is the oldest style of golf course
A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, fairway, rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick and cup, all designed for the game of golf. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, thus most golf courses have this number of holes...
, first developed in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...
. The word "links" comes from the Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...
and refers to an area of coast
A coastline or seashore is the area where land meets the sea or ocean. A precise line that can be called a coastline cannot be determined due to the dynamic nature of tides. The term "coastal zone" can be used instead, which is a spatial zone where interaction of the sea and land processes occurs...
al sand dune
In physical geography, a dune is a hill of sand built by wind. Dunes occur in different forms and sizes, formed by interaction with the wind. Most kinds of dunes are longer on the windward side where the sand is pushed up the dune and have a shorter "slip face" in the lee of the wind...
s and sometimes to open parkland. It also retains this more general meaning in the Scottish English
Scottish English refers to the varieties of English spoken in Scotland. It may or may not be considered distinct from the Scots language. It is always considered distinct from Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic language....
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...
. It can be treated as singular even though it has an "s" at the end and occurs in place names that precede the development of golf, for example Lundin Links
Lundin Links is a small village in Fife, Scotland. The village is best known for its two golf courses. The 18 hole course, Lundin Golf Club, was used as a pre-qualifying course when The Open Championship is held at St. Andrews. Lundin Links Ladies 9 hole course is the oldest woman's golf course in...
Fife is a council area and former county of Scotland. It is situated between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth, with inland boundaries to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire...
The meaning of the word "links" comes from the fact that the area of land "links" the land with the sea. The land, due to its sandy nature was unsuitable for building houses, and equally unsuitable for farmland due to the salt content of the turf.
Links courses tend to be on, or at least very near to, a coast, and the term is typically associated with coastal courses, often amid dunes, with few water hazards and few if any trees. This reflects both the nature of the scenery where the sport happened to originate, and the fact that only limited resources were available to golf course architects at the time, and any earth moving had to be done by hand, so it was kept to a minimum. Even today, some links courses do not employ a greens staff, use only basic machinery such as hole cutters without boards to ensure that the hole is cut unevenly, and use grazing animals to keep the grass cropped.
Links courses remain most common in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...
and also in Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...
, especially in Scotland. The Open Championship
The Open Championship, or simply The Open , is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf. It is the only "major" held outside the USA and is administered by The R&A, which is the governing body of golf outside the USA and Mexico...
is always played on links courses and this is one of the main features which differentiates it from the three major championships
The men's major golf championships, commonly known as the Major Championships, and often referred to simply as the majors, are the four most prestigious annual tournaments in professional golf...
held in the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
The style of play on a links golf course is considerably different from the style of play on other types of courses. The challenges of links golf fall into two categories. Firstly the nature of the courses themselves, which tend to be characterised by uneven fairways, thick rough and small deep bunkers known as "pot bunkers
A hazard is an area of a golf course in the sport of golf which provides a difficult obstacle. which may be of three types: water hazards such as lakes and rivers; man-made hazards such as bunkers; and natural hazards such as dense vegetation. Special rules apply to playing balls that fall in a...
". Secondly, due to their coastal location many links courses are frequently windy. This affects the style of play required, favouring players who are able to play low accurate shots. As many links courses consist literally of an "outward" nine in one direction along the coast, and an "inward" nine which returns in the opposite direction, players often have to cope with opposite wind patterns in each half of their round.
- Barnbougle Dunes
Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links is a golf course located near the seaside village of Bridport in Tasmania's North-East. The 18 hole championship layout was designed by well known course architects Tom Doak and Mike Clayton, and is set among spectacular sand dunes overlooking Bass Strait...
, Bridport, Tasmania
- New South Wales Golf Club
New South Wales Golf Club is a golf course designed by Alister MacKenzie in late 1926. It consists of 18 holes, 2 of which are beside the sea. This links style course is situated in La Perouse, Sydney, and regularly rates in the top 50 golf courses in the world....
, Sydney, New South Wales
- St Michaels Golf Club, Sydney, New South Wales
- The Links Kennedy Bay, Port Kennedy, Western Australia
- Albany Golf Club, Albany, Western Australia
- The Links Shellcove, Shellharbour, New South Wales
- Wollongong Golf CLub, Wollongong, New South Wales
- Long Reef Golf Club, Collaroy, New South Wales
- Harmon Links
Harmon Seaside Links is a public golf course located in western Newfoundland in the town of Stephenville, Canada. The course is the only true links course in Canada and plays along the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence adjacent to Stephenville International Airport. The total length is around 6588...
, Stephenville, Newfoundland
- Cabot Links, Inverness, Nova Scotia
- Northumberland Links, Pugwash, Nova Scotia
Republic of Ireland
- Ballybunion Golf Club
The Ballybunion Golf Club in County Kerry, Ireland had barely opened its doors before experiencing financial problems. An investment from Colonel Bartholomew saved the club in 1906, and nine new holes were promptly laid out...
, Co Kerry
- Baltray Golf Club, Co Louth
- Connemara Golf Links, Ballyconneely, Co Galway
- Lahinch Golf Club, Co Clare
- Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale, Co Cork
- Portmarnock Golf Club
Portmarnock Golf Club was established in 1894, and lies just North of Dublin, in Portmarnock, Fingal, Ireland. The course was laid out by William Pickeman on land owned by the distiller John Jameson, and originally consisted of just 9 holes, with another nine being added two years later.Portmarnock...
, Portmarnock, Co Dublin
- Portsalon Golf Club, Co Donegal
- Royal Dublin Golf Club, Co Dublin
- County Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point, Co Sligo
- Narin & Portnoo Golf Club, Co. Donegal
- Fancourt Hotel & Country Club Estate, George, Western Cape, South Africa
- Atlantic Beach Golf Club, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
- Balnagask Golf Course, Aberdeen, Scotland
- Carnoustie Golf Links
The Carnoustie Golf Links are in Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland. Its historic championship golf course is one of the venues in the Open Championship rotation.-History:...
, Angus Scotland
- Hayling Golf Club, Hampshire, England
- Kilmarnock Barassie Golf Club, South Ayrshire, Scotland
- Muirfield, East Lothian, Scotland
- North Berwick West Links
One of two golf courses within North Berwick, the West Links is by far the more renowned. It regularly holds various championships and is used as a qualifying venue when The Open Championship is held at Muirfield...
, East Lothian, Scotland
- Portstewart Golf Club
Portstewart Golf Club consists of three 18-hole courses situated in the town of Portstewart, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Golf was first played there as far back as 1889....
, Northern Ireland
- Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club, Wales
- Prestwick Golf Club
Prestwick Golf Club is located in the town of Prestwick, South Ayrshire, Scotland. It is approximately southwest of Scotland's largest city, Glasgow. Prestwick is a classic links golf course, being built on the rolling sandy land that "links" the beach and the land further inland...
, South Ayrshire, Scotland
- Prince's Golf Club
Prince's Golf Club, Sandwich is a links golf course located in Sandwich in Kent in South East England. Prince's is immediately adjacent to the more famous Royal St George's golf club, and both clubs lie on the same stretch of coastline as nearby Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club.Prince's was completed...
, Sandwich, Kent, England
- Royal Aberdeen Golf Club
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Aberdeen, Scotland, was founded in 1780 and claims to be the sixth oldest golf club in the world. It was founded as the Society of Golfers at Aberdeen, and became the Aberdeen Golf Club in 1815....
- Royal Birkdale Golf Club
Royal Birkdale Golf Club is a golf course in the town of Southport, England, and is one of the clubs in the Open Championship rotation for both men and women. The club has hosted the men's championship nine times since 1954, most recently in July 2008, and has hosted the women's tournament five...
, Southport, Merseyside, England
- Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club
Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club is in the town of Deal in the County of Kent in Southern England . It was founded in 1892. The name derives from Deal's membership of an ancient group of trading towns granted special privileges by the medieval English monarchs, known as the Cinque Ports...
, Kent, England
- Royal County Down Golf Club
Royal County Down Golf Club is a golf club in Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland. Dating from 1889, it is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland...
, Northern Ireland
- Royal Dornoch Golf Club
Royal Dornoch Golf Club is a golf club in Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland. It is generally referred to as Royal Dornoch. The Championship Course is a links course located on the Dornoch Firth. The club has two 18-hole courses: the Championship Course and the Struie Course...
- Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, Merseyside, England
- Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club
Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, England, is one of the courses in the Open Championship rotation. The Women's British Open has also been played on the course four times: once prior to being designated a major championship by the LPGA Tour, and three times since.The...
, Lancashire, England
- Royal Portrush Golf Club
Royal Portrush Golf Club is a private golf club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is the only golf club outside of the UK Mainland which has hosted The Open Championship, the oldest of golf's major championships. The club has two links courses, the Dunluce Links and the Valley Links.The...
, Northern Ireland
- Royal St George's Golf Club
The Royal St George's Golf Club is one of the premier golf clubs in the United Kingdom, and one of the courses on The Open Championship rotation. It has hosted 13 Open championships since 1894, when it became the first club outside Scotland to host the championship...
, Sandwich, Kent, England
- Royal Troon Golf Club
Royal Troon Golf Club is a links golf course located in Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland. The club was founded in 1878, initially with five holes. Its Old Course is now one of the host courses for The Open Championship, one of the major championships on the PGA Tour and European Tour...
, South Ayrshire, Scotland
- St Andrews Links
St Andrews Links in the town of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, is regarded as the "home of golf". It is one of the oldest courses in the world, where the game has been played since the 15th century...
, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
- Southport and Ainsdale, Merseyside, England
- Turnberry, South Ayrshire, Scotland
- West Lancashire Golf Club, Merseyside, England
- Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club Arcadia, Michigan
- Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is a complex of four golf courses located just north of the city of Bandon, Oregon, United States.-Courses:The first course at the resort, Bandon Dunes, opened on May 19, 1999. Bandon Dunes was designed by Scotsman David McLay Kidd, and it instantly garnered high praise. ...
, Bandon, Oregon
- Bay Harbor Golf Club (Links Course), Petoskey, Michigan
- Bayonne Golf Club, Bayonne, New Jersey
- Bayou Din Golf Club, Beaumont, Texas
- Highland Links Golf Course, Truro, Massachusetts
- Kiawah Island Golf Resort
The Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a resort located in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, United States, near the city of Charleston. The resort opened in May, 1976...
, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
- LaTour Golf Club, Shreveport, Louisiana
- Ocean Course, Half Moon Bay, California
- Wawashkamo Golf Club
The Wawashkamo Golf Club is a nine-hole links golf course on Mackinac Island in the U.S. state of Michigan. The course was laid out by Alex Smith in 1898, and is as of 2009 the oldest continuously played golf course in Michigan....
, Mackinac Island, Michigan
- Whistling Straits
Whistling Straits is one of two golfing destinations associated with The American Club, a luxury resort located in nearby Kohler, Wisconsin, and owned by a subsidiary of the Kohler Company. The other course is Blackwolf Run. The Whistling Straits complex is located in the unincorporated Sheboygan...
, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
- Gateway National Golf Links, Madison, IL