are as common as sand bunkers at Pine Valley. If you’re looking for adventure, forget about the classics and check out these mind-bending golf experiences that stray far off the fairway.
SKUKUZA GOLF COURSE
Leave the rifle and bring the clubs for this big game experience smack dab in the Kruger National Park. With no fences between the wildlife sanctuary and the course, be prepared to play through hippos, warthogs, baboons, impalas and more.
THE COEUR D'ALENE RESORT GOLF COURSE
As one of the top golf courses in the nation, this relatively close-to-home course sports one very unusual feature: a floating, movable island on its 14th hole. The par 3’s green changes position every day with the distance controlled by computer. Ride the Putter Boat shuttle to tap in your birdie.
Pros: Who doesn’t love a boat ride?
Cons: Scuba chipping.
KO'OLAU GOLF COURSE
Avoid this course if you’re actually looking to unwind on your Hawaiian vacation. With ravines, waterfalls and thick rain-forest flanking the fairways, this course is hard—really hard. In fact, it’s considered one of the toughest in the world. You might be better off paddling out to surf in double-overhead Pipeline.
Pros: Relishing a challenge.
Cons: Inevitable defeat.
GOVERNMENT GOLF COURSE
Smack the longest drive of your life at the highest course in the world. Reaching more than 8,500 feet above sea level, expect thin air and stunning mountain views at this 18-hole Himalayan hideout in Gulmarg, India. While you’re at it, you may as well schedule a side trip to Mount Everest. The only thing short about playing this course is your breath.
Pros: Long drives.
Cons: Short breath.
THE LEGEND GOLF RESORT
This one is a cliffhanger. With the tee of the “Extreme 19th Hole” approximately 1,400 vertical feet above the green, it can take up to 30 seconds for your ball to land on this par 3. Played from the tip of Hanglip Mountain, you need to ride a helicopter to reach the tee box. The rest of the course isn’t bad either.
Pros: Duh, it’s awesome.
Cons: Extreme green fee.
Is there a slight breeze? Perhaps the most controversial choice on the list, La Jenny is for uninhibited free spirits who prefer to hit the links without those pesky clothes getting in the way of their swing. Be sure to play this spot in the summer.
If ice golf sounds appealing to you, consider this your ticket to the pearly gates. Every March, the World Ice Golf Championship takes place in Greenland on a course laid out on icebergs. The course is shorter, the holes are larger, the ball is orange and the temperatures are subzero. Open to all comers, the organizers recommend bringing clubs with steel shafts—they tend to hold up better in the cold.
Pros: Long-lasting sunlight.
WOLF CREEK GOLF RESORT
Although they haven’t built a course on the moon yet, this is a close second. With spectacular lunar-like landscape, the world-class course is a roller-coaster ride through the desert canyons of Mesquite. Put it this way, they make you sign a waiver just to drive a golf cart.
Pros: Lunar landings.
Cons: Wrecking your golf cart.
Whether it’s Bellevue Municipal or Newcastle, it doesn’t take much to spice things up at your home course. Be the hero when you normally lay up, play in the winter or dust off that club you never use—if you’re bored of your home course, it’s time to get creative.
Pros: Local knowledge.
Cons: Duffing a shot in front of all your friends.
The Back Nine:
Lajitas Golf Resort, Texas
Watch out for minutemen on this border course. Chip into Mexico on the last hole.
Zuohai Aquarium, China
Home of the world’s only underwater golf tournament. The dolphin isn’t your caddy.
Camp Bonifas, Korea
Miss the fairway at your peril on this par-3 hole on the North Korean border. No bunkers, just live landmines.
Nullarbor Links Course,
Spanning two time zones, Nullarbor is the longest golf course in the world at 848 miles. Play a hole at each rest stop.
Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, Indiana
Like fast cars and fast golf? This course actually has four of its
holes on the inside of the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If the green flag starts waving, don’t try to play through.
Lost City Golf Course,
Water hazards that actually live up to their name with dozens of crocodiles waiting to eat more than your golf ball.
North Star Golf Course,
Play all night on top of the permafrost at North America’s northernmost course. Wildlife abounds.
The Opal Fields Golf Club,
All bunkers, all the time. Don’t expect even a patch of bentgrass
in this desert mining town.
Royal Colombo Golf Club,
All aboard. Four holes cross over the Kelani Valley steam railroad. Make sure to loft your shots over the passenger cars.