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A links is the oldest style of golf course, first developed in Scotlandmarker. The word "links" comes from the Scots language and refers to an area of coastal sand dunes and sometimes to open parkland. It also retains this more general meaning in the Scottish English dialect. 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 Linksmarker, Fifemarker.

Many links - though not all - are located in coastal areas, on sandy soil, 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.

At Bruntsfield Linksmarker in Edinburghmarker, Scotland, the course (a considerable distance from the coast) is still used for pitch and putt golf, and boasts a sign erected by the City Council which asserts that golf may have been invented there.

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". 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.

Links courses remain most common in Irelandmarker and also in Great Britainmarker, especially in Scotland. The Open Championship is always played on links courses and this is one of the main things which differentiates it from the three major championships held in the United Statesmarker.

Links courses tend to be on, or at least very near to, a coast, and the term is typically associated with coastal courses. However, links conditions can be duplicated on suitable ground, even hundreds of miles or kilometres inland. One especially notable example of an inland links-style course is Sand Hills Golf Club, a much-acclaimed early-2000s layout in the Sand Hillsmarker of Nebraskamarker.

Famous links golf courses


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