What Is A Links Course?

What Makes A Links Course Different From Other Golfing Challenges?

You’ll need to challenge yourself to 18 holes round a links course before you can call yourself a proper golfer. But what exactly are links courses?

Links golf is widely regarded as being the ultimate test in the game (The Open Championship is always played on a links course, for example). But what exactly constitutes a links golf course?

The Key Elements Of A Links Course

Despite all courses being commonly referred to as ‘links’, very few truly live up to the name. In order to be a true links course, the area in question must have each of the following eight elements to qualify:

  • Few, if any, trees lining the fairways
  • The course should run alongside a body of water (commonly coastal)
  • Soil underfoot should be sandy, which allows for maximum drainage
  • Very few inland water hazards
  • Natural obstacles, such as thick gorse bushes
  • Extremely challenging, natural greens
  • Natural layout that is open to frequent weather changes, such as high winds
  • The course should be built on links land that is unsuitable for arable farming

What Makes Them So Different From Other Golf Courses?

With all of these elements in place, the difference between links courses and regular parkland courses are plain to see. The humps and hollows found on true links courses are generally flattened out on parkland courses, so an undeserved bounce into the rough off of the tee is fair more unlikely when playing away from the links.

The lack of water is a boon to many who are prone to the odd splashdown during their round, but the heavy rough that lines the fairways more than makes up for the absence of the wet stuff. Finding your ball can be a challenge, let alone trying to hit the thing!

On the greens, things carry on in a similar fashion. Unlike the billiard tables found elsewhere, links greens are just an extension of the rest of the course – and that means there can be some serious humps and bumps to negotiate if you are not close to the pin. Many a player away on an Irish golf tour has had a great round ruined and been left to buy the Guinness thanks to a four-putt on the 18th at Ballybunion!

Famous UK And Ireland Links Courses

There are dozens of links courses across the United Kingdom and Ireland, but there are one or two venues that are so famous even non-golfers will be aware of them. Places such as Royal Troon, St Andrew’s, Tralee, Royal Lytham St Annes, Portrush, Muirfield and Turnberry are all synonymous with the game and hold a place close to any golfers heart thanks largely to the wonderful tournaments that have been played there over the years.

Playing A Round

However, for the average handicapper to get involved themselves, there is no better way to take on the true links experience than to book a few days off work and set off to Scotland – the home of golf. Playing on the same piece of land that made Old Tom Morris famous will delight any golfer and leave them with memories that will last a lifetime.

Scottish golf tours are the best way to get the most out of your trip, as the guaranteed tee times will allow you to fit in more during your golfing holiday. So, now that you know exactly what a links course is, why not get out there and play one yourself? You’ll never know how good you are until you do!

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