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One Boat Golf Club

 

When The Worst Golf Course In the World Becomes a Favourite Place

 

I had the opportunity to visit Ascension Island, a small volcanic island located just south of the Equator and about 1000 miles off the coast of Africa. Not the ideal place to find a golf course but with the One Boat Golf Club boasting to be the World’s Worst Golf Course, I knew I had to check it out.

 

I grabbed an older set of clubs (well half set) from my work (The World Residences at Sea) and climbed into a cab to make the 20 minute journey from the pier to the golf course. The golf course is perched just above the main town of Georgetown on the way to Two Boats Village and overlooking the Indian Ocean in the distance. If you ever make it to this remote island, old clubs are for hire at the Obsidian Hotel in Georgetown, trust me you do not want to break in your brand new set of sticks here.

 

Arriving at the club, everything appeared to be normal as the clubhouse had a restaurant area, but no distinctive pro shop and instead I had a warm welcome from a friendly local named Errol Thomas. He said that he would gladly join me and show me around giving me pointers as we play. The incredible hospitality of the people on the island was not just shown by this gentleman but by everyone I came in contact with. They were all friendly, genuine, chatty and were just happy that you came to visit their island.

 

My new friend Errol, asked if I was ready to play and walked me to the first tee. I wasn’t quite ready for what appeared before me. As I gazed out in front of me, there was not one blade of grass anywhere, just crushed lava, lava boulders and small bushes as far as I could see. Where was I, and where is the golf course? Seeing the look on my face, Errol simply laughed and rightfully asked if I have ever seen anything like this. He then said this is the first hole, as I was still looking around wondering what he meant.

 

The golf course is built on the lava fields of years past, the fairways consist of finely crushed lava with white markers not defining the out of bounds but defining the ‘fairways’ with the ‘rough’ being large lava boulders lining the sides of the crushed lava. There was a red flag in the distance marking the green, um I mean brown, as the greens consist of sand lightly topped with diesel oil and rolled somewhat flat. It boasts 18 holes with a par of 67 with a cost of only 10.00GBP to play.

 

The way they play is that if your ball is in the ‘fairway’ you can pick it up, smooth out the fine lava, place your ball nicely on top of it and hit away. If the ball goes into the ‘rough'or large pieces and boulders of dormant lava then you can either try to hit it if you can or you take a one stroke penalty drop in the fairway but you do not get to smooth it out or place the ball. I think Hogan would have loved this place with the premium on hitting the fairways.

 

The tees resemble century old hitting mats perched up on a little cement block with a rubber tee sticking out. Let’s play away. Asking the yardage of the first hole my guide for the day stated it was 380 yards. Looking and laughing, I hit my driver into the slight cross wind and watched it land with a puff of dust and scamper down the fairway in the distance.

 

Coming up to my ball I received the ok to lift, smooth, place and then proceeded to hit my approach shot just short of the 'brown'. I opted to chip the ball and when hitting what I thought was the perfect chip the ball landed on the brown and rolled about two of the 15 feet I was hoping for. Noticing my puzzled look, Errol simply offered “they aren’t quite Augusta slick here” with a laugh. There is no official stimp reading but if I had to hazard a guess, it would be on the side of four. A lucky two swats with the putter and I was in with a five.

 

The golf course design itself was very good with par 4s, 5s, and 3s like you would expect and some of the meandering crushed lava fairways added some great shape to the holes. As we continued our journey, once I accepted the fact that this was unlike any golf that I have every played before, I started to embrace the course more and more. I thought of the incredible concept that someone had to build it, and realized the fact that no matter where you are in the world, people love the great game of golf.

 

Errol was so proud of his course and the 40+ members that it has. He was reminiscing about the year he contended in their club championship and the fun skins games that they have after a long day at work. Yes, this Worst Course in the World provides what every other golf course provides, an escape from your daily life, camaraderie with friends and that pure joy of hitting the golf ball towards your intended target.

 

The course made me realize the simplicity of it is actually it's genius, and if you could ever experience grass roots golf (well no grass or roots but you understand my meaning) this would be it. Minimalist by definition. I started enjoying the experience so much that I realized it would be a memory of golf that would stay with me forever.

 

As we walked up the 7th fairway noticing the dry reddish dust kicking up off the earth below me and the sun beating down, I felt like I was on a trekking adventure not just a golf adventure. A true sensation for my senses.

 

While trying to take everything in, including Green Mountain in the distance, given the name due to the fact that it is the only greenery on the Island, I was brought back to the present by the sound of a high pitched motor. All of a sudden a person appears out of nowhere on a ATV with a huge smile and one question “Thirsty?”. The Ascension beverage cart has arrived.

 

Standing on the eight tee, cold beer in hand, dormant lava surrounding me and the sea in the distance, I proclaim to Errol “This is not the worst course in the world, this is an experience like no other that I feel privileged to have had the pleasure my friend.” A cheers and huge smile is shared and the friendly man who so eagerly greeted me knows that the course he is so proud of has touched another golfer as it always seems to do.

 

 

 

One Boat Golf Club

18 holes

Par 67, 4889 yards

Georgetown, Ascension Island, Saint Helena

Tel: +247 6246

 

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