Take whatever you know about golf course architecture and throw it out the window — or in a few of these cases, off a cliff.
Here are 10 of the craziest holes in the world.
Legends Golf Course, South Africa – Extreme 19
Par 3, No. 19, 437 yards (1,410 ft. elevation change!)
This is as extreme as a golf hole as you’ll ever see. The tee is set 1,410 feet above the green on Hanglip Mountain. From the base of the mountain to the back of the green is 1,312 feet. In golf terms, that’s a 437-yard par-3, with a vertical drop of 470 yards.
Without getting all geeked out, as this insane shot relates to the laws of physics and how the ball will travel on quite an extreme arc, it plays about 260-270 yards due to the vertical drop. While the cost to play it is steep, it does come with a few perks. Players get a helicopter ride to the tee and back down after hitting, a souvenir cap and glove, and a DVD of their play on the hole.
The coolest part: Each player is given six balls with tracking devices, since losing sight of a ball hit from 1,410 feet up is pretty likely. There’s a prize worth over $1 million for any player that makes a hole in one.
Carbrook Golf Club, Australia – No. 15
Par 4, No. 15, 364 yards
If you ever get the chance to play Carbrook Golf Club in Queensland Australia, don’t search for your ball in the water. Why? Because the hazards are shark-infested! Here is the sign posted on the 15th hole. While it was once thought to be a rumor, there is actual video evidence that they exist.
Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, Indianapolis, Indiana – Holes 7-10
While there are no sharks or cliffs involved, the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course presents an extreme design. Holes 7-10 are located inside on the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! This Pete Dye design is closed for obvious reasons when races are going on considering you have to step on the track to get to them.
The Elfego Baca Shootout, New Mexico
The Elfego Baca Shootout is not your typical golf tournament. This annual event takes place in Socorro, New Mexico and features one hole, that’s three miles long! Not to mention the 2,550 ft. elevation changed from top to bottom. Contestants start at the summit of Socorro Peak and battle Mother Nature on the way down with the target being a 50-foot circle at the base. The best recorded score to date is a nine!
Coeur d’Alene Resort, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – No. 14
Par 3, No. 14, 218 yards
The world’s only floating island green is wild. It’s surrounded by lovely red geraniums, a pair of bunkers and some conifers, not to mention one of the country’s most stunning lakes. The 15,000-square-foot putting surface beckons golfers for a challenge, floating silently 150 yards off the lakeshore. Unlike other island greens, there are no man-made strips of land that provide a bridge over the water. Instead, it’s only reachable by a six-passenger boat called the “Putter.” If you reach dry land and two-putt for par, you earn an award certificate on the ride back.
Dunkerque Golf Course, France – No. 3
Par 3, No. 3, 136 yards
Located in Northern France, Dunkerque Golf Course boasts one of the more unusual designs you’ll see. It features walls of stones and wood, honeycomb turf partitions and green walls designed to evoke the architecture of Fort Vallières. The course is said to resemble a life-size version of a miniature golf course. Pictured here is a look at the heart-shaped third green.
Four Seasons Punta Mita, Mexico – No. 3B
Par 3, Hole 3B, 194 yards
Jack Nicklaus laid out 19 holes at this luxury resort on the west coast of Mexico, just north of Puerto Vallarta. This alternate, and crazy, third hole, best known as the “Tail of the Whale,” boasts a green that sits on a natural island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. During low tide, golfers can trudge through the sandy path to get to the green, but at high tide, it’s only accessible via amphibious golf cart.
Old Head Golf Links, Republic of Ireland, No. 18
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Par 4, No. 18, 434 yards
The finishing hole at Old Head Golf Links in Ireland doesn’t quite have the same wild features as some of the others on this list, but what it lacks is made up for in beauty. Standing on the tee, it is said to look like a full-size mini golf hole with its undulating topography, massive gorge, and iconic lighthouse. Players must avoid the cliffs of the Celtic sea as they make their way back to the clubhouse.
Skukuza Golf Course, South Africa – No. 1
Skukuza Golf Course is set right in the heart of South Africa’s Kruger National Park meaning you’re playing essentially in a safari full of big cats, hippos, baboons, giraffes, and warthogs like the one pictured above. There are no fences so the animals are free to roam wherever they choose. Unfortunately, they don’t usually respond to the word “fore.” However, a round there is sure to be a wild experience.
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida – No. 17
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Par 3, No. 17, 137 yards
The famed par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass is about as extreme as you’ll find on the PGA Tour. It’s basically do or die. It also is controversial among PGA Tour players, including Tiger Woods, who doesn’t think it should be one of the finishing holes because there’s too much left for chance, like a gust of wind suddenly blowing your ball off line. But hey, that’s golf, right?!