A links golf course is on a sandy terrain coastland. Due to the sandy environment, golfers won’t have to worry about trees but will have to battle elements, like the wind or rain, if they play close to the water. Many true-link golf courses exist in the United Kingdom, Scotland, and Ireland.
So, what makes a links golf course so special? What is an actual links golf course exactly? Is Pebble Beach a true links golf course? What is the difference between a golf course and a links course? How should golfers play a links golf course? Finally, what are some of the most famous links courses?
Here is a complete breakdown of a links golf course, answers to those questions, and more.
Why Do they Call it a Links Golf Course?
When golf began in Scotland – the home of golf – it took place in coastal areas called links lands. Those lands were unusable between the beaches, ocean, and inland farming areas. Golf courses in that area became known as links courses, and the name eventually became applied to courses worldwide with similar characteristics.
Today, links golf courses get that name because they feature many of the same links land characteristics of the original Scottish courses.
What Makes a Links Golf Course So Special?
A links golf course plays homage to original links golf courses in Scotland. Essentially, you are going back to 1672 when golf took place on these courses in Scotland. Playing in these conditions is unique, which makes playing in these courses memorable and exciting. Links courses generally share many of the same unique characteristics across the board.
- sandy soil
- pot bunkers
- few trees
- wide fairway
- fast greens
- no manufactured water hazards.
What is a True Links Golf Course?
A true links course is a course that sits along an ocean or sea coast. This location and the lack of trees make the ever-changing winds a significant feature of accurate links courses. In addition, the fairways have thick and tall seaside grass, heather, or gorse, making it difficult to find golf balls that are even slightly mis-hit and land off the fairway.
In addition, a true links course features sandy, dune-like terrain, fast wide-open fairways, quick greens, and a great deal of wind. The design of the holes is also part of a true links course, with the first nine holes going out to the farthest point from the clubhouse and the second none holes bringing you back toward the clubhouse to finish your round.
Is Pebble Beach a True Links Golf Course?
Pebble Beach Golf Links is, strictly speaking, not a proper links course. First, its soil could be sandier, a vital requirement of a proper links course. Also, many of its holes – notably the first three holes and the 12th through the 16th, occupy coastal forest land. The little sand and the number of trees in certain holes go against the description of what a true links course is.
However, even though it is not considered a true links course, it is one of the world’s most famous and best golf courses. It hosts an annual PGA Tour event and several U.S. Open championships.
What is the Difference Between a Golf Course and a Links Course?
What people consider a regular golf course is usually one that a golf course architect or designer has developed. These courses are generally well maintained, with many trees, artificial water hazards, and bunkers. The fairways tend to be more forgiving and flatter when compared to the rolling fairways on a links-style golf course.
There is a wide range of courses like this, ranging from parkland courses to desert courses to executive courses.
On the other hand, a links course uses the natural lay of the land to set up the course and has very few – if any – artificial features. Links courses are often unpredictable because the various undulations resulting from the natural terrain can lead shots to veer off course as they encounter any of the various rises or ridges along the way.
How Should Golfers Play a Golf Links Course?
A golfer must utilize a particular golf style, especially off the tee, to succeed on a links course. It is essential to drive the ball low and straight under the wind, with less spin, so it lands and runs down the fairway. Higher shots tend to get caught up in the wind and blown off target.
When approaching the green on a links course, golfers often need punch shots or bump-and-run approaches to keep the ball lower and allow it to roll up to the green. The sandy, firm nature of the links courses allows for a much longer roll than other courses.
In addition, on links courses, golfers often putt off the green. For those used to playing inland golf courses, wedges are usually the golf club of choice around the green, as they tend to hit the ball high and land it softly. On links courses, however, the strong winds, undulating greens, and rising ground can make it difficult to execute those shots accurately. Since it’s uncommon to find thick rough around a link’s green, golfers often put the wedge away and use the putter off the green.
What are Some of the Most Famous Golf Link Courses?
- St. Andrews in Scotland, especially the Old Course, is often called the home of golf.
- Carnoustie in Scotland
- Ballybunion in Ireland
- Bandon Dunes in Oregon
- Cabot Cape Breton in Nova Scotia
- Royal Troon and Royal St. George’s in Scotland are also among the world’s most famous – and most desirable to play
Each course is considered a championship and has hosted numerous national golf tournaments.
Conclusion: What is a Links Golf Course?
In summary, a links golf course is alongside the coast, has sand, and has few trees. Due to having the course on the coast, numerous weather conditions can impact the play. Some factors include fog, rain, wind, and more, which adds a twist to the game.