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Ever found yourself scratching your head, wondering exactly what a Links Golf Course is and how it stands apart from the rest of the golfing world? Trust me, you’re not alone in this.

As a passionate golfer myself, I too have been at this crossroads. Diving into hours upon hours of research and refreshing my own knowledge on golf history, I’ve pieced together everything you need to understand about the world’s oldest style of golf course – our esteemed Links Golf Course.

From its intriguing beginnings in Scotland to understanding its unique layout and features, prepare yourself for an exciting journey through the fairways and greens of this classic turf!

Key Takeaways

  • Links golf courses are the oldest style of golf courses, originating in Scotland and built on sandy coastland.
  • These courses have a unique playing surface with firmer ground and shorter grass that affects shot strategy.
  • Links golf courses feature challenging layouts with natural obstacles like undulating terrain, dunes, and bunkers.

What is a Links Golf Course?

A links golf course is the oldest style of golf course, developed in Scotland and built on sandy coastland, providing a firmer playing surface.

Oldest style of golf course

The oldest style of golf course is called links. It’s a term from Old English “hlinc” that means a sandy coast area. The first links courses were born in Scotland, on firm sandy land near the sea.

This kind of layout goes back to very old times and offers a real test for skill and mind power in golf.

Developed in Scotland

The links golf course style was developed in Scotland, where the sport of golf originated. It is the oldest style of golf course that offers a unique and traditional playing experience.

Scottish golf courses are known for their firmer playing surfaces, which are built on sandy coastlands. These courses have undulating terrain, natural features like dunes and bunkers, and thick grasses that make them more challenging.

The influence of Scottish links golf can be seen in modern golf course design around the world. Golfers who appreciate the history and authenticity of the game will enjoy playing on these Scottish links courses.

Built on sandy coastland

Links golf courses are built on sandy coastland, which gives them a unique playing surface. The sand creates a firmer ground compared to other types of golf courses. This means that the ball bounces and rolls differently, affecting strategy and shot selection.

The sandy base also allows for natural features like undulations and dunes, adding to the challenge and beauty of the course. So when you step onto a links golf course, be prepared for an exciting game on this special coastal terrain.

Firmer playing surface

Links golf courses are known for having a firmer playing surface. This is because they are built on sandy coastland, which provides a solid foundation for the course. The sand helps to drain water quickly, allowing the course to dry out faster after rain.

As a result, the grass on links courses tends to be shorter and drier compared to other types of courses. This means that shots can roll further and players need to adjust their game accordingly.

The firm playing surface adds another layer of challenge and strategy to the game, requiring golfers to think carefully about how they approach each shot.

Characteristics of Links Golf Courses

Links golf courses are known for their shorter grass, challenging and strategic layouts, and natural features like dunes and bunkers. Want to find out more about the history and famous links courses around the world? Keep reading!

Shorter grass

Links golf courses are known for their shorter grass, which is one of their defining characteristics. Unlike other types of golf courses with longer and thicker grass, links courses have a more tightly cut turf.

This means that the ball rolls faster and travels further once it hits the ground. The shorter grass also enhances precision in shot-making, as players need to be more precise with their swings to control the distance and direction of their shots.

Golfers who enjoy a fast-paced game with strategic shot placements will appreciate the challenge that shorter grass presents on links golf courses. So when you step onto a links course, be prepared for a different experience compared to playing on traditional parkland or desert layouts.

Obstacle-style course

A links golf course is designed as an obstacle-style course, which adds to the challenge and excitement of playing. Instead of a smooth, perfectly manicured fairway like you might find on other types of courses, links courses have undulations, dunes, and thick grasses that can make shots more difficult.

The natural features of these courses create unique obstacles that require strategic thinking and precision in your shots. It’s like solving a puzzle with each hole presenting a new challenge.

So get ready to navigate through the bumps and slopes while enjoying the thrill of hitting the links!

Challenging and strategic layout

Links golf courses are known for their challenging and strategic layout. The design of these courses requires golfers to think critically about each shot, as they navigate through natural obstacles like sand dunes and tall grasses.

The undulating terrain adds an extra layer of difficulty, making it essential to carefully select the right club and aim for the optimal landing spot. Additionally, the unpredictable coastal winds further test a golfer’s skills, requiring them to adjust their game plan on every hole.

Playing on a links course is not just about hitting long drives; it requires precision and smart decision-making to successfully navigate the course and achieve a good score.

Natural features like dunes and bunkers

Links golf courses are known for their natural features like dunes and bunkers. These elements add an extra challenge to the game, requiring golfers to strategize and navigate their shots carefully.

The undulating terrain created by the dunes provides a unique playing experience, with uneven lies and unpredictable bounces. Bunkers, on the other hand, present hazards that players must avoid or strategically play out of.

These natural features are not only visually appealing but also test a golfer’s skill and decision-making abilities. So when you’re hitting the links at a links golf course, be prepared to tackle these challenging obstacles!

The History of Links Golf Courses

Links golf courses have a rich history that can be traced back to the birthplace of golf, Scotland.

The Old Course at St. Andrews

The Old Course at St. Andrews is one of the most famous links golf courses in the world. It is located in Scotland and is considered the birthplace of golf. The course has a rich history dating back to the 15th century and has hosted many prestigious tournaments, including the Open Championship.

Golfers from all over the world dream of playing on this historic course, with its undulating fairways, deep bunkers, and unpredictable weather conditions. It offers a unique challenge that caters to both professional and amateur players alike.

Playing on The Old Course at St. Andrews is truly an unforgettable experience for any golfer.

Spread of links golf to other countries

Links golf has spread to other countries around the world, making it more accessible to golfers everywhere. While the style originated in Scotland, it has since made its way to places like Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Golf enthusiasts from all over can now experience the challenge and beauty of links-style courses without having to travel far. This expansion has allowed for a greater appreciation of the traditions and unique features that make links golf so special.

Influence on modern golf course design

Links golf courses have had a significant influence on modern golf course design. Many features commonly found in links-style courses, such as undulating fairways and natural hazards like dunes and bunkers, have been incorporated into newer golf course designs.

The strategic layout of links courses, which requires players to carefully consider each shot due to the unpredictable playing conditions, has also influenced the way designers create challenging and engaging courses today.

Additionally, the firm playing surface of links courses has sparked the development of new grass types that are suitable for different climates and terrain. Overall, the timeless appeal and unique characteristics of links golf have left an indelible mark on modern course architecture.

Famous Links Golf Courses Around the World

Some of the world’s most renowned links golf courses include The Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland, Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland, and Ballybunion Golf Club in Ireland.

These courses offer a challenging yet beautiful experience that every golfer should explore. So why not grab your clubs and hit the links? Read on to discover more about these incredible courses!

The Royal County Down Golf Club (Northern Ireland)

I have heard great things about The Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland. It is known as one of the finest links golf courses in the world. The course offers stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and has a challenging layout with undulating fairways, deep bunkers, and thick roughs.

The natural features like dunes and vegetation make it even more exciting to play on. Many professional golfers rave about this course because it requires strategy and precision to navigate through its hazards.

It’s definitely a must-visit for any golfer looking for an authentic links golfing experience.

Carnoustie Golf Links (Scotland)

Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland is one of the most famous links golf courses in the world. It has a long and storied history, dating back to 1560. The course offers a challenging and strategic layout, with undulating fairways and natural features like dunes and bunkers that add to the difficulty.

Carnoustie is known for its thick grasses, which require precision and accuracy when navigating through them. With its coastal location, players also have to contend with strong winds that can greatly impact their shots.

Overall, Carnoustie Golf Links provides an authentic links golf experience that will test even the most skilled golfer.

Ballybunion Golf Club (Ireland)

I have to mention Ballybunion Golf Club in Ireland. It is one of the most famous links golf courses in the world. Located on the rugged coast of County Kerry, Ballybunion offers a challenging and memorable golfing experience.

You’ll encounter natural obstacles like towering dunes and thick grasses as you navigate this historic course. With its stunning coastal views and strategic layout, Ballybunion Golf Club truly captures the essence of traditional links golf.

As a golfer, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to play at this iconic Irish course.


In conclusion, links golf courses are the oldest style of golf courses and offer a unique and challenging playing experience. Originating in Scotland, these courses are built on sandy coastland and feature shorter grass, natural obstacles like dunes, and strategic layouts.

With their rich history and reputation for testing golfers’ skills, links golf courses continue to be treasured by players around the world. So next time you hit the links, consider exploring the beauty and tradition of a true links course.


1. What is a links golf course?

A links golf course, a term from the Scots language, is a coastal sand-based golf area with natural and open layouts.

2. How do links golf courses stand out compared to parkland or heathland courses?

Unlike other styles of courses like parkland and heathland, Links courses have undulating layouts set among dunes and other coastal features. They often have windy conditions and thick grasses.

3. Are links golf courses unique to certain regions?

Links style originates from British Golf Courses where the tradition started. The British Open often happens on these types of grounds too!

4. Can you describe the feel of a links course?

Links courses are crafted artistically with their natural open layout giving them an unmatched beauty amongst all types of golf architecture.

5. Why are there dunes in link golf courses?

The location makes it ideal for dune growth which adds challenging features for players while helping shape its natural look.

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