What is a Links Golf Course?

bird's eye photo of grass field

A links golf course is located on sandy terrain coastland, where players don’t have to worry about trees but have to battle elements like wind and rain near the water. These types of golf courses have existed for a long time in the UK, Scotland, and Ireland. In this article, we’ll explore the characteristics of links courses, the difference between a golf course and a links course, tips for playing a links course, and famous links courses.

The term “links” comes from the word “linking,” meaning land that links the sea to farmland. Links courses got their name from the original Scottish golf courses that were built in these coastal areas. These courses typically feature sandy soil, pot bunkers, wide fairways, fescue, fast greens, and no manufactured water hazards, making them unique.

A true links course is located along an ocean or sea coast and features thick and tall seaside grass, heather, or gorse. The ever-changing winds are a significant factor, making the game even more challenging. Fairways tend to be fast, wide-open, and undulating, with holes usually laid out to take you farthest from and then back towards the clubhouse.

Pebble Beach is not considered a true links course as it occupies coastal forest land, which doesn’t meet the sandy terrain requirement of a proper links course. Regular golf courses, in contrast, are developed by golf course architects and designers, have many trees, artificial water hazards, and bunkers, and are generally well maintained, with flatter fairways.

To play a links course successfully, golfers should drive the ball low and straight under the wind, use punch shots or bump-and-run approaches to keep the ball lower when approaching the green, and putt off the green. Wedges tend to be less useful since they tend to hit the ball high and land it softly.

St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Ballybunion, Bandon Dunes, Cabot Cape Breton, Royal Troon, and Royal St. George’s are among the world’s most famous links courses, with each considered a championship and having hosted numerous national golf tournaments.

In conclusion, links courses are known for their coastal location, sandy terrain, and few trees, and have existed for centuries in Scotland, Ireland, and the UK. Their unique features, such as ever-changing winds, undulating fairways, and fast greens, make them a thrilling challenge for golfers of all skill levels.