With the Open Championship last month, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for everyone to get a better understanding of what defines a Links golf course. It takes a special set of skills to succeed at a course like Royal St. George’s. This year’s winner, Colin Morikawa certainly showed his incredible skill in conquering the course that included no bogeys for a record breaking 31 holes. Not everyone has what it takes to do so well in the challenging conditions a links style course can bring.
What Does ‘Links Style’ Mean Anyway?
First created in Scotland, links styled golf courses are the oldest style of golf course. The word link or links comes from the English word “hlinc,” meaning a ridge or a stretch of flat, undulating land and typically along a seashore and the soil is sandy. Native grasses tend to have short blades with long roots, due to the lack of moisture. Links courses are often described as being one with nature. It is this that gives the look and feel of the course.
Most of the features on the golf course are all natural, rather than influenced by humans. Because of this golfers may experience far more challenging shots. There may be blind shots and players may hit shots uphill or downhill toward the green. Links courses are typically wide-open, lacking tree lined fairways. Additionally, inks courses lack water hazards.
Famous Links Style Courses in the U.S.
Though many think Links courses are in Europe, there are some well known links courses here in North America. Probably the most renowned of which being Pebble Beach Golf Links (California), this years 2021 Ryder Cup Course, Whistling Straits (Wisconsin), Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Oregon), Shinnecock Hills (New York), and Kiawah Island (South Carolina).
With this style golf course golf instructors advise players to adjust their playing style. In general, the game is played closer to the ground. Since the terrain on a links course is naturally firm, players tend to play more knock-down, and bump and run type shots. Keeping your ball flight low helps to lessen the effects the usually strong winds have on your ball flight.
As many traditional links courses consist of an “outward” nine in one direction along the coast and an opposite “inward,” nine returning, players often have to cope with contrasting wind patterns in each half of their round. It is also not uncommon to see players putting from well off the green.
Now that you know what a Links course is and you know how to play a Links course, it may very well be time to “skip on over the pond,” “hire” some clubs and a “buggy,” and experience how golf was truly meant to be played.
Play well, and we will catch you at the “turn!”