You wouldn’t usually put the words ‘dangerous’ and ‘golf’ in the same sentence would you. Well believe it or not there a few golf courses around the world where the death or injury is just a shot away.
For many, the of thought of teeing-off on a course with live mines, carnivorous crocodiles, active volcanoes and a maximum-security prisoners sounds ridiculous and absurd. The treats highlighted in the courses below are real and several have actually claimed the life of an unsuspecting golfer or two.
Camp Bonifas, South Korea
Built in 1972 to aggravate the North Koreans, the course has the official title of ‘World’s Most Dangerous Golf Course’. Sitting slap bang in the middle between the Korean Demilitarised Zone and a South Korea Army base, the former UN command post plays host to a humble one hole, but knowing that the rough surrounding the astroturf is filled with live landmines left over from the Korean War, means that one hole is probably enough.
The course is named after a soldier killed nearby in the line of duty. The course remains watched over by machine-gun nests and miles of barbed wire, making for a less than inviting setting.
Hitting a clean shot of the Tee has never been as important, as a stray-shot into the rough can set-off mines and yes retrieving balls is forbidden!
Skukuza Golf Course, South Africa
Built in 1972, the 9-hole Skukuza Golf Course in the world-renowned Kruger National Park, South Africa, is entirely unfenced, meaning wild lions, leopards, rhinos and other dangerous animal regularly wander onto the course.
Hole 9 is played across the aptly named ‘Lake Panic’, home to a family of hippopotamuses and crocs and where, last year, a player was killed by a crocodile whilst retrieving balls from lake. Whilst larger attacks are rare, the staff are also regularly injured by other smaller animals.
Merapi Golf Course, Indonesia
The Merapi Golf Course in Indonesia is one of natural beauty, peace and spirituality; you can almost hear the soothing panpipe music. The only slightly concerning factor that may upset your inner Zen is the great big smoking volcano beside you. The volcano is active with a capital A, and erupts regularly, most recently in 2010 where it killed 122 people. Signs appear all around the course warning of its dangers and that, unsurprisingly, play will be stopped if it erupts.
Prison View Golf Course, Louisiana State Penitentiary, USA
Louisiana State Penitentiary is the only maximum security prison in the state, with nearly all of its inmates either on death row or serving life sentences. The prison has its very own 9-hole golf course, managed and run by the inmates (who are forbidden from playing).
However, if you’re after a tee time here, you’ll need to submit your details for screening 48 hours in advance and hand over cameras, maps and other items before playing. Play can be suspended at any time and has been several times due to riots, attempted breakouts, and various other emergencies.
Uummannaq Golf Course, Greenland
Known as the coldest and most northerly golf course in the world, the Uuummannaq Golf course lies 600km north of the Arctic Circle, and since 1997 has played host to the World Ice Golf Championships. Bright orange balls are used for obvious reasons, and graphite clubs are banned due to the fact the cold can snap them in half. If all this wasn’t a tad troubling, like Camp Bonifas, players must sign a waiver agreeing to possible death in the frequent, wait for it, -50°C temperatures.
Furnace Creek Golf Course, Death Valley, California, USA
Furnace Creek Golf Course in house in the world famous Death Valley. With inviting words like ‘furnace’ and ‘death’ you’d be a fool not to immediately rush out to Cali with clubs and a few gallons of water in tow. This 18-hole course is the lowest course in the world and is nestled right in Death Valley – the hottest place in the world. Here the mercury can climb as high as 60 degrees Celsius, so the name is more than fitting. Visitors are often rescued by helicopter due to dehydration, and in 2011 the course hosted the Heatstroke Open where brave (or stupid) players faced 50 degree heat.
La Paz Golf Course, Bolivia, South America
The course is the world’s highest: Sitting at a dizzying 11,000 feet this gives you a real chance to play in the clouds and take in some seriously stunning scenery. However, the high altitude can make play a little tricky; breathing difficulties and lack of oxygen might become more of a concern than getting the ball in the hole. Altitude sickness is also a problem, thus all golfers are strongly advised to bring a caddy round with them, to minimise the amount of oxygen you use.
The paper thin air means your ball moves a heck of a lot faster, so you need only muster the strength for the tiniest of swings before collapsing to the floor clutching an oxygen mask.
Carbrook Golf Club, Brisbane, Australia
The 14th tee at Carbrook Golf Club in Brisbane is, well, a little more intimidating than most. This can be credited to the half a dozen huge, man-eating bull sharks that reside in the murky waters in what’s thought to be the world’s first shark-infested course. After a nearby river burst its banks a few years ago, the sharks found their way onto the course and have set up home for themselves, even breeding, so more and more ominous fins glide along the surface of the water. The staff are big fans of the sharks though and whilst the water is filled with fish, they often chuck meat in for them and have even started a monthly tournament, the aptly named, ‘Shark Lake Challenge’.
Kantarat, Don Mueang International Airport, Bangkok
Whilst many a golf course has been built near an airport, there aren’t many that have been built slap bang in the middle of two major runways. Kantarat is an 18-hole course, literally on the airstrip at Don Mueang Airport and is owned by the Royal Thai Air force meaning it has extra high security. Golfers must wait for a red light to allow them to pass from hole to hole.
Have you got a heart-stopping, adrenaline-pumping golfing story that tops any of those? If you’ve had a brush with death on the fairway, let us know below…
Karl Young is a Digital Marketing Executive at OnlineGolf.co.uk and a keen traveller, golfer and blogger who regularly visits European golfing destinations.
Copyright © 2015 Karl Young