Playing golf at Camp Bonifas in South Korea can prove dangerous in more ways than one. After all, it is notorious for being the most dangerous golf course in the world. What's the worst thing that can happen, you ask? Well, you could get blown up to smithereens, for one.
The deadly golf course is pretty small at 192 yards, but it feels like a good 250 yards. The place is flanked by military style bunkers on the right, and on the left side, separated by an 18-foot high security fence topped by concertina wire, lie buried countless unexploded mines. Even a small mistake could cause a huge, fatal explosion. A nearby sign warns players, "Danger. Do not retrieve balls from the rough. Live mine fields."
Camp Bonifas got its name in 1976, in honor of Capt. Arthur Bonifas who was killed over a dispute with North Korean soldiers. It was built in 1972 as an emotional outlet for the 50 American soldiers stationed in the area at a lonely outpost. With no theaters or restaurants, they had no option but to convert the deadly area into a golf course. While it was being built, the commanders figured out that even though it wasn't possible to fit in all 18 holes in the limited area, they could compensate by making the game difficult. So they created a layout slicing through dense trees, with a fairway that is only 40 yards wide. The result is pretty simple according to Sgt. James Meisenheimer, a 23-year-old from Kansas, "Most golf holes would get boring if you played them again and again. This one doesn't."
But if you think the live land mines are the only scary thing about Camp Bonifas, you're sadly mistaken. Over the years, the camp has been shrouded by scary rumors and sightings. They say that if you play alone, you can see and experience weird things. This includes seeing animals like wild boars, Korean tigers, vampire deers and even a bizarre creature some men refer to as a "man-bear-pig". You'll just have to imagine what that looks like.
The golf course was very well maintained in the years when more than 700 soldiers were stationed there. The fairway was mowed almost daily and always kept green. But it soon turned into a cow pasture when the number of men and military budgets dwindled. Very recently, a few soldiers got together and decided to do something about Camp Bonifas. The course was given a face-lift and construction crews were brought in to clear up the sand traps. A riding lawnmower was shipped in from the US and Astroturf installed on the tee box and green. The soldiers now hope they can get Tiger Woods to come play there, so they will raise enough money to do an even better job. Meanwhile, the soldiers are still having a great time on the course. As Army Sgt. Mikel Thurman says, "It's like a Zen garden where we hit little white balls."