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6 “Insider” Golf Courses You Must See To Believe

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One of the sporting events I’ve had the most fun crossing off my non-golf bucket list is the Kentucky Derby. I attended it in 2009 and 2010, both years hanging out with the hoi polloi in the infield, rather than the folks with the fancy hats in the stands.

When I first emerged into the inside of Churchill Downs’ great oval, I had one thought:

“There’s so much space in here, they could build a golf course!”

Apparently I was not the first person to have such a thought.

Indeed, there are a number of golf courses that are true “insiders” — they were built to partially or entirely fit inside something else.

For example…

There’s a golf course inside…a baseball stadium:

Okay, this isn’t a real golf course, but it is absolutely a cool idea, especially for baseball fans. With help from club manufacturer Callaway, the San Diego Padres converted their home ballpark into a nine-hole  “golf course” called The Links at Petco Park, with tees perched up high in the stadium and target “greens” in the outfield. The layout measured a scant 1,002 yards, with the longest hole being the final one, at 144 yards, playing like 120 because of the considerable drop in elevation from the upper-deck tee. Tee times from November 5-9, at $50 per person per nine-hole loop, sold out faster than the Padres team flamed out this year, so chances are good that you may be able to have a go in the future.

There’s a golf course inside…a horse track:

Musselburgh: where racecourse meets golf course. (Golf East Lothian/Musselburgh Links)

Musselburgh Links: where racecourse meets golf course. (Golf East Lothian/Musselburgh Links)

Claiming the title of “Oldest Course in the World” based on reports that Mary, Queen of Scots knocked a ball around the grounds in 1567, Musselburgh’s nine holes are laid out almost entirely within the venerable Musselburgh Racecourse in Edinburgh, Scotland, which itself dates to 1816. The nine-hole golf course, which plays to a modest yardage of 2,874 yards, par 34, hosted the Open Championship half a dozen times prior to 1890. Many visitors choose to play the course in 19th-century style, with hickory clubs and period golf balls which can be rented and reserved in advance of play.

There’s a golf course inside…a county fairgrounds:

Unlike Musselburgh, the course at Sonoma Fairgrounds is entirely "inside the oval." (Google Maps)

Unlike Musselburgh, the course at Sonoma Fairgrounds is entirely “inside the oval.” (Google Maps)

Much like Musselburgh, Fairgrounds Golf Course in Santa Rosa, California is a nine-hole layout contained within a big track that lies at the center of the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds course obviously lacks Musselburgh’s centuries-long history, but it is intriguing in its own right. In 2006, the course was renovated into a quaint par-29 nine-holer with a well-above-average practice facility, and it is certified as “Beginner-Friendly” by the National Golf Course Owners Association. Views of the nearby Santa Rosa Mountains are a plus, too.

There’s a golf course inside…an iconic car-racing venue:

A round at Brickyard Crossing starts off in fairly standard fashion, at least as far as Pete Dye-designed golf courses go. Over the first six holes, the Indiana native serves up a healthy amount of mounds, pot bunkers and undulating greens. But heading to the seventh tee, players pass through a tunnel under one of America’s iconic sports venues: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The next four holes take place inside the oval, in full view of the track and standsmaking for one of the more memorable golf experiences in America, particularly for a racing fan. Don’t dismiss Brickyard Crossing as a novelty, though – the course consistently ranks among the Hoosier State’s top public layouts.

There’s a golf course inside…a royal palace:

Morocco’s Royal Palace Golf Club, Agadir sits within the walls of its namesake facility. Save for the European Tour’s annual Trophée Hassan II, the course receives almost no play, sometimes going weeks or months between rounds, played only by the ruling Prince and his invited guests. Those boundaries are visible from a number of holes of the Robert Trent Jones-designed layout.

There’s a golf course inside…a state penitentiary:

Golfers at the Prison View Golf Course near the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La., in a photo released by the Golf Channel.

Golfers at Prison View Golf Course in a photo released by the Golf Channel.

Most people don’t voluntarily venture to a maximum-security prison. But Louisiana’s Angola is not most state penitentiaries. This golf course’s website contains the following description: “Number 1 tee box is elevated approximately 75 yards into the Tunica Hills, offering a spectacular view of Louisiana’s only maximum security prison.” It may be the first use of the phrases “spectacular view” and “maximum security prison” in the same sentence. Nevertheless, the nine-hole course, which was built partially by inmates, does occupy a commanding tract of land within prison property. Despite the seriousness of the place, golf course overseers still have a sense of humor – the tee markers are painted handcuffs.

Do you know of other golf courses built inside something else? Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

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10 Comments

  1. Bert Person

    November 17, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Years ago I was stationed on Governor’s Island while in the Coast Guard. There was a nine hole course built around a castle and a castle moat. Very cool and very unique. A google satellite view still shows the layout. I am not sure what the dispensation of Governor’s Island is going to be, but it would be nice to play the track again.

  2. Wm Wilson

    November 17, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    The Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Club in Mysore, India (built in 1905) is located both in and around the Mysore Race Club.

  3. Ian

    November 17, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Leopardstown Golf Centre in Dublin .Ireland is in the middle of a Horse Racecourse . Flat , beginner friendly and not expensive

  4. Nita Johnson

    November 17, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Maybe if they let the prisoners play golf on the course they built they would learn a lot about life’s real experiences. How to win, and smile: how to lose and smile. How to persevere and be determined and find joy in hitting that little wnite ball. Nita

  5. Anonymous

    November 17, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Ft McNair in DC had a 9holer at the base. Generals and such would park there vehicles along the streets,. Don’t know what they were thinking. I am sure that many a windshield was payed for by the taxpayer.

  6. Jannie

    November 17, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    There is a full 18 hole 6194m par 72 golf course inside the Greyville race track in Durban, South Africa. The course doesn’t have many trees but is made tough by the rough and, because it is not protected, by the wind on most days.

  7. Ang

    November 18, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Leopardstown golf course in Dublin Ireland is 18 holes inside Leopardstown Race Course. Also driving range ,shop and restaurant ! Great value and can be played in 9 hole loops if time is precious.

  8. George Armitage

    November 24, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    I Play regularly with my society of 30 plus members at the golf course inside the Grand National Course at Aintree Liverpool. It is a 9 hole course and is reputed to be the longest 9 hole course in Europe

  9. Stuart Gilbert

    April 26, 2016 at 7:18 am

    As a member of Musselburgh old links course I can state that it wasn’t built inside anything. Rather the racecourse was added over the existing course (resulting in the shortening of some of the holes). The course does cross the racetrack a few times and after racing has been on any ball that does not make it over the track can land in some pretty deep hoof prints – fortunately GUR rule applies. Playing at the old course is pretty cheap considering the history of the place and it would almost be cheaper to join for a year on a 7 day membership than it is to play every day for a week.

  10. Michael

    April 11, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Indianapolis Motor Speedway “Brickyard Crossing”

    brickyardcrossing [dot] com

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