HOW TO PLAY LINKS GOLF
With the greatest concentration of Championship links golf courses in the world, when visiting Scotland’s Golf Coast, it is important to understand how to play links golf.
We know that golf is difficult enough, but by appreciating how to play certain shots, it will give you a helping hand on the first tee.
NATURAL CONTOURS OF A LINKS GOLF COURSE
The official definition of links land is the strip of sand-based land directly between the sea and the arable farmland. This strip can be flat or undulating, depending on the exact coastal location. The land has been moulded by the weather for centuries and golf course designers have taken advantage of this sculpting and the natural contours to create the best golf courses in the world.
FIRM AND DRY LINKS LAND
The land of a links golf course is sandy and generally firmer and drier. The location of a links course is of course by the sea, where the wonders of the weather are at their peak. Gusting wind, unpredictable conditions, specific types of turf and unique designs combine for a special experience.
We have found several videos to give you a flavour of what you will encounter.
PLAY A BUMP AND RUN
If you are on the fairway, not far from the green, pick a landing spot and take the wind out of the equation. A low shot will take the spin away, the ball will release on hitting the green, and the contours will help the shot in a similar fashion to a putt.
DRIVE LOW IN THE WIND
The wind will no doubt play an important part in your round. Hitting into wind can be quite daunting but by moving the ball in your stance and teeing the ball lower, a low ball flight is easier to achieve. Swing with ease into the breeze.
GREENSIDE BUNKER SHOTS ON THE LINKS
There are plenty of bunkers on links golf courses. It is rare to play a round without finding the sand. A bunker shot can be difficult for many amateurs, but by opening your stance, aiming slightly behind the ball, and hitting down and through the ball will ensure you get the ball out first time.
A LINKS POT BUNKER
To complicate the bunker shot, links golf courses have the traditional pot bunker. Deep with steep sides, it’s been known for players to have to play out backwards, or to stay in forever. Sometimes you must take your punishment and getting out is the sole objective! Commit to the shot.
LONG LAG PUTTS
In and around the links greens, or fairways approaching the greens will be drier than normal courses. Pin positions may be awkward for bump and runs, the hole may not be too far onto the green, the approach may be nice and flat, so why not get your putter out. As the saying goes, your worst putt will ‘percentage-wise’ beat your best chip.
STRIKING THE BALL ON FIRM FAIRWAYS
By the nature of the land, the fairways will not be as forgiving. Striking the ball first, clean and crisp will take the firmness of the fairways out of the equation. Collin Morikawa in the 2021 Scottish Open commented that this was one of his most difficult challenges. He mastered it quickly and went on to win the 149th Open at Royal St George’s.
- Golfers come to East Lothian from far and wide to play our links golf courses.
- The courses have been spectacularly crafted by the most famous names in golf.
- Every day is different on a links golf course.
- There’s no such thing as bad weather.
- It’s how golf started.
- The challenge, skill, imagination and thought to a links golf shot is like no other.
- It’s so much fun.
There’s no better place to come and have a go. We know once you have played on a links golf course once, you’ll be hooked…or sliced, one or the other!
And remember –
“For this game you need, above all things, to be in a tranquil frame of mind.” Harry Vardon