“Devil’s Golf Course” was only a joke, but the name stuck.
Of all the areas of Death Valley National Park, this one definitely looks the most hellish. Once covered by a lake, the water evaporated some 2,000 years ago, leaving behind a 1,000 foot-layer of salt and minerals. Part of an extensive salt pan, the Devil’s Golf Course was created over many years as water occasionally rises up through the salt bed and reshapes the formations. When the water evaporates in the blazing heat, the large infernal stalagmites and spiky mounds are what get left behind. The ground is so full of pointy salt spikes–some as tall as two feet high–that it can be difficult to walk, much less play golf.
This of course is the joke, and an old one at that. A 1934 National Park Service guidebook to Death Valley said, “only the devil could play golf” on this surface, and the name stuck. Of course the joke may not be as funny to golfers who occasionally drive out to the area to play golf, confusing it with the real golf course in nearby Furnace Creek.