With only 1% of the world's golf courses considered "True Links", it's not surprising that the intricacies of this traditional style remain a mystery to many golfers today. To highlight what differentiates links golf, we chatted with Director of Golf at Cabot Links, Mr. Joe Robinson.
If you still have questions after reading, reach out via twitter @cabotlinks to have your questions answered!
1. What defines a links golf course?
Links land is where golf originated in Scotland in the 1400’s. It was played along the coast through the sand dunes and uninhabitable land between the ocean and the town. Links courses feature sandy soil, dunal characteristics, and fescue grasses which promote firm and fast conditions. Trees are few and far between on links courses and playing along the sea coast often exposes the golfer to windy conditions.
2. What is different about playing links golf?
If you are used to typical North American golf, you will have to adapt your game to better suit the Links course. It’s important that you play the ball along the ground as much as possible as hitting the high shots common in American golf will not play out the same way. To keep the ball low, the first thing to remember is to swing easy when it’s windy – the old saying goes “when it’s breezy swing easy.” Choke up on the club and take more club than usual. Because the ground is so firm, most times you’ll have to land the ball short of the greens and let it run up to the hole, taking into account the contours of the land. The short game requires more bump and run shots as lofted wedges are difficult to play due to tight lies and often windy conditions. Putting the ball from off the green becomes a better alternative in many cases, even from as far off the green as 30-40 yards.
3. Where is all the signage?
Links golf embraces a simpler game, where bells and whistles are minimalized and the focus is on the game itself and the beautiful surroundings in which it’s played. While signage is kept to a minimum, it does the trick, and with added help from a yardage guide or a caddie, navigating the course is easy.
4. Why is it walking-only?
Links courses are designed to be walking-only. It’s how the game was played hundreds of years ago in the sport’s humble beginnings and it’s the best way to get the true links golf experience. Feeling the turf under your feet as you walk towards your ball, thinking about your next shot and taking in the coastal vistas is an experience that cannot be matched in a power cart. Its golf the way it’s meant to be played.
*If you require a cart for medical reasons, we do have a few on hand – just be sure to book the cart well in advance. A medical certificate is required and a caddie must drive the cart.
5. Do you recommend getting a caddie?
Absolutely, yes. We highly recommend getting a caddie, especially if it is your first time playing a links course. Caddies allow you to walk the course hands-free and provide assistance with alignment, club selection, yardages, and putting. Their knowledge of the course’s intricacies and history make for an enriching experience.