Ebla Cham Palace Hotel, Syria: The golf course at the Ebla Cham Palace Hotel in the Syrian capital of Damascus remains open despite the widespread violence that has engulfed the country as open rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad has given way to civil war.
2 of 13via Google
Abbottabad Golf Club, Pakistan: Abbottabad Golf Club, also known as Piffer Golf Club, is located about 1.5 miles away from the compound where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a covert operation undertaken by SEAL Team Six in May of 2011.
3 of 13Alamy
Pyongyang Golf Course, North Korea: Oppressive regime. Impressive course record. Think getting into the country is tough? Try besting the score of Kim Jong Il, the Hermit Kingdom’s late Dear Leader, who is said to have shot a 34-under 38 in the one and only round he ever played. Over 18 holes, in 1994, he reportedly notched 11 holes-in-one. The feat grows all the more astounding once you see the venue. Tight and tree-lined, with fairways flanked by ledges that drop into oblivion, this is a fittingly penal layout. But straying out-of-bounds is nothing compared to what awaits if you attempt to excercise free speech.
4 of 13AP Photo
Hans Merensky Golf Course, South Africa: When people here refer to a scary 15-footer, odds are they're not describing a lengthy putt. Cut through Kruger National Park, this course counts giant crocodiles among its hazards. As you go about your round, look for baby springbok dangling from the trees. Leopards leave them hanging. Hippos yawn in the greenside ponds. Though injuries are rare, fatalities have happened. In 1998, a bull elephant stomped to death a golfer on the 16th green.
5 of 13AP Photo
Hans Merensky Golf Course, South Africa: This quirky course is part golf, part wildlife safari.
6 of 13Courtesy of Björkliden
Uummannaq Golf Course, Greenland: A cold streak can hit you on any golf course. Hypothermia is something else. The northern-most layout on the planet, Uummannaq plays host to the World Snow Golf Championships, which more closely resembles an ice fishing expedition. Collared shirts and shorts? Try thermals and down parkas, in temperatures that drop as far as 30-below.
7 of 13Getty Images
Merapi Golf Course, Indonesia: That shaking in your hands could be first tee jitters. But it also might be brought on by Mt. Merapi, an active volcano that looms over this otherwise placid 18. Several eruptions have occurred in recent years, including a disaster in 2010 in which ash, smoke and lava flow caused more than 350 deaths.
8 of 13@millerjam88
Prison View Golf Golf Course: Plenty of courses ask for proof of handicap. Prison View requires a background check. And no wonder. As its name suggests, this 9-holer lies within the walls of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a notorious lock-up known in the vernacular as Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the land. You like local rules? Prison View’s got ‘em. Convicted felons are not welcome. No booze or cameras allowed on the grounds. Along with background checks, visitors must consent to a vehicle search, and play, according to the golf course website, “may be suspended at any time.”
9 of 13Alamy
Camp Bonifas, South Korea: Play this game for long enough, and you’re going to have a blow-up. With any luck, it won’t happen here, on the grounds of a South Korean military base. You won’t find a full course here, just a single hole, a 192-yard par-three with an Astroturf green. But about that green. A sign beside it puts the matter clearly: “Danger. Do Not Retrieve Balls from the Rough Line Mine Fields.” According to the Washington Post, at least one tee shot has exploded a land mine. Talk about a lot of bang for your buck.
10 of 13Getty Images
Kabul Golf Club, Afghanistan: If golf seems trivial in a war-torn nation, don’t tell that to Mohammad Afzal Abdul, owner, operator and head pro at this bare-bones five-hole course outside the Afghan capital. Given the risks (Abdul’s brother, Khan, was murdered by the Taliban for his association with foreigners), not many people play it. But those who do are rewarded with much more than a been-there-done-that story. They get to see the sand-green course for what it really is: a hope-filled project in a ravaged land.
11 of 13Getty Images
Kabul Golf Club, Afghanistan: “I won’t close it,” Abdul told The New York Times in 2007. “I’ll be patient. People need to play golf.”
12 of 13Angus Murray
Nullarbor Links, Australia: Looking for the cart girl? Bad news is, there is none. Good news is, it’s just a 90 mile walk to the next tee. That’s the longest haul between holes on the Nullarbor Links, which runs 848 miles across the Australian Outback, a wildly remote region that happens to be home to some of the world’s deadliest snakes. On the downside, one bite from a death adder can kill a cow in minutes. On the upside, there’s lots of room to run on a landscape so expansive and sparsely populated that when SkyLab fell here, no one got hurt.
13 of 13Alamy
Furnace Creek Golf Course, California: Golfers like to go low. Really low. For the most extreme among them, there’s this Death Valley layout, which sits farther below sea-level (214 feet) than any course on earth. Open for play throughout the year, it’s never more daunting than in the summer, when Furnace Creek stages Heat Stroke Open. Bring a water bottle. The mercury peaks at 125 degrees.
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