Golf is one of the most popular sports on the planet. It’s played by more people in more countries than any other game. There are literally hundreds of awesome links or parkland golf courses situated in spectacular natural surroundings.
Some are iconic championship courses billed by the likes of Augusta and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews; others are the exclusive and expensive playgrounds of pro golfers, wealthy businessmen and the nouveau riche!
Total up the prize money on the professional tours, throw in the season-ending money spinners like the Race to Dubai and you’ve got a super rewarding individual sport that can rival the most valuable sports teams in dollar terms.
Even if you’re not a pro, you can still sample the same courses and conditions as the Johnsons, McIllroys, Spieths and Garcias of the world. But if you’re looking for a truly unique golfing experience, we can recommend 4 golf courses you’ll remember for the rest of your life:
1. Bagan Golf Course – Myanmar
Play a round of golf at the Bagan Golf Course in Myanmar and you’ll be standing within an ancient archaeological site. It is home to more than 2200 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries, the oldest of which date back to 850 AD.
Scratch golfers use the stone edifices and spires of these beautiful extant buildings to line up their drives and approach shots. But if you’re a greenhorn like me, the 12th may prove to be a challenge too far as towering pagodas act as hazards on both sides of the fairway and green!
2. Leopard Creek Golf Course – South Africa
Predators are on the loose at Leopard Creek… and you’re the prey. This stunning championship golf course in South Africa offers a wildlife safari on the side. It’s laid out alongside the Crocodile River which acts as a natural boundary separating the course from the world-famous Kruger National Park.
Fluff your shots and you can lean back on your bag and watch as herds of elephants, buffalo, giraffe and other big game saunter past. It’s not unusual to spot a leopard in a tree or a croc or hippo curled up in a water hazard. Be sure to watch out for the mischievous monkeys, mongooses or meerkats that populate the greens as it’s a distinct possibility they’ll fiddle with the lie of the ball!
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4. Fossils Trace Golf Course – USA
Tee off at Fossils Trace Golf Course in Colorado and you’ll be following in the footsteps of dinosaurs. The entire area is incredibly rich in fossils dating from the late Cretaceous period. In an effort to preserve the surrounding sediment and the prehistoric treasures embedded therein, the designers have left geological formations dotted throughout the course.
You don’t want to get too much air on the 12th as the principal hazard is a sandstone wall. Look closely and you’ll see the trace fossils of palm fronds and the footprints of triceratops, a massive three-meter high tri-horned herbivore that walked the earth 68 million years ago!
5. El Camaleon Mayakoba Golf Course – Mexico
Situated on the Caribbean coastline with mesmeric views of the turquoise sea, El Camaleon Mayakoba is easily one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.
Fairways are surrounded by thick mangrove swamps and tropical jungle. Should you miss the greens, there’s a good chance your ball will disappear into an impossibly blue lagoon or be swallowed up by a cenote, ancient sink holes that lead directly to the subterranean river networks that lie beneath the Yucatan Peninsula.