If you’re thinking of compiling your golfing bucket list, check out these amazing courses that prove golfers will play anywhere that has a flag and a hole. Have you ever teed-off in the sun… at midnight? How about nearly 8,000 feet up next to a royal palace? Played on a course that takes a six-day boat trip to get to? Or hit an approach shot into a green made of ice? Well, now you can…
Situated on the ancient Viking island of Gimsøya in Lofoten, this Norwegian course is one of a kind. As well as a classic links challenge, it’s a showcase for mother nature at her most dramatic. From August until October, visitors to the area can view the Northern Lights – the breathtaking Aurora Borealis light show – said to glow brighter here than anywhere else within the Arctic Circle. If you didn’t think that was enough, from the end of May to August, the sun never sets! Lofoten Links is one of the few courses in the world to offer golf 24 hours a day, including up to 6 hours in the midnight sun!
Extended to 18 holes by architect Jeremy Turner in 2015, the par-71, 6662-yard layout has 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains, dramatic ocean and neighbouring islands. The sea is a water hazard on several holes and sandy beaches, coves and granite boulders act as natural bunkers and obstacles to carry your ball over. Hole 2 is the signature – a beautiful 140-yard challenge with a two-tiered green which sits on a rocky outcrop fronted with one solitary bunker. For sheer adventure, with sea eagles flying overhead, playing golf somewhere so unspoiled, historic and remote makes this an experience that’s hard to beat.
Fancy getting away from it all? Well how about Whalsay Golf Club, which has the honour of being the most northerly golf course in the British Isles. This 18-hole, par-71 course is located at the northernmost point of the small island of Whalsay, in the remote Shetland Islands of Scotland. The course is literally the end of the road, as the public road ends at the clubhouse from where you start your round. The course makes up the entirety of a piece of rocky land that sticks out into the sea, which borders the course on both sides.
It’s a moorland course with spectacular clifftop scenery where the wind can throw your ball to a watery grave. The undulating fairways and sea-lined holes make this a dramatic, typically Scottish scene that provides a proper challenge for visitors. As well as the natural beauty, there’s an abundance of wildlife with seabirds, seals, otters and even the odd killer whale making an appearance. Whalsay golf course is run and maintained by minimal part-time staff, and the upkeep relies on voluntary labour from its members. Whalsay is tranquil, yet treacherous fun.
Quite simply, the most remote golf course on the planet. The 2,000-metre high volcanic island of Tristan da Cunha is situated 1,243 miles from its closest neighbour Saint Helena, 1,491 miles from South Africa and 2,088 miles from South America. Just seven miles long, it has less than 300 residents and is accessible by a six-day boat journey from Cape Town. A British sovereignty, it provides a hint of a golfing connection with its capital being named Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. Tristan da Cunha Golf Club was established in 1977 by an expat temporarily living on the island.
It’s a 9-hole, par-35 course with two tee boxes per hole. There are no water hazards and the bunkers are compacted volcanic sand. The main hazards are in fact cows and chickens which routinely chase after golf balls. Alongside the 7th fairway there’s even an occupied chicken coop. Playing the course you’ll have to avoid volcanic boulders and a huge cliff that borders the northern end of the course. There are no greens as the grass is kept short by hungry cattle. The scorecard does come with a map, and you get a certificate as proof that you played the course. What it might lack in polish, it makes up for with unrivalled braging rights.
Whatever geopolitical or economic motivations Donald Trump has for wanting to buy Greenland, he might also be aware that the giant Arctic island has a very special golf course. The golf-loving American President, though, would need to bring his ice boots. The small town of Uummannaq is about 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle and home to the most northern golf course in the world. Each March, it hosts the World Ice Golf Championship, first held in 1997 and set up by a local hotel owner. Golfers from all over the world come to play and brave the elements.
Uummannaq Golf Course is laid out each year across the endless Arctic tundra and moving glaciers, and the ‘greens’ are smoothed out before the flags are planted. Red balls are used instead of white, for obvious reasons, and graphite clubs are preferred, as irons might shatter in the minus 50 degree temperatures. Hazards include seal dens and polar bears, and players are taught how to spot frostbite before they tee off. Participants are more likely to shout ‘Fjord!’ rather than ‘Fore!’ and the winner of the 36-hole tournament is held atop a traditional dog sled.
The Royal Thimphu Golf Course, at an altitude of 2,350m, can make your dreams of hitting the ball longer and higher come true. Set among the breathtaking Himalayas in the tiny nation of Bhutan, nestled between India and Nepal, your ball will travel up to 10 per cent further than at sea level. It’s one of the highest and most remote courses in the world and lies just outside the nation’s capital of Thimphu, sitting proudly right alongside the 17thcentury palace of Tashicho Dzong, the official seat of government and home to the King’s throne.
It was established by an Indian army officer in the 1970s and its membership is mainly made up of government officials and diplomats. However, it’s Bhutan‘s only public course and visitors are welcome to pay a hefty green fee. The nine-hole par-35 course, re-designed by American architect Ron Fream, has two tee boxes per hole, effectively turning it into an 18. Four holes have green-side water hazards and the course conditions are of a high enough standard to host the annual Bhutan Open. The views of the nearby royal architecture and surrounding mountains are simply jaw dropping.