What Makes Links Golf The Best
For the uninitiated, links golf courses are generally those that are built primarily on sand, with the fast-drying nature of the layouts allowing for year-round playability. The term ‘links’ originated from the old-English word ‘hlinc’, which was used to describe the hills around the British coastline, and as such, links courses tend to be played either through, up, over or around coastal dunes, at least on some part of the property.
However, there are loads more reasons than just dryness underfoot and some cool-looking sand dunes for heading on your own links adventure. Check out some of our own favourite things about playing links golf in the British Isles.
We’ve touched on it already, so let us start with the playability of links courses throughout the year. Staying drier than most other venues throughout the winter, links courses often become brown throughout the summer months, with the tightly cut fairways allowing the ball to carry on running (Hello 300-yard drives!). That means that whenever you head on your own links trip, you’ll likely find a course in fantastic condition, and may even see your drives getting some run, even in the depths of winter.
The design of links golf courses also mean that they’re eminently playable for golfers of all abilities - providing you choose a tee-box which mirrors your skillset. With the game designed to be played more along the ground on these courses, you’re often able to run shots up to the target, without needing to flight something high and stopping - as you might need to into raised greens on parkland-style courses. But beware, due to the regularity at which many leading links courses host big tournaments, tee-boxes have been built further and further back from the fairways, meaning that there can now be some lengthy carries from back tees to the start of fairways…particularly into the breeze!
(Burnham & Berrow)
Another fantastic reason for playing links golf is the ability to follow in the footsteps of your golfing heroes, with all of the courses on The Open rota laid out across links-land. If you’re fortunate enough to have played a few Open venues, notice how the questions asked by these links courses remain consistent throughout the British Isles; with an emphasis on staying out of fairway bunkers, and ensuring your lag-putting is up to scratch on the extremely large putting surfaces.
An additional commonality of links courses is the feeling you get following a well-struck iron from the fairway. The turf is unique to these layouts, and provides an unparalleled sensation. This is particularly true in the spring and autumn, when the ground is still firm but not as baked as it can be in the summer months. It’s impossible to put this feeling into words, but once you’ve played from links fairways, you’ll know immediately what we mean!
Lack of Trees
Owing to the harshness of their costal locations, there are generally less trees at links courses. As a result, links courses are much more open - particularly from the tee. Great news from those who like to move the ball more drastically one way or another. The option to stand up on a tee and play a 50-yard slice (…or ‘power fade’), without worrying about clattering a group of trees that line the left hand side of the hole is eminently freeing - and something we love about playing links courses!
The 100-Yard Putt!
Sticking with the lack of confidence in our own abilities, links golf also allows you to be hugely creative with your shotmaking, particularly when approaching the green. The tightly-cut fairways can be tough to chip off, even for the best players in the world, and the firmness of the greens can make it hard to keep the ball close to the flag. When there are no other obstacles in the way, links encourages you to keep the ball on the floor - allowing you to ‘bump and run’ or even putt from as far back as you like. This is super fun to do, and can have the feeling of playing the world’s greatest crazy golf course! However, if the 100-yard putt isn’t for you, why not try the same technique with a hybrid? Todd Hamilton famously used this to devastating effect to win his Open Championship, and it’s a shot we’d recommend golfers of all abilities have in their locker.
Our final reason to play links golf is the feeling of just being outside with the elements. Away from the comfort of an inland-course protected by trees, links golf send you out with your group to take on the course, in whatever conditions that day has to offer. When the wind is calm and the sun is shining, a links course can be one of the most magical places to be, as you skip around a course that has barely changed in a century. However, even a moderate breeze can make the round play entirely differently, truly putting your skills to the test.
Links courses provide as true and honest a test of golf as you’ll find in the modern age, and the feeling of taming a true links, utilising the full extent of your golfing toolbox, is arguably the most satisfying of all within the sport we all love.
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