A real golf course is near the coast and is set on sandy terrain with few water hazards and trees. Most of these courses are in Scotland, England and Ireland, for example Royal Troon near Glasgow, Scotland or Lahinch Country Club on the west coast of Ireland, not far from Limerick. The British Open is played on a ‘rotation’ or rotation of venues including:
Characteristics of golf links
And yes, everything these courses are links and share some similarities that make them a challenge for modern golfers, although some were established over 500 years ago. The characteristics common to these courses are their location and the type of terrain on which they are located.
Follow the last day of the 150th Open Championship live from St Andrews
Wind is a factor that comes into play at some point in every British Open. Players are forced to be creative with their shots and cannot always play high shots into the greens as they do on most courses in the United States.
The courses are close to the sea with very few trees, if any, to protect the ball and the players from the wind thus one day a hole can play very short if the wind is behind the golfers and the reverse can be true even on the same day if the “breeze” changes direction.
Dunes, hills and rough terrain also complicate matters. The topology of the terrain is what makes the courses so beautiful, yet so challenging at the same time. One of the factors that players must consider is the hardness of fairways and greens due to rain or lack thereof. If conditions are dry, balls can roll a long distance after landing, making holes shorter, but also making greens more difficult. Accuracy and keeping the ball out of the rough is a huge advantage for golfers on links courses, which are not as forgiving as their American counterparts.
Bunkers are different on links courses. Nobody wants to play in a sand trap, but on many courses in the United States, with perfectly raked sand and no steep slopes, playing from a greenside bunker may be preferable to finding the rough. St. Andrews pot bunkers are renowned for their depth and difficulty.
Battling these conditions can be nerve-wracking and many golfers who excel in the United States struggle to brave the elements on the links course. Knowing how to play reverse shots and roll the ball on the green is essential when the wind is a factor.
Course caption links
Over the past fifty years of golf, several players have become legends on the golf course. due to their success at the British Open based on ball control in difficult conditions. Tom Watson is the first name that comes to mind. The Kansas City, Missouri golfer won the British Open five times between 1975 and 1983. The “Duel in the Sun” against Jack Nicklaus in 1977 at Turnberry is legendary.
Jack Nicklaus, Ohio’s “Golden Bear” is another modern-day golfer who has managed to tame the links course and won the British Open three times. He won at the Old Course in St. Andrews in 1970 and 1978.
Seve Ballesteros won the British Open three times in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and captured the hearts of golf fans around the world with his creative style of play and confidence. The Spaniard thrived on all sorts of courses, but the link courses really suited his style of play.
Tiger Woods is another three-time British Open winner with victories in 2000, 2005 and 2006. He is competing again in 2022 in what could be his last appearance at St. Andrews.
The list goes on and names like Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are examples of great golfers who have conquered the elements at the British Open. But what makes this championship so special is that little-known players can warm up and surprise the pitch like John Daly did in 1995.
Connects courses outside Scotland, Ireland and England
Links courses are not limited to Scotland, Ireland and England, as some genuine links courses can also be found in the United States. Although few American golf courses fall into the link course category, there are a few examples. One of the most spectacular and beautiful link sites is in Oregon on the Pacific coast. Bandon Dunes is an exclusive golf resort with six golf courses that delight amateurs and professionals alike.