The 7 Most Unique Golf Course Experiences in the World
By Tim Cotroneo
In golf, there is something irresistible about the lure of playing a course that delivers a one-of-a-kind experience. Golf is one of the few sports where an amateur can rise to the occasion of playing where the best in the world played before you.
Golf is also an opportunity to play in an outdoor environment that delivers some of the most extraordinary settings one can ever imagine. To tee it up while surrounded by extreme visuals is a gift that you and your playing partners will cherish long after your scorecard is tallied.
Get ready to pull back the curtain on seven of the most unique golf courses on the planet. Here’s the story on how playing golf at one of these legendary courses can get you closer to nature, deeper in history, or find your five senses triggered into overdrive.
Luxury Volcano Golf in the Caribbean
The words golf and volcano are rarely spoken in the same sentence. The exception is when you’re recounting playing 18 holes on the island of Nevis. Tiny Nevis’ one and only golf course is parked next to a 3,200-foot volcano.
Before you ask if playing next to a volcano is safe, know that Nevis Peak hasn’t blown in 100,000 years. If you need further reassurance, know that the Four Seasons Resort has called the island of Nevis home since 1991.
The Four Seasons tabbed designer Robert Trent Jones II to design their golf course, with the volcano as the centerpiece. Not only is this imposing mountain a favorite of hikers, the Peak makes for a magnificent visual backdrop for this serene layout’s 18 holes. As a bonus, you may also encounter a friendly exchange with one of the hundreds of vervet monkeys that inhabit Nevis.
Awesome Architecture Golf
Architectural buffs will love Santa Maria Golf Course in Panama City, Panama. Jack Nicklaus found a way to paint a 7,000-yard golf masterpiece into the heart of Panama’s bustling downtown district.
A horizon of skyscrapers, reaching up to 900-feet, serve as real-life targets behind many of the golf holes. What’s great is this course also includes robust birdlife, lush mangroves, and coconuts you can pluck from the palm trees accenting the course, making for a refreshing drink.
Panama City’s most exclusive real estate holdings, corporate businesses, and international airport are located just a five iron from Santa Maria. Playing golf in the heart of a major metropolis with a mind-bending skyline view should make Santa Maria a headliner on your international bucket list.
Safari Golf Up Close and Personal
Kenya’s PGA Baobab Golf Course includes inhabitants that would make most zoos drool with envy. Golfers playing Africa’s only PGA course mingle with zebras, impalas, and giraffes. Baobab is perhaps the only course in the world where scoring a birdie or eagle is exceeded by a White-Tailed Mongoose sighting.
There’s an unspoken connection between golfers and the wildlife at this sanctuary delivering beautiful scenery at every turn. Baobab Golf Course is just one of the bounty of amenities offered for guests staying at Vipingo Ridge Resort.
After your round, golfers can take advantage of activities and amenities offered by Vipingo’s 2,500-acre natural wonderland. Choose from horseback riding, snorkeling, bird watching, hiking, and yoga. After playing at Vipingo, the up-close-and-personal wildlife encounters offer a real reminder of our coexistence with nature and wildlife.
In Concert with Golf
Imagine watching your favorite musical artist perform at a golf course that’s over 100 years young. Each summer since 2008, Canal Shores Golf Course in Evanston, IL, transforms their first and second holes into a concert venue featuring musical greats such as Buddy Guy, Bruce Hornsby, Emmylou Harris, and the Indigo Girls.
By day, this 104-year-old golf course is a sustainable favorite of the Evanston community. This privately funded course is as green as it is popular, with a comprehensive habitat restoration, a team of Eco volunteers, and Audubon Sanctuary Certification status. By night, Canal Shores transitions to the Out of Space concert series offering a top-notch musical experience in a unique fairway environment.
It seems fitting that in the state where Orville and Wilbur Wright first took flight there’s also a golf course with its own landing strip. Mountain Air Country Club in Burnsville, NC, is home to a 2,800-foot runway that splits down the middle of its 18-hole golf course. This mountaintop community sits at an elevation of 4,600-feet, and the air strip is located between holes six and eight. With all of Mountain Air’s 360-degree vistas, arriving by private plane is a spectacular visual for the pilot, the passenger, and gawking golfers alike.
The La Paz Golf Club’s website says it all: “The Highest Golf Club in the World.” We’re not talking about the Cheech and Chong version of high. We’re referencing the fact that golf in La Paz, Bolivia is snuggled at a lofty perch of almost 11,000-feet above sea level. This snowcapped Andes Mountains altitude means the La Paz caddies not only carry your bag, they also tote oxygen.
As impressive as this 6,600-yard course’s cloud proximity is, you should know that La Paz boasts a full inhale’s worth of history. The course was built over 100 years ago by British railway workers. These rugged railroaders found a way to create an iconic golf course within the ecosystem of Bolivia’s voluminous mountain ranges. After your round, if you can’t find a reason to toast this backbreaking work from yesteryear, then toast yourself for playing golf at an altitude that makes an astronaut’s ears pop.
Float Your Boat Golf
Non-swimmers may be taken aback by the 14th hole at Coeur d’Alene Golf Course in Coeur d’Alene, ID. That’s because you’ll be teeing off to a true island green. In this case, your target is a 2,200-ton engineering marvel whose tee to floating green distance changes by the day.
Adding further flavor to this magnificent golf experience, the only way to get to your greenside ball is by riding a mahogany boat dubbed “Putter.” To date, there’s not another Par 3 in the world quite like the Coeur d’Alene 14th.