3 great golf courses with amazingly cool and unique features

A statue at The Hills Golf Club in New Zealand.

The Seated Man figure at The Hills Golf Club is one of several pieces of art around the course. This one sits by the first green and is about 10 feet tall.

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Some golf courses are just more unique than others. These elements might not directly impact your round of golf, but their oddities will still bring a smile to your face, even if you don’t have your A game.

Rotorua Golf Club’s thermal pools

The first of our two interesting New Zealand golf experiences is on the North Island in the tourist town of Rotorua. Rotorua has lots of geothermal activity all around, and the golf club is no exception. Throughout the property are hot springs and mud pools with water so boiling hot that it will steam up around the course. Situated on the Arikikapakapa thermal area, dormant spots now are incorporated into the course. The thermal activity has caused what is usually flat ground to be full of undulations, adding intrigue to the site for anyone playing. All sorts of interesting elements come into play like hot water streams, geothermal lakes, and the mud pools. Even if your score isn’t as hot as the nearby water, the experience will be worth the visit. You might even learn a bit of geology along the way.

Rotorua Golf Club in New Zealand has active thermal areas.

Courtesy Photo

The Hills Golf Club’s sculptures

Our second New Zealand stop brings us to the South Island, more specifically to The Hills Golf Club. Even as a standalone course, this is one of the most spectacular spots in all of golf. The holes and views are breathtaking, and the course has hosted several New Zealand Opens. But none of that would include it on this list. The club founder also has an extensive art collection and the course doubles as a sculpture garden. Scattered throughout the course in spots that won’t alter play are wonderful pieces of art, fitting perfectly into the surrounding. It almost doesn’t seem fair that a course so beautiful on its own also gets to showcase incredible masterpieces. But the club is exclusive and very expensive to play as a visitor, so you certainly pay for the course, and the gallery. (Check out the video below for more.)

Old Works Golf Course’s black bunkers

Our last course brings us back to the U.S. and the great state of Montana. In the town of Anaconda sits Old Works Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus design. The course is full of intrigue as it sits on an old Copper Smelting site. Large mountains all around make for great vistas, but the unique part about this course is the sand. Because of the old copper smelting, all of the bunkers around this course are filled with black sand. The contrasts between the fairways and greens and the dark black bunkers is unlike any view in golf. While we almost always want to avoid bunkers, you might want to purposely hit into a few if you play here, just, you know, for the photo.

Old Works Golf Course has unique and gorgeous bunkers.

Courtesy Photo

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