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The World’s Strangest Golf Courses

Golf is a strange sport. Hitting a small ball into a tiny hole a great distance away may seem to casual observers a ridiculous and difficult endeavour. Given the bizarre nature of the sport itself, it stands to reason that many of the courses on which the game takes place will also be strange. For example, there is a world-famous ‘19th hole’ in South Africa, at the Legend Signature Golf Course. The “Extreme 19th” requires a helicopter ride up to the tee, where there is a 360-metre distance to the hole. Oh, and as it is at the top of a mountain, there is also a 400-metre vertical distance. A prize worth over $1m is on offer for the first player to get a hole in one on the Extreme 19th. This hole in Pretoria is one of a kind, but there are plenty of other places in the world where this extreme golf is not confined to a single hole but the entire course. On these courses, you may not find Rory McIlroy, a major championship, or any golf betting, but you will find a world of strange and tricky experiences to challenge any golfer.

Uummannaq, Greenland

This is the world’s most northerly golf course. Uummannaq is the home of the annual World Ice Golf Championship. Situated 350 miles into the Arctic Circle, this island off the coast of Greenland trades-in pristine greens and fairways for smooth icy ‘whites’ and snowy rough. The course changes every year due to shifting ice patterns, and this is by far the only challenge for players. The temperature can drop as low as -50 Celsius, and as a result graphite clubs are not recommended as it is likely they could snap in the cold. The holes are shorter, orange balls are used, the cups are larger, and tips to survive the weather are handed around before teeing off. Other than that, it is a standard round.

Nullabor Links, Nullabor Plains, Australia

From the freezing cold of Greenland to the heat of Australia. This is the longest golf course in the world, spanning almost 1375 kilometres and two time zones. The course crosses two states, with the first hole in Western Australia and the 18th in Ceduna, South Australia. Finishing a round in one day is as close to impossible as you could ever get; there is plenty of accommodation in each town that hosts a hole though. A lot of the greens are Astro-turfed, and between that and the tee is a lot of harsh outback desert terrain. The furthest distance between holes is almost 200km, which leaves plenty of time for players to forget their double bogey.

Merapi Golf Club, Slemen, Indonesia

This is a stunning course and, at first glance, seems relatively normal. With Mount Merapi in the background, it should make for a relaxing and picturesque round. However, Mount Merapi is an active volcano. Any non-golf fans that claim the game is dull or boring cannot use that as an argument in Siemen, Indonesia. Smoke can be seen emanating from the mountain for around 300 days of the year, and eruptions are regular enough to put anyone off their swing. The last serious eruption, in November 2013, spewed ash over a mile into the air and, unsurprisingly, caused the course to be closed.

Prison View Golf Course, Louisiana

Prison View Golf Course is a 9-hole course situated in Angola State Prison, Louisiana. Once a cotton plantation, Angola took its name from the country in Africa whose people they had enslaved, and this is by no means the last dark element of this course. Nicknamed “the Alcatraz of the South,” it was formerly one of the United States of America’s most violent institutions. No convicted criminals are allowed to play, and all firearms are banned. Tee times must be booked in plenty of time to allow for a thorough background check. Prisoners are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the course but cannot play on it. For just $10, golfers can complete the nine holes and then enjoy a meal, prepared and cooked by prisoners, in the clubhouse.

Kabul Golf Course, Afghanistan

This course was opened in 2004 by Mohammad Afzal Abdul. There are nine holes, no grass, and a troubled history for this round in the Afghan capital. It has been known as both “The Most Dangerous” and “The Least Played” course in the world. Taliban death threats and the subsequent murder of Mohammad Afzal Abdul’s brother have not been successful in closing the course. It is, as may be expected, a dusty, rocky, and unforgiving round. The greens are ‘browns’; a compacted combination of oil and sand. To remain operational during the conflicts that have torn the country apart since 2001 is no mean feat. Luxury operators Cavalry and Company have a speciality in visits to courses such as the one in Kabul. A private helicopter in and out is a necessity for Western visitors to make their way around the nine holes. As well as being one of the most dangerous courses in the world, the “Mount Everest of Golf” would put a lot of financial strain on the average golfer.

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