The 79th Masters teed off on Thursday and has captivated fans of the game over the weekend. With McIlroy bidding to be only the sixth man to win all four majors and Tiger Woods once again aiming to stop the seven-year rot, Augusta’s luscious greens will look a tempting proposition to spectators around the globe; perhaps inspiring a golfing getaway in the near future…
Whilst every gent with a half-decent swing has his bucket list of tees – St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Pine Valley etc. – what about the courses that are a little more unconventional; the fairways that are off the beaten path and in some pretty insane regions?
MERAPI GOLF COURSE, INDONESIA
30 minutes from the ancient city of Yogyakarta, the Merapi Golf Course sits at the bottom of an active volcano, Mount Merapi. Smoke can be seen some 300-plus days of the year and sitting 800 meters above sea level, the heat is tempered somewhat. Eruptions do happen regularly and often have a devastating impact on the course so it’s worth getting a round in when you can. The views alone of the mountain and Yogha should be enough to entice anyone.
CAMP BONIFAS, NORTH-SOUTH KOREA
No one really considers golf to be a dangerous game; the threat of a stray shot is about the limit when it comes to hazard. Bonifas Camp golf course, however, is one that’ll get the heart racing. A former UN command post near the Korean Demilitarised Zone, which acts as a buffer between the two nations, is host to this one-hole course. If the location isn’t enough to make your palms sweaty as you step up, the rough is littered with landmines left over from the war – at least one has been detonated by an errant ball.
Carpet-like greens and groomed fairways are what we all associate with any course worth its weight in clubs. This notion is challenged, however, by the world’s northernmost course on the shelf ice in Greenland. Venue of the annual World Ice Golf Championship, the white balls are swapped out for orange replacements so you can see them in the snow, although the weather conditions will dictate whether you can actually play. Clubs with graphite shafts are not recommended, as they can shatter in the extreme temperatures.
DON MUEANG AIRPORT GOLF COURSE, THAILAND
A gentleman’s game, a respectful silence surrounds any tee shot, unless you’re playing at Don Mueang in Thailand. The airport owners decided to capitalise on all the extra space with an 18-hole course right next to the tarmac. Anyone playing is required to wear noise-cancelling headphones because, you know, the jets take off right next to where you’re about to chip from.
NULLARBOR LINKS, AUSTRALIA
A round of golf takes a couple of hours out of a day at best. The Nullarbor Links on the other hand is a good couple of days worth of golfing. The par 72 spans 1,365 kilometres and two time zones, traversing the Eyre Highway from Western to South Australia. You’re not expected to complete the behemoth in one sitting, there’s accommodation in the towns along the way.
BONUS: THE EXTREME 19TH, LEGEND GOLF RESORT, SOUTH AFRICA
This par 3 hole starts with a tee shot 400m above the ground atop Hanglip Mountain, and is only accessible by helicopter. The green is in the shape of Africa and Padraig Harrington is one of the select few to actually par it.