The first tee time in July at Furnace Creek Golf Course in Death Valley, CA, is 6:20 a.m. That is out of necessity, not choice. By mid-morning, temperatures will be well over 100 degrees. By lunchtime, the town’s lone golf course will be empty.
With only a handful of players brave enough to play through such extreme summer conditions, Furnace Creek’s head professional Jon Skaggs is forced to wear many hats: managing carts, checking players in, wrangling rentals, marshaling on the course and turning sprinklers on and off throughout the day. “A lot of people can’t believe that there’s been golf played here for the last 95 years,” says Skaggs. “They come to play on the lowest course in the world.”
At 214 feet below sea level, Furnace Creek Golf Course easily holds that title. And with record temperatures flirting with 130 degrees this summer, it was without a doubt the planet’s hottest course. So who is audacious enough to tee it up here? Live here? What does it take to keep the course from frying to a crisp?
Barbara Taylor moved to Death Valley 35 years ago and is one of the few who play the course daily. Like most locals, she has a different view of life. “We stay out of what’s happening in the world,” says Taylor. “I accepted [the heat] about 20 years ago. You just don’t go outside in the summer—except golfing in the morning.”
Meet Skaggs, Taylor and more who fight to keep Furnace Creek open year-round in this TGJ Film.