If you love golf, chances are you love the feeling of being out on the golf course. The smooth fairways surrounded nature and vegetation, and that open-space feeling… There’s something special about it.
But these golf courses are a bit different. Some of them aren’t green. Some of them don’t have that same feeling. And some of them are just a little crazy. But this list of the strangest golf courses in the world is fascinating enough that we’re sure some of them will end up on your must-play list!
Furnace Creek Golf Course, California, USA
Furnace Creek Golf course has the unique distinction of being the lowest-altitude golf course you can find. Sitting smack in the middle of Death Valley at 214 feet below sea level.
But the altitude isn’t the only thing that makes this golf course a tricky one. It’s also right in the exact area that’s also recorded the hottest surface temperature anywhere on earth, ever—201 degrees Fahrenheit, back in July 1972!
Although it’s unlikely to be that hot while you’re on the course, summer temperatures do reach 130 degrees on some days. Winter is the best time to play here for obvious reasons!
The golf is great, though. A typical desert resort course, it's been rated one of the country’s toughest courses, in large part due to the increased barometric pressure… Which can make your most powerful drive feel like you’re playing mini-golf. Best for high or mid-handicappers!
This strange-looking and sounding golf course is not the usual green wonderland you’re used to when you head out for a round. Located on the island of Uummannaq in Greenland, you won’t be playing on fairways and greens—you’ll be playing on ice and snow.
It’s home to the World Ice Golf Championships, and in complete contrast to the above course, the temperatures can drop -58 degrees Fahrenheit! You better bundle up if you want to play this one because you may also have icy winds to contend with.
It’s also the northernmost course in the world, so it’s definitely one for the bucket list! Other interesting differences include shorter-than-usual holes, larger cups than average, and a bright orange golf ball… Otherwise, losing balls would be an every-shot kind of thing!
Royal Thimphu Golf Club, Bhutan
Did you ever think you could play a round of golf in the Himalayas? At the Royal Thimphu Golf Club, you can. Hidden in the curves of the mountains, this course is the highest one in the world, sitting at over 7,700 feet above sea level.
It’s a 9-hole course, but each hole has 2 separate sets of tees, so you can play the full course twice. The scenery is spectacular, with views of the Tashichho Dzong Buddhist monastery, a work of art that’s been standing since the 17th century and that houses the King’s Palace as well.
It’s common to see dogs and cows on the fairways, which makes it interesting but also adds moving hazards! The ball flies very nicely in the thin air, but beware of the rough—you won’t find a ball after it’s landed there.
Merapi Golf Course, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Enjoy a thrill of adrenaline? If you want to mix that feeling with the usual tranquility of playing golf, play a round at Merapi Golf Course in Indonesia. It’s located right underneath an active volcano, Mt. Merapi, which is one of the most active volcanoes on earth, having erupted multiple times in the last 2 decades. You need a certain bravery to play here!
The course is lush and well-manicured and surprisingly has fairly small elevation changes, considering it’s basically on a mountain. Don’t get too distracted by the beautiful views of the mountain peak in the background because there’s enough trickiness in the course to need your full attention.
Dog legs, blind shots, and bunker-guarding sand traps make every hole a challenge. But you do get a compulsory caddie, so make the most of their knowledge and insider tricks and tips!
Hans Merensky Golf Club, Phalaborwa, South Africa
On the golf course, you expect peace, beauty, and perhaps the sweet chirping of some local birds. What you don’t expect is to come face to face with animals that could kill you… This is exactly what you get here at Hans Merensky Golf Club in South Africa.
Located on the edge of the famous Kruger National Park, the golf course is home to a variety of wild animals—including leopards, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and more.
They typically keep their distance from the golfers, but there’s always a chance that one of them gets curious and comes a bit too close. Don’t even think about hunting for lost balls, either… You never know what might be lurking in the long grass!
La Jenny Naturist Domain, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
We’ve left the strangest for last. At La Jenny Naturist Domain in France, nudity is compulsory, so don't even think about playing here unless you’re willing to take your clothes off. It’s a very unusual experience, out of the realm of usual prim-and-proper golf etiquette, and definitely won’t be for everybody!
It’s located in a holiday village that’s known to be naturist, so you can’t just walk in and play. The course is only open to vacationers staying in the village, so if you’re up for a bit of an unusual adventure, rent a chalet!
As for the golf course, it’s not the weirdest or the trickiest out there. It’s a nice play for golfers of all levels and also features a driving range if you want to practice a bit, use your training aids, or get a lesson from a pro.
You can rent clubs, gloves, caps, and other golf tools at the pro shop. While the course is open year-round, nudity is only compulsory if the weather permits. However, if you play on a warm day, remember to layer up with sunscreen… You won’t want to get sunburnt in places that aren't even used to the light!
Have you played on any of these courses? They’re absolutely unique, offering so much more than just golf. Despite being labeled as the strangest golf courses in the world, they’re all well worth playing if you have the guts to do so!
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. When he’s not on the course working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he writes in-depth articles for his website, Golf Influence.