A links golf course is a specific type of golf course that is typically located in coastal areas, particularly in Scotland and Ireland where the style originated. The term “links” comes from the Old English word “hlinc,” which means “rising ground” or “ridge.” Links courses are known for their unique characteristics and are highly regarded by golfers around the world.
Here are some defining features of a links golf course:
1. Coastal Location: Links courses are typically built on sandy, undulating terrain near the coastline. They often border dunes, beaches, or grassy coastal areas. The proximity to the sea influences the playing conditions and adds to the challenge and beauty of the course.
2. Natural Landscape: Links courses are designed to work with the existing land rather than shaping it artificially. They often have a rugged and raw appearance, with natural dunes, marram grass, heather, and other indigenous vegetation. The course is integrated into the natural environment, showcasing the beauty of the coastal landscape.
3. Open Layout: Unlike many traditional parkland courses, links courses have an open and spacious layout. The absence of trees allows for sweeping vistas and views of the surrounding landscape. The fairways are generally wide, and there are fewer defined boundaries, giving players more freedom in shot selection.
4. Breezy and Variable Conditions: Being near the coast, links courses are often exposed to strong winds and changing weather conditions. This factor significantly influences the playing experience and requires golfers to adapt their shots and strategies accordingly. The wind adds an extra layer of challenge, making links golf a true test of skill.
5. Firm and Fast Playing Surfaces: Links courses typically have firm, sandy soil that drains well, resulting in fast and bouncy fairways. The natural turf tends to be firm and tight, allowing golfers to hit shots with more roll. This characteristic requires players to think strategically about their shot placement and provides opportunities for creative shot-making.
6. Bunkers and Natural Hazards: Links courses are known for their numerous bunkers, often placed strategically to challenge players’ accuracy and decision-making. The bunkers are typically rugged, with irregular shapes and steep faces. In addition to bunkers, natural features like dunes, gorse, heather, and tall grass serve as hazards that golfers must navigate.
Playing on a links golf course offers a unique and memorable experience. The combination of coastal beauty, challenging conditions, and strategic shot-making opportunities attracts golfers from around the world. Links golf is often regarded as the traditional and authentic form of the game, connecting players to golf’s rich history and heritage.