Links style golf refers to a style of golf course that is typically located in coastal areas and is characterized by natural features such as sand dunes, tall grasses, and rugged terrain. Links courses often have few trees, wide fairways, and large, undulating greens.
The term “links” originated in Scotland, where golf was first played on natural, sandy terrain adjacent to the sea. Today, links courses can be found in many parts of the world, including the United States, Australia, and Europe.
Links golf courses are known for their challenging and unpredictable conditions, with wind and weather often playing a significant role in play. Players must contend with fast greens, deep bunkers, and tall grasses that can make it difficult to locate and hit the ball.
Overall, links style golf provides a unique and challenging experience for golfers, and the natural beauty and ruggedness of the course can make for a memorable round of golf.
Famous links golf courses around the world
Links golf courses are considered some of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the world. Here are some of the most famous links golf courses around the world:
|Golf Course||Location||Year Opened||Par||Yardage||Designer||Hosted Major Tournaments|
|St Andrews||Scotland||1400||72||7,305||Old Tom Morris||The Open Championship|
|Royal County Down||Northern Ireland||1889||71||7,186||Old Tom Morris||The Open Championship|
|Royal Birkdale||England||1889||70||7,156||George Lowe||The Open Championship|
|Pebble Beach||California, USA||1919||72||6,828||Jack Neville||US Open, PGA Championship|
|Carnoustie||Scotland||1842||72||7,402||Old Tom Morris||The Open Championship|
|Royal Portrush||Northern Ireland||1888||72||7,143||Harry Colt||The Open Championship|
|Muirfield||Scotland||1891||71||7,245||Old Tom Morris||The Open Championship|
- St Andrews Old Course, Scotland: Often considered the “home of golf,” the Old Course at St Andrews is one of the oldest and most famous links courses in the world. It has hosted The Open Championship 29 times and is a must-play for any serious golfer.
- Royal County Down, Northern Ireland: Located on the coast of the Irish Sea, Royal County Down is considered one of the most challenging and visually stunning links courses in the world. It has hosted many international tournaments and is a favorite among golf enthusiasts.
- Royal Birkdale, England: Situated in the dunes of the North West coast of England, Royal Birkdale is a classic links course known for its challenging layout and deep bunkers. It has hosted The Open Championship nine times and is a favorite among professional golfers.
- Pebble Beach Golf Links, California, USA: While not a traditional links course, Pebble Beach is a stunning coastal course that is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the world. It has hosted many professional tournaments, including the US Open.
- Carnoustie Golf Links, Scotland: Known for its challenging layout and punishing rough, Carnoustie is one of the most difficult links courses in the world. It has hosted The Open Championship eight times and is a favorite among serious golfers.
- Royal Portrush Golf Club, Northern Ireland: This stunning links course is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and is known for its challenging layout and breathtaking views. It has hosted the Open Championship twice and is considered one of the best courses in Ireland.
- Muirfield, Scotland: This classic links course has a long history, having hosted The Open Championship 16 times. It is known for its challenging greens and natural beauty, and is a must-play for any serious golfer.
Characteristics of Links Golf Courses
Links golf courses are distinctive in their features and layout. Some of the key characteristics of links style golf courses include:
- Coastal location: Links courses are typically located along coastal areas, often in close proximity to the sea. This proximity to the ocean can influence weather conditions, with wind and sea spray often playing a factor in play.
- Natural terrain: Links courses are designed to take advantage of the natural terrain, which often includes sand dunes, tall grasses, and rugged terrain. The course may be built around existing natural features, such as a rocky outcropping or a sandy beach.
- Few trees: Links courses typically have few trees, or none at all, which can make it challenging for players to find shade or to get a sense of the course layout.
- Wide fairways: The fairways on links courses are often wide and open, with few obstacles or hazards. This can make it easier for players to hit the ball off the tee, but it also means that precision is key when approaching the green.
- Undulating greens: The greens on links courses are often large and undulating, which can make putting a challenge. Players must carefully read the slope of the green and adjust their aim and speed accordingly.
- Bunkers: Links courses are often characterized by deep, sandy bunkers that are strategically placed to challenge players’ shots. These bunkers can be difficult to hit out of and can add a layer of complexity to the course.
- Wind and weather: Wind and weather conditions can play a significant role in play on links courses. Strong winds can make it difficult to hit shots accurately, while rain and fog can make it challenging to see the course and the ball.
History of Links Golf
The history of links golf can be traced back to Scotland, where golf was first played on natural, sandy terrain adjacent to the sea. The earliest known golf course was the Old Links at Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, which was established in the late 17th century.
Over time, the popularity of golf grew, and more courses were built throughout Scotland and beyond. Many of these courses were built on natural terrain that was well-suited to the game, with rolling sand dunes, tall grasses, and natural hazards such as rocks and streams.
One of the most famous early links courses was St. Andrews, which was established in the 15th century and is often referred to as the “home of golf.” St. Andrews is located in Fife, Scotland, and is known for its rugged terrain, unpredictable weather, and iconic features such as the Swilcan Bridge and the Road Hole.
As golf spread beyond Scotland, links courses were built in other coastal areas, including England, Ireland, and the United States. In the United States, courses such as Pebble Beach in California and Bandon Dunes in Oregon have become famous for their links-style layouts and challenging conditions.
Today, links golf remains a popular and prestigious form of the game, with major tournaments such as the British Open being held on links courses around the world. Links golf is known for its unique and challenging conditions, which can test players’ skill and patience, and for the beauty and ruggedness of the courses themselves.
Challenges of Playing Links Golf
Playing links golf presents a unique set of challenges for golfers, who must contend with a variety of factors that can make the game more difficult. Some of the main challenges of playing links golf include:
- Wind: Links courses are often located in coastal areas, where strong winds can be a constant factor. Wind can affect the trajectory of shots, making them more difficult to control and adding an element of unpredictability to the game.
- Bunkers: Links courses are known for their deep, sandy bunkers, which can be difficult to hit out of and can add strokes to a player’s score. Bunkers are often strategically placed to challenge players’ shots and require careful planning and execution to navigate successfully.
- Undulating greens: Links greens are often large and undulating, which can make putting a challenge. Players must read the slope of the green carefully and adjust their aim and speed accordingly.
- Rough: The rough on links courses can be tall and thick, making it difficult to find and hit the ball. Players must be accurate off the tee and avoid the rough as much as possible to stay on track.
- Weather: Links golf is often played in unpredictable weather conditions, including rain, fog, and mist. These conditions can make it difficult to see the course and the ball, and can add an additional layer of challenge to the game.
- Course layout: Links courses often have a unique layout that can be difficult to navigate. Players must carefully plan their shots and adjust their strategy based on the terrain and obstacles on the course.
Despite these challenges, many golfers relish the opportunity to play links golf and enjoy the unique experience it offers. Successfully navigating a links course can be a rewarding and memorable achievement for any golfer.
Strategies for success on links courses
Playing on links courses requires a different approach and strategy than playing on other types of golf courses. Here are some strategies that can help golfers achieve success on links courses:
- Consider the weather: The weather can play a significant role in the outcome of a round on a links course. Players should be prepared for windy conditions and plan their shots accordingly. Additionally, players should keep an eye on the weather forecast and adjust their game plan accordingly.
- Stay out of trouble: Links courses can have a lot of hazards, including bunkers, tall grass, and water. Players should aim to stay out of trouble by hitting their shots accurately and avoiding hazards whenever possible.
- Focus on accuracy: Links courses often have narrow fairways and undulating greens, which can make accuracy critical. Players should focus on hitting their shots straight and avoiding unnecessary risks.
- Use the ground to your advantage: Links courses are known for their firm, fast fairways, which can be used to a player’s advantage. Shots that are hit low and running can travel farther on firm ground than high shots, which can be helpful on longer holes.
- Take advantage of the wind: Wind can be both a blessing and a curse on a links course. Players should try to use the wind to their advantage by aiming shots in the direction of the wind and adjusting the trajectory of their shots as needed.
- Stay patient: Links golf can be frustrating, with hazards, wind, and undulating greens adding an additional layer of challenge to the game. Players should stay patient, take their time, and focus on each shot as it comes.
By following these strategies, golfers can increase their chances of success on links courses and enjoy the unique challenge and beauty of these courses.