Golf is a game enduringly defined by its focus on skill over intensity. A talented golf player may not resemble the usual pro athlete, but can make snap judgment calls and putt with precision. The typical golf course is similarly unassuming, sweeping expanses of green around water features and sand traps.
Not every course fits this mold, however. Some of the world’s courses are designed for exotic, bizarre, or even dangerous locales.
Skukuza Golf Course (South Africa)
Ever wanted an audience like the PGA pros? You may get your wish as Skukuza. Set in Kruger National Park, the course promises to be wild with the errant warthog or baboon judging your swing. The animals are free to wander as they please, but if golfers don’t mind giving them a respectful distance, it can make for a truly memorable experience.
Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course (Idaho, USA)
Draped in the blue lakes and bluer skies of Idaho, Coeur d’Alene boasts some of the most picturesque golfing imaginable. However, the strangeness comes into full effect on hole 13—where most of the water trap is the lake itself. The hole is situated on a tiny island, leading to watery graves for many, many golf balls.
The World Ice Golf Championship (Greenland)
Iceberg ahead, captain! Since 1999, the World Ice Golf Championship has been held in Uummannaq, Greenland. Players have to navigate across the treacherous ice while using specialized equipment, as certain clubs may shatter in these extreme temperatures. They’ll have to avoid hazards such as seal dens and frostbite in a one-of-a-kind round of golf.
Merapi Golf Course (Indonesia)
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Merapi, which is built in the shadow of an active volcano. For most of the year, the mountain spews smoke as golfers tee off. The mountain is the site of an active volcano monitoring program, with eruptions every two to three years.
El Camaléon (Mexico)
Watch your step at El Camaléon, or your pleasant afternoon golfing may turn into an inadvertent spelunking expedition! The course is named after the chameleon for all of the changes it goes through over 18 holes. Other than usual obstacles such as trees and sandtraps, golfers have to contend with entrances to underground caves that dot the course.
Camp Bonifas (Between North and South Korea)
Proof that avid golfers will play anywhere, Camp Bonifas is a single-hole course located on the Korean DMZ. It’s a perfectly pleasant place to play a game, except for the minor but distinct possibility of incoming artillery fire. Built for members of the American military stationed along the border, the course has been named the “most dangerous hole in golf.” Though nobody has died playing the course, don’t get any ideas about safely retrieving balls, as it is surrounding on three sides by minefields. In fact, at least one stray shot has detonated a mine in what is perhaps the most compelling argument to go inside and play a game of checkers instead.