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Links Golf

What Makes Links Golf So Special

Links golf is unique. When you think that there are over 30,000 golf courses world wide it is remarkable to think how few true links courses there amongst these. For many years the perceived wisdom has been that the number of links courses is less than 200, although a recent book makes the case for a total of 246!

Whichever is correct it is a tiny fraction of the golfing universe. And yet links courses are at the heart of the game, with one of the majors, The Open, almost always played on a links!

A recent trend has been to see the creation of  ‘links-like’ or ‘links style’ courses around the world. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but these are not true links and never can be. The great links course almost all date back to the earliest days of golf. They are part of the history and golfers the world over recognize this. They will travel the world to face the unique challenges posed by the ‘links’ and wind and rain are both seen as part of the true experience.

Links golf brings with it a special series of challenges. Unlike the heavily watered parkland courses with their receptive greens the true links course will probably feature hard undulating fairways and firm greens which have most certainly not been designed to receive shots hit directly to the green. And then there is the wind – never mind the rain.

Tom Watson, who really was not a great links fan to begin with certainly became a convert. It was not until 1979 the he had his links epiphany… it was in the Open at Royal Lytham… in the first round the 7th a par 5 of 549 yards, playing into the wind required a driver, 3-wood and 5 iron to reach the green. The next day it was downwind. He reached it with driver and 9 iron for a birdie. “That was the moment I fell in love with the links. I told myself. Enjoy it. Solve the puzzle.” He was hooked!

He went on to say “and I have had fun ever since, Calculating the wind, allowing for the firm terrain, trusting your judgment and feel – that’s the joy of playing a links”.

It’s different. It’s links!