LINKSLAND PERFECTION

All scottish golfers are considered links experts. The volume and variety of fantastic links courses provide great evidence to the argument. Sometimes we feel a little too much is expected of us on a day of thirty mile an hour gusts though. Frequently heard on the driving range pre-tournament from a non-Scottish competitor is the line, “I bet you can’t wait to play”, as we struggle to clear the 150 yard marker into the wind – with 5 iron!

So what it is links golf? How are we going to define it? Above is a picture of the spell binding new course in Aberdeen by Trump. Like its cousins in St Andrews (Kingsbarns) and in Inverness (Castle Stuart) it employs a dramatic risk versus reward layout amongst the background of drop dead gorgeous scenery, labelled as some of the finest in the world. Below is the revered and ancient links of Muirfield, home to many famous Open Championships. The appeal of these ancient links is a lot less obvious to the casual observer. Seemingly flat and featureless they blend into the surrounding land. But to the experienced golfer they pose an unparalleled technical challenge when the wind begins to blow. The most strategic bunkering and seemingly innocuous humps and hollows can render a very well struck shot into a failed attempt.

 

So what do these links courses have in common that make them so famous worldwide? A proximity to the sea is very common, although not always necessary – Royal Lythm and St Annes for example. A sea breeze can expose any golfer not in top form. Its randomness and velocity will grab any shot not struck with authority and proper trajectory.

Some courses offer a little respite in the form of tall sand dunes but many leave you at the mercy of the elements for all eighteen holes. Highlighted already is the random nature of design, the humps and hollows designed by mother nature that can lead to a cruel kick into trouble or a lucky bounce to safety. Finally but most importantly its the firm sandy turf that defines a links. The modern versions of recent years are a success because of the quality of the turf. Without the effort of recreating the age old seaside turf the links challenge would have been classed null and void. Soft thick and lush turf removes the creative options available to the player. Lets investigate the different strategies for tackling links golf.

 

Tiger woods Low Traj

LOW TRAJECTORY

Controlling your trajectory is the number one key to links golf strategy. There are days when it rains and wind is but a wisp that allow higher ball flights to flourish. But it is when the going gets tough, when the wind begins to gust, the turf begins to harden that the true test begins to reveal itself. Despite hitting a fairway wood above, notice that Tiger Woods has kept the trajectory at tree height. This gives the wind much less chance to affect its flight and has the important bonus of picking up extra yardage. Into the

This gives the wind much less chance to affect its flight and has the important bonus of picking up extra yardage. Into the wind this strategy is absolutely necessary to allow for any control of distance. Players without much links experience really suffer playing into the wind. Attempting to over power the wind, they swing aggressively and suffer from excessive spin and launch angle, the result is a flared, weak shot that comes up way short of the target. Visit our

This gives the wind much less chance to affect its flight and has the important bonus of picking up extra yardage. Into the wind this strategy is absolutely necessary to allow for any control of distance. Players without much links experience really suffer playing into the wind. Attempting to over power the wind, they swing aggressively and suffer from excessive spin and launch angle, the result is a flared, weak shot that comes up way short of the target. Visit our technical tips section to learn this enjoyable skill.

Tiger-Woods-Hoylake-2006

VISUALISATION

What makes the Open Championship such an exciting event every summer? We see the worlds best players challenged in a unique way, their creative boundaries really stretched to the limit. The decisions are rarely obvious – shall I hit a five iron short of the bunkers leaving 200 yards to the green or play aggressive with a driver amongst the bunkers but leave myself a pitching wedge? The firm turf and tricky pin position may make the 200 yard shot easier than the wedge. The angle with which you have to the pin carries more importance than the distance so often in links golf. The direction of the wind and the lack of friction offered by the links turf can make it impossible to stop even a sand wedge quickly. So much of the game can be played by successfully bouncing the ball to the target using the links contours. Only by thinking one step ahead and visualising where a shot will eventually end up can you formulate a successful strategy.

The angle with which you have to the pin carries more importance than the distance so often in links golf. The direction of the wind and the lack of friction offered by the links turf can make it impossible to stop even a sand wedge quickly. So much of the game can be played by successfully bouncing the ball to the target using the links contours. Only by thinking one step ahead and visualising where a shot will eventually end up can you formulate a successful strategy.

 Muirfield Golf course

CREATIVITY

Good links players have an attitude and experience that allows them to conquer rarely faced situations. Only in links golf can a professional use a putter from thirty yards off the green, hit it to twenty feet and be complimented on his good play. Normal yardages are forgotten in the wind as a six iron may be used from as close as 120 yards to “keep under the wind”. The deep and vertically faced bunkers require a creative approach to overcome their challenge. A unique set up is needed to even hit towards the flag at times! Learn how to conquer them in our technical tips section.

 

SUMMARY

Embrace the challenge of links golf. Start your round knowing that good and bad luck will probably befall you. Redefine your expectations of a good result and think ahead. Be creative and keep your swing under control. Golf is sometimes described as a game of chess and this is never more true than with links golf.

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