Links Courses

The British Open will be played on a golf course referred to as links course, which is characterised by a number of features.

Links represent the oldest type of golf course and were first developed in Scotland. They are also sometimes called seaside links.

The majority of links courses – but not all of them – are to be found in coastal areas on sandy soil. They are frequently characterised by sand dunes and boast few water hazards and trees.

This is true of all the links on the British Open course rotation.

The nature of links courses reflects the nature of the Scottish scenery in which the sport originated, as well as the fact that at the time there were very limited resources available to golf course architects. This meant that earth moving was virtually unheard of, and courses adopted the lie of the land and natural hazards to test golfers.

Links courses – such as those on which the British Open is played – present their own unique challenges. Firstly, the courses generally have uneven fairways, thick rough and small, deep bunkers (known as “pot bunkers”). Due to their mostly coastal locations, links are also often ruled by extremely windy conditions.

The challenges of links golf require golfers to adapt their style of play; for example, players who can play low, accurate shots will have better control over their shots in gusty conditions.

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, adding to the difficulty level of playing this type of course.

Links courses remain most common in Ireland and the United Kingdom, especially in Scotland. As already mentioned, the Open Championship, or British Open, is always played on links courses, even though there are some celebrated courses in the United Kingdom which are not links. This is one of the main things setting it apart from the three major championships held in the United States.