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.
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:
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:
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:
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.