You may have heard people talking about going out for a day on the links or it may have found a new links golf course. So what is links golf?
Links golf is borrowed from Scotland, where golf is believed to have originated. Links golf courses are usually located along the coast. However, many modern inland Links courses have coast-like features such as lakes and ponds. Links golf courses are extremely unforgiving. They have harsh grass, and complex terrain contours. Links golf is the most challenging form of golf, which makes it golf at its best.
Let’s take a closer look at Links golf.
It is believed that golf was invented in Scotland in the 15th century. With agriculture being the powerhouse of the medieval economy, all arable land was used by farmers for cultivation. But, they considered the coastal lands worthless because of the sandy soil. The availability of huge tracts of land was a great opportunity for the early golf course designers. These course designers were usually low on resources, which means that they couldn’t move the earth to give the course a proper shape. Naturally, these golf courses were largely uneven and had complex terrain.
These early golf courses were replete with evergreen trees called gorse and were lush with a hardy type of grass, such as fescue or bent grasses. When this type of grass is cut, it provides an ideal surface for playing golf. The Links have rolling hills, sand dunes, and bunkers.
There are many surviving and popular Links golf courses in Scotland, including the world-famous St. Andrews. A handful number of traditional Links courses can also be found in England, Ireland, Wales, and even the US.
Modern Links Golf
Modern Links golf tries to incorporate as many elements of the traditional Links golf as possible. For instance, there is almost always a water body present in the course, both as a natural hazard to enhance the challenge and as a view. Then there is the sandy soil. Sandy soil and lush hardy grass are indispensable elements of modern Links golf. The sandy soil drains rain water magnificently, which means that Links golf is hardly ever canceled because of rain.
Here are some of the typical elements of a modern Links golf course:
- Sandy soil
- Rolling hills
- Complex contours
- Medium to strong winds
- Many bunkers
- A water body
In the Links courses, the holes are laid out in almost a straight line, starting from the clubhouse. Once the golfers reach the 9th green, they turn around the 10th tee and follow the nine holes back to the clubhouse.
In Links golf, the greatest challenge is posed by the wind. When the ball is shot in the direction of the wind, it can cover huge distances. When the wind is blowing from the opposite direction or from the side, the same wind can become a major impediment. Professional Links golfers advise the new Links golf players to keep the ball low when fighting against the wind. The higher the ball climbs, the more it is moved by the winds.
Then there are the natural hazards like caverns, coves, ocean, and the difficult terrain, which have to be maneuvered carefully.
The golfers must know when to shoot high, when to shoot low, how to use the slopes, which terrain to avoid, and turn the various factors of Links golf to their advantage.
In the end, as with any sport, it is all about patience and the right strategy.