There are golf courses in the world that are truly bucket-list material. Think St Andrews, Valderrama or Pebble Beach.
But there are also some golf courses that are just truly unique, one-of-a-kind experiences you’ll be talking about for years. What is it about these unconventional but amazing golf courses that make them special?
Where To Find Golf's Crazy Courses
Located on the little island of La Gomera just off the coast of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, this golf course will require you to take a buggy almost 800 meters up the side of the hill just to reach the first tee.
After that, course designer Donald Steel’s vision includes the world’s first slalom-inspired golf layout where it’s downhill all the way to the bottom of the mountain.
The course returns you to the small, colonial-style clubhouse complete with a tin roof where the members relax, cold beer in hand, watching the sunset over the Atlantic or the impressive sight of Mount Teide, Europe’s highest active volcano.
Palmetto Hall Plantation (USA)
Don’t adjust your screens, this course really is the first geometrically designed golf course.
It comes complete with square and quadrilateral greens, bunkers, fairways and water hazards. It was originally designed on a computer, possibly using the Amiga golf game Leader Board as its inspiration.
North Berwick (Scotland)
Not even Pete Dye makes golf courses like this anymore. Found on an unlikely thin strip of coastal land beside the town of North Berwick this course is a wonderful opportunity to experience golf how it was meant to be played.
There are greens hiding behind walls, par 4s where a 7-iron off the tee is the only choice, drives over the beach, deep ripples in fairways that can throw your drive out of bounds and even a green with a gorge splitting the middle.
Quirky might be used to describe it, but it remains a quintessential Scottish links.
Old Head (Ireland)
When a strange piece of headland in County Cork came up for sale perched atop a cliff with only a lighthouse and some wild sheep to call it home, one man envisioned something unique.
Once Old Head Golf was opened up for play, it boasted some of the most spectacular views from any course, anywhere in the world.
Imagine an Irish version of Pebble Beach with 80-mile-per-hour winds as standard where every hole has a view to savour.
Nullarbor Links (Australia)
Get ready to pack a bag - this round might take you some time to complete because at over 850 miles long, this is probably (it is) the longest golf course in the world.
It stretches from Western Australia to South Australia along the Nullarbor Plain. Nullarbor means ‘no-trees’ but you’ll not find much of anything in this very barren part of Australia.
If you find slow play to be a problem, it’s unlikely you will find the course marshall around to hurry you up, as there are 30 miles between holes.
If you get too tired, you can always stop off at one of the many restaurants or guest houses along the route.
Skukuza (South Africa)
Have you ever needed to avoid a pack of baboons and roaming hippos whilst playing your approach shot - without being at the local jungle-themed crazy golf? Well in the middle of Kruger National Park, you’ll probably have to do exactly that.
There are no fences keeping apart the animals from the golfers, so if you find your Titleist Pro V1 in the lake by the 5th green, you should know it is also the home of crocodiles and it’s best to quickly head for the drop zone.
Just make sure there aren’t any stalking leopards, galloping giraffe or startled elephants heading your way.
When you think of Florida golf, you might picture palm trees, villas lining each hole and a resort atmosphere that makes you feel like every hole is a holiday. You’d be wrong in this case.
Streamsong is a course that was built on an old phosphate mine, which means that, over time, the slag-heaps have softened and long marram grasses have taken over, making this course look and feel like something closer to Scotland than tropical Florida.
Horses For Courses Factor In Golf Betting
Sometimes ‘strange’ and unusual courses are selected to host a major championship and they just work, like the US military base that became Whistling Straits. But, there are others which didn’t and can affect your golf betting strategy.
The wide open, barren course of Chambers Bay was a featureless spectacle, and the choice of the utterly forgettable tree-lined Sahalee for the 1998 PGA Championship was another, where spectators jostled for the few viewing areas because tree foliage obscured nearly every fairway and green.
However, there are major golf courses which exhibit more subtle characteristics that some players find irresistible. Tom Watson had a particular fancy for Scottish links golf, winning five Open Championships between 1975 and 1983.
Ernie Els loved playing at Wentworth, winning seven World Match Play titles, buying a house on the property and then being commissioned to make the major changes needed to modernise it.
Tiger had his favourites too and he’d likely keep returning to a successful venue time and time again. He won at Torrey Pines on eight occasions, at Bay Hill eight times and returned to Firestone for eight wins too.
If Torrey Pines is Tiger’s favourite course (due to host the US Open in 2021), then it is also one of Jason Day’s favourites too.
He’s won there twice and always seems to prefer the West Coast events over the Florida Swing, which is certainly something to consider when looking at players to back.
Augusta National must also be Jordan Spieth’s. In the five times he’s played The Masters he’s gone T2-1-T2-T11-3 which isn’t really surprising considering he’s regarded as one of the best putters in the world, and these are the finest greens in the world.
Even the one time he finished outside the top ten, he was comfortably leading the tournament going into the back nine. One thing is for sure, his 2015 Green Jacket won't be his last.
So, next time you find yourself on a course surrounded by sand dunes or giant greens, or even greens made of sand, consider what kind of player would do well and channel their key attributes. This may be one you’ll be telling your friends about for years to come.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*