What is Links Golf Courses?

When it comes to golf, there are various types of golf courses around the world, each with its own unique characteristics and challenges. One of the most iconic and revered types of golf courses is the links golf course. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of links golf courses, uncovering what sets them apart from other types of golf courses and why they hold a special place in the hearts of golfers and enthusiasts alike.

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I. Origins of Links Golf Courses

Links golf courses have a rich history that dates back centuries. These courses originated in Scotland and are often found in coastal areas where the land meets the sea. The term “links” itself is derived from the Scottish word “hlinc,” which means rising ground or ridge. This etymology reflects the natural terrain of links courses, characterized by sandy dunes, tall grasses, and undulating landscapes.

II. Unique Characteristics of Links Golf Courses

  1. Natural Beauty: Links golf courses are renowned for their breathtaking natural beauty. They often offer stunning views of the coastline and the sea, creating a serene and picturesque setting for a round of golf.
  2. Sandy Soil: Unlike traditional golf courses with lush, manicured fairways, links courses have sandy soil. This sandy foundation allows for excellent drainage, making links courses playable even in wet and windy conditions.
  3. Challenging Terrain: Links golf is known for its challenging terrain. Golfers must navigate rolling dunes, thick rough, and unpredictable winds, which can add an extra layer of complexity to their game.
  4. Firm and Fast Greens: Links courses typically have firm and fast greens. These greens require precise putting skills, as the ball can roll farther than expected, influenced by the natural contours of the land.
  5. Bunkers and Natural Hazards: Links courses feature strategically placed bunkers and natural hazards, such as deep grassy rough and pot bunkers. These hazards demand accuracy and strategy from golfers, as a wayward shot can result in a difficult recovery.

III. Famous Links Golf Courses

  1. St. Andrews Links, Scotland: Often referred to as the “Home of Golf,” St. Andrews is one of the most iconic links courses globally and has a storied history dating back to the 15th century.
  2. Royal Birkdale, England: This championship links course has hosted numerous Open Championships and is known for its challenging layout and spectacular coastal views.
  3. Ballybunion Golf Club, Ireland: Nestled along the rugged Irish coastline, Ballybunion is famous for its dramatic dunes and challenging holes, making it a must-visit for golf enthusiasts.
  4. Pebble Beach Golf Links, USA: While not in the traditional links region, Pebble Beach is often considered an American links course due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and its scenic beauty.

IV. The Appeal of Links Golf

So, what makes links golf so appealing to golfers of all skill levels? It’s a combination of factors:

  1. Connection to Tradition: Links courses connect golfers to the roots of the sport, harking back to a time when golf was played on rugged, natural landscapes.
  2. Strategy and Creativity: The challenging terrain and ever-changing wind conditions force golfers to think strategically and be creative with their shots, making each round a unique experience.
  3. Serenity and Solitude: Links courses often provide a sense of serenity and solitude, allowing golfers to immerse themselves in the game and the natural surroundings.
  4. A Test of Skill: Playing on a links course is a true test of a golfer’s skill. Conquering the challenges of the terrain and weather can be immensely satisfying.

V. Maintaining Links Golf Courses

Maintaining links golf courses requires a different approach compared to traditional inland courses. Given their proximity to the sea and the sandy soil, links courses have unique maintenance challenges:

  1. Minimal Irrigation: Links courses often receive less irrigation than their inland counterparts. The sandy soil drains quickly, which can be both an advantage and a challenge. It means that these courses can be played in various weather conditions, but it also requires careful monitoring of moisture levels to prevent the course from drying out excessively.
  2. Natural Aesthetics: Links courses embrace the natural aesthetics of the landscape. Unlike manicured fairways, the rough on links courses is often left to grow naturally, creating a rugged and wild appearance that adds to their charm.
  3. Environmental Considerations: Many links courses prioritize environmental sustainability. They work to preserve the unique ecosystems found in coastal areas, often partnering with environmental organizations to protect native plants and wildlife.

VI. Famous Tournaments and Links Golf

Links golf courses are often chosen as venues for prestigious golf tournaments, including:

  1. The Open Championship: This major championship in professional golf is known for its rotation of links courses. St. Andrews, Royal Troon, and Royal St. George’s are among the historic links courses that have hosted The Open.
  2. Ryder Cup: While the Ryder Cup is often played on parkland courses, links courses like The K Club in Ireland have also hosted this prestigious event.
  3. Walker Cup: The Walker Cup, a biennial amateur golf competition, has been hosted on links courses such as Royal Liverpool and Royal Aberdeen.

VII. Links Golf Courses Around the World

While the birthplace of links golf is Scotland, you can find links-style courses in various countries, including the United States, Ireland, England, Australia, and New Zealand. These courses often replicate the key features of traditional links courses, offering golfers a taste of the authentic links experience even if they can’t make it to the British Isles.

VIII. The Links Golf Experience

Playing on a links golf course is more than just a round of golf; it’s an experience that immerses you in the history and natural beauty of the game. The ever-changing conditions, from the unpredictable winds to the shifting sands, make every round a unique challenge. Links golf courses offer a chance to connect with the origins of the sport, to test your skills, and to appreciate the raw beauty of coastal landscapes.

Famous Links Golf Courses

Course NameLocationYear EstablishedDesignerNotable Tournaments
St. Andrews LinksFife, Scotland1400Old Tom MorrisThe Open Championship
Royal BirkdaleSouthport, England1889George LoweThe Open Championship
Lahinch Golf ClubCounty Clare, Ireland1892Alister MacKenzieIrish Open
Royal County DownNewcastle, N. Ireland1889Old Tom MorrisIrish Open
Carnoustie Golf LinksAngus, Scotland1842Allan RobertsonThe Open Championship

Links Course Characteristics

Coastal LocationCourses situated near the coast with sea views
Natural TerrainUndulating sand dunes, native grasses, and rugged landscape
BunkersDeep and strategically placed bunkers
Lack of TreesMinimal to no trees on the course
Windy ConditionsFrequent and strong winds affecting play

Links Course Advantages

Excellent DrainageSandy soil allows for quick drainage, minimizing waterlogged fairways
Challenge and VarietyNatural hazards, wind, and unpredictable lies add excitement
Scenic BeautyCoastal views, native flora, and fauna enhance aesthetics
Strategic PlayBunkers and wind demand strategic shot selection
Tradition and HistoryMany links courses have centuries-old traditions

Famous Links Course Holes

Course NameMemorable HoleDescription
St. Andrews Links“The Road Hole”A notorious par-4 with an iconic road behind the green
Royal Birkdale“Hillside”A challenging par-4 with dunes and stunning views
Lahinch Golf Club“Klondyke”A par-5 known for its blind tee shot and dunes
Royal County Down“The Calamity”A par-3 with a deep chasm, testing accuracy
Carnoustie Golf Links“Barry Burn”The par-4 18th hole with a meandering burn and bunkers

Links Course Tips

Club SelectionAdjust for wind and account for roll on firm fairways
Bunker PlayPractice escaping deep bunkers and judging distance
Course ManagementPlay conservative on windy days, avoid risky shots
Green ReadingLinks greens can be subtle; read carefully for breaks
Enjoy the SceneryTake in the natural beauty and unique landscapes


In the world of golf, links golf courses stand out as remarkable and cherished treasures. Their distinctive characteristics, historical significance, and connection to the natural world make them a favorite among golfers and a testament to the enduring appeal of the sport. So, whether you’re a passionate golfer or simply a lover of the outdoors, consider embarking on a golfing journey to a links course. You’ll not only experience the game in a unique way but also forge a connection to the rich heritage of golf that has been enjoyed for centuries.

What is Links Golf Courses?


  • Ryan Spino

    Ryan Spino, our Executive Editor since January 2022, has been instrumental in shaping The Golf Mine. His vision, backed by a Golf Management MBA and extensive editorial expertise, has expanded our coverage, ensuring that every article upholds our commitment to quality and accuracy in the golfing realm.

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