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What Is a Links Style Golf Course?

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
links style golf course

Links-style golf courses are considered the oldest style of the golf course and were initially developed in Scotland. They are usually located in coastal areas near bodies of water and feature wide-open terrain with minimal trees, deeper-than-usual bunkers, and fast greens. The main benefit of playing a links golf course is that it offers an entirely different look than most other courses, making for an exciting way to experience the game.

Additionally, because these courses have no trees or shrubbery, players have to use their creativity when hitting shots rather than repeatedly relying on the same shot selection. This quality can make the game more challenging for even experienced players.

The History of Links Golf Courses

The origin of links golf dates back to the early days when Scots began playing golf on "links land," areas of coastal terrain characterized by rolling hills, sandy beaches, and lots of open space. The game caught on quickly in Scotland and eventually spread to the rest of the UK and Ireland. By the late 19th century, golfers played on hundreds of links style courses across these countries.

The Old Course at St. Andrews (considered the "home of golf") is a popular links golf course that has been around for over 600 years and has hosted numerous PGA Tour events and tournaments over its long history, including 29 Opens! While there are many links golf courses in Scotland and around the world, Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, is one of the most famous links courses and has hosted several PGA Tour events.

Characteristics of a Links Golf Course

Links golf courses are renowned for their wide fairways and few trees, with steep bunkers positioned in key areas to make them more challenging. These features force players to be more creative in their shot selection and shaping for each hole. Additionally, links golf courses usually feature some of the fastest, best-putting greens in existence, which can demand precision from players wanting to go low.

Links also provide great views due to their open terrain, which is enjoyable for those looking for something more than just golfing alone.

Playing Strategies for a Links Golf Course

If you’ve never played on a links golf course, you may be shocked if your standard game isn’t quite working. You may need to consider changing your strategy or expanding your golf practice for the next time you play a links course.

Off the Tee

Due to the wide-open nature of links golf, many golfers can find themselves hitting long drives off most tees with minimal effort, thanks in part to the lack of obstacles around the fairway. However, this can come with challenges, such as having more sand traps or bunkers in play if hits stray too far right or left. Therefore, players must be extra cautious when selecting clubs and aim accurately off every tee box.

Approach Shots

Approach shots are critical on links golf courses. Players must know their surroundings and consider wind direction when assessing which shot to play. Additionally, due to the fast greens on these courses, players should also ensure they select a club that will land softly enough not to roll off or through the green entirely.

Putting on Links Golf Courses

Putting on links courses can be tricky since there are no trees or shrubbery around that could block the sunlight during certain times of the day, meaning one area may be brighter. This uneven light can sometimes make the greens challenging to read, so players must pay attention when reading putts from all angles before making stroke decisions. Because of the fast greens, even slight miscalculations in speed can lead to disastrous results. Consider finding an indoor putting mat to simulate these conditions during practice.

Tips for Playing Links Golf Courses

Are you gearing up to play a links-style golf course? Here are some tips for maximizing your time out there.

Prepare for the Elements

Links are often located in areas with unpredictable weather conditions. Before heading out to play, check the current forecast and prepare accordingly. For example, if the forecast predicts windy conditions, players should be ready to hit lower shots or choose different clubs than they usually would.

Play Smart

When you don’t know a course, you will likely have shots you didn’t anticipate. Try your best not to get impatient or let your emotions get the best of you. Links golf requires more strategy than a regular golf course.

Work on Different Shots

If you have some time to prepare before you play on a links-style course, consider working on different shots before you go. Familiarizing yourself with what you can and cannot do will help you know what to try when it counts.

Additionally, practice putting on fast greens to understand what speed you should aim for when making strokes.

Have a Blast

Depending on where you live, you may get few chances to play a link golf course. Golf is a game that most of us don’t get paid to play. So try to have fun out there and appreciate the challenge as much as possible when you do!

Final Thoughts

Playing a links golf course can be rewarding and challenging for players of all skill levels. Although the wide-open terrain may seem intimidating, you can prepare yourself ahead of time and enjoy this unique experience.

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Editorial Team
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