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Links Courses

What is a Links Course?

A Golf Links is a stretch of land near the coast, on which the game is played, characterised by undulating terrain often associated  with dunes, infertile sandy soil and indigenous grasses such as marram, sea lyme, and the fescues and bents which, when properly managed produce the fine textured tight turf for which Links are famed.         Steve Isaac, R&A

There are any number of definitions as to what constitutes a true links golf course but most people are agreed that the true links course has to be created somewhere close to the sea. The British Golf Museum in St Andrews defines it as ” a stretch of land near the coast… characterized by undulating terrain, often associated with dunes, infertile sandy soil and indigenous grasses as marram, sea lyme, and the fescues and bents which when properly managed produce the fine textured tight turf for which links are famed”

In his comprehensive book ” Journey through the Links” author David Worley said ” to say that links land is simply the link between arable land and the sea ignores what is really a very complex ecosystem. After the last Ice Age sands were blown in from the beaches and together with small particles of shell this led to the formation of shells. Free draining and with little in the way of nutrients this led to a very special variety of flora. Marram grass and native fescues grew and helped preserve the dunes from wind erosion”.

The sandy soil and springy turf was really unsuitable for any kind of farming with the exception of grazing livestock – it was however for the game of golf which was becoming popular. In fact many of the locations where  links courses located needed little or no work to turn the land into a golf course. The courses merely followed the existing contours of the land, while animal burrows worked well as bunkers!

The earliest links were completely natural, no fertilizers, no watering systems  – just cut the grass and let the weather do the rest. In its truest form the fairway grasses often die away in the summer months – particularly in a dry summer – but they are hardy species that come back quickly once the rain returns.