There is a golf challenge which has to be completed in one year, called the Awesome Eight Golf Challenge. This is a concept invented by Robin Seiger, a motivational speaker and a self-taught extreme athlete, and his friend Neil Laughton, one of the few people to have successfully got the 7 Summits under his belt, and who has organised and led extreme adventures all over the world.
The 8 golf courses are the most remote and the most extreme climatically around the world and the only condition is that you have to carry your clubs and NOT use a golf cart or caddy.
The 8 are:
- Furnace Creek, California – at 214 feet below sea level, it’s the world’s lowest golf course.
- North Star, Alaska – the world’s coldest golf course.
- Alice Springs Australia – the world’s hottest golf course.
- La Paz, Bolivia – the world’s highest course.
- Ushuaia, Argentina – the world’s southern-most course.
- North Cape, Norway – the most northerly.
- Ko’olau, Hawaii – the toughest course.
- St. Andrew’s, Old Course, Scotland – the greatest and oldest golf course in the world…
Furnace Creek Golf Course
Just to rub it in, Furnace Creek Golf Course is in Death Valley, California. Most lodging is closed in the summer, when temperatures in the vicinity can surpass 125 °F (52 °C). Death Valley has the distinction of holding the record for the highest ever recorded temperature in the United States, as well as one of the highest ever reliably recorded worldwide, reaching 134 °F (57 °C) on July 10, 1913. This golf course holds the distinction of being the lowest grass course in the world at 214 feet below sea level. It made its debut in 1931 but was recently brought up to date thanks to a major renovation and re-design by famed golf course architect Perry Dye and now offers a par-70 course which features wide fairways and lush greens and groves of mature shade trees. It is recognised as one of America’s 50 toughest courses because players must factor in slightly stronger gravity and barometric pressure forces. At $55.00, the peak golf season green fee is very reasonable and special “Sundowner” rates are also available daily.
Nearby is a natural rock formation called the Devil’s Golf Course. It’s worth visiting. It’s not a golf course, obviously, but it is worth mentioning because it is one of the more interesting natural landmarks in Death Valley. The rock hard salt pinnacles create interesting formations resembling crystal caves.
From one extreme to another – North Star, Alaska.
This is a great links style golf course. Jack Stallings and Roger Evans designed the course which was opened to public in 1993. The course features 6521 yards from the Blue tees with a rating of 71.9 and a par of 74. North Star Golf Course has an estimated number of 43,000 (estimated) rounds played annually and is a 9 or 18 hole (Semi-Private) course. It is one of the few golf courses that includes an animal check list on the score card. In summertime the course is open from 7 AM until between 11 PM and Midnight depending on weather and speed of play of the last 9 hole tee time group (10 PM). The Driving Range is open daily from 7 AM until 10 PM (except for Tuesday PM when it closes at 8 PM for early morning mowing). This course doesn’t officially open until mid-May when the snow has melted, but that doesn’t stop a few diehard Alaskans from heading out with their shovels and clubs for a few blustery rounds in mid-winter. A local rule at North Star dictates that if a fox or a raven picks up your ball, you are allowed to drop another, without penalty, at the scene of the crime.
Alice Springs Golf Club, Australia.
Alice Springs is the unofficial capital of central Australia, and its golf course, known as the hottest in the world, has earned rave reviews from golfers world-wide as a course of unique charm blended with some subtle severity. Designed by Australia’s golfing legend, Peter Thomson, with his business partner, Michael Wolveridge, in the early 1980’s, it is currently rated 53rd in Australia by Australian Golf Digest, in the world’s top ten desert courses and one of Australia’s top 25 golf resorts. The magnificent championship layout has large teeing blocks, fully grassed rolling fairways and huge well bunkered putting greens set against the stunning natural backdrop of the ancient MacDonnell Ranges. Accuracy is a must and even the boldest hitters must harness their power and replace it with discretion to ensure a safe landing, rather than challenge the menacing rocky outcrops which lurk at the edges of several of the fairways.
La Paz Golf Club, Bolivia.
La Paz Golf Club, laid out at a dizzying height of 10,800 feet (3,300m) , appears to be the undisputed champion, and it’s very much open for play. The course, in fact, is a terrific test of golf and is considered to be the best in the country. You’re either walking uphill or downhill, and there’s hardly a level lie to be found! The course sits at the southern end of La Paz and abuts the dramatic Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). Valle de la Luna is a badlands of hills and rocks eroded into bizarre shapes and deep gullies that does indeed look lunar. The most famous hole at La Paz is the par 3 moon hole. Being surrounded by the biscuit-brown fissures of the Valle de la Luna makes the oasis of green turf and shady oak trees lining the fairways stand out vibrantly. Stretching 6,600 yards from the tips, but with scarce molecules of oxygen impeding the flight of shots, a golfer can drive distances through the paper-thin air like Tiger Woods – at least for a day. But bear in mind that operating at high elevations can be dangerous. The air starts to really thin out over 5,000 feet and engaging in recreational activity can be challenging. This is ‘nose-bleed’ territory. As Bruce Keith, the Executive Director of The Alpine Club of Canada, says, “I certainly wouldn’t recommend a quick trip from sea level to play golf above 14,000 feet at Tuctu. (NB: this course is no longer open to play), but, without acclimatizing, people could still experience problems at 11,000 feet at La Paz. Headaches, nausea, edema, and even death can occur when people are not acclimatized to high elevations.” Thankfully, there have been no reports of golfers – in any country – dying from edema. Of course, the Mt. Everest Golf Club hasn’t been designed yet!
Please note that prices quoted might change.
Watch this space … I’ll bring you the next 4 tomorrow…