links golf

What is Links Golf?

Links golf courses are often associated with coastal sand dunes. Links courses usually do not have trees or many trees at all. They are known for being wide open golf courses where the wind can affect your golf ball more since there aren’t trees to block it.

While links courses are generally associated with being near the coast, they aren’t always next to water. But some of the most beautiful golf courses and top ranked courses in the world tend to be the sandy dunes / coastal golf courses since they have these breathtaking views of the ocean or lake while playing golf.

A few of the best links style golf courses in the United States include:

  • Bandon Dunes (Oregon)
  • Arcadia Bluffs (Michigan)
  • Whistling Straights (Wisconsin)
  • National Golf Links of America (New York)
  • Erin Hills (Wisconsin)

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Why are they called Links Golf Courses?

The term “links golf course” started in Scotland as part of the Scottish language. Links means “rising ground, ridge” which is a common feature of these types of golf courses since they have uneven fairways.

Links land is usually associated with sand dunes. You’ll find thick rough or tall fescue grass running down the hole next to the fairways making it hard to find your ball if you miss the fairway.

Deep pot bunkers are often a staple of links golf courses as well where they dig down deep, leaving you a steep shot to escape above the wall in front of you. Sometimes golfers have to hit backwards to get out of pot bunkers.

Read Next: Golf Vocabulary Terms for Beginners

Where to Find Links Golf Courses

As mentioned earlier, you can find links golf courses near bodies of water, often the coast or the major lakes in the United States like Lake Michigan. Wisconsin and Michigan both have pretty famous links golf courses in their states. Oregon is a coastal state in the USA that has some highly rated links golf courses with beautiful ocean views.

Internationally, links golf courses are the oldest and original style of golf course so you can find many of them throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland, etc.

Ireland is known for having the most links golf courses. It’s more common to find a links style golf course than any other type.

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Tips for Playing Links Golf

If you plan to play links golf, make sure you practice hitting low golf shots that can cut through the wind. You’ll be surprised how much distance you can lose on your driver when hitting into the wind on a links golf course.

In addition to playing a lower flighted golf shot, you’ll want to play more strategically in links golf. Think about where to aim and land your ball for the next shot, since many of the holes will dog leg, have pot bunkers guarding the fairways, or tall roughs that you don’t want to end up in.

Focus on accuracy in links golf. Hitting fairways is crucial to playing well. Even though there aren’t many trees to worry about on a links golf course, you’ll find the tall rough harder to play from. Club up to get extra distance when playing off from the sand dunes tall grass when you miss fairways.

Expect the greens to play with lots of break. The links golf course is uneven with lots of slope and greens will be a challenge to judge break and slope. Give it more break than expected when aiming your putts.

Lastly, try to avoid the tall pot bunkers. These can take lots of skill to escape and could lead to extra strokes on your score if you’re unsuccessful at escaping them. Try to avoid pot bunkers all together to have a more pleasant playing experience.

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