Sports Outside the Beltway

Giving New Meaning to the Term ‘Golf Hazard’


MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia – The caddies have fled. A pair of cleaning women squat beneath the shade of a tree close to the 18th hole. The club’s manager sits and smokes, knowing he is in for a quiet couple of weeks.

When dormant, the volcano that gives Golf Merapi club its name is its biggest draw. Golfers from around the world come for the experience of playing on the flanks of a still active volcano, the crater of which is just 5 miles from the course.

But when the mountain is erupting, it stops play like nothing else.

That has to be some kind of understatement.

Golf Volcano Mt. Merapi “I tell people, it is probably safer to stay at home,” said Sukirman, the manager who like many Indonesians goes by a single name.

As Sukirman spoke the peak belched massive clouds of ash and sent searing hot gas clouds rolling down its slopes Monday. The club is situated just outside the peak’s mandatory evacuation zone, and it is not the only business suffering because of Merapi’s wrath, which scientists say could last several weeks.


The peak sputtered to life several weeks ago and activity has steadily increased.


Sukirman said the caddies that ply the 6,969-yard, par-72 course ran home when a particularly large eruption shook the mountain Monday. The club closed its gates, and most of its 250 staff were told not to come to work.

“This is the risk of putting a club here,” Sukirman said.

That would certainly apply to homes, businesses etc. Man has a long history of building near volcanos. Do I need remind anyone of Pompeii?

This golf course’s hazard reminds me of an old episode of MASH where Col. Blake is playing golf near the camp. Hawkeye decribes the hole as “Out of bounds left, North Korean snipers. Out of Bounds right, land mines.” Or something like that.

And you wonder why some people think golfers are crazy.

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