Playing golf at high altitude may not be something you’ve ever considered, but as with all sports, altitude training can be good for your game. You’ll probably also get a buzz out of the fact that the higher you go, the further that little white ball will go when you hit it.
But which are the world’s highest golf courses? Similar to determining where the highest ski areas are, there’s some debate as to which courses can be legitimately considered.
There are quite a few places in the Andes, the Rockies and the Himalayas across three continents that claim to be the world’s highest golf course, but it seems that opinion is currently divided as to which is the highest.
Just to make it that tad more difficult to make a definitive decision, many of the candidates are very close to one another in height and, of course, consist of terrain that varies a little bit in altitude. So, do you choose the average height of the course, the highest point on the course or some other measure?
Well we have several strong candidates below, but whichever you think tops the list, there are some advantages of playing golf at high altitude that we can all agree on. There’s the scenery, of course, which is generally pretty spectacular. And, there’s also the fact that you’re likely to find you can hit the ball further than you’ve ever managed to before. Once above 10,000 feet (3,000 metres), you can hit the ball almost 20% further with the same amount of effort.
There are a few downsides though, the top one being the danger of altitude sickness. It’s important that you acclimate before heading off on the course since severe altitude sickness is a danger above 12,000 ft/3,600m.
America’s Highest Golf Course: Copper Creek Golf Club, Colorado (9,700ft/2,957m)
The 18-hole, 69-par Copper Creek golf course boasts the highest tee point in America at 9,863 feet (3,006m).
Officially open for just four months of the year from the start of June to the end of September, the course was designed by Pete and Perry Dye and features natural mountain terrain. Unofficially, golfers often play outside the core season, sometimes using dayglow golf balls visible on any snow patches.
The first 9 holes of the course are located on mixed alpine terrain that incorporates woodland, lakes and open slopes in spectacular scenery. The other nine are located on forested terrain.
There are several other golf courses named Copper Creek in North America including one near Des Moines and at least one in Canada so if searching online, be careful you’re looking at the right one.
There are several other high altitude courses in Colorado, some in ski resorts and others not. Some to visit include: Mt. Massive Golf Course in Leadville (9,680 ft / 2,950m); Telluride Golf Club (9,500 ft (2,896m) and Breckenridge Golf Club (9,324 ft / 2,842m). The Lodge Golf Course in Cloudcroft, New Mexico (9,200 ft / 2,804m) is another of the continent’s highest and dates back to 1899.
The World’s Highest Golf Course According to the Guinness Book of Records: Yak Course, India (13,025ft/3,970m)
The Guinness Book of Records doesn’t appear to have changed their minds over the highest golf course on the planet for at least a decade. They’re plumping for a course on an Indian Military base, high in the Himalayas at Kupup, East Sikkim, India.
The course was first established in 1972 and has been re-designed several times over the decades, finally expanding to a full 18-hole course.
According to one reviewer, “…the Yak Golf course is a challenging course featuring meandering fairways across mountain streams and teasing browns. The layout of the course coupled with the numerous rivulets that criss-cross the course add to the thrill of playing at this high altitude.”
The course is open year round, “subject to snow conditions.”
Second Highest 18-Hole Championship Golf Course In The World: La Paz Golf Club, Bolivia (10,965 ft/3,342m)
Bolivia used to be home to the highest ski slopes in the world. Chacaltaya ski centre was located over 16,400 feet (5,000 metres) up above Le Paz, but it has stopped operating. However, it seems that while it has lost it’s title as the world’s highest ski slopes, it has gained a ranking as one of the world’s highest golf course. Formerly number one, Tuctu Golf Club in Peru (14,335 ft / 4370 m) is reported to have stopped operating and is now officially designated “unplayable.”
Le Paz Gold Club is, by contrast, very playable, once you have acclimated at least. This is a proper 18-hole Championship course with more than a century of golfing history. Many golfers rate it as the highest ‘proper’ course with reliable operations since the aforementioned Yak Course is questioned by some.
Asia’s Highest Modern Golf Course: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Course, China (10,000 ft / 3,048m)
The world’s highest ski slopes are located some 15,400 feet (4,500m) up, at the top of the gondola at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Gan Haizi, China. At the foot of the gondola, one of the world’s longest 18-hole golf courses has been built. Visitors have described Jade Dragon’s course as, “world class and in a truly stunning location” so it could be worth the trek to get there.
Honorable Mentions: Other High Golf Courses
La Oroya in Peru (12,303 ft/3,750 m) is believed to be the highest nine 9-hole course in the world.
The fifth hole at La Cima Gold Course in Bogota, Columbia, reaches 9,807 ft/ 2,990m).
Europe’s highest 18-hole course is claimed by several resorts. Adelboden in Switzerland says its course at 6,560 ft/2,000m up is highest, but it is a temporary ‘pop up’ course only open in late summer and early autumn. The course at Cervinia in Italy seems to have a stronger claim. Established in 1955 at 6,890 ft (2,100m) it was expanded from 9-holes to a full 18-holes a few years ago. The ski resorts of Tignes in France and Sestriere in Italy also have high altitude golf courses.
Gulmarg golf course in India is said to be one of the highest in the world as well. Created by the British over a century ago and re-launched in 2011, it sits at 8,700 ft / 2650m.